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Cyril Jackson

Sue Oldham speaks with Mitchell Chiew and his physics teacher, Matt



1.  What’s the secret to your success?

There’s no ‘secret’ but there are lots of little things that really make a difference.  Firstly I organised a study timetable which I found very hard to stick to and it was only in the weeks leading up to exams that I could fully commit to it.  On four out of five weekdays I would get up at 5.00am and do a five to six-hour study session and then I would typically have four one-hour blocks from 6.00pm to 10.00pm.  Another excellent time for studying is on public transport as it is harder to get distracted by technology.  Taking notes is just as important as the study timetable and something I didn’t do in Year 11.  I was frustrated in Year 11 because I couldn’t get past certain barriers mark-wise – never getting high 90s in major tests for any subject.  I accepted that I just couldn’t do it but, as soon as Year 12 started and I began taking notes, I organised what I had learnt in my mind so much more efficiently. 

2.  How have your school and teachers helped you to achieve such outstanding results?

I was home-schooled for 10 years and was very nervous about entering a system in Year 11 that was so unfamiliar.  Ironically, I wasn’t even planning on getting an ATAR, rather studying topics of interest at a secondary level and getting into university through alternate means.  I initially didn’t study English so WACE would not have been possible.  The teachers and other staff at Cyril Jackson Senior Campus were really friendly and helpful and within days I was used to the school system.  I was also convinced to study English and get my WACE, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I made.

I wasn’t particularly academic at the beginning of Year 11.  I did fairly well in tests but nothing that would hint at my eventual ATAR.  However, the friendly competition in Year 11 kindled my interest in seeing how far I could go and, by the end of the year, I discovered my academic side.  My physics teacher especially inspired a competitive edge which prepared me for a much more serious race in Year 12.

 3.  Who has inspired you to each your goals:

I have several people to thank including my teachers as well aststudents in my classes for the competition and sharing of learning.  In the year before me at Cyril Jackson there was a particularly deserving student, Arash Arabshahi, who worked much harder than me in tougher circumstances and graduated with an ATAR of 99.95 as well as numerous top awards in maths and science.  Watching him study relentlessly inspired me to do the same in Year 12.  My biggest inspiration for working hard and reaching my goals in Years 11 and 12 is one of my best friends and 2010 Beazley Medal winner, Michael Taran.

4.  What are your immediate plans for the future?

I plan to go to the University of WA to study a Bechelor of Philosophy (Honours) in mathematics and physics.  To satisfy broadening requrements I intend to study Latin as well.

5.  What mark would you like to make on the world?

I don’t have a definite career in sight but I do want to be involved with maths and physics.  With the impending construction of the Square Kilometre Array in Western Australia, I could go into astronomy and help make discoveries about the mysteries of the universe.  Another aspect of science which is topical and interests me is the study of subatomic particles, the most recent revelations of which are to do with the Higgs Boson.  I also feel a duty to help protect the environment and would like to help advance more renewable sources of energy.



6.  In your experience, are good students born or made?

Top students have to be born with some genetic talent but all students have to be stretched to reach their full potential.

7.  What sets Michael apart from other students?

He’s a very personable student with a wry sense of humour and he really enjoyed his learning experiences.  Coming from a home schooling background, he relished the classroom environment.  He set about trying to understand as much as he could about the concepts studied in physics, never afraid to ask questions, seeking clarification on certain points when needed and doing as many ‘extra’ questions as he could.

8.  How do you help very bright students reach their potential?

I make sure all students have a very good understanding of the basics.  I then raise the bar to develop that understanding with different contexts.  Time constrains within the course can limit this, so I encourage students to investigate further contexts themelves.  The top students take full advantage of this.  Close to final exams, I provide a well structured revision program and give students access to past exam papers to prepare for future exams.  Preparation is key.

9.  How do you keep students motivated during Year 12?

By making the classroom not only a hard-working, goal-orientated learning environment but also a fun, interactive learning place.  I am aware that my course is only part of their overall studies and get a broader picture of their academic progress and frequently remind them of the various post-school options available.  The ‘adult ethos’ at Cyril Jackson Senior Campus encourages each student to independently reach their potential.

10.  What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from one of your brightest students?

Even the best students make silly mistakes in assessments and I encourage all students to learn from these mistakes.  If they do, they will experience success.


school matters  |  edition 1  |  february/march 2013


53 Reid St Bassendean 6054 WA
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