Australian education Indigenous poet Ellen van Neerven abused by year 12 English students
Writer faces racist and vulgar posts on Facebook after her poem Mango is used as a sample text in Year 12 exam Ellen van Neerven received the abuse after an exam question asked students to ‘explain how the poet conveys the delight of discovery’. Photograph: ellenvanneervencurrie.wordpress.com Australian education Indigenous poet Ellen van Neerven abused by year 12 English students
Writer faces racist and vulgar posts on Facebook after her poem Mango is used as a sample text in Year 12 exam View more sharing options Monday 16 October 2017 23.53 BST Last modified on Tuesday 17 October 2017 09.
The head of the New South Wales education standards authority has said he is “appalled” after an Australian poet became the target of online abuse from high school students because one of her pieces was used in end-of-year exams.
Ellen van Neerven, an Indigenous writer and poet who won the prestigious David Unaipon Award in 2013, became the unwitting target of angry school students on Monday after one her poems, Mango , was used as a sample text in the New South Wales year 12 higher school certificate English exam.
The exam question, worth two marks, asked students to “explain how the poet conveys the delight of discovery”.
It prompted a torrent of abuse directed at van Neervan, including some students who contacted her directly on Facebook.
“We were asked to analyse your mango fucked poem – and I’m asking what the fuck was the point of your mango bullshit,” one message purportedly sent to van Neervan and subsequently posted on a HSC discussion group read. Michael McGowan (@mmcgowan569)
Another wrote “on behalf of the state I would like to say Fuck you and your fucking Mango Poem”.
Some students defended van Neerven, and criticised students for contacting her directly.
But Facebook HSC discussion groups were overrun with criticism of the poet.
The chief executive of the NSW education standards authority, David de Carvalho, said he was “appalled by the abuse of the author”.
“This is a completely inappropriate response and I hope those involved see fit to apologise to Ms van Neerven,” he said in a statement.
However neither the authority nor the NSW Department of Education said they would investigate the abuse.
Van Neerven has not commented publicly about the abuse, but on Twitter writers and poets jumped to her defence. Michelle Law 🌈 (@ms_michellelaw) Students “venting” about Ellen must already know that “venting” is chatting to your friends, not @-ing an author on their personal accounts. October 16, 2017
The writer Michelle Law wrote: whoever [and] whatever is teaching children that they can abuse people and think that they’ll get away with it needs to be stopped and changed”.
“In my school talks I tell students that good/bad actions aren’t isolated to school. It’s the ones I can see are listening that give me hope,” she wrote.
The education standards authority said that authors whose work appear in the exams “are not advised in advance due to security and confidentiality requirements”. Omar Sakr (@OmarjSakr) These are not children, they are young adults who are presumably meant to go on to university after this exam. They are clearly unprepared. October 16, 2017
But the author Omar Sakr criticised this position on Twitter, saying that “since most authors have public profiles, if you are using their work, it would be a courtesy to let them know in advance”.
“Especially if the author is Indigenous or not white, and so particularly vulnerable to ignorant attacks and pile-ons,” he wrote. “This is ridiculous.” Topics .