Home >  Blog >  Grammar and literature in the national English curriculum

Grammar and literature in the national English curriculum

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 6 June 2014
  • An edited version of the following letter was published in The Australian of Friday 6 June 2014. The underlined words were deleted and the bracketed ones inserted. The paper's heading was "Good on grammar". The IPA is the Institute of Public Affairs. Information about Stephanie Forrest can be found here.

Grammar and literature in the national English curriculum

IPA research scholar Stephanie Forrest writes that the coverage of grammar in the Foundation to Year 10 national English curriculum is “sketchy” (“Who put the Ramayana, not Dickens, in curriculums”, 5/6). I can only conclude that she must have been looking at a different document from the one on the website of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.

Most people familiar with the curriculum agree that one of its notable features is the degree of detail on grammar to be found in the Language strand. And it is a sensible approach to grammar that focuses on how different choices from the language system produce different kinds of meaning.

Later in the piece, Forrest asks where writers like (such as) Shakespeare, Milton and Dickens are to be found in the curriculum. My observation is that plays like (such as) Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream are often taught with (in) junior secondary English classes. Most works by Milton or Dickens would be best left to Years 11 and 12 and even there they need to be carefully chosen. I’m currently participating in a book club reading of Dickens’s novel Dombey and Son but 35 years in high school English classrooms tells me that I could never have successfully sold it to the majority of teenagers.

Perhaps Forrest knows better, but her biographical details on the IPA website indicate that her 2013 BA Honours degree was (is) in classics and history and there is no mention of her ever having been a high school (an) English 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

May Masterclass 2021

THE CHALLENGE OF TEACHING ANALYSIS: DO WE NEED TO CHANGE OUR PRACTICES? Teaching the process of analysing texts in order for students to produce a spoken or written response remains amongst the most exciting and difficult challenges we face as a community of English teachers. Most recently, the high-stakes nature of unseen examinations fo...

Category:   Master class
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 15th May 2021
Venue:   University of Queensland (tbc)
Phone Enquiries:   0455464000
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


JCU Spectacular

Join Dr Claire Hansen for a two-hour session on teaching Macbeth. We'll dive into an exploration of the language of Macbeth and teaching strategies to engage students with Shakespeare's Scottish play.  The workshop will also explore learning activities for Macbeth created by the Shakespeare Reloaded project. This session will...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 22nd May 2021
Venue:   ZOOM
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Grammar Day

A grammar workshop will be held at Elanora State High School  on Saturday 29 May 2021 to assist attendees to develop their understandings of grammar in order to fully comprehend and to effectively teach the Australia Curriculum: English (AC:E). Also highly relevant to Years 11 & 12. This will be an updated re-run of the activity ...

Category:   Workshop
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 29th May 2021
Venue:   Elanora State High School
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Teacher event - external assessment

The second series of pre-external examination events will be held for teachers on Saturday 31 July as a face-to-face event and online. Recorded materials will remain available to all participants online until the examination week in October. Date Claimer giving further information is available for download ...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 31st July 2021
Venue:   TBC
Phone Enquiries:   0455464000


Student event - external assessment

Flexible modes  of delivery will allow you and your students to engage with the materials at a time that suits you.  Once again this event will be fully online to cater for all members and their students. This year the materials will come to you live in the afternoon of  Wednesday 8 September and again in the morning of Saturda...

Category:   Student (and teacher) Event
Start Time:   3:00 PM
Date:   Wednesday 8th September 2021
  Repeating On specific dates
Venue:   Online
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

PO Box 3375, STAFFORD,
Queensland, Australia, 4053
(07) 3284 3718
ABN: 17 689 278 512

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

Be Connected