Sunday, December 11, 2005

How should we teach English?

LAST week I had my first meeting in my capacity as new Faculty Head of English at my school. The current Head started the meeting and then I took over. At this end of the year the idea was to be well prepared for next year, to introduce the new staff who will join us, and to end off with a look at the mission statement for our faculty and our goals as a faculty. This made me think again about how I would articulate my own goals as head of English: how would I see my role as providing for the students the best possible educational experiences for their lives and their futures and how I will support the staff in this as well. I know I will post about this soon.

At the same time there are rumours and whispers around schools in general that faculties or key learning areas may be dissolved in favour of an integrated approach to learning. That we should not be looking at discrete subjects like SOSE (Studies of Society and Environment) or Science or English but at ways of providing learning experiences for students where they choose a project to investigate and learn what they need to learn in any discipline as they need to learn it. I don’t know of any specific school doing this but I have heard that some are thinking about it. I’m sure some schools out there are doing this or something like it. I’d love to know how it’s going.

In other cases I have heard of, it is agreed that there should to be content taught in Maths, and Languages such as French or Indonesian, so these Faculties need to be retained, and even History and Geography. But for English there is seen to be no such requirement. I know of one school that has done away with the English Faculty although there are still English teachers. English is seen as Literacy and Communication, and it is agreed that these should be taught across the curriculum, along with ICT (also in some schools not seen as a separate subject). It is true that in an earlier iteration of the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS), there was no separate discipline called English (it was put together with Languages Other than English in the category of Language), but this has since changed and English is again one of the discipline areas. However, Technology is still seen as being integrated into all the discipline areas. I’m interested in other people’s views on this. What are the arguments for each side? Are they convincing? What leads to better learning experiences for students?

1 comment:

  1. perhaps Warra's pointer to the Singaporian paper on Problem Based Learning would be of interest...