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HSC Essay Writing

I love words and writing! I write about theology, philosophy and social issues – I am a man of letters although I have not published and am not anxious to.

I find writing to be the most effective way of developing thought and finding out what I really think at depth. Writing clears the mind and help it become ordered and ordinate. Writing is the most powerful means we have to express ourselves in a cogent manner.  Writing allows the exercise of reason and logic as well as thinking at a deeper level than is required of us in our technologically surfeited world.


As a teacher I am a specialist in writing – creative writing as well as formal essay, because I love it and I am good at it. I desire most of all for students to love words the way I do. I want them to learn to do well in the short term, during their schooling, particularly the H.S.C. but I am also anxious for them to develop this life skill into an effective tool to be used throughout their lives both professionally and personally.


I taught at Ingleburn High School in 1981. There the English master, Dick Leemen, introduced our faculty to the Writing Process. This was a pedagogical system develop by an American educator named Don Graves.

This was aimed at primary aged children, and was based on the simple premise that children were designed not only to talk but to write. When children cannot write, or don’t like writing, something has gone wrong.

Therefore, it is necessary to find out where this dysfunction started and provided a writing environment where the children “own” their own writing and come to believe it is an important thing for them to do. This sort of responsible ownership for the young writer includes engaging in the tougher aspects of grammar and vocabulary, as a responsible learner, over and against doing grammar and vocabulary lists which have no context for the student and are marked with an abstract system that does not encourage a personal appropriation by the student.   Students who have a vested interest in their own writing are motivated to develop and really learn these skills  independently.

HSC Essay Writing

I have now effected this method for several decades in school classes and in individual tutoring. It is probably the best thing I do as a teacher.

The writing process was primarily developed as a tool for primary aged students. However, as students proceed through their education, the writing of essays becomes an essential skill. It is essential to learn the skill of responding to the very complex ideas presented in various texts, often two texts at a time, in a logical and reasonable manner, having considered both the thesis position and the antithesis position. This then leads to a conclusion which answers the question in a clear, concise and convincing manner, having arrived at the truth of the issue.

This sounds complicated and if children hate writing in primary school, they have very little chance of being able to enjoy it when faced with the formal demands of essay writing, much less excelling at it.

The love of writing must be taught to include essay writing. An essayist who understands the demand of the essay form and is motivated to search out the issue presented by the studied text, will be far more likely to be able to write in a convincing and competitive way if they feel competent and enjoy what they are doing. Unshackling students from the morbid fear of getting it wrong and releasing them to an exploration of how to think in an adult fashion and do it better allows the student to be confident and self-assured knowing that what they are writing about is both doable and important. It has been said that what makes us human is our desire to understand and make sense of our existence. Jeremy Hexam (Athabasca 2010) Reading and writing are the primary skills which enable us to do just this.

Learn how to write essays for HSC exams
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