An edited version of the letter below was published in The Australian of Thursday 24 August 2017. It was written in response to a letter which had taken one of the paper's journalists to task for splitting an infinitive. Underlined sections were deleted and bracketed ones inserted. The paper's heading was "Split on grammar".
Split infinitives and other grammatical nonsense
Steven Adams (Letters, 23/8) refers negatively to a split infinitive in the Inquirer article "Teaching the teachers" (22/8). While no doubt well-intentioned, his comment is inappropriate.
When descriptions of the grammar of English were first written, Latin had a privileged position in universities, the church and the law. Efforts were therefore made to apply the grammatical structures of Latin to English. Some worked OK, others not so much.
In Latin, as in many modern languages like French and German, the infinitive form of the verb is a single word so it cannot be "split". Often, to get the desired shade of meaning in English, an adverb needs to be deployed immediately before the main verb.
There are another two (other) of the so-called rules of traditional grammar which are also nonsense. These are the prohibitions against beginning sentences with conjunctions or ending them with prepositions.
The Inquirer piece did contain a grammatical error, or more generously a typo, but it did not relate to the use of the infinitive.
Former president, Australian Association for the Teaching of English
|Posted in:General news||0 Comments|
The following letter was submitted to The Australian for possible inclusion in th edition of Saturday 2 September 2017 but it was not selected for publication.
Proving positive impact on learning
You report that in future prospective teachers will need to prove the effectiveness of their teaching skills before being allowed to graduate from university teacher preparation courses ("Prove teaching skills in classroom or fail course", Aug 31).
This seems commendable but a little leadership by example would not go astray. Minister Birmingham along with the chair and chief executive of AITSL (the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) should prove rather than just claim that their efforts are producing a significant positive impact on the classroom learning experiences of Australian school students. I look forward to reading the hard evidence.
|Posted in:Teacher education||0 Comments|
The following letter was submitted in response to an editorial in The Australian for possible publication on Thursday 23 February 2017 but it failed to make it into print. The editorial had been prompted by changes to Years 11 and 12 syllabuses in NSW.
Deconstructing literary texts
Your editorial urged that, in senior secondary English classes, students should be taught to enjoy, appreciate and study literary texts (or pieces of literature if the word "texts" is upsetting) rather than to deconstruct them ("Tackling school reform from first principles", Feb 22).
It is certainly to be hoped that enjoyment and appreciation are routine aspects of the process in English classrooms. However, if "deconstruct" is a synonym for "analyse", it is difficult to see how novels, plays and poems can be properly studied, or indeed fully appreciated, without an element of deconstruction being involved.
Apart from that, the paper is to be commended for not lazily resorting to the tired cliché of "back to basics" in this leader.
|Posted in:Curriculum matters||0 Comments|
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.
|Posted in:Curriculum matters||0 Comments|
An edited version of the letter below was published in The Courier-Mail of Thursday 2 February 2017. Underlined words were deleted and the bracketed ones inserted. The paper's heading for two letters on school education was "Education not all textbook choices".
School English teaching
Kevin Donnelly points out (Kevin Donnelly's opinion piece pointed out) that in the OECD's 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) a number of countries including Canada and Finland outperformed Australia ("Classic text beats dumb txt", Feb 1).
Donnelly regularly argues strongly in favour of school choice and the alleged superiority of private schools.
It should be noted that neither of these two countries has a significant private school sector and school choice is pretty much a non-issue.
(And) Neither has a standardised testing system like NAPLAN either.
My 35 years of teaching high school English (about twice as long as Donnelly managed) tells me that he (Donnelly) misrepresents the range of texts currently taught in schools. Donnelly (He) argues for "complex, challenging and enriching literary texts". Certainly there should be such texts, but they need to be carefully selected to suit particular groups of students. Interestingly, the novel foremost in the image accompanying the article is D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover" which I think was still banned in this country when I went to high school. Is Donnelly or this paper suggesting this book should be studied in schools?
Dr Donnelly is identified as a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University. It would be interesting to know what original research he had done in recent years, the sort that qualifies for publication in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. I doubt there is any.
|Posted in:Curriculum matters||1 Comments|
Student event - external assessment 2021
Links for the webinars were emailed to everyone who has registered on Monday 6 September. Links for zoom meetings going out on Tuesday 7 September. Registrations by 3rd September would be appreciated. The latest details on using the resources with your students are available for downloading now. Once again this event w...
Spring Breakfast with Tara East
The annual Spring Breakfast will be held on Saturday 16 October, 2021 at the Ortem Cafe, Railway Street, TOOWOOMBA, featuring guest speaker, Tara East, a sessional academic, writer, blogger and YouTuber. Further details about Tara and the breakfast are available on the flyer. AGM will follow the breakfast. Registrations close on Mond...
Teacher event - external assessment
Latest news Missed this event and now wish to access the recorded materials? Register from now until mid October and we will send you the links within 24 hours of your registration being receivedh NOTE: the registration page says the event will be on 16 October; however, you will be sent the links when you register. 16 October is the ...
Pre-service teachers present
Townsville branch will present EMBEDDING INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVES IN AUSTRALIAN SHORT STORY UNIT. by a group of pre-service teachers on Saturday 16 October 2021 from 9 am till 11 am.
See the flyer for more details. Registrations will open on 1st September.
Early Career Conference 2021
The Early Career Conference in 2021 will be held on 23 October at Wynnum State High School, WYNNUM. We are excited to present the program with a great range of workshops on offer. Registrations are now open until Saturday 16 October. As networking is an integral part of this day, it is envisaged that it will essentially be a face-to-fac...
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