During the holidays, I was alerted to an article by Gunther Kress called "English in an era of instability: aesthethics, ethics, creativity and design" which I liked very much. Although he takes a long time to develop his argument it is very cogent and I found it very timely. In my new role as faculty head I don't want to just be involved in the practical day to day routines but be thinking about, and encourage others to think about, the bigger picture. (That's definitely been one of the attractions of the edublogosphere). I find that other teachers like to do this as well, but unless we make time for this sort of thinking the pressures of daily life can swamp us. Anyway, back to the article that I was so impressed by. He begins by asking 'what is English for?' which regular readers of this blog will recognise as a niggle of mine as well. I would recommend that you read the whole article; it is published in English in Australia 134, but here is a quote that summed up what I liked. "...there is an absolute need for a subject with the task of relating the world of inner work and action with the outer world of social and cultural work." He explores the meaning of curriculum and its relation to learning and the needs of 21st century students in a world of globalisation and the ubiquity of multimodal communication. He sees that "both meaning and the resources for making meaning are made by individuals in the exercise of their interests, in their transformative use of culturally made existing resources..."
This is particularly relevant in the world that our students find themselves in. This morning in The Age there is the launch of the Victorian Premiers Reading Challenge for children from Prep to Year Nine. Our students will be invited to participate in the challenge in which the students are to read 15 books in a period of seven months and record their progress online. It will be interesting to see what they make of this. There are over 2000 books suggested for Years Seven to Nine and a brief look at them made me wonder at both the inclusions and what has been left out. I'm looking forward to seeing how our students take up this challenge and talking to them about the meaning they make of it.