The project officially commenced in July 2016 and a Project Coordinator was appointed. The setting up phase of the project involved ethics submission and approval, initial literature review, and setting up project data management and communications processes.
The research team is currently undertaking data collection for the project. This includes:
- A national online survey of English teachers from all Australian states and territories and of all experience levels
- A longitudinal study of early career English teachers during years 1-4 of their English teaching. This will include interviews with these teachers about their emerging views of the relationship between literary knowledge and professional practice as these are mediated by social relationship in their school context
- Interviews with key stakeholders in the Literary Studies and English Education fields
- Consultation with experienced teachers
If you would like to contribute to data collection please see our get involved page.
- Know you see it, know you don’t: (Elusive) literary knowledge in the Australian Curriculum: English. By Wayne Sawyer and Larissa McLean Davies. Journal of Curriculum Studies, forthcoming, 2018.
- Literary Sociability: A transnational (and translinguistic) perspective. By Brenton Doecke, Claudio Mello, Larissa McLean Davies and Lucy Buzacott. Forthcoming, 2018.
- Literary knowledge and the making of English teachers in Australia: the knowledge base question and agendas for research. By Lyn Yates, Larissa McLean Davies, Lucy Buzacott, Brenton Doecke, Philip Mead and Wayne Sawyer. The Curriculum Journal, forthcoming, 2018.
- The sociable space of literary meaning-making. By Philip Mead, Lyn Yates, Larissa McLean Davies, Lucy Buzacott, Brenton Doecke and Wayne Sawyer, forthcoming, 2018
Blowing and Blundering in Space: English in the Australian Curriculum. By Brenton Doecke, Larissa McLean Davies and Wayne Sawyer.
The Australian Curriculum might be read as an antipodean response to Michael Young’s call to ‘bring knowledge back in’ (Young, 2008; cf. Doecke, 2017). In a series of influential publications, Young has advocated the need to restore disciplinary knowledge as the foundation of the school curriculum. Indeed, he redefines the purpose of schooling as being primarily about the provision to students of ‘powerful knowledge’ that will take them beyond the limitations of their experiences of their local communities, inducting them into modes of inquiry that are ‘specialised’ and ‘systematic’ and ‘differentiated from experience’, reflecting ‘the specialisation of knowledge’ evident in university disciplines (see Young et al., 2014, pp. 10, 28, 80). Yet those familiar with the history and practice of subject English will know that ‘the knowledge question’ (as Bill Green has put it recently: Green, 2016, p. 29) is neither new nor straightforward. The Bullock Report, A language for life, went so far as to maintain that English ‘does not hold together as a body of knowledge which can be identified, quantified, then transmitted’ (DES, 1975, p. 5). The difficulty of ‘fitting’ English neatly within a particular epistemological framework means that it has often been constructed as a problem, as ‘the deviant case’, in comparison with other school subjects (Medway, 1990, p. 1).
English and the Knowledge Question. By Brenton Doecke and Philip Mead. Published 2017.
This essay poses the question of the role that literary knowledge plays in subject English. It thus engages with current debates, largely prompted by Michael Young’s call to ‘bring knowledge back in’, about the need to restore academic knowledge as the basis of the school curriculum. We take issue with Young’s understanding of knowledge, arguing that it privileges propositional knowledge at the expense of the interpretive activities typically associated with literary studies, and thus fails to provide a valid framework for supporting students as they read and engage with literary texts. We focus on two moments in the history of subject English, namely the Newbolt Report (1921) and John Dixon’s Growth Through English (1967), showing how they embody understandings of the nature of ‘knowledge’ and ‘experience’ as they are mediated by language that provide a significant counterpoint to Young’s arguments.
What Kind of ‘Knowledge’ is English? (Re-reading the Newbolt Report). By Brenton Doecke. Published 2017.
This essay takes Michael Young’s 2007 call ‘to bring knowledge back in’ as an occasion to reflect on the relationship between subject English and
the disciplinary knowledge that provides its foundations. It focuses on a key text in the history of English teaching, namely The Teaching of English in England, published in 1921 (otherwise known as the Newbolt Report), arguing that it reflects a moment in the emergence of English as a cultural praxis that is still relevant to us, especially with respect to the claims it makes for literature as the core of subject English. The richness of subject English as it is embodied in its history cannot be comprehended by Young’s understanding of ‘knowledge’.
Required Reading: Literature in Australian Schools since 1945. Edited by Tim Dolin, Joanne Jones and Patricia Dowsett. Published 2017.
A number of the Chief Investigators of the Literary Knowledge project have chapters included in Required Reading: Literature in the Australian Schools since 1945. The chapters are:
- “Literature at school in NSW: Some Recent History” by Professor Wayne Sawyer
- “Changing the Subject: Text selection and curriculum development in VCE English 1990” by Associate Professor Larissa McLean Davies and Professor Benton Doecke with Prue G
ill and Terry Hayes
- “What the Dickens?: Exploring the role of canonical texts in mediating subject English in Australia” by Professor Susan K. Martin and Associate Professor Larissa McLean Davies
Teaching Australian Literature: From Classroom Conversations to National Imaginings. Edited by Brenton Doecke, Larissa McLean Davies and Philip Mead. Published 2011.
This volume, edited by project CI’s Brenton Doecke, Larissa McLean Davies and Philip Mead brings together teachers, teacher educators, creative writers and literary scholars in a joint inquiry that takes a fresh look at what it means to teach Australian literature. The immediate occasion for the publication of these essays is the implementation of The Australian Curriculum: English, which several contributors subject to critical scrutiny. In doing so, they question the way that literature teaching is currently being constructed by standards-based reforms, not only in Australia but elsewhere.
The essays assembled in this volume transcend the divisions that have sometimes marred debates about the place of Australian literature in the school curriculum. They all recognise the complexity of what secondary English teachers do in their efforts to engage young people in a rich and meaningful curriculum. They also highlight the need for both secondary and tertiary educators to cultivate an awareness of the cultural and intellectual traditions that mediate their professional practice and to encourage a critically responsive pedagogy.