Beyond the battle-lines: rethinking English today

Saturday, 19 May, 2007
Morris Hall, Anglican Church Grammar School
Oaklands Parade, East Brisbane

Download Registration Form here [MS Word 177kb]

What should be done in the name of English?

Politicians and conservative media commentators continue to call for the subject to return to its “proper” home ground of Shakespeare and syntax. As a profession we’ve reacted to defend the current theorized understandings about language, texts and learners that inform our curricula. Battle lines have been drawn up, with fixed positions.

But now it’s time to set our own agenda for discussion. Time to ask fresh questions, courageously, about what’s wrong as well as what’s right about English as it’s conceived and practised in our classrooms today. We need to think again about matters of:

 Here are some of the key questions we’ll debate at the symposium:

Underlying these specifics, of course, is the general question of the purposes of English at school level.

The territory of subject English has expanded considerably over the last 30-40 years and we are moving towards having all students complete high school.  What is the best mix of elements, both old and new, for students in contemporary English classrooms?

We’ll begin by asking these hard questions without assuming the expected answers. In the morning, key speakers will present short position papers on these topics. After morning tea, a panel of teachers will respond to those papers, raise further questions, and participate in an open discussion. The symposium will conclude with a respondent tracing the main lines of discussion and posing further questions to inform our professional thinking beyond the day. 

Programme

 

Opinions, Positions and Provocations

Presentation of short papers on visions of what subject English should be at school level.

Presenters:

Professor Graeme Turner, Director of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland, and President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Associate Professor Patrick Buckridge, teacher of Australian and world literature at Griffith University.

Dr Mary Macken-Horarik, Senior Lecturer in the School of Teacher Education within the Division of Communication and Education at the University of Canberra.

Dr Wendy Morgan, ETAQ Patron and until her recent retirement a Senior Lecturer in education at QUT.

 

Voices from the Classroom

An opportunity for questions and contributions from the floor and a subsequent discussion featuring a panel of practising classroom teachers.

Chairperson: Professor Claire Wyatt-Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Education at Griffith University.

 

Wrap up and the Way Forward

A summary of proceedings and some suggestions of ways forward for the debate.

Presenter: Dr Karen Brooks, Senior Lecturer in Communication and Cultural Studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast and also a columnist for The Courier-Mail.

 

Programme:

Participant Details

Professor Graeme Turner, Director of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland, and President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Professor Turner is an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow. He initially trained in literary studies and has an international reputation for his work in cultural and media studies. Professor Turner has published eighteen books on literary, film, media and popular cultural topics, and his work has been translated into eight languages. He is also the convenor of the ARC Cultural Research Network, one of the sponsors of this symposium.

Associate Professor Patrick Buckridge, teacher of Australian and world literature at Griffith University. Professor Buckridge teaches in the School of Arts at Griffith University. He was born and educated in Brisbane, graduated with English honours from the University of Queensland, and gained a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975. He has spent the last twenty five years lecturing at Griffith University (Nathan), mainly in Australian literature, but also for the last several years in world literature, in two large first-year "Great Books" courses which he established in 1999.

Dr Mary Macken-Horarik, Senior Lecturer in the School of Teacher Education within the Division of Communication and Education at the University of Canberra. Dr Macken-Horarik has worked for many years in the field of English and has published widely in the field of educational linguistics. She is currently writing a book about the hidden grammar of school English.

Dr Wendy Morgan, ETAQ Patron and until her recent retirement, a Senior Lecturer in Education at QUT. In her writing and teaching she has been committed to making literary and critical theory accessible and practicable in English classrooms. This has resulted in her books, Critical Literacy in the Classroom: The art of the possible (Routldege, 1997) and (with Ray Misson) Critical Literacy and the Aesthetic: Transforming the English classroom (NCTE, 2006). Wendy has given keynote addresses and workshops on critical literacy at inter/national and state conferences of English teachers.

Professor Claire Wyatt-Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Education at Griffith University. Professor Wyatt-Smith has been a sole or chief investigator on a significant number of ARC and DETYA/DEST funded projects over the last decade, primarily in the fields of literacy and assessment, with particular focus on teacher judgment, evaluative frameworks and the literacy-curriculum-assessment interface. This work has yielded over sixty publications in international and national journals and has informed both state and national curricula and assessment policies. Further, Professor Wyatt-Smith has been involved in major state and Australian government advisory groups dealing with literacy and assessment policy for more than two decades. She was Chair of the Assessment and Reporting Framework Implementation Committee in Queensland (2003-2004), and currently occupies the position of Chair of the English Subject Advisory Committee P-12.

Dr Karen Brooks, Senior Lecturer in Communication and Cultural Studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast and also a columnist for The Courier-Mail. Dr Brooks has established a national and international reputation for her work on popular culture and is called upon to address conferences and provide in-service training and advice for educators, parents and other professionals within Australia and overseas. In 2002, Dr Brooks was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s medal for outstanding teacher. Dr Brooks is a published creative writer whose published works include, It’s Time, CassandraKlein, The Gaze of the Gorgon,The Book of Night , The Kurs of Atlantis and The Rifts of Quentaris.  

Teacher Panel