An article appeared in The Australian on Wednesday that I’ve been thinking about for a couple of days. English teachers in New South Wales are opposing moves to strengthen the study of Australian literature. Following a review of the NSW syllabus, the proposed changes include exploring ways to improve the presence of Australian literature in school English and ensure the study of more Australian books, poems and plays. The ETA’s believe this "confers a superiority over the literature of other cultures”. They also object to giving privilege to print literature above other forms ie film, television and websites.
The ETA made its submission after consulting with its members (1,800 teachers and about 300 faculties). While the ETA executive officer Eva Gold says that the views expressed in the submission were representative of the whole membership, they only received about 43 responses.
I’ve been mulling this over for a couple of days now. My personal view is that Australian literature should be an important part of our English syllabus. It is our national literature and should be treated as such without losing sight of the importance of the wider English canon. As for the privileging of print literature over other forms, who’s to say where print literature will be in a decade’s time. There is enough debate in the publishing industry about the death of print. But if the syllabus is going to move with the times, it should evolve enough to include all of the other forms of literature that are surfacing and maybe that means a subject has to be made to include all of the new media.
But that’s just my opinion, I’d love to hear your thoughts…