Latin's contribution to English grammar

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 21 June 2014
  • A edited version of the following letter was published in The Courier-Mail on Saturday 21 June 2014. Underlined words were deleted and the bracketed ones inserted. Paragraph breaks were also altered with the printed version appearing in just two paragraphs. The paper's heading for a collection of six letters was "Schools will have choice of languages". The first letter was from Rob Randall, CEO of ACARA.

Latin's contribution to English grammar

Tanya Chilcott reports that (In your report,) the head of curriculum at a Brisbane private school planning to make Latin compulsory for Year 7 students thinks that a knowledge of this dead language will provide a deeper understanding of English grammar (“Fail Caesar”, 20/6).

That may be so, but learning any foreign language will, by contrast, make the grammatical patterns of one’s first language more apparent.

If the aim is to develop explicit knowledge of the grammar of English (English grammar), that could be achieved more efficiently by increasing the time allocation for (the) subject (of) English in schools.

Since I started teaching high school English more than 40 years ago, the territory of the subject has expanded considerably but the time allocation has remained static.

Garry Collins
President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English

Posted in: Curriculum matters   0 Comments

Contact with an author & a satirical poem some might find useful

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 20 June 2014

I recently enjoyed Peter FitzSimons' book Eureka: The unfinished revolution (listening to the audiobook version in the car) and sent a message via the publisher suggesting that, if he had not encountered it during his research, the author might enjoy the satirical poem of the time shown below.

I received a response advising that the message had been passed on and then a few weeks later received an email from FitzSimons himself with the following in the message line:

  • Garry, I never saw that poem, but I LIKE it! Thanks for sharing, Peter

The poem is as follows. I think I originally encountered it in a collection of documents for teaching Australian history. Perhaps some teachers might like it too and find it useful for teaching about satire.

Captain Bumble’s letter by Charles Thatcher

Don’t talk about Sebastopol,
The Russian War is flat now.
Just listen to despatches
Just come from Ballarat now.
Our noble Governor, Sir Charles,
And where is there a better,
Has permitted us to publish
Captain Bumble’s private letter.

He writes thus to His Excellency,
‘Myself and Major Stiggins
Got our brave fellows all equipped
And started for the diggins.
Our band struck up God Save the Queen,
Into cheers our men were bursting,
And every gallant soldier was
For glorious action thirsting.

‘Our first attack was on two drays
Which we saw in the distance,
But the enemy surrendered
After just a slight resistance.
We were disappointed in our search
Of these two wretched traitors,
For instead of seizing powder
They were loaded with potatoes.

‘We marched but were obliged to halt
On behalf of Sergeant Trunnions,
Who was unable to proceed
On account of having bunions.
We stationed pickets all around
To give us timely warning
And there we bivouacked and slept
Till nine the following morning.

‘At length into the diggins,
Footsore our men did tramp there,
And we took up our position
Within the Gov’ment camp there;
Provisions were served out to all
And my very soul it tickles
To contemplate their ravages
On the cold boiled beef and pickles.

‘We watched at night, but all was still:
For glory we were yearning,
And we fired upon a tent in which
A candle was seen burning.
We killed a woman and a child
Though ‘twas not our intention;
But that slight mistakes occur
Of course I needn’t mention.

‘At length in earnest was the strife:
While buried in their slumbers,
We made a bold and desperate charge
And cut them down in numbers.
Our gallant fellows fought like bricks,
The rebels were defeated,
And then by hundreds off they ran
And to the bush retreated.

‘Thus all is quiet and I now
Subscribe myself your humble
Devoted servant of the Crown,
Frederick Augustus Bumble.

Postscript –
Pray send us up some good cheroots
And anything that’s handy
And by all means, pray don’t forget
We’re nearly out of brandy.’
 

Posted in: General news   0 Comments

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)

Posted in: Curriculum matters   0 Comments

Some language trivia

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 27 May 2014
I wonder how many of you think “wagging school” & “to play the wag” are peculiarly Australian expressions? I confess I did.

I’m currently reading Dickens’s novel Dombey and Son and recently encountered the following passage in Chapter XXII: A trifle of management by Mr Carker the manager.

 

“My misfortunes all began in wagging, sir; but what could I do exceptin’ wag?”

“Excepting what?” said Mr Carker.

“Wag, sir – wagging from school.”

“Do you mean pretending to go there and not going?” said Mr Carker.

“Yes, sir; that’s wagging, sir,” returned the quondam Grinder, much affected.

 

Incidentally, quondam was a new word for me. Here’s the Macquarie Dictionary online entry:

quondam
/?kw?ndæm/ (say 'kwondam)
adjective that formerly was or existed; former: his quondam partner.
[Latin: formerly]
Posted in: General news   0 Comments

Selecting books for study

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 25 May 2014
  • The following letter was published in U on Sunday, a lift-out in The Sunday Mail of 25 May 2014. The paper moved the first sentence of my second paragraph to the first paragraph but, other than that, there was no editing. The paper's heading for a trio of letters in response to Whiting's piece was "Read between the lines".

Books we have to read

Frances Whiting’s entertaining piece about book clubs highlights a perennial problem for English teachers (18/5).

Choice is much talked about in relation to education these days but schools usually dictate which books students have to study. Sometimes even students who are avid readers of titles they select themselves fail to be enthusiastic about the books that are set for them. Just because the adult world agrees that certain titles are acknowledged greats of the literary canon doesn’t necessarily mean they will connect with teenagers.

On another note, it was interesting to see Whiting point out that classics of a past era of primary schooling like the Dick and Dora series were pretty lousy stories. It is worth remembering that they were a cornerstone of a presumed educational golden age to which some conservative commentators would have the school system return.

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

Posted in: Curriculum matters   0 Comments

Upcoming Events

An Afternoon with Christine Hills

The Darling Downs Branch will present an Afternoon with Christine Hills and the Collins Writing Program on Wednesday, 26 February, 2020. Afternoon tea will be served from 3:15 to 3:45 pm. This workshop will allow teachers and school leaders an opportunity to: Explore elements of grammar that are central to good writing and align w...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   3:15 PM
Date:   Wednesday 26th February 2020
Venue:   St Ursula's - Toowoomba
Email Enquiries:   trish.purcell@bigpond.com


March Seminar 2020: Diving Deep into Story

Literature is the lifeblood of the English classroom and we all endeavour to make our classrooms creative spaces, helping students to experience the pleasures of responding to and creating literature. This seminar will explore diverse ideas related to creativity in English. The keynote address What is now proved was once only imagined&nbs...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   8:10 AM
Date:   Saturday 21st March 2020
Venue:   Brisbane Grammar School
Venue Address:   Corner Gregory Terrace andCollege Road
Phone Enquiries:   0455464000
Email Enquiries:   trish.purcell@bigpond.com


Diving into Analytical Writing

ETAQ will present a session on how to write an 'analytical essay' on Tuesday 28 April, at Aquinas College, Edmund Rice Drive, ASHMORE. In 2020, students will be required to write an 'analytical essay' in the external exam for General English. However, the term 'essay' is not used consistently across subject areas a...

Category:   Professional Development
Start Time:   3:15 PM
Date:   Tuesday 28th April 2020
Venue:   Aquinas College
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Tony Hytch presents

Tony will present a session entitled  "Getting students assessment ready for Essential English" at Pimlico State High School, Townsville on Saturday 2nd May, 2020. Teachers will explore teh possible options for assessment in Units 1 and 2. In particular how to develop an assessment program which best prepares students for the t...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 2nd May 2020
Venue:   Pimlico High School
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Early Career Conference 2020: Diving Deep into Teaching

This event for teachers in their first firve years of teaching and those who are new to the teaching of English will submerge you in a new, colourful, and enchanting world where you can engage with your peers. it is also a 'not to be missed' event for preservice teachers.  For those who are interested in offering a presentati...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 9th May 2020
Venue:   Griffith University, Mt Gravatt campus
Venue Address:   176 Messines Ridge Rd, Mount Gravatt QLD 4122


< Previous | 1 | 2 | 3 | Next >
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