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The Story of Tom Brennan

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This module requires students to explore and analyse texts used in a specific situation. It assists students’ understanding of the ways that texts communicate information, ideas, bodies of knowledge, attitudes and belief systems in ways particular to specific areas of society.

Electives in this module are designed around a specific social context and the texts that are characteristic of and valued within it. Prescribed texts will be drawn from a variety of professional and social contexts. Students are also required to supplement this study with texts of their own choosing related to the module.

Students explore the role of textual features in the shaping of meaning in specific contexts. They develop the communication skills necessary for a wide variety of personal, social, historical, cultural and workplace contexts. Composition focuses on analysing and experimenting with textual forms characteristic of the specific contexts. These compositions may be realised in a variety of forms and media.

Elective: Into the World
In this elective students explore a variety of texts that deal with aspects of growing up or transition into new phases of life and a broader world. People encounter different experiences and respond to them individually. These personal experiences may result in growth, change or other consequences. Students respond to and compose a range of texts that illustrate different pathways into new experiences. They examine the features of texts that shape our knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about individuals venturing into new experiences. The following annotations are based on the criteria for selection of texts appropriate for study for the Higher School Certificate. MERIT AND CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

* The novel was the winner of the 2006 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards: Older Readers and the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature (Novel). * This highly acclaimed novel by the Australian author J C Burke focuses on a teenage boy’s experiences after a tragic car accident in a small NSW country town, and the consequences which threaten to destroy his family when his brother is sent to gaol for manslaughter, his cousin is paralysed and family members are forced to flee their home and reconsider their lives, relationships and values. * The Story of Tom Brennan depicts with both pathos and humour how families deal with grief and tragedy as it explores a number of current news issues, such as drink-driving, acceptable blood alcohol levels, and the age at which teenagers can get their driving licences.

* Written in the first person from Tom’s perspective, the story has an immediacy and rawness that will engage the students as it has an Australian context and addresses the topical issues of drink-driving, speeding, P-plate drivers and adolescent behaviour and responsibilities.

* Students will be challenged and confronted by Tom’s introspection and emotional state as they simultaneously gain insight into how individuals and families are affected by their own, as well as other’s, actions. * The narrative style and natural dialogue capture the essence and individuality of each of the characters as well as their emotional complexity and will engage students and help to develop their empathy and understanding of the central characters and issues.

* Students will explore the non-linear first-person narrative form, the use of flashback and other narrative techniques in order to consider how the author creates and sustains suspense through a series of dramatic and reflective moments. * The strength of this novel is that it evokes in the reader strong reflections on family, institutional living (both prison and hospital), the dangers of drink-driving and the resilience of individuals. The novel should raise interesting and lively debate about adult, adolescent and social behaviour, drink-driving and relationships. * The study of this novel will promote students’ personal reflection and evaluation of their own experiences, values and behaviour as they consider to what extent they identify or empathise with the adolescent characters and their situation.

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