Posts Tagged Stage 6

Damn lies and misinformation: Daily Tele and the new Stage 6 English

New Stage 6 (senior secondary) syllabuses were released today in NSW, and the media circus was on point.

The worst offender for misinformation was probably the Daily Telegraph, with Bruce McDougall’s piece ‘NSW Education: School syllabus shake-up promotes the classics, Shakespeare and Austen back for the HSC’ riddled with unnamed sources and incorrect claims.

Author image created using Trove map resource and Bard portrait

Among the claims are:

  • That “Shakespeare is back” (he never left – he remains mandatory study in Advanced English)
  • That “Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Joseph Conrad will become mandatory for Year 11 and Year 12” (impossible to know until the text prescriptions are released later this year, and unlikely to be true for all courses)
  • That the Area of Study is “criticised by students, parents and teachers” as being tied to “woolly concepts” (name your sources or go home).

Disappointingly, NESA president Tom Alegounarias seemed to add fuel to the fire with this misleading statement:

  • “In English, for example, Shakespeare or the equivalent other aspects of great literature will be mandatory.” (Shakespeare is ONLY mandatory in Advanced English, and always has been, and ‘great literature’ i.e. texts from the Western literary canon have always been studied in other courses)

Once again we heard this old chestnut:

  • “Education chiefs said they had listened to sustained criticism from employers and businesses that many school leavers applying for jobs lacked basic skills in literacy and numeracy.” (does this reference to ‘sustained criticism’ mean complaints about this dating back to the early 1900s, which perennially persist despite amazing growth in youth literacy rates?)

It was a frustrating read.

Especially given that NESA had fed the media machine with statements before making the syllabuses available on their website for teachers to see first hand. PDF versions of the material didn’t come online until lunchtime, leaving busy teachers with sense of panic about navigating disparate web-only resources.

One can only hope that these spurious claims work to galvanize the profession in the coming months, as we create new resources and share fresh perspectives on the syllabus change. If conversations I had online with colleagues today are anything to go by, there is still hope for this. We are already interrogating more important aspects of the changes to consider implications, including:

  1. The inclusion of a ‘multimodal presentation’ assessment (will this be more than a speech-aka-essay-read-aloud with a dose of death by Powerpoint to boot?)
  2. The categorisation of English Studies as an ATAR eligible course (what will the impact be on Standard enrolments?)
  3. The increased ability to forgo completed any study of digital or multimodal texts in Advanced English (congratulations NSW, you just got a ‘Literature’ syllabus in disguise!)

Stay tuned for more analysis in weeks to come.

(Author image created using Trove map resource, Bard portrait, and news quote.)

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Just beginning a Year 11 unit on Macbeth (comparing Shakespeare’s play to a film version). Going through my resources I would have to say that I find the following three online resources provide all the material my students will need to supplement their reading:

  1. Royal Shakespeare Company resources for Macbeth, in particular the online play guide
  2. The No Fear Shakespeare ‘translation’ of Shakespeare’s play into modern English
  3. Notes on Macbeth from the new literature website Shmoop (still in Beta)

These sites don’t take a ‘cheat sheet’ approach to the play, but instead help students to cut through the language and think more deeply about the play in production, which in turn helps them to find meanng in the play.  Are there any ‘must see’ sites that you would add?  Of course all the big Shakespearean plays have a million online summaries, but would you add anything from those to my best of list above?

I would LOVE to get more adventurous and use Angela Thomas’ Second Life Virtual Macbeth island, but the machines at school would seriously not cope (on so many levels!)  I might see later in the unit if the students would be willing to explore this from home.


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Screen Australia Digital Resources – Belonging

For those who are hunting around for resources to use next term with the new HSC Area of Study ‘Belonging’, you might want to head over to the Screen Australia Digital Learning resource finder.  If you search for ‘Belonging’ you will find a number of film clips relating to the concept of Belonging.

Each clip also has a short set of classroom activities written by members of the English Teachers’ Association (including yours truly!) to get you started with your lessons on Belonging 😉

My favourite is the story of Cuc Lam’s Suitcase.  It will be an especially relevant text to model with students studying The Joy Luck Club – I also used it this year, as it sat really well with Skrzynecki’s poetry for ‘the Journey’.

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Bladerunner Screenshots

Here is a slideshow of screenshots from the Bladerunner: The Director’s Cut (1992) directed by Ridley Scott.

Please feel free to use it in class and pass it on to other teachers and students.  It’s only a selection of shots, but may be very welcome in this revision period before the HSC 🙂

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Identity resources

Followed a link from a note on Facebook which lead to some excellent materials by Michele Knobel and her colleagues.  The papers that they wrote all addressed some aspect of the theme: Literacy, Identity, Place.

Our school this year has run an AOS on “Identity”, in preparation for the concepts dealt with in next years AOS: “Belonging”.  I’ve tried to push the idea of studying online identity, but I’m not teaching the course so can’t get involved really with how it is conceptualised.  But I think these papers, although they aren’t relevant at all points, would provide a good entry for interested teachers into thinking about online identity.

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