Education, literacy & numeracy
Picnic at Hanging Rock
‘She felt herself choking and tore at her frilled lace collar. “Miranda!”’
Fainting spells, frilly collars, mystery, hysteria and a truly awesome backdrop – Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock might be 50 years old this year, but it remains a point of Australian cultural obsession. The book – written by Lindsay in just four weeks back in 1967 – has inspired a film, a radio play, stage adaptations, fashion spreads, music videos and a new miniseries coming out this year.
Why do we keep coming back to Lindsay’s eerie tale of a Valentine’s Day school picnic gone wrong? Perhaps it’s the ambiguity around fact and fiction; perhaps it’s the striking combinations of imagery or maybe it’s the maddening obscurity of the ending.
At this celebration of Joan Lindsay’s iconic novel (and its enduring myth), Helen Withycombe hosts a conversation between Lindsay's biographer Janelle McCulloch, theatremaker Tom Wright (who adapted the play for Malthouse Theatre in 2016) and Helen Morse, who played the French teacher in Peter Weir's film version of the story.
They discuss the true story (and the mysticism) that inspired Lindsay, the book's refractions of nature and time, the troubling history of Hanging Rock itself and why Lindsay’s tale continues to haunt and provoke Australian storytellers today.
Left to right: Helen Withycombe, Janelle McCulloch, Tom Wright and Helen Morse — Photo: Jon TjhiaYou may also enjoy Podcast episode Australian Literature 102: Joan Lindsay: Picnic at Hanging Rock / Australian stories Podcast episode Australian Literature 101: Patrick White: Voss / Australian stories Podcast episode Australian Literature 101: Christina Stead: The Man Who Loved Children / Australian stories
American Misadventure with Nathan Hill
Critics have likened him to John Irving; Irving has likened him to Charles Dickens; and Dickens, though very much dead, might have appreciated the humour, heart and panoramic scope of his work. Nathan Hill is the American writer of the moment.
His debut novel, The Nix, is a sprawling, postmodern social satire that skewers contemporary American politics, media and academia. In 2016, it made Hill a star; publication rights of the book have sold in 16 countries, amid some furious bidding wars. The book is remarkably of its time – featuring a viral video firestorm and a populist presidential candidate bearing more than a passing resemblance to one Donald Trump. The New York Times has described The Nix as a ‘supersize and audacious novel of American misadventure’.
Hill’s novel – at times surreal and dystopian – has arrived at an extraordinary moment in American political history. Listen to him in conversation with Louise Swinn, where he talks about the process of writing the book (in longhand, no less), and the surprising people and experiences that prompted its characters and settings.
Louise Swinn and Nathan Hill — Photo: Jon Tjhia
Books and Ideas at Montalto
‘Author, ecologist, historian, dyslexic and honourary wombat (part time)’ – that’s Jackie French’s job title, according to her own website.
Jackie French writes novels and non-fiction; fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction and ecology; for adults and for kids. Over the course of her career, she’s written a dizzying 140 books. Loved by Australian kids for picture books including the Diary of…
Question Time: Public vs Private Education
‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest’, Benjamin Franklin said, and it seems most people agree that education is important. Unfortunately, we disagree on the details: what constitutes a good education? And who should pay for it?
Education reform has featured in the ambitions of all prime ministers in this last decade of revolving-door leadership. Most recently, Malcolm Turnbull has proposed a radical plan of turning over funding of public education from the federal government to the states.
Last year, University of Queensland published a widely publicised study, showing that private school education does not give students an academic edge over their public school counterparts. So, why do governments keep pouring money into them? And why do parents continue to make sacrifices to educate their kids privately? Is an education about more than academic results and, if so, what do private schools offer that public schools don’t? How much of this is about marketing and perception?
We unpack these questions, and more, in a full hour of audience Q&A. Hosted by Madeleine Morris with Monash University education researcher, David Zyngier; former Camberwell High principal, Elida Brereton; and Lucy Clark, author of Beautiful Failures.
Madeleine Morris and Lucy Clark
HEY Girl: Question Time: Raising Girls
You could argue that there’s never been a better time to be a girl in Australia. Girls are outperforming boys at school, they can now aspire to play AFL football and this year a female student was selected for the first time to compete for Australia at the coding Olympics.
But studies are showing rises in the levels of stress…
Invasion of the Pod People
Emperors of Rome on Cleopatra
Podcasts, when done right, have a unique way of getting into our heads and infusing us with passions and fascinations we never thought we had. At their best – Stuff You Should Know, or Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, for example – history podcasts can act like a museum of the mind’s eye, providing an absorbing audio guide to…
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