Home >  Blog >  Classic literature and the national English Curriculum

Classic literature and the national English Curriculum

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 6 November 2014

An edited version of the letter below was published in The Australian of Wenesday 5 November 2014. The underlined words were deleted and the bracketed ones inserted. The heading shown is the one provided by the newspaper.

Let teachers choose the texts that expose children to ethics

In her comments on the Foundation to Year 10 section of the national English curriculum, Institute of Public Affairs researcher Stephanie Forrest argues that more (says) classic English literature texts should be mandated (“Great writers forge minds”, 4/11).

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority’s curriculum document does not prescribe any particular texts at all, believing that such decisions are best made at the school and system level. This is surely in line with the currently widespread belief (view) that there should be greater school autonomy. Most English teachers appreciate the professional freedom to select the texts, literary and otherwise, that they believe will work best with their own students.

Strangely, Ms Forrest suggests that the national curriculum’s 'General Capability' of ethical understanding has little place in (the) subject English. I can’t think of a single literary classic which does not involve an ethical dimension. Vicarious engagement with ethical questions is one of the reasons that literature is so important in the school curriculum.

It is perhaps worth noting that Ms Forrest’s bachelor’s degree is in classics and history and that she has never been a school teacher.

Garry Collins
President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE)

Garry Collins, AATE PresidentAuthor:Garry Collins, AATE President
About: Garry Collins is the Immediate Past President of ETAQ and began a 2 year term as AATE President on 1 January 2014. A retired high school English teacher, he now works in the School of Education at the University of Queensland as a sessional tutor in English curriculum courses.
Tags:Curriculum matters

Post comment

Upcoming Events

Understanding Shakespeare

Rob Pensalfini will present this workshop via zoom on Saturday 15 October from 9am till 11 am. For further information download the flyer . Details for joining the zoom meeting will be sent on Wednesday 12 October. As this message will be sent to the email address in the registration it is important that you use your own address, rath...

Category: Workshop
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Date: Saturday 15th October 2022
Venue: ZOOM
Email Enquiries:  adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Early Career Conference 2022: Writing our future?

Writing our future? - a conference presented by and for early career teachers  on Saturday 22 October at Wynnum SHS (tbc)

Category: Seminar
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Date: Saturday 22nd October 2022
Venue: Wynnum SHS


External Examination Preparation

Registration Scroll down to register - but please do read this information Schools should register each teacher who will be using the materials.  Acting on feedback from last year, we will be making the materials available earlier this year. We will be running the External Examination Preparation as one package with more fl...

Category: Student (and teacher) Event
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Date: Saturday 29th October 2022
Venue: Online
Phone Enquiries: 0455464000
Email Enquiries:  adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Writing our future in Essential English 2022

Writing our future in Essential English - a community of practice especially for teachers of Essential English on Saturday 5 November.

Category: Seminar
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Date: Saturday 5th November 2022
Venue: To be confirmed


Indigenous Perspectives in the Junior Curriculum

After a work program review Town High explored ways to better embed indigenous perspectives in the year 7 program through a novella study of Black Cockatoo.  The unit became our first taste of analytical essay writing in year 7, in preparation for subsequent years.  We found greater engagement from students across the board. ...

Category: Seminar
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Date: Friday 2nd December 2022
Venue: Town High, Townsville
Email Enquiries:  adminofficer@etaq.org.au


View all

Latest News

View all

Blog Feed

Grammar myths

Sep 12 2017
An edited version of the letter below was pu...

Impact on learning

Sep 12 2017
The following letter was submitted to The Au...
Read all

Testimonials

Read All

This is the first time I have been to an ETAQ conference and it was really sensational to get so much at all of the sessions.

ETAQ conferences always have sessions that make me excited to be a teacher.

I know that ETAQ conferences in the past have never disappointed - valuable, relevant, practical, inspiring so I came again.

Read All

Newsletter

Receive updates
from ETAQ

Connect to a great range of people who are passionate about English and have their finger on the pulse.

Be Connected