Saturday, 15 May 2010


This was in today's Australian newspaper, under the headline 'Query on Literature in English Curriculum.' The criticism of English courses by a teachers' union representative - they 'tend to privilege print medium' - makes me despair. The whole article does actually. Australia's children are at the mercy of a bunch of ideologues and dropkicks apparently. Thank heavens mine have already finished school.

"ENGLISH teachers have questioned the value of a stand-alone literature course in the national curriculum for years 11 and 12 in an "increasingly media-driven and digital society".
The draft senior secondary national curriculum in English, maths, science and history was released for public consultation yesterday by Education Minister Julia Gillard, offering four hierarchical levels of study in English and maths, four science subjects and two history courses.
Students in Years 11 and 12 will be able to choose from a basic English course for social and workplace skills, a course for those learning English as a second language, a more traditional English course for students intending to study at university and a separate literature course. Students can take one or a combination of the courses.
The initial response from the NSW English Teachers Association queried the place of literature in the English courses, saying a separate course suggested literature was only for the top students and placed an over-emphasis on traditional literature at the expense of other forms of communication.
"Key considerations will focus on whether, in an increasingly media-driven and digital society, a stand-alone literature course is the most appropriate focus for the final two years of formal school study and indeed whether the suite of courses proposed is sufficiently forward looking," the association says.
ETANSW executive officer Eva Gold said the English courses "tend to privilege print medium" over digital and multi-media texts.
"When you think about the range of courses that kids are going to be looking at in their last two years of school, you have to ask if studying English as purely a literature course is going to be an adequate preparation for life," Ms Gold said.
She said a functional English course being trialled in NSW as an alternative for students not wishing to pursue university study had encouraged boys in particular who were not interested in literature in taking it up.
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority chairman Barry McGaw said literature was critical to language development and media was a separate course under the national arts curriculum being developed.
ACARA intends to provide for each of the four English courses prescribed texts for study, to be developed in consultation with the states, covering fiction, non-fiction, plays, poetry, film and other multimodal and digital texts.
The draft curriculum includes examples of the types of texts intended for each course, with the functional English course, called Essential English, including newspaper and museum websites, workplace texts such as "Help with your Resume and CV" and "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers".
Examples of literary texts in Essential English include the Booker prize winning novel The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, Beaten by a Blow: a shearer's story by Dennis McIntosh, and plays such as David Williamson's The Club and Ray Lawler's Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.
In English and Literature, suggested authors include Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Yan Martel, Raimond Gaita and Arthur Miller."


  1. "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers".

    yep. you're right! depressing.

  2. Tossers. It won't be long before it'll be described as the study of a dead language.

  3. A young relative of mine went to the local comprehensive in Devon and his teacher came into the classroom the day they were starting Romeo and Juliet and said, 'Right, I think this is a load of toss but it says we've got to do Shakespeare. We can't get out of it so let's just get it out of the way as quickly as we can.'
    In the article what particularly disturbed me was the reference to literature as 'an adequate preparation for life.' First, I think that's the wrong way to look at education and second, I think literature is a wonderful aid to getting through life myself.