Archive for July, 2011

Finding Arthur Applebee

It’s only now that I’m finalising my thesis that I’m finding the work of U.S. curriculum studies researcher Arthur Applebee.

His works include his first book Tradition and Reform in the Teaching of English: A History (1974) and the later Curriculum as Conversation (1996).  These are focussed on reviewing the teaching of English in the United States, but the historical connections he makes are invaluable to all of us in the field.

Here’s a clip from Curriculum as Conversation:

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Foucault THAT.

I have a confession to make.

Lately, I’ve been cheating on my blog.  (In a good way, I promise!)

A colleague at my university, Clare O’Farrell, has an established Ning that is home to members of the Poststructuralist Theory ‘Special Interest Group’ of AARE.  Established it so well, in fact, that it is one of the few Nings I know of (along with the English Companion) that continued to have happy users after stupid-Ning made its stupid-serivce un-free.  Hmph.

Anyway, I use my space and profile on the ‘Ed Theory Ning’ to brain-vomit about (on?) theory that I don’t understand yet.

And it’s proven #very illuminating.

Increasing my activity in various groups on the Ning has also proven fruitful.  Particularly in the ‘Daily Writing Club’ (we have to do exactly as it says…!) and now also from browsing the ‘Foucault reading group’.

That’s where I was reminded to check out Clare’s actual blog, Refracted Input, which I hadn’t done for ages.  This month she is discussing a quote by Foucault about ‘race and colonialism’, and in it I can see a relationship to contemporary discourses around changing technologies.

The term ‘folklore’ is nothing but a hypocrisy of the ‘civilised’ who won’t take part in the game, and who want to hide their refusal to make contact under the mantle of respect for the picturesque…
Man is irrevocably a stranger to dawn. It needed our colonial way of thinking to believe that man could have remained faithful to his beginnings and that there was any place in the world where he could encounter the essence of the ‘primitive’. (trans. Clare O’Farrell)

Michel Foucault, (1994) [1963] ‘Veilleur de la nuit des hommes’ In Dits et Ecrits vol. I. Paris: Gallimard, p. 232.

You see, I’ve been worrying about the ethics of what could be seen as meddling with teachers or students who are comfotable in their print-material ways, trying to prod them along to explore new technologies.  I have wondered, ‘am I being selfish?’, ‘what if they have it right?’, ‘what if I’m destroying something important?’, and ‘am I wrong to advocate for my view, should I just wait and see what happens instead?’.  But then, Clare’s wise words:

One cannot buy into the romanticism of the primitive – which is assumed to be so much closer to pure truth and ‘nature’. Conversely one cannot make the colonial assumption that one civilisation or one period of history (now) is more advanced and more evolved than another.

That’s right.  I don’t need to worry about whether I’ll ‘wreck’ anything, unless I’m thinking of the people I’m meddling with as OTHER.  And I was using pronouns to construct myself in opposition to other through all those damn self-doubts.  I don’t need to do that.  FOUCAULT THAT!

*Sigh of relief*

NB: Clare also curates a website on Michel Foucault, which includes a glossary of KEY CONCEPTS and other wonderful gems (thanks Clare!).




Google+ by Molly Rocketboom

If you’re still not sure how Google+ fits into your existing world of Facebook and/or Twitter, let Molly of Rocketboom break it down for you. Approx 4.5 mins:

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ETA mailout showdown and dates of state conferences

Living in Brisbane but being from Sydney, I am a member of both the NSW English Teachers Association and the English Teachers’ Association of Queensland.

The holiday break and a fresh term starting has brought mailouts from both associations my way.

This is a show-and-tell of what was in the respective packs.


Both mailouts contained information about Literacy and Numeracy Week, which this year has as it’s theme ‘The Fundamentals are Fun!’ (hmmm, invoking fundamentalism to talk about literacy…looking forward to critiquing that), as well as a catalogue of publications available from the AATE Bookshop.

The impetus for each mailouot is sending members the newest issue of the association journal.  While I like the style of the NSW journal mETAphor better (the ETAQ journal is full of Arial font and the cover design could be developed, imho), I have to say I am really satisfied with the content and tone of Words’Worth, and look forward to contributing some material myself in future.  Unlike in NSW, ETAQ doesn’t have resources to pay contributors for their articles (yet), but nevertheless the collegial spirit in the association currently ensures a flow of material to sustain the publication.

Both associations also included their annual state conference program notices.  Seems like August is the flavour of the month…of the month… (?)

Here is a comparison of the two conferences (I’ll be at ETAQ, but wish I could get down for the NSW one too, bummer!):

ETAQ State Conference: English and Generation Next

  • Saturday 20th August 2011
  • 8.15am – 5.00pm
  • Lourdes Hill College, Hawthorne
  • Cost to members: $143 (presenters $44; students and pensioners $66)
  • Keynote speaker – Professor Peter Holbrook ‘Literature, Literacy, the Imagination, Freedom’

ETA (NSW) Annual Conference: Makinig Connections That Count

  • Friday 5th & Saturday 6th August 2011
  • 9am-4pm / 9.30am-3pm
  • Australia Technology Park, Eveleigh
  • Cost to members: $290 one-day / $430 two-day (presenters register free)
  • Ken Watson Address – Dr Felicity Plunkett ‘Blood and Bone: An Anatomy of Wreading’


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Me and my iPad: building new literacies

I have to say, after just 10 days of owning an iPad, I am noticing some significant changes to my literacy practices – and being confronted by a range of literacy challenges!

I’ve solved the ‘where is Word’? problem – you can download apps, such as Pages, which costs about $10. I haven’t bought that yet because I want to try and do as much on free apps as I can before I get frustrated and am forced to buy (that’s what a school teacher on a tight budget would have to do).

Literacy lesson #1: There are no obvious ‘windows’ in this operating system. There is also no obvious place where you can see a directory of all your ‘files’. There are apps that are always on and you can look in on them any time.


Literacy lesson #2: Google docs can be used as a free word processing tool. I just open it in the web browser (Safari) and work from there.

But…when I’m not online I can’t access Google Docs. –> LITERACY OF ENSURING YOU CAN ACCESS YOUR MATERIALS AT POINT OF NEED?

Literacy lesson #3: I am LOVING using ‘Notes’. It’s an app that comes with the iPad. It works even when you are not online. The ‘what should I use to take notes in class/meetings?’ problem to me is solved with this. And because the only formatting available is the ability to leave empty lines and use capital letters, all of my focus is going into getting the ideas onto the page. None (at least much, much less) of my energy is going into design considerations. I never realised until formatting was taken away from me just how much thought I give to the design of a word document.

So…is that the difference between ‘writing’ and ‘word processing’? Or between ‘scribing’ and ‘writing’? or ‘notes’ and ‘documentation’? –> LITERACY OF WRITING FOR YOURSELF VERSUS FOR OTHERS? LITERACY OF FIRST DRAFTS (maybe “no Mary Jane, you can’t just do your draft in Word, because that’s your publishing platform and I don’t want you thinking about formatting your writing yet”. hmmm…)

Food for thought.

I should say, I have also wondered how much of this thinking is coming from using th iPad per se, or if it is the cumulation of being exposed to many new tools recently – a notebook computer, my Playstation and my Kindle had already got me thinking, but now it’s just all come to a head.

I’m thinking about this faster than I can write in-depth posts about it, but I hope these ideas and questions can launch some discussion!

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Call for Papers: English in Australia 46.3


A new English? More of the same? Or something still unknown? Past, present and future reflections on English teaching and new technologies

This special guest-edited issue is an opportunity to look back at the way English teachers have responded to the many iterations of ‘new’ media and to also grapple with how English teaching might respond to the here and now of our students’ increasingly digitally mediated lives, as well as looking forward to imagine the possibilities for English education. What are the challenges and opportunities presented by various forms of ‘new’ (and ‘old’) media, and by various ways of understanding the ‘new’? What things might need to change? What might be best left as it is? How might English teachers best respond to new and emerging digital texts and contexts?

We ask for contributions that share ways forward for powerful practice in English education, both in terms of the texts that might be studied and the curriculum work English teachers might do. Submissions might explore students’ relationship with multimodal texts and practices or examine digital learning environments and their connections with ‘traditional’ classroom spaces. They might explore new conceptual and theoretical ground or they may address issues of long concern for English teachers such as creativity, engagement and social justice. We are keen to receive classroom-based accounts and action or practitioner research or any other relevant studies conducted within professional contexts or as part of higher education research degrees.

Guest editors: Kelli McGraw (QUT) & Scott Bulfin (Monash)

Download the Call for Papers and guidelines for contributors.

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Books in the In-Tray

My pre-end-of-tax-year book orders from the have now all arrived and are awaiting my reading and attention!

(Does anyone out there have a strategy for making sure you factor reading into your work day?)

Photo L-R:

  • Pedagogical Encounters, edited by Bronwyn Davies & Susanne Gannon (2009)
  • Understanding Media: The extensions of man, Marshall McLuhan (1964)
  • Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning, Karan Barad (2007)

My recent trip to Melbourne also led me to collect this stunning book combo:

This collection is the result of walking through a weekend book fair in the Atrium of the NGV in Melbourne.  I’ve started my reading with the Marquez…I didn’t like Love in the time of cholera, but I hope I like this.  I would like to like his writing.  As for the others?  Well, I’ll get to them eventually!

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A new iPad 2 in the house!

I was so excited yesterday to pick up my brand new iPad 2 from the school office:




…very rarely am I alone when I get to open exciting packages like this…



…I was surprised that it was white (should I have been?). It’s so Mac-like!

 …I have no idea how to work it…

…so I take it home and work it out there 🙂

And the verdict, so far…

What is great about the iPad:

  • I can make it work by touching the screen; like my phone, but the screen is BIG! It makes such a difference.
  • I’ve got wireless and 3G but so far it has just been running on wireless through my home connection.  At lightning speed.  So awesome.
  • Checking my Tumblr stream…the pictures are massive and it looks so good.
  • Using Muro on to draw. Wow!  Tablets ROCK!
  • The iView app (recent ABC shows anytime)
  • (oh. my. god. I can’t believe I haven’t tried making a collage in polyvore yet!!!)

What is weird about the iPad:

  • Where is Word?
  • Where do I save my files?
  • Why can’t I upload the pictures I take with it?
  • Why doesn’t Facebook have an official app?