Archive for category english
Wouldn’t it be something to be recognised as a poet?
I mean, not just to be a poet – many of us write poetry, and are already poets.
But to actually be recognised for it!
To have people read your pieces and like them enough to want to share them, by giving them an award, or publishing them in a book…
Now that would be something!
Links of interest:
Something I have been sharing with my students over the past few years is the story of how I became confident enough to read and teach poetry.
You see, the truth about English teachers is that not all of them like poetry. Not all of them feel like they ‘get’ poetry, either. In fact, just like there are English teachers that hate Shakespeare, or storytelling, or debating, or essay writing, there are some English teachers that HATE poetry, and avoid teaching it wherever possible.
I was never a teacher that hated poetry. But I was a teacher that saw poetry as ‘beyond’ my understanding for many years. I knew I was supposed to ‘get it’, but I had to study what I was going to teach quite intently before tackling it in class, every time.
Oh the revision I had to do when I was a beginning teacher!
Oh how useless my university units including study of poetry seemed (and still seem)!
Luckily, I did have enough positive experiences of poetry from my youth to stay engaged – as a little kid I had some illustrated poetry books that I loved to read, and as a teenager I lived up to the classic stereotype of hormonal girl by writing maaany lines of free verse about my horrible melancholic life etc. into notebooks covered with skulls and flowery tattoo sketches.
Ahh, those were the days!
In high school English I enjoyed studying poetry, and felt very clever at it. But our study was always heavily guided by a teacher – when left to my own devices to interpret an unseen poem, I always felt lost and frustrated.
As for writing poetry, well … aside from a few haikus in junior English, I don’t recall writing any.
So what changed?
My attitude changed very quickly in my first year of teaching. Tell me if you’ve ever heard this advice:
A teacher should try completing activities themselves first, before setting them for students.
I know I’ve heard that advice a few times, and of course it’s good advice though impossible to follow all the time. However, as a beginning teacher it was clear to me that my colleagues and I were setting work for students that we didn’t do ourselves about, oh … half of the time? At least??
You see, no-one in the staff room was writing poetry, or short stories, or letters to the editor, or pretty much anything in their spare time. Two teachers in postgraduate studies would have been writing essays, but the rest of the teachers sure as shoot weren’t. Yet we were teaching a curriculum that required students to spend half of their time composing texts of various kinds.
When I realised this, what changed for me was that I decided to be more of a role model for my students by attempting more personal writing.
And that included poetry.
How does writing poetry help you like poetry?
The short answer: by providing a source of intrinsic motivation.
The longer answer: I found that trying to write poetry forced me to look at other people’s poetry in a whole new light. Just try writing a poem… if you aren’t already in the habit of it, you’ll probably find it challenging! Sometimes when I try to write a poem, the limits of my own writing ability are so in-my-face that I feel driven to go and read more examples of other people’s poetry to try to get ideas about different writing styles and tricks. There are still plenty of poems that I don’t understand, but these days there aren’t really any that I’m afraid of anymore!
Maybe I’m not completely right about this – after all, if you feel too frustrated with poetry writing, maybe you won’t appreciate other people’s attempts or even want to read any. (A message for teachers might therefore be to make sure that writing at school stays fun, so that students stay motivated and encouraged to independently learn more.)
Reading contemporary Australian poetry
Now that I actually like poetry, I’ve found out that I also actually like Australian poetry!
In a workshop by the Red Room Company with Johanna Featherstone last year, my students and I were asked to name as many Australian poets as we could. The list was woefully short and mostly full of bush poets… we agreed that day had been a wake up call for us all!
Since then I have been reading some volumes of poetry and I am very happy to recommend the following, for anyone who is keen to pursue contemporary Australian poets:
Ross and Michelle are poets that I’ve met since working at QUT, and I got to know Lachlan when he visited my class as a Red Room Company poet. Knowing a little bit about these poets has helped me to engage with their work, but honestly, they are all just bloody good! Have your library order them
Looks like the theme for this blog at the moment is VOICE!
A little while ago I was alerted to this excellent production of student work from South Western Sydney, and I’d like to share it with everyone here on the blog.
Coming to Voice is a collection of ‘literary videos’ from students at Sir Joseph Banks High School. The video production by Westside is 5 minutes long, and showcases an innovative layering of student stories, voices, and animation:
From the press release:
Thirteen students from year 7 worked with the Chief Editor of Westside Publications, Michael Mohammed Ahmad, to develop writing that was then animated by 2012 SHORTCUTS film festival winner Vinh Nguyen.
The literary video, called ‘Coming to Voice’ will be screened at an assembly at Sir Joseph Banks High School and will also be launched on the BYDS website as a new web series on August 23rd.
Digital stories, literary videos etc.
BYDS (Bankstown Youth Development Services) seems to have a range of resources relating to the local community on their website: http://www.byds.org.au/ including oral history and photomedia materials. I’m so glad that these kinds of digital arts-based resources are flourishing!
When I talk about ‘digital stories’ or ‘digital narrative’ with teachers, it can be hard to explain the possibilities for the genre. There is of course the Daniel Meadows school of thought that advocates for 2 minute, 12 frame, voice-only digital biographies. The digital storytelling project at QUT uses a similar form.
I think the folks at BYDS have cleverly carved out a different kind of genre here for what they’ve produced – a “literary video”. As the students are reading their POETRY, the production is not quite of STORYTELLING. Could they have called them “digital poems”? Perhaps. But that might distract from the multimedia nature of the production, and the way that animation and video shots add meaning to the piece.
Literary videos… I like it! Thanks for sharing Mariam!
I always spell literature with a lower case ‘l’. Unless having to use title case forces me to do otherwise, and even then I only do it grudgingly, preferring to write the whole word in CAPS. ‘Literature’ is not a proper noun, no more than the words ‘music’ or ‘drama’ or ‘visual art’ or ‘sociology’ are. No, ‘literature’ is a field of study, as vulnerable to attack, redundancy and dissolution as any other. ‘Literature’ is not like ‘The Bible’, it is not one definable thing. It is not like ‘Shakespeare’, it does not have a personality nor is it an old friend. It is a field, a part of the landscape that is identifiable, but that can also shift and erode or be crowded out, given enough time. It is important, oh yes, like an atomic bomb, or a legacy – but it is not a proper noun.
The topic: the draft Senior English subjects proposed by ACARA.
You can check out the ‘Storify’ made by Vivian to see all of the tweets from the discussion that night collected in one place:
If you haven’t yet found where to download the draft curriculum documents from, here is the URL: http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/draft_senior_secondary_australian_curriculum.html
Consultation on these documents ends on 20th July, 2012 (THAT’S SOON!) You can contact your professional association to ask if you can add comments to their response, or lodge your own response at the ACARA consultation website: http://consultation.australiancurriculum.edu.au/ (you will need to register first).
Some interesting comments made during the #ozengchat were:
- That an ‘English Literature’ (EL) course would flow nicely into university study
- That the EL course did not look significantly more difficult than the ‘English’ (E) course
- That the assumption is that in NSW, the current Standard course aligns with ‘English’ while the current Advanced course aligns with ‘English Literature’ – but this is not at all the case
- That bridging the gap between Year 10 and Year 11 & 12 needs a stronger focus
- That the proposal to organise Senior English into semester-long units seems to align with what currently happens in Western Australia…but we’re not sure where else (?)
- That the local state/territory bodies would still be responsible for assessment and examination; i.e. many did not realise that the NSW BOS would still be responsible for setting the HSC reading list
- That English Studies as exists in NSW (non-ATAR course) filled a big gap – the hope is that ‘Essential English’ (EE) turns out to be like English Studies (or English Communication, a similar course in QLD)
- That English would likely remain mandatory in NSW, and people wondered why it was not so in other states/territories
There is so much more to talk about when it comes to the proposed Senior English subjects!
I hope to have a new post up soon with some of my personal thoughts about the drafts. In the meantime, if you’ve been thinking about (or wondering about) the curriculum ACARA has proposed, drop a comment here – let’s chat about it!
This year in Sydney, as with last year in Melbourne, AATE and ALEA are holding separate national conferences.
Despite promises to myself earlier this year to go to less conferences, I’ll be heading along to both
The ALEA National Conference, which is about to be held in Sydney from 6-9 July, has already sold out all available places (Well done to Lisa Kervin, the conference convenor!) I’ll be sticking my head in on the last day of this conference to hand out promotional material our conference in Brisbane…it’s hand over time, baby!
The AATE National Conference will be held a little later this year, from 3-4 October. I’ll be there with Five Bells on, presenting a workshop with Bianca Hewes on ‘Success, obstacles and ethics in online teaching’ as well as on a panel about teacher blogging. I’ll be joined on the panel by the likes of Bianca, Troy and Darcy, so you know it’s going to be a power-session; not to be missed!
Once these two conferences are wrapped up, it’s next stop: Brisbane 2013!
Our website won’t go live until after the hand over in July, but there is a Facebook page you can like and Twitter profile you can follow:
We’re working like crazy to get the Call for Papers and everything else ready for the launch, but here’s a sneak preview of things to come:
…will I see you in Brisbane in 2013?
When you have a research paper to present, choosing the right conference to take it to is important.
I have long been affiliated with the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE). When I first started out as a postgrad student, I used to go to their conferences to present papers, and I even was elected as student rep. to the Executive Committee. I also had one of those awful experiences of being a small fish in a giant pond, and having only three people turn up for me to deliver my paper to. Devo’d…In the end I ultimately stopped being involved in AARE because I needed to narrow my focus and concentrate on English curriculum teaching and scholarship.
Since then I’ve been going to the annual conference of the Australian Association for Teachers of English (AATE) – every year since 2004! And this year is no exception – I’ll be in Melbourne for the AATE conference in December (will you?). Only, for the first time in awhile, I’ll be heading to the AARE conference too, in Hobart the week before. With more skills in networking under my belt, and a clearer direction for engaging with the ‘special interest groups’, I’m feeling really positive about reconnecting with AARE and sharing my PhD findings there.
For me though, as far as big, generalist conferences go, AARE was always plenty big enough – and having developed an instinct to narrow my scope rather than broaden it, I didn’t think I would ever attend the EVEN BIGGER, EVEN BROADER, international ‘annual meeting’ of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)…
But, attend it I am!
Both the paper and group session I submitted have been accepted to AERA 2012, which will be held in Vancouver in April next year:
Curriculum Change and Resistance: Challenges Identified During the Implementation of An Expansive State English Curriculum.
This paper presents the findings of a doctoral study that undertook a content analysis of a corpus of curriculum texts, news reports and case interviews with teachers during a period of curriculum change in the Australian state of New South Wales.
Producing the young citizen in texts of families, neighbourhoods and nations
This session critically analyses popular fiction, nonfiction and television texts for children and young people focusing on sexuality, sexual safety, bullying and heroism. Each of the selected texts can be understood as a pedagogical apparatus that works to instantiate children and young people as particular subjects and objects of knowledge. (with Gannon, Lampert, Bethune and Gonick)
So, let’s count ‘em up: AATE and AARE in December; I already went to ALEA and IFTE earlier in the year; AERA in 2012.
That’s FIVE amazing conferences in 12 months!
And one BUSY girl :/
Totally worth it
(By the way…’what’s with all the four letter acronyms starting with A’, I hear you ask? Tell me about it! Took the first year of my research degree to decipher this shiz! And the kind of ugly websites of AERA and AARE…you can tell all of their energy goes into research!)