Text Selection in the Senior English Curriculum

Dr Alexander Bacalja
T: +61 3 8344 3483
E: alex.bacalja@unimelb.edu.au
W: Personal web page
Location: Level 2 Room LW234, 100 Leicester St, Carlton, Parkville

Project Details

Subjects like English are socially and historically produced, having the effect of bestowing legitimacy on particular forms of knowledge (Young, 1998). Curriculum is always organised to preserve vested interests and maintain the status quo. Any attempt to change this curriculum, and therefore disrupt the status quo, is met with fierce resistance by those who

perceive that such change will undermine the values, relative power and privileges of the dominant groups involved. However, it is also worth remembering that disciplines are not static (Yates, Woelert, Millar, and O’Connor, 2017). Over time, their boundaries change.

The tendency of politicians and media commentators to use English to comment on society is more pronounced than their attention towards any other subject in the curriculum. We could take this as a compliment and a sign of the centrality of English in the school curriculum, if only a little less of their discourse did not focus on denigrating and disparaging the complex nature of the work teachers do with texts.

For those teaching in the English classroom today, this work has become even more complex due to the rise of new media texts, and the globalisation of education. The multicultural nature of most classrooms, the diversity of cultural and historical perspectives

which students bring with them to schools, and the rapid proliferation of digital texts in the lives of young Australians, has caused many teachers to question whether the texts we currently use are best suited to preparing our students for future work and life.

In collaboration with the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English (VATE), this study will investigate the past ten years of VCE English text-lists (2010-2019) quantifying and analysing the frequency of different categories of texts and analysing the implications of these trends on student engagement and student life-worlds. Findings will be collated into conference presentations and academic papers, with a short report highlighting the key findings of the project for industry partners. These will be shared with stake-holders, including the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA).

This study will provide the initial stages of an evidence-base to shape decision-making by curriculum bodies and schools.

Researchers

Dr Alexander Bacalja
Dr Lauren Bliss

Funding

This project is funded by the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English.

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Download Research Publications

Report on trends in senior English textlists - Bacalja - Bliss:

Download Research Publication [PDF]