imagine .

Imagine a world without the HSC in which young people would be free to enjoy their adolescent years free of undue stress.

They’re funny, those St. George Girls. When you watch them, you see a whole new world. They discuss maths questions and English exams when they walk to and from school, and scream and whine about their unperfected essays and how they don’t have enough time to start making notes fifteen weeks before their exams. We debate cigarette brands though, so I’m not sure which one’s better.

I know a few St. George year 12s. Exam time is horrible, for me, because the stress is all they can talk about. This one girl, Rebecca tells me “I’m so bad at English and I’m going to fail physics and chemistry! Oh my god! I’m so stressed!”

I try to comfort them, but inwardly I roll my eyes. I’m sure she’s fine at English, and the time she spends studying for physics and chemistry will mean that she’ll pass the exam. When she tells me she’s going to fail, she really means “I’m not going to get 99UAI.” The language of these St. Georgians are twisted, but if you’re around them long enough, you begin to understand.

I’m not going to get 99UAI. Actually I’d be lucky if I made the eighties. I find it amazing that these people centre their whole existence on some two digit number (or three digits… in the case of a few freaks) and work so hard so their number can be bigger than everyone else’s. It’s all one big competition where the participants sign up their whole teenage life and then fight for the best happily ever after. Does it really matter if you can’t be a doctor or a lawyer or one of those people with a pole up their arses? Does your perfect UAI really lead to the perfect life?

These girls think so.

Sometimes, rarely, their obsessions make me contemplate my own existence. What is it that makes me so different to them? I think it’s the way I see things.

Weekends are for partying, not maths tutor. After school is for sleeping, not English tutor. Holidays are for relaxing, not extra maths and English tutor. HSC is just an exam. Or several exams, actually.

Just an exam?” Rebecca screeches at me. “It’s like, the most important exam of your life! If you get a good enough UAI you can get into any course you want to do, especially the high paying ones. Then you’re set. You don’t have to work your arse off for the rest of your life; it’s smooth sailing from here.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t doctors work like slaves for the rest of their lives? Or did that idea come from watching too much television?

I get into these arguments too much with Rebecca. Our different views on life and school are the stems of huge debates that neither of us will ever win. Once in a while, over the internet, we’ll conduct surveys and search for others who share our opinions. But it’s the same for the other St. George girls. We debate it until they have to go offline to complete their homework; in the end, homework always prevails. It also saves me from having to listen to their idealistically bullshit logic. My theory is that they just can’t accept the pointlessness of something they’ve worked so hard for.

When Rebecca tells me she’ll teach me maths, I automatically began formulating a speech about how I’d never be like her. I didn’t need a high UAI to make my life perfect; I could manage without it. I didn’t want to excel at school and spend copious amounts of time writing practice essays and learning maths formulae. I didn’t need her to teach me maths. But she only mentioned it because, apparently, when you teach someone you learn 80% more than when they teach you. So being a good friend, and having too much time to waste, I accepted the offer. At least we could hang out more.

We choose State Library as the venue for our classroom, because everyone mulling over their HSC goes there. While I wait for her, I study them. They all have the same lines across their foreheads, the same looks of intense concentration, and incomprehension, and the same smile of relief when they figure it out. I shake my head, and turn my music up.

Rebecca arrives, looking more stressed than all of them. She’s angry that her English teacher hasn’t been at school because she needs guidance in her “worst subject”. However, rather than this guidance, she receives a piece of paper with a creative writing question on it.

Imagine a world without the HSC in which young people would be free to enjoy their adolescent years free of undue stress.

“How am I supposed to write a story about this? I don’t do science fiction, or fantasy,” she says, exasperated. She knows she writes better when it’s a story about real life. But I’m confused. I look up at her.

“Who isn’t free to enjoy their life?” I frown. “That’s a stupid question to ask. A world like this already exists; you don’t have to imagine it.”

    • bek
    • September 9th, 2008

    HAHAHAHA i likeee

    • darkcloudv2
    • October 15th, 2008

    what a beast.

  1. Medicine = 6 years of slaving away in uni.
    A few more years slaving away in hospitals.
    A few more few years slaving away to specialize.
    On top of high school.
    And part of primary school.
    Which means by the time you can call yourself a doctor.
    You have hairs of white and grey.
    You spend the rest of your time working 6 days a week.
    When you are old and grey and full of sleep (Yeats’ opening in his poem when you are old)
    Then you can finally breathe a sign of relief.
    And rest the eternal rest.

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