‘Knowledge, understanding and skills’: interrogating contemporary curriculum discourses and the role of literature in subject English

Year: 2016

Author: Sawyer, Wayne, Mead, Philip, Doecke, Brenton, Yates, Lyn, Mclean Davies, Larissa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The paper explores the ways in which understandings of literature at the secondary level are conceived and mediated through policy and curriculum documents and, in relation to Australia, makes an argument for the importance of bringing historical knowledge to bear on current practice. Analysis will focus on statements and positions on/assumptions about/silences on aspects of an education in literature. Specifically, this paper will analyse the ways in which knowledge is presented in the Australian Curriculum: English will then offer a comparative mapping of the terrain of secondary English teaching in New South Wales and Victorian documents, and consider the characteristic practices that arise from written curricula in each jurisdiction. Of key interest to this discourse analysis is they ways in which conceptions of literary knowledge are positioned, contested and renegotiated in and through these documents. Consequently, the paper will take particular theoretical approaches to analysing those curricula – it will explore the way that knowledge is represented in the notion of ‘literature as conversation’, in the relationship between literature and ideas, and/or the understanding of literature as textuality. The work of Peel on English teacher identity, of Green, Scholes and Milner on textuality and the literature/cultural studies debate, and Pope and McCallum on creativity are also important theoretical drivers.