Home >  Blog >  Subject specialists and the review of the Australian Curriculum

Subject specialists and the review of the Australian Curriculum

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 21 October 2014

AATE Media Release

Statement re Professor Barry Spurr and the review of the Australian Curriculum

There has been some recent publicity about Professor Barry Spurr from the University of Sydney in relation to racist and sexist language used in a series of emails.

AATE deplores the language reported to have been used in these emails but welcomes the fact that the media coverage has directed attention to an important aspect of the review of the Australian Curriculum conducted by Professor Kenneth Wiltshire and Dr Kevin Donnelly. Professor Spurr was selected as one of two “subject specialists” for this review in the area of English teaching.

AATE has serious concerns about the influence on the final report by invited contributions from selected individuals deemed by Wiltshire and Donnelly to be “subject specialists”.

The report contains no detail about the selection criteria or the process by which two individuals were chosen out of all those in the country who could legitimately be considered to be experts on the content and teaching of school subject English.

In addition, views about school subjects and how they should be taught can be expected to vary, even amongst those who can genuinely be considered to have expert status.

As far as AATE can see, there is no evidence to indicate that the views of Professor Spurr and Dr Fiona Mueller can be regarded as generally representative of the views of the many others in the country who have a similar degree of expertise.

Professor Spurr is apparently a recognised authority on early modern English poetry (including Donne and Milton) and on modernist poets, especially T.S. Eliot. This highly specialised scholarly knowledge is not equivalent to expertise in teaching subject English at primary and secondary school level.

The vast majority of experts in the field of English education in Australia understand that our national curriculum has an ethical obligation to meets the needs of all Australian children. This requires English teachers having both literary knowledge and a culturally and linguistically inclusive curriculum in which to teach it.

AATE considers that, without further supporting evidence, the personal views of Professor Spurr and Dr Mueller should be given little weight when the relevant authorities at state and federal level decide how they will respond to the recommendations related to English in the report arising from the review of the Australian Curriculum.

Garry Collins

President
Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE)
Sunday, 19 October 2014
President’s contact details: email – gazco48@bigpond.net.au ; phone – 0404 422 019

The Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE) is the national umbrella organisation unifying autonomous state and territory professional associations for teachers of school subject English. Established in 1964, it is a not-for-profit professional association run mainly by unpaid volunteers to promote and support secondary school English teaching.
 

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

Essential English: Community of Practice 2021

Following on from the success of last year's event for teachers of Essential English, we will be running this event again this year with some modifications. The program is available and registrations are now open. Venue: Deception Bay SHS, Phillip Street, DECEPTION BAY. Registrations will close on Saturday 30 October. Interes...

Category: Seminar
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Date: Saturday 6th November 2021
Venue: Deception Bay SHS
Venue Address: Phillip Parade, DECEPTION BAY
Email Enquiries:  adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Grammar PD term 4

To assist attendees to develop their understandings of grammar in order to fully comprehend and to effectively teach the Australia Curriculum: English (AC:E), a further session will be held on Saturday 20 November at John Paul College.  The flyer gives further details.  Registration will close on 14 November.  ...

Category: Workshop
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Date: Saturday 20th November 2021
Venue: John Paul College
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