Archive for category Lit_Review
Each day this week I will be adding posts on this blog that share sections of my PhD thesis. They will be drawn from a section in Chapter 2 titled ‘Contested territory’.
The motivation to do this comes from speaking with a lot of English teachers this week, following the release of the new Stage 6 English syllabus in NSW. Many were eager to learn more about the background to some of the issues coming up in professional discussion.
In her ‘Unofficial Guide’, Bethan Marshall describes English as “a subject which is apparently so amorphous that it elides definition and yet it is sufficiently hard edged to provoke bitter controversy” (2000, p.2). A decade before this Peter Medway, in writing about the history and politics of English as a school subject, argued that the reason why “English is special [is because] certain characteristics generally attributable to academic subjects are notably lacking. The most obvious example is that English does not comprise a body of facts and concepts to be communicated” (Medway, 1990, p.1). This lack of a “body of facts and concepts” and the resultant “amorphous” nature of English as a school subject has indeed ensured that both the purpose and context of the subject continue to be hotly debated. This section will provide an overview of the ‘sticking points’ that have shaped contemporary debates and which endure in current debates about English, and the various (at times competing) demands that are placed on English as a subject area in contemporary NSW schools.
(McGraw, 2010, pp.27-28)
Stay tuned this week for the following elaborations on contested territory in English:
- ‘English’ and ‘Literacy’
- The influence of the canon
- Critical Literacy
- Literary theory and the postmodern turn
- Examination and Assessment
Marshall, B. (2000). English teachers – the unofficial guide: Researching the philosophies of English teachers. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
McGraw, K. (2010). Innovation and change in the 1999 NSW HSC English syllabus: Challenges and problems (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Sydney: Sydney.
Medway, P. (1990). Into the sixties: English and English society at a time of change. In I. Goodson & P. Medway (Eds.), Bringing English to order: The history and politics of a school subject (pp. 1-46). London: Falmer Press.
and…Heidegger paraphrashed: It is not that we first begin from an inner subjective sphere (a la Descartes) and from there go out to meet things in the world; rather, we are always already ‘outside’ among things. (Kisner, W. 2008: ‘The Fourfold Revisited’)
Sheesh. Philosophy. Any ideas anyone?
It’s only now that I’m finalising my thesis that I’m finding the work of U.S. curriculum studies researcher Arthur Applebee.
His works include his first book Tradition and Reform in the Teaching of English: A History (1974) and the later Curriculum as Conversation (1996). These are focussed on reviewing the teaching of English in the United States, but the historical connections he makes are invaluable to all of us in the field.
Here’s a clip from Curriculum as Conversation:
CALL FOR PAPERS: THEMED ISSUE OF ENGLISH IN AUSTRALIA
A new English? More of the same? Or something still unknown? Past, present and future reflections on English teaching and new technologies
This special guest-edited issue is an opportunity to look back at the way English teachers have responded to the many iterations of ‘new’ media and to also grapple with how English teaching might respond to the here and now of our students’ increasingly digitally mediated lives, as well as looking forward to imagine the possibilities for English education. What are the challenges and opportunities presented by various forms of ‘new’ (and ‘old’) media, and by various ways of understanding the ‘new’? What things might need to change? What might be best left as it is? How might English teachers best respond to new and emerging digital texts and contexts?
We ask for contributions that share ways forward for powerful practice in English education, both in terms of the texts that might be studied and the curriculum work English teachers might do. Submissions might explore students’ relationship with multimodal texts and practices or examine digital learning environments and their connections with ‘traditional’ classroom spaces. They might explore new conceptual and theoretical ground or they may address issues of long concern for English teachers such as creativity, engagement and social justice. We are keen to receive classroom-based accounts and action or practitioner research or any other relevant studies conducted within professional contexts or as part of higher education research degrees.