The teaching of English in Australia

An article in The Australian (our national paper) of 19/9/2013 seeks a review of the English language curriculum. Kevin Donnelly, director of the Education Standards Institute, wrote as shown below. This is a timely follow-up to my post yesterday on changing educational objectives.

‘The national curriculum embraces a post-modern definition of literature that places multimodel texts – defined as “visual images, sound track or spoken word, as in film or computer presentation media” – on the same footing as Shakespeare, Jane Austen and David Malouf …’

He quotes Peter Cary, an award-winning local writer thus: ‘ … we are being impoverished by not understanding and treasuring the pleasure of reading difficult things. We are forgetting that reading requires muscles …’

Donnelly continues: ‘Even when the literary classics are included, their moral and aesthetic value is undermined by forcing students to deconstruct texts using politically correct perspectives including race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and class.’ He writes further: ‘ … egregious examples of enforcing new-age approaches include … refusing to teach Romeo and Juliet because the play privileges heterosexual love; arguing that texts have no agreed meaning as the author is dead; and that language has no referential meaning as it is a ploy of signifiers.’

As Alice said, ‘Curiouser and curiouser.’ Is this why universities, reportedly, have to provide remedial classes in English to some of their new entrants? Such students apparently include those from expensive private schools.