Home >  Blog >  Workplace literacy & media representation

Workplace literacy & media representation

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 23 January 2016

On Monday 18 January 2016 The Courier-Mail had the following front page headlines:

   Revealed: Adult illiteracy crisis cruelling our nation.

   THIS SPELLS DISASTER

In response, the following three letters were submitted during the week but none found its way into print. This was not surprising. In my experience, papers seldom give space to criticism of their own practices.

Overblown language about literacy

Your sensational headline "THIS SPELLS DISASTER: Adult illiteracy crisis cruelling our nation" perturbed me at breakfast on Monday.

Later in the day, however, I skimmed through the Australian Industry Group report that apparently "revealed" this so-called national crisis. Chart 4 on Page 10 shows Australia ranking 5th in adult literacy proficiency out of the 23 nations surveyed. Only Japan, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden scored better and the differences appeared minimal. There is always room for improvement on the literacy front but the word "crisis" seems a poor choice.

If there is indeed a crisis here it probably relates to the composition of appropriate headlines rather than to any deep malaise in society.
 

Inflated language in headline

Monday's front page headline used the words "disaster" and "crisis" in relation to a report on adult workplace literacy (C-M, Jan 18).

A chart on Page 10 of the Australian Industry Group report shows Australia ranking 5th in adult literacy proficiency out of the 23 nations surveyed. Only Japan, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden scored better. There is always room for improvement on the literacy front but the words "disaster" and "crisis" are surely not justified.

Inflated language does nothing to promote sensible consideration of important issues.
 

Motivation for literacy

In commenting on what Monday's front page claimed to be a crisis in workplace literacy, John Tadman (Letters, 22 Jan) approvingly described caning as an effective motivation for learning in primary schools.

If there really is a crisis, perhaps we need a system of corporal punishment in workplaces to motivate staff to improve their levels of literacy. This might sound extreme but would surely be worth it to avoid the impending national disaster predicted in Monday's headline.
 

Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past PresidentAuthor: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:General news

Post comment

Upcoming Events

Teacher event - external assessment

The second series of pre-external examination events will be held for teachers on Saturday 7 August as a face-to-face event and online. Recorded materials will remain available to all participants online until the examination week in October. The program for the morning will address: Learnings to date: messages from QCAA, Adv...

Category: Seminar
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Date: Saturday 7th August 2021
Venue: St Laurence's College
Phone Enquiries: 0455464000
Email Enquiries:  adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Darling Downs Branch presents

The Darling Downs Branch will present Everything about the external exam on Wednesday 11 August from 3:30 to 5:30pm.  Join us for an afternoon to reconnect with English colleagues, engage in discussion and explore ideas on how to prepare students for the external exam.
The afternoon will commence with Kathleen Hannant, Head of Engl...

Category: Workshop
Start Time: 3:30 PM
Date: Wednesday 11th August 2021
Venue: Toowoomba SHS
Email Enquiries:  adminofficer@etaq.org.au
venue information: Venue is Toowoomba State High School Performing Arts Centre
   Enter via Stuart Street Parking halfway up driveway on left
   PAC is also on the left next to the car park.


Grammar PD term 3

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 28 August at a venue (to be announced) in the metropolitan area.  Download the flyer for further details. If your school is inter...

Category: Workshop
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Date: Saturday 28th August 2021
Venue: TBA
Email Enquiries:  adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Student event - external assessment

Flexible modes  of delivery will allow you and your students to engage with the materials at a time that suits you.  Once again this event will be fully online to cater for all members and their students. This year the materials will come to you live in the afternoon of  Wednesday 8 September and again in the morning of Saturda...

Category: Student (and teacher) Event
Start Time: 3:00 PM
Date: Wednesday 8th September 2021
 Repeating On specific dates
Venue: Online
Email Enquiries:  adminofficer@etaq.org.au


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.

Category: Seminar
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Date: Saturday 16th October 2021
Venue: Online
Email Enquiries:  adminofficer@etaq.org.au


< Previous | 1 | 2 | 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

Connect to a great range of people who are passionate about English and have their finger on the pulse.

Be Connected