Sunday, August 17, 2008

Jonah Takalua

Jonah Takalua is a 13-year-old school boy in year 8 at Summer Heights High. He is of Tongan descent and lives with his father. Jonah, however acts up at school, treating his teachers with disrespect and bullying younger students. He is at serious risk of being expelled. Summer Heights High is Jonah’s third school after being expelled from two others in eighteen months for setting fire to a student’s locker and defacing a staff member’s car respectively. Jonah attends “Gumnut Cottage”, a remedial class for students at Summer Heights High who have reading difficulties and he is stated to have a reading level of an eight year old.
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I felt compelled to write something about Jonah after watching Summer Heights High on BBC Three and Youtube.

On the face of it Summer Hieghts High is a normal, albeit a very funny, send up of various fly-on-the-wall documentaries. However throughout the series, it tackles many issues that affect urban schools and society.

Some of the issues that are covered through the Jonah Takalua character:

How Polinesian children are treated in Australian schools. (Generally how minorities are treated in schools)
How teachers are intentially or unintentially racist.
How school inititives for disruptive kids are shallow and not supervised properly.

There are probably more which I haven't picked up on.

I think the Jonah character struck a cord with me because I could see many friends and other kids from school in the character. These were kids who were very bright but did some stupid things and fell into a spiral in which they got into more and more trouble.

This is such a sad situation because the kids failed to live up to their potential and in some cases it could affect them for the rest of their lives. In alot of cases they were very talented like Jonah with his breake dancing and rapping.

On a lighter note the series has some great one liners in it and is very funny.

Thanks to Chris Lilley for this series and I hope to see more of Jonah in the future.

"Puk you, Sir"

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