Historic icons help students stay focused

Smith’s Hill High School HSC students Matthew Staraj and Emma Brophy after the Modern History exam. PICTURE: Robert Peet
Smith’s Hill High School HSC students Matthew Staraj and Emma Brophy after the Modern History exam. PICTURE: Robert Peet

As their heads and pages filled with wars and personalities of the past, Modern History students Emma Brophy and Matthew Staraj sat down for the HSC exam.

By the end, the students from Smith’s Hill High School were relieved and pleased with their efforts.

Emma, 18, said the worst part of yesterday’s exam was her time management but overall the exam was ‘‘pretty predictable’’.

‘‘The questions weren’t too crazy, it was good,’’ she said.

‘‘I like that Modern History has an argumentative component.

‘‘I found the Indochina topic difficult at the start but I think that’s my favourite now.

‘‘It’s about America’s involvement, and how the second war created a third war in Cambodia.

‘‘It’s definitely changed my opinion on the United States, it has relevance to current situations with how they’re dabbling in different wars.’’

The 18-year-old hoped to study media and communications at the University of Sydney next year, including taking the second semester off for travelling around Europe with her family.

Classmate Matthew Staraj, 18, said he was also happy with the exam. Memorising facts and the names of historians was the biggest help, he said.

‘‘There was nothing from left [field] to throw me off, I was comfortable with my answers,’’ he said.

‘‘I was really happy that I got to do the Stalin question in the exam.

‘‘I just find it more interesting, looking at his economic policies.

‘‘I found it fascinating the way his terror sustained his own power, through an atmosphere he was able to control society.’’

Unlike Stalin, he found the Alexandra Kollontai section, allocated by the school, ‘‘a little boring’’.

‘‘I don’t find her a very interesting personality compared to some of the other personalities, someone like Ho Chi Minh or Trotsky,’’ he said.

Modern history teacher Johnathon Dallimore agreed with his students on the fairness of the exam.

‘‘There weren’t any surprises really,’’ he said.

On the contentious choice of teaching about Alexandra Kollontai for the personality section, he said the subject was very male-focused so he wanted something different.

‘‘She’s a woman and with every other topic men dominate the story. 

‘‘In the case of Russia we often hear about Stalin and others, and in Indochina, Ho Chi Minh.

‘‘I think it splits the class, some of them like it and others want to talk about the big individuals,’’ he said.


Mathematics Extension Two

General Mathematics


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