Grammar in our schools

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ President on 6 March 2014
  • The following letter was published in The Courier-Mail on Tuesday 4 March with the underlined words deleted and the bracketed one inserted. The paper's heading was "Grammar gripes being addressed". The letter was written in response to an opinion piece headlined "Don't split your infinitives here" that had appeared in the the paper the day before.

Grammar in our schools

Sue Wighton asks to be allowed "one last rallying call for the return of sound grammatical knowledge to our schools" ("Don't split your infinitives here", 3 March).

She should not fret. The process is under way.

The language strand of the English component of the Australian Curriculum contains commendable detail on a sensible approach to the grammar of English. It is just to be hoped that the current review of the curriculum does not meddle with this strength before it has been fully understood and properly implemented.

In addition to the necessary but insufficient business of avoiding grammatical errors, the curriculum sensibly focuses on how different choices of grammatical structures construct meaning in different ways.

There is, however, no place for cluttering up kids' (children’s) heads with three traditional so-called "rules" which are, frankly, nonsense.

I refer to the time-honoured prohibitions against splitting infinitives, beginning sentences with conjunctions, or ending them with prepositions.

As Wighton implies, judiciously managed, all three are fine.

Garry Collins, president, English Teachers Association of Queensland
 

Posted in: Curriculum matters   0 Comments

Proposed ETAQ submission to national curriculum review

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ President on 14 February 2014

At its recent February meeting, the ETAQ Management Committee decided that there was insufficient time to prepare a detailed response to the review of the Australian Curriculum that would sound significantly different from the submission that AATE intends to make. Instead, ETAQ will make use of the 400 word text box available on the review submission site to submit the following or something very like it. Amendments may be made before the submission is made in the last week of February. Members' comments are invited and should be sent to me at gazco48@bigpond.net.au.

Draft Submission

ETAQ endorses the detailed submission made by our affiliated national body, the Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE). The following points are emphasised:

1. Queensland schools started planning for the introduction of the F-10 Australian Curriculum: English (AC:E) in 2011 and most schools started teaching it in 2012. This means that, for over two years, significant amounts of teacher time and effort have been invested in amending teaching programs to accommodate the document in the best interests of student learning. Major changes to the curriculum at this still relatively early stage in its implementation would risk squandering the work already done. In addition, the disruption in schools must be expected to adversely affect both student learning and teacher morale.

2. Like any curriculum document, the AC:E is not perfect but it contains much of value. The detailed content descriptions in the Language strand constitute one particular aspect of the strength of the document. In due course, changes to the curriculum will be warranted, but, at this point, more time needs to be allowed for the strengths of the AC:E to be fully translated into productive student learning in the classroom.

3. The three strands of the AC:E give it the necessary balance.

4. Provided a sensible approach is adopted at school level, both the Cross Curriculum Priorities and the General Capabilities can be readily incorporated into teaching and learning programs in English without any adverse effect on the essence of the subject.

5. Since the four English subject options for Years 11 and 12 have yet to be put into full implementation anywhere in the country, it is premature to be contemplating any significant changes.

6. Like other stakeholders, ETAQ participated in ACARA’s extensive consultation exercises that contributed to the production of both the F-10 and Years 11 & 12 components of the curriculum. While the ACARA document does not represent everything that we would have wished, we believe that the AC:E and the associated Cross Curriculum Priorities and the General Capabilities have much of value and more time needs to be allowed for that potential to be translated into productive student learning before any substantial changes are made.

Posted in: Curriculum matters   0 Comments

Submission to review of the Australian Curriculum

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ President on 6 February 2014

A draft of AATE’s proposed submission to the review of the Australian Curriculum is available here.

Members are invited to provide comments on the draft by emailing me at gazco48@bigpond.net.au. The deadline for submissions is 28 February so any such comments should be provided NLT Friday 21 February.

The Management Committee is yet to decide whether to make a separate detailed ETAQ submission or a brief one endorsing the AATE document. Comments on that decision are also welcome.

Posted in: Curriculum matters   0 Comments

The importance of poetry

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ President on 3 February 2014
  • The following letter was submitted for the edition of The Australian for Monday 3 February 2014 but it was not selected for publication.

I heartily endorse Kevin Donnelly’s central point that poetry is important (“Rhymes of the times: poetry’s still important”, 1-2/2).

Poetry was always a feature of the high school English programs that I taught over 35 years and, in recent times, at professional learning conferences for English teachers at state and national level, I have presented workshops on Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott, Kipling’s Gunga Din and W.H. Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts.

Early in his piece, Donnelly suggests that there are some who consider text messaging to be as important as poetry. I have yet to meet a classroom English teacher who thinks so.

However, this does not mean that contemporary forms of literacy – such as the sort of language used in text messaging – should merit no classroom consideration at all, even if only briefly and in passing.

Balance is one of the criteria specified in the Terms of Reference for the current review of the national curriculum. Could school English programs be said to be balanced if they focused solely on classic literature to the exclusion of all other forms of language?

Garry Collins, President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English

Posted in: Curriculum matters   0 Comments

Australia Day honour for foundation member

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ President on 30 January 2014
Australia Day honour for foundation member

ETAQ foundation member Paul Sherman was awarded an OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) in the 2014 Australia Day Honours list. The citation read: “For service to the arts as a poet and playwright, and to education.”

Hearty congratulations are extended to Paul and to those who initiated his nomination which ETAQ was delighted to have the opportunity to support.

The Management Committee decided last year to acknowledge Paul’s long service to English teaching in Queensland by awarding him Life Membership of ETAQ. It is anticipated that this decision will be ratified at the AGM in March and the presentation made at the state conference in August.

The photo shows Paul as King Lear in a performance in one of his regular school visits.

Posted in: General news   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


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