Methinks I smell the burning embers of communism. Within the hallowed halls of Universities must lurk the sleepers of the old Comintern espousing their ideology to unsuspecting teaching undergraduates who then move on to form the AATE. I've been reading the Statement of Belief of the AATE and have realized that this is a political statement.
It seems a long long way from the time when I was at school when English as a subject implied English comprehension. In other words the meaning of what is embodied in written language.
I quote from the AATE Statement of Belief
The ‘human condition’ has been a central historical concern of English. The development of self-understanding and a better understanding of others are key aims of the English curriculum.
Reading further down we see this,
Students achieve this through:
· consideration of what the study of language, literature and other types of text reveal about the connections between people across social, cultural, temporal and geographic divides
· exploring ethical and moral issues to develop and understand their own values and perspectives, and the values and perspectives of others
· engaging with different representations of ethnicity, culture, class, gender, language, sexuality, and socio-economic status
· respecting Australia’s Indigenous cultural heritage, and by learning more about its traditions, history and achievements through a culturally balanced curriculum
· valuing the multicultural nature of Australia
· their study and use of language in written, spoken and visual modes and through different types of texts, including: classic and popular texts, multimodal texts, fiction and non-fiction texts
· recognising that texts have a range of purposes, not the least of which is to provide pleasure
And the key words that crop up again and again are "culture" "ethnicity" not to forget "ethical" and "moral" issues.
Now the thought crosses my mind, what kind of training and education does an English teacher have to equip them to confront innocent and inexperienced children with issues or ethics and morality when these children have yet to be taught the basics of language and comprehension?
Here is a comment by Assoc. Professor Peter Morgan regarding the AATE push to politicize the teaching of English in Australia.
One problem with the NSW English teachers' manifesto is that they don't understand what an academic discipline or a teaching subject is.English is primarily a language. Matters such as racism and sexism are not the focus of English education...
Anyone who reads literature , both the classics and the products of our own times, will know that reading is not "political" in the sense offered by the NSW teachers' association.
Do you now understand why I see reds under the bed?