Editorial / Karen Moni and Cal Durrant - 2
National Perspectives - 6
Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon and Your Feet on the Ground: Some Reflections on Implementing the Australian Curriculum: English / Karen Moni - 13
Introduction: In late 2011, I was approached by Garry Collins, the president of ETAQ, to deliver a keynote for ETAQ for their first meeting in March 2012. The reflections presented here have been drawn from the transcript of that presentation.
Why Indigenous Perspectives in School? A Consideration of the Current Australian Education Landscape and the Ambiguities to be Addressed in Literacy Teaching / Cara Shipp - 20
Introduction: Being in Western Australia for the 2010 AATE Conference provided an interesting opportunity to reflect upon some of the state’s seminal Aboriginal authors whose works have made their way into Australian consciousness: Sally Morgan, Archie Weller, Jack Davis, Doris Pilkington Garimara, Glenyse Ward and Jimmy Chi, to name a few. What I wondered was, if there have been so many great Aboriginal authors and scholars in Western Australia alone, why is it that the Australian education system, however inadvertently, continues to exclude and marginalise Aboriginal peoples and cultures? Why don’t our Aboriginal leaders (in literature, arts, politics or any other field) have enough impact on the Anglo-Australian school system to make schools a place where Aboriginal students are expected to achieve similar greatness?
Using Literature Circles to Inquire into the Big Themes: Exploring the Refugee Experience / Erika Boas - 25
Introduction: Over a period of five weeks my Grade 8 students and I immersed ourselves in reading about human rights issues as they pertained to refugees. As part of the inquiry we read newspaper articles, explored website resources and I read aloud to students, sharing vivid chapters of the wonderful book – The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif, by Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman. Together we read letters to the editor of strongly opposing views and we explored articles that raised many interesting points and questions from different perspectives. I also modelled the reading, thinking and writing dispositions to the class, asking the students to assist me along the way. Any questions that students had about refugees and human rights were written on butcher’s paper, to be explored throughout the unit. What happens to refugees? How are they treated? Is this fair or unfair? Who has rights and who does not?
Making Meaning with Grammar: A Repertoire of Possibilities / Debra Myhill, Helen Lines and Annabel Watson - 29
Introduction: The place of grammar in an English or literacy curriculum has long been a source of debate, one in which professionals, politicians and the public have often engaged with unbridled enthusiasm. As such, the debate has sometimes been characterised more by ideology or polemic, than by intellectual engagement with the core ideas. In part, this is because grammar has become inextricably intertwined with notions of correctness and standards. Indeed, Hancock (2009) argues that ‘Grammar is error and error is grammar in much of the public mind.’ You can be certain that if the question of grammar is raised, 90% of contributors to the discussion will focus on the niceties of grammatical accuracy, be they dangling participles, split infinitives, or here in England, the linguistics sins of ‘estuary English’. Frequently, the debate is not even about grammar but about accent and pronunciation: estuary English, for example, is more about a particular accent than about grammatical variations from Standard English. And before long, the accuracy of our grammatical usage becomes a touchstone by which we measure the morals of the nation. Get your grammar wrong and the very fabric of the nation crumbles around our ears.
Searching for Ways with Grammar: Reflections on Keynotes by Debra Myhill & Wayne Sawyer / Jenni Evans - 39
Introduction: Finite verbs, imperatives, adverbials – it all confuses me, I used to feel like curling up in a ball when forced to teach it. I rushed through it (usually with a worksheet) as quickly as I could and when the kids questioned why we were doing it, my only response tended to be: because it’s good for you! I seem to have equated the importance of grammar to eating a plate of veggies: just chew, swallow and get the vitamins you need so that we can move on to dessert. I never really stopped to think about whether students absorb grammar like they do their veggies until recently. And with the new Australian Curriculum: English filled with a ‘return to grammar’ and spouting phrases such as nominalisation (which had me googling), I panicked that I’d need to serve up a bigger plate of broccoli without any clue if I’d cooked it properly. Thus began my search for new ways with grammar and here are some of the things I’ve found.
The Language of Connection / Eva Gold and Deb Simpson - 41
Introduction: Researchers at Facebook and the University of Milan have dismissed the idea of 6 degrees of separation between two people and maintain that it has shrunk considerably in the past few years to 4.7 degrees. This may not seem surprising until we realise that the original experiment published in 1967 by the psychologist Stanley Milgram was drawn from 296 volunteers who sent a postcard through friends and then friends of friends to a specific person in a Boston suburb. Facebook together with researchers at the University of Milan performed a study earlier this year using all 721 million active Facebook users. Of course, the quality and level of ‘friendship’ is of a different order but people are still people and we are clearly getting closer and closer on a global scale.
The Idea of Place: Reading for Pleasure and the Workings of Power / Susan Midalia - 44
Place : what a great theme for an English teacher’s conference, in this official Year of Reading. It’s such a conceptually rich and emotionally resonant topic through which to explore the many pleasures and challenges of reading; for us as teachers, and for our students. For place is, of course, not only a physical location; it’s also a powerful idea and a powerfully lived experience. We forge our various identities – familial, cultural, sexual, vocational – in particular places. We invest our emotions in them, have bodily responses to them. Some places can feel like ‘home’, or they can feel alien to the self, utterly estranging.
Year 10 English: Australian Texts and The Battle for Survival / Alison Robertson - 52
Introduction: The texts and classroom activities in this paper are a sample of those used within a unit on ‘The Battle for Survival’. The unit brings classic Australian literary texts together with reportage on contemporary news events, and demonstrates an integrated approaches to the Literacy, Language and Literature strands of the AC:E. The unit concludes with the culminating task of an original ‘heroic narrative’.
The Road to Mandalay: A Journey Towards Cultural Understanding / Annette Moult - 59
Introduction: Rudyard Kipling wrote ‘The Road to Mandalay’ in 1892 when Burma was a British colony and Queen Victoria was the Empress of India. In the poem, Mandalay is a city some 500 miles along the Irrawaddy River from the capital, Rangoon. British troops stationed in Burma were transported on the river by paddle steamers. The picture painted of Asia is one of the exotic, a land of palm trees with sultry weather and exquisite women in traditional dress.
New Visions: Exploring Australian Identity through Films Highlighting Experiences of Indigenous Australians: Year 8 Film Unit / Monika Wagner and Jennifer Wenlock - 65
Background: Prior to 2011, Year 8 students studied a single film as text, Yolngu Boy. This had been on the syllabus for several years, and the consensus was that it was time to review the unit, refresh the text and introduce multiple film texts that would present varying visions and perspectives of notions of what it is to be ‘Australian’. We aimed to introduce our students to a selection of films with an Indigenous focus to challenge existing ideas about Australian identity. The title of the unit, ‘New Visions’, reflects this aim.
Preparing High Achieving English Teachers to Work in Disadvantaged Schools: 'I'll Teach Shakespeare When I'm 60' / Jo Lampert, Bruce Burnett and Sue Davie - 69
Abstract: The recent release of the Gonski Review recognises the decline in Australia’s schooling performances over the last decade, noting in particular a distressing increase in the ‘achievement gap’ affecting students from low SES backgrounds (Gonski, 2012). The report details the need for more quality in teachers throughout the schooling system, particularly within the schools with the greatest academic needs. This paper specifically focuses on a group of high-achieving pre-service English teachers. In their last two years of university study, they participated in a program called Exceptional Teachers for Disadvantaged Schools (ETDS), designed to prepare them to work in disadvantaged or low SES schools. We wanted to capture their experiences of teaching in challenging settings during their practicum, and as they prepared to graduate, we wondered what they now felt about teaching English in low SES schools. Using narrative inquiry, we analysed a range of reflective data to gain insight into such things as their initial motivations for entering the teaching profession and how their preconceived expectations may or may not have shifted after practicum experiences in low SES schools. We encouraged open reflection about how they perceived themselves as English teachers.
Autonomy in Teaching: Going, going ... gone / Misty Adoniou - 78
Abstract: Each year thousands of graduates in Australia take up their first position in schools, eager to teach students and determined to make a difference in their lives. They are overwhelmingly motivated by a desire to ‘do good’ and ‘be good’. Often they have been imagining ‘their’ class and ‘their’ teaching for years. In this article I report on a study of beginning teachers in Australian primary schools, and describe the ways in which the current neo-liberalist agenda in education in Australia dictates the English teaching they do. I discuss the implications of this for teacher autonomy and teacher retention.
Reviews - 87
Reading and Viewing / Deb McPherson - 91