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Texts taught in English

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 3 February 2017

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.

Garry Collins

Author: Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President
About: Garry Collins was ETAQ President from mid July 2005 to 15 March 2014. He taught English in state high schools for around 35 years and now tutors in English curriculum courses in the School of Education at the University of Queensland.
Tags: Curriculum matters
Melanie Ralph 771 days ago
Well said!

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