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Digital texts in English

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 19 February 2017

The following letter was submitted for possible publication in The Sunday Mail of 12 February 2017 but it did not make it into print. It was in response to an opinion piece in the previous week's edition by the education reporter for The Courier-Mail and The Sunday Mail.

Digital texts in high school English

Lauren Martyn-Jones is certainly correct in stating that great literature has the capacity to be life changing ("Students are being short-changed in world of SMS keystrokes", Feb 5). She is, however, a little confused about some other aspects of high school English teaching and the NAPLAN tests.

ACARA's NAPLAN tests are intended to assess literacy and numeracy. While the subject areas of English and maths might reasonably be expected to take a leading role, these two capabilities are meant to be developed across the curriculum. And literacy does not just relate to major works of literature.

High school English should have students improve their powers of literacy across a range of text types. Just because a Shakespearean play like Romeo and Juliet and some SMS messages might both be touched on in the same course does not mean that they are ascribed equal worth in the big scheme of things.

I agree with Martyn-Jones that Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is a great novel, but if she were seeking directions to assemble a flat-pack furniture item, she would find it no help at all.

Author: Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President
About: Garry Collins was ETAQ President from mid July 2005 to 15 March 2014. He taught English in state high schools for around 35 years and now tutors in English curriculum courses in the School of Education at the University of Queensland.
Tags: Curriculum matters

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