Saturday, September 20, 2008

Plot? What Plot?

Is there a plot against English literature, Australian literature, the values of the print media? Miranda Devine, in today's Sydney Morning Herald, English Teachers have lost the plot, slags the ETA and asserts that Sophie Masson's sons didn't enjoy English for their HSC. This article hardly shows a considered response to a complex syllabus and an even more complex subject. Subject English has a number of components, it is not just the study of literature. It is fundamentally a subject which explores how texts make meaning. And yes texts can be printed, visual or multi-modal.

Maniacal laughter follows...

According to the article, the English curriculum has become so broad, for many teachers, and students, the joy of English literature appears to have been eroded. I find it extraordinary that Devine's assertion supposes students can complete the HSC Advanced or Extension English courses without reading! Both these courses require detailed reading from a wide range of texts, including the bastions of English literature: Shakespearean Drama. So let's just support the notions that Shakespeare is civilising, Australian texts are important in nation building and every other contemporary text has no merit or value! (Oh, by the way I'm using hyperbole purposefully here!) The fundamental element that stops students enjoying the study of English is the Higher School Certificate exam - prescriptive, archaic and stress inducing for both teachers and students. This is the cause of the lack of creativity in the English curriculum.

It is a simple thing to lambast an organisation like the English Teachers' Association but Devine and other pundits of 'English is literature campaign' (and predominantly Australian literature at that) need to look at how the world is changing, how information has changed and the ways in which creativity is learned and taught in English.

No comments: