Archive for category Lit_Review

English curriculum: Contested territory

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.

Contested territory

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’
  • Multiliteracies
  • The influence of the canon
  • Critical Literacy
  • Literary theory and the postmodern turn
  • Examination and Assessment

References:

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 Innovation and change in the 1999 NSW HSC English syllabus: Challenges and problems (Unpublished doctoral dissertation).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.

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A transformative digital literacies pedagogy: Thomas (2011)

Thanks to @malynmawby @benpaddlejones and @Vormamim for engaging in tweety-chat today about play-based learning and transformational play.

There was an article that I wanted to post the full reference to – this one by Angela Thomas (@anyaixchel)

Thomas, A. (2011) Towards a transformational digital literacies pedagogy. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy. Vol. 6 pp. 89-101

You can see the abstract for the paper with my own annotations, above.

In it she argues that there are:

a number of significant characteristics of digital literacy that are imperative to include in a pedagogy of digital literacy in order to make it a transformational pedagogy.  These include: explicit understandings of multimodality, opportunities for play and experimentation, participating within communities of practice, and critical engagement with text.

I had picked this article up to read Angela’s findings about digital pedagogy, but it was a timely read.  I am a big fan of the work of Paulo Freire, and of his work to empower communities through literacy.  By bringing in Freire’s notion of ‘transformative pedagogies’ this article reaffirmed the need for critical, participatory and dialogic practices to be woven into the digital learning landscape.

I’d love to hear of other readings and resources along these lines, if you know of any…?

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REVISION

ONTONOLGY

ASCETICS

DEONTONOLGY

TELEOLOGY

Revise.

Foucault's Nietzschean genealogy: truth, power, and the subject By Michael Mahon

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?

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JOLT: Balancing Quality and Workload in Asynchronous Online Discussions

Of interest to teachers struggling to keep up with online discussions with their students!

Goldman, Zvi (2011) ‘Balancing Quality and Workload in Asynchronous Online Discussions: A Win-Win Approach for Students and Instructors’. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 7:2 pp.313-323

ABSTRACT: The challenge addressed in this article is how to achieve a win-win balance between quality and workload for students and instructors participating in asynchronous online discussions. A Discussion Guideline document including minimum requirements and best practices was developed to address this need. The approach covers three phases: design and development, setting up expectations, and launch and management. The goals of the approach, based on a commitment shared by all full time and adjunct faculty, are high quality of education as well as retention of both students and qualified instructors.

Further explanation of the research challenge from the introduction: “When discussions are regarded as critical components of learning, and administered as such, they impose a significant workload on both students and instructors. In applicable programs targeting practitioner adults, discussion sessions, during which much of the evidence-based learning and experience sharing occur, can easily consume half the course workload (Goldman, 2010). The reality is that neither students nor instructors can afford to dedicate an unlimited amount of time to fulfill course requirements or teach a course. Therefore, as a matter of practicality, discussion sessions should be carefully implemented to balance pedagogic quality and workload for students and instructors alike.”

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Finding Arthur Applebee

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:

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Foucault THAT.

I have a confession to make.

Lately, I’ve been cheating on my blog.  (In a good way, I promise!)

A colleague at my university, Clare O’Farrell, has an established Ning that is home to members of the Poststructuralist Theory ‘Special Interest Group’ of AARE.  Established it so well, in fact, that it is one of the few Nings I know of (along with the English Companion) that continued to have happy users after stupid-Ning made its stupid-serivce un-free.  Hmph.

Anyway, I use my space and profile on the ‘Ed Theory Ning’ to brain-vomit about (on?) theory that I don’t understand yet.

And it’s proven #very illuminating.

Increasing my activity in various groups on the Ning has also proven fruitful.  Particularly in the ‘Daily Writing Club’ (we have to do exactly as it says…!) and now also from browsing the ‘Foucault reading group’.

That’s where I was reminded to check out Clare’s actual blog, Refracted Input, which I hadn’t done for ages.  This month she is discussing a quote by Foucault about ‘race and colonialism’, and in it I can see a relationship to contemporary discourses around changing technologies.

The term ‘folklore’ is nothing but a hypocrisy of the ‘civilised’ who won’t take part in the game, and who want to hide their refusal to make contact under the mantle of respect for the picturesque…
Man is irrevocably a stranger to dawn. It needed our colonial way of thinking to believe that man could have remained faithful to his beginnings and that there was any place in the world where he could encounter the essence of the ‘primitive’. (trans. Clare O’Farrell)

Michel Foucault, (1994) [1963] ‘Veilleur de la nuit des hommes’ In Dits et Ecrits vol. I. Paris: Gallimard, p. 232.

You see, I’ve been worrying about the ethics of what could be seen as meddling with teachers or students who are comfotable in their print-material ways, trying to prod them along to explore new technologies.  I have wondered, ‘am I being selfish?’, ‘what if they have it right?’, ‘what if I’m destroying something important?’, and ‘am I wrong to advocate for my view, should I just wait and see what happens instead?’.  But then, Clare’s wise words:

One cannot buy into the romanticism of the primitive – which is assumed to be so much closer to pure truth and ‘nature’. Conversely one cannot make the colonial assumption that one civilisation or one period of history (now) is more advanced and more evolved than another.

That’s right.  I don’t need to worry about whether I’ll ‘wreck’ anything, unless I’m thinking of the people I’m meddling with as OTHER.  And I was using pronouns to construct myself in opposition to other through all those damn self-doubts.  I don’t need to do that.  FOUCAULT THAT!

*Sigh of relief*

NB: Clare also curates a website on Michel Foucault, which includes a glossary of KEY CONCEPTS and other wonderful gems (thanks Clare!).

 

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Call for Papers: English in Australia 46.3

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.

Guest editors: Kelli McGraw (QUT) & Scott Bulfin (Monash)

Download the Call for Papers and guidelines for contributors.

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