Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Area of Study Discovery: Some strategies

These notes are extracted from a PowerPoint presentation prepared by Helen Sykes for HSC students attending sessions at the Whitlam Library, Cabramatta, on Thursday 20th and Tuesday 25th November 2014.
Students asked for the PowerPoint to be turned into notes so that they could refer later to some of the ideas.
Many of the ideas listed here have been inspired by one of the best English teachers I've known, Dwayne Hopwood, who wrote the book Nelson Belonging: A Text for Senior English Students, for the previous Area of Study.

Where to start?
Start with what you know. Think about what 'discovery' means to you. Talk about it with other people - family, friends, teachers. Begin looking out for anything to do with 'discovery' or 'discovering' in your daily life:
         conversations overhead on the bus
                texts that you receive
                news headlines, news stories
                 on television
                 on radio
         the reading and research you are doing for subjects other than English
         your leisure viewing
        your leisure reading.

Personal writing
·      What does the word 'discovery' mean to you? Take some time to write down some ideas. Write quickly at first - the first thing that comes into your head. You can write in note-form if you wish.
·      Put it away for a day or two. Come back and re-read what you wrote. Make changes and additions.
·      Share it with someone.

Spend 10 minutes with a group of friends jotting down everything you can think of (no matter how crazy); for example:

  •  different kinds of discoveries
  • the most important discoveries in history
  • discoveries that changed the world
  • the people who make discoveries
  • how discoveries change people, things, the world
  • crazy discoveries and crazy discoverers
  • discoveries yet to be made
  • personal discoveries - pleasant and unpleasant
Again, put it away for a day or two. Re-read it and decide which ideas you want to add to your personal writing.

Setting up a portfolio
·      You need a file - or, probably, two files - one electronic and one paper. Start collecting anything at all that you come across that concerns discovery, discovering, discoverers.
·      Begin the file with your personal writing and the brainstorming notes.

The Board of Studies' rubric
Where can you find it?
What does the Board of Studies mean by 'Discovery'? What exactly is the concept that you are exploring when you work through your Area of Study?
Go to http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au.
Click on Syllabuses in the left-hand column.
Choose HSC Syllabuses.
Click on the letter E.
Click on the course you are doing - Standard, Advanced or ESL.
Scroll down to HSC English Prescriptions 2015-20. You have the option of downloading this file as a PDF or a Word file.
The Word file is best, because you will be able to annotate it easily.
For Standard and Advanced, you will find the rubric on page 9 of the Word file. For ESL it is on pages 22-23.

Ideas for working with the rubric
You need to understand and know well what the rubric says. It will make more sense if you have already been thinking quite a lot about what 'discovery' can mean. However, it is pretty daunting at first, and the language is quite abstract. It was written for teachers, not for students. These strategies might help you to deconstruct the rubric:
·      Print off the rubric with wide margins around it. You might also want to double-space it. Read through it carefully with a partner – and a bunch of differently coloured highlighters. Highlight what you think is most important. Write questions in the margins if there's something that puzzles you. Use a dictionary to check any words that you're not quite sure about. Take turns to tell each other in your own words what you think each sentence means.
·      Take a break.
·      Now, together, re-write the Board's rubric in note form, as concisely as possible. You can use headings, dot points, different size fonts, the layout on the page - whatever you want to set out the main ideas briefly and forcefully. You might have something that begins like this:


Discovering what?
      first time

Discovering how?
sudden                                        slow
unexpected                                  careful planning

  Rephrase some of the statements in the rubric as questions:

The rubric
An individual’s discoveries and their process of discovering can vary according to personal, cultural, historical and social contexts and values.

In question format
How can an individual’s discoveries and their process of discovering vary according to personal, cultural, historical and social contexts and values?

Continue turning the statements of the rubric into questions:

  What types of discovery are fresh and intensely meaningful?
  What types of discovery can be confronting and provocative?
  Have I experienced a discovery or a process of discovery that offered me new understandings and renewed perceptions of myself and others?

Extend the questioning:

  Have I ever made a discovery that changed me? changed my view of others? changed my view of the world?
  Have I read a book or seen a film about a character who made a discovery that changed him or her? changed his or her view of others? changed his or her view of the world?
  Have I seen a film or read a book that changed me?

Re-write the rubric from your own point of view:

  ‘In exploring the concept of discovery, I should …’

The rubric
An individual’s discoveries and their process of discovering can vary according to personal, cultural, historical and social contexts and values. The impact of these discoveries can be far-reaching and transformative for the individual and for broader society.

Your re-writing
I need to look at the way in which people’s discoveries will vary, depending on their values and backgrounds. I need to consider how much a discovery can change someone’s life – as well as change the world.

Exploring the meaning of the word 'discovery'
Begin with dictionary definitions:

The Macquarie Dictionary
                  1 the act of discovering
                  2 something discovered

                  to get knowledge of, learn of, or find out; gain sight or knowledge                    of (something previously unseen or unknown).

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
                  1 The action or an act of revealing something secret or not                                generally known; disclosure.
                  2 The action or an act of finding or becoming aware of for the first                  time; esp the first bringing to light of a scientific phenomenon etc.                        Also, detection of a person.
                  3 (An) exploration, (a) reconnaissance.
                  4 Something discovered or brought to light. A person whose                             talents are recognized and made known for the first time.
                  5 Information or evidence that bring something to light.

Find some synonyms:
            an advance                             identification
            analysis                                  innovation
            breakthrough                          introduction
            detection                                 invention
            diagnosis                                the locating of something
            disclosure                               location
            encounter                                a lucky strike
            epiphany                                 realisation
            experimentation                     revelation
            exploration                             a sighting
            exposure                                 an uncovering
            a find                                      an unearthing

N.B. That list comes from just one Synonym website. There are many more. The list doesn't even cover some of the words from those two dictionary definitions. You could add:
            acquisition of knowledge
            bringing to light
            finding out
            gaining awareness of
            gaining sight or knowledge of

There are many more.

Find some antonyms:

            blanket                                    dissemble                        
            bury                                        forget
           camouflage                              hide
           cloak                                        ignore
           conceal                                    lose
           confound                                 mask
           confuse                                    mislay
           cover                                        miss
          disguise                                     veil

Again, there are many more possibilities.

Go to Roget's Thesaurus.
Begin always with the Index (which is about half the book).
Look up 'discovery' in the Index.

discovery 484 n.
manifestation 522 n.
disclosure 526 n.

So there are 3 entries to explore - at 484 the word 'discovery' itself; at 522 the idea of discovery as a manifestation; and at 526 the idea of discovery as a disclosure.
But just above 'discovery' in the Index, you will find:

see 438 vb.
discover 484 vb.

precursor 66 n.
producer 164 n.
detector 484 n.

484 is repeated here. But there might be useful words at 438 ('discover' meaning 'see'), at 66 ('discoverer' meaning 'precursor') and at 164 ('discoverer' meaning 'producer').

When you go to 484, this is what you get:

484 Discovery
N. discovery, finding; invention; exploration, archaeology, speleology, potholing; excavation 459 search 438 inspection; radio-location 187 location; water divining; exposure, revelation 522 manifestation; illumination, realization, lightbulb moment, eureka moment, when the penny drops; hitting upon, serendipity; strike, find, lucky find, treasure trove; eye-opener 508 lack of expectation; open sesame 263 opener; disenchantment.
            detector, probe; space probe, spy satellite 276 spaceship; asdic, sonar; early warning system; radar, radar trap, speed trap; breathalyser, breath test, sniffer torch; finder 442 telescope; lie detector, polygraph; Geiger counter 465 meter; metal detector; divining road; water diviner; talent scout; discoverer, inventor; explorer 268 traveller; archaeologist, speleologist, potholer 459 enquirer; prospector 461 experimenter; gastroscope, auriscope, ophthalmoscope, colposcope 658 diagnosis.

That's a wealth of words - a wealth of ideas. And it's only the beginning. Every number in that entry is an invitation to explore further. For example, '459 search' means that if you want to pursue the idea of 'discovery' as 'a search', you will find more at 459; '438 inspection' lets you know where to go to research further the idea of 'discovery' as 'an inspection'.
And as well as all those possibilities, you can still go back to the Index:

discovery 484 n.
manifestation 522 n.
disclosure 526 n.

see 438 vb.
discover 484 vb.

precursor 66 n.
producer 164 n.
detector 484 n.

It's only 484 that we've looked at. There's still 522, 526, 438, 66 and 164.

A work in progress
  Keep adding to your word lists.
  Put lists where you can see them – on the classroom wall, above the desk where you study.
  Mind map all the words and phrases that you find.
  Keep extending your mind map.
  Keep adding more as you discover more about Discovery.

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