An analysis of the design, emergence and development of English as a school subject within the Western Australian lower secondary school curriculum over the period 1969-2001.
Calvin Bruce Durrant
Proposal for a dissertation in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Education undertaken at the University of Western Australia.
This study aims to describe, and develop an historical explanation of, the design, emergence and development of English as a school subject within the Western Australian lower secondary school curriculum over the period 1969 - 2001.
The research methodology will include an analysis of historical documents, government reports and curriculum materials used in lower secondary schools in Western Australia. There will be a focus on three periods of curriculum change, namely the years 1969 - 1975, 1984 - 1989 and 1994 - 2001.
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Candidate: Calvin Bruce Durrant
Degree: Doctor of Education,
The Graduate School of Education, The University of Western Australia
Proposed Supervisors: • Professor Tom O'Donoghue *Dr Marnie O'Neill
A. PROPOSED STUDY
An historical analysis of the design, emergence and development of English as a school subject within the Western Australian lower secondary school curriculum (Years 8 -10) over the period 1969 - 2001.
(ii) The research aim
The aim of this study is to describe, and develop an historical explanation of, the design, emergence and development of English as a school subject within the Western Australian lower secondary school curriculum (Years 8 -10) over the period 1969 - 2001.
The stimulus for this arose from observing that there is a general dearth of studies on the history of curriculum in Australia. While the history of education itself is a well-developed field, the history of curriculum has been neglected. With the exception of several general works, such as those of Cal Durrant - EdD Proposal . 3.
Price (1986) and Marsh (1987, 1992), there are comparatively few historical studies on the history of curriculum in schools. Even more neglected has been the history of school subjects, and English has been no exception (Green and Beavis 1996: 1). In particular, it is difficult to get a national picture when there are not many works at the individual state level.
This study will make one contribution to this deficit by developing an historical analysis of the design, emergence and development of English as a school subject within the Western Australian lower secondary school curriculum (Years 8 -10) over the period 1969 - 2001. Specifically it will identify, describe and analyse the major phases in that evolution: the junior Certificate (Pre-1971), the Achievement Certificate (1971-1986), the Unit Curriculum (1987 -1998) and the Curriculum Frameworks (1999 - 2001). Following the study of the situation during each of these curriculum stages in Western Australia, a meta-analysis will be undertaken.
B. The Background to the Study
(i) The research context
The theoretical framework that will underpin this study is one that views school subjects as sites of contestation, where different interest groups struggle for influence and power (Goodson 1988). Accordingly, it is likely that the analysis will yield a picture of the construction of lower school subject English in Western Australia as shifting and changing within each curriculum period and having commonalities and differences across them. Furthermore this picture needs to be considered against the broad background of the establishment and development of subject English both nationally and internationally.
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In the Introduction to their collection of essays on the history of English curriculum in Australia, Green and Beavis argue that:
Now, more than ever, given its current state of crisis, controversy and change, English teaching needs to be firmly placed in historical and social context, with due recognition of its complex and contradictory character and of the significant (dis)continuities in its historical record (Green and Beavis, 1996: 1).
Buried within such an evangelical call is the very clear assumption that English teaching is some readily recognizable and unified package of commonly accepted practices and beliefs. A brief look at the emergence of subject English during the twentieth century would suggest that this is far from the case, something the editors readily acknowledge later in their Introduction.
In fact, trying to capture the nature of 'English' is something to which histories of the subject continually return. The question of how best to understand and, indeed, define, English teaching remains a vexed and contentious feature of English curriculum debate according to Green and Beavis (1996: 7). David Homer's landmark study of secondary English in Australia asserts that this question has been the subject's major problem for fifty years (1973: 1) and Medway's study of the recent history of the subject in the UK suggests that, 'English does not essentially comprise a body of facts and concepts to be communicated... (it) seems not quite a subject in the usual sense' (1990: 1). More recently, Goodwyn has argued that'Since its
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formation, subject English has been the centre of controversy... Perceived by many as the most important subject in the school curriculum, it has been a barometer for the curricular weather systems surrounding it... English has been more than part of larger changes in education and society; it has been the focus of those changes' (2001: 149).
In his introduction to The Teaching of English in Schools 1900-1970, David Shayer makes the following observation about school practices in English in the U.K.,
"What must disturb anyone who looks into the history of the subject in this country is the extent to which (teaching) practices have been established for reasons often only tenuously connected with well thought out English theory, and have then assumed a permanence generation after generation which is seemingly unshakeable." (1972: 2)
Accounts of the development of English in each state in Australia would seem to support such a view. Willis (1996) reports that in Western Australia, the curricula and examination procedures set in place during the first fifteen years of the nineteenth century 'remained unchanged till the 1940s-50s' (p. 97). In his review of the Queensland English syllabuses over the previous thirty five years, Davies (1994) observed that the 1960 version of English had changed little in forty years, that: 'a glance at examination papers from the 1920s will reveal a similar pattern of teaching and assessment' (p. 4). New South Wales experienced only three English syllabus changes up until the 1960s, those of 1911, 1944 and 1953. Watson (1994) suggests that the latter Cal Durrant - EdD Proposal . 6.
two syllabus changes had little impact on the pattern of English instruction established during the earlier part of the century, where the 1911 syllabus prescribed five 45 minute periods per week in English in each of the four years of secondary schooling (p. 37). The course was divided into two sections, Language and Literature, and the texts were prescribed.
George Mackaness - who was Senior Lecturer in English at the Sydney Teachers' College - published a series of his college lectures in 1928 called Inspirational Teaching. In this text he suggested time allocations for English as typically taught in the larger high schools in New South Wales as follows: one period per week for composition, half a period for grammar, half a period for the novel, one period for Australian poetry and two periods for the study of Shakespeare (p. 25). The major part of this collection was based on his experiences as Head of English at Fort Street Boys' High School. As Willis (1996) points out, before his retirement in 1903, Cyril Jackson appointed eight young men who were committed to the 'New Education' principles based on the work of Herbart, Pestalozzi, Mentessori and Froebel to the new Claremont Training College in Perth. Significantly, most of them had also trained and taught at the Fort Street Model School in Sydney (p. 98). It is a story that was no doubt repeated in a number of states and served to ensure a degree of standardisation in both curriculum and methodology that defied the geographical distances that otherwise served to isolate each state education system.
Graham Little (1998) asserts that Australian education was founded upon the mass schooling ideas of utilitarian philosophers like Jeremy Bentham and that: '(T)he notions of literacy as mechanical drills which could work perfectly if teachers were not slack gained an uncanny hold on Australian folklore' (p. iv). Homer (1973) argues that primary education in twentieth century
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Australia inherited a 'skills' model of English while a compromise between utilitarian and Classical emphases that stressed the study of the 'style' of literature was developed in secondary schooling. While cultural heritage may have been prominent in England by 1921 (Board of Education 1921; Sampson 1921), in Australia, an obsession with what could be examined meant an emphasis on those accomplishments and skills that could be polished for inspection (Homer 1973: 48). From 1921 to 1941, Newbolt was circulated and accepted in Australia. At the same time, Homer shows that grammar teaching underwent a significant change in approach from formalism to functional teaching. This represented a shift in emphasis from grammar teaching's role in training pupils in clear and logical thought and imparting good sentence structure to the view that some understanding of sentence structure would prove an aid to better writing. While Homer focuses on the situation in Victoria, he suggests that there was a far broader 'Australian faith in the value of grammar to a child's writing' (pp. 96-98).
A number of observers have made the point that English teaching in Australia has been heavily influenced by the British model, with little significant impact being felt from other quarters, including North America (See Brock, 1983a: 177; Watson, 1994 26; Green 1995: 4). Education differed somewhat in Australia in that it was made a state responsibility rather than a Federal one. Yet, as the earlier example of teachers from Fort Street in Sydney being appointed to Western Australia demonstrates, there has always been considerable cross-fertilisation of ideas across the states. Indeed, it can be said with some degree of confidence that English teaching developments in any one state have not differed markedly from those throughout the rest of the country (Watson 1994: 26).
Subject English first appeared in the Western Australian school curriculum
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with the establishment of a secondary school in the colony in 1838 (Mossenson, 1972: 5). While it has undergone numerous name changes over time and experienced different configurations, 'English' has maintained a constant presence in the secondary school curriculum ever since. With the development of government secondary schools in the early part of the last century, lower secondary education enjoyed a relatively stable period right up until the 1960s. The majority of Western Australian pupils concluded their formal education at the end of Year Ten with an externally examined junior Certificate. However, with increased pressure on students to remain at school until the end of Year Twelve, the abandonment of the externally assessed Junior Certificate and the development of new ways of thinking about what constituted English following the Dartmouth Conference, the years 1969 - 2001 represent an extremely interesting period for the study of English in lower secondary schools in Western Australia.
In Western Australia up to 1969, English syllabus development had generally reflected what was happening throughout the country. Indeed, according to Watson (1994: 26), English teaching developments to this period were similar in all states in Australia. The year 1969, however, marked a watershed in WA with the publishing of the Dettman Report (1969), the establishment of the Board of Secondary Education and the adoption of an internally assessed Achievement Certificate to replace the Junior Certificate. We can identify three quite clearly discernible phases in curriculum development in Western Australia from that year on.
The Achievement Certificate brought Western Australian schools into line with the general democratisation of high school curricula that occurred worldwide largely due to the post-WW II comprehensive school movement. This was followed in the 1980s by a further shift in education in Western
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Australia towards what has become known as Unit Curriculum. This curriculum was introduced by the Labor government as a result of the Beazley Report (1984) and reflected the national call for greater accountability from schools and school systems.
The early 1990s saw an accelerated attempt to introduce a national curriculum in Australia, largely as a result of the Hobart Declaration in 1989. But, with significant shifts in state election balances, this movement stalled at the post in 1993; the state ministers would only agree to modify the National Profiles according to their own specifications and requirements. Western Australia had already departed down this path in response to the perceived limitations of Unit Curriculum, though its version of the National Profiles was called Student Outcome Statements. These were trialed in a number of government and non-government schools during 1994 and 1995 resulting in the publication of the Education Department's Outcomes and Standards Framework in 1998. It represents a significant shift in the transformation of teaching and learning from an emphasis on what teachers teach to a concentration on the outcomes students achieve and was earmarked to be fully implemented in all government schools by 2004.
Morgan suggests that one way of answering the question'What is English?' is to ask 'What was English?': 'That is, in exploring how the past has left its marks in subtle or blatant ways upon the present, we often reveal what is taken for granted within a subject area' (Morgan, 1995: 110). This thesis will look at the ways English has been interpreted in one Australian state over the past thirty years and, by so doing, add to the relatively small body of literature that constitutes the 'histories' of subject English.
(ii) The Study's Substantial and Original Contribution to Knowledge
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A number of studies have been done on the general history of education in Western Australia, including W. D. Neal's Education in Western Australia (1979) and D. Mossenson's earlier volume, State Education in Western Australia, 1829 -1960 (1972). Despite such significant contributions, commentators continue to claim that curriculum history itself has been generally neglected in Australian research (Seddon 1989; Green and Beavis 1996). Seddon suggests that teachers and curriculum workers 'do not know their own past; neither the curricular past nor the history of their own profession' (Seddon 1989: 1). Yet, as Bernstein has pointed out, 'if we are to take shifts in the content of education seriously, then we require histories of these contents and their relationship to institutions and symbolic arrangements external to the school' (1951: p. 156).
As Morgan observes, English practitioners - as part of this same phenomenon - appear to have been slow to examine their own history (1990: 198). This study attempts to address such claims in the area of subject English; its purpose being to analyse, and produce a summary of, the significant changes that have occurred in that subject as taught in the lower secondary school in Western Australia over the past thirty years.
There have been a number of studies dealing with education in Western Australia, but few that have focused on the specific changes to the English curriculum at the lower secondary school level (See Willis 1996; O'Neill 1995). Throughout the Twentieth Century, English came to be regarded as an important element of school education and, until recently, has been one of the few subjects that students were required to take in order to matriculate to Australian universities. Yet, throughout its gradual rise to prominence in the school curriculum, English has been racked by disputes about just what
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should be the body of knowledge that comprises the subject (Ball 1987: 17). Such disputes have by no means been restricted to British soil (See Morgan 1990, O'Neill 1992, Hunter 1994, O'Neill 1995, Macintyre 2001).
This study picks up the work of Stephen Ball who has written extensively on the history of subject English in Great Britain (1982;1984; 1985;1987;1990). Ball suggests a general schema for analysing conflict and change in school subjects:
1. Relations of Change - the power struggles that consume segments and factions within the relevant subject community;
2. Structures of Change - the external institutions, organisations and agencies that constitute the formal channels of educational policy-making and administration through which change must be mediated;
3. Conditions of Change - the political and economic context within which any subject community must operate.
Examining the history of subject English in the lower secondary school in Western Australia appears to be a valuable exploration of the ways similar power struggles over subject change have occurred more broadly. Such struggles rarely take place in isolation or in linear fashion but can be seen to be operating at a number of levels: *among the various factions within the school subject English, *among the other interest groups that compete at state and national curriculum development levels,
*among the economic and social forces that are both ever present and ever shifting.
(iii) Literature Review
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A review of the literature suggests that there have been few studies done on the history of curriculum in Western Australia, and even fewer on the various subject curriculums that comprise school education in this state. This is surprising in view of the number of studies completed internationally. The United Kingdom and the United States, for example, have both produced a significant body of research and educational journal literature in these areas.
One of the earliest attempts to write a substantial history of subject English that strongly incorporated the subject's place in Australia was Homer's 1973 study. He argues that twentieth century Australia inherited a 'skills' model of English in primary education and a 'style' model in secondary. Interestingly, unlike in the United Kingdom, Homer sees little sense of the 'cultural heritage' model in Australia during the first half of the twentieth century. For Homer, the Australian emphasis was on the knowledge of grammar and the accomplishment of good speech, and that composition lessons concentrated on the formal elements of instruction in style (pp.100 -104). By 1961, only the NSW and Victorian Intermediate Certificates included questions on formal analysis - a position in marked contrast to the UK. Nevertheless, the early textbooks by Ridout (English Today) and Ridout and McGregor (English in Australian Schools) represented the fundamental issues of English in Australian schools, namely: word building, sentences, paragraphs, composition, dictionary practice, paraphrasing, sentence correction, comprehension, reported speech and literary and grammatical terms. When standards were perceived as dropping with the rapid growth of secondary and technical schools after the war, the reaction was to intensify the drills and the use of texts such as those of Ridout and McGregor. Homer suggests that state government initiated reports such as the one chaired by Harold Wyndham in NSW (1961) also held up reform in English by re-emphasising cultural heritage, drill and discipline, spelling and grammar (pp.139-62).
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The syllabuses which would reposition English, as far as new approaches to 'growth' go, were to appear later in the form of the 1966 Victorian Technical Schools Syllabus and the 'fundamentally changed' 1972 Syllabus in NSW (pp. 162 - 67). By the end of the 1960s, Dixon's work had gained a wide readership in Australia and could be seen to influence the actual implementation of the Victorian Technical Schools Syllabus. In NSW, Homer commented that the 'Revised English Syllabus, Forms I-IV, commends itself as the most carefully considered application of "growth" principles yet seen in Australia' (p. 212). He also recognised the unique Australian flavour of 'growth' in the widespread use of thematic study throughout the 1970s. He is thus partly in agreement with Christie in attributing to this shift in classroom approach the disappearance of the linguistic and literary elements in English as students vacillated between themes and skills (pp. 217 - 61). There is a particular lament that poetry might be studied for the relevance of its themes, rather than for the special nature of the poetic form (pp. 271- 72).
In 1976, Christie submitted a historical study of English teaching in NSW elementary schools. Though it covered only the period 1848 -1900, some issues are worth mentioning here. Christie argues a number of propositions including:
• Literacy was all about social utility during this period; the purpose being to create a people capable of functioning as citizens and industrious workers (Ch. 1). Nevertheless, the NSW community remained divided about the 'propriety of denying children the right to work' (p. 276). In high school, English was regarded as for the 'dullard'. This is reminiscent of Doyle's claim that prior to the 1880s in Britain, most teaching of languages and literature was 'either associated with women, or allied to the utilitarian pursuit of functional literacy' and thus had an accompanying lower cultural status than Cal Durrant - EdD Proposal . 14.
the 'masculine studies of Classics and Mathematics' (Doyle, 1989: 2).
• Educational theory also taught that the acquisition of the abilities to read, write, spell, parse and analyse sentences properly promoted the growth of various mental faculties.
• Methods used were always based on a sense of orderly progression, involving particular assumptions about the development of mental faculties in children. Teaching reading involved moving children from letter or sound recognition to repeated reading of phrases and then on to reading simple sentences (Chs. 2 - 4). Such a focus came about as a result of attention to products - on proficient reading, accurate, neat handwriting and a mastery of sentence structure (Ch. 6).
• The study of grammar was considered paramount - only after extensive exercises in parsing and analysis could the child be considered capable of writing a sentence him/herself. Interestingly, Grammar gained more time in the curriculum as the child moved up the school; this was due in part to a firm belief in its efficacy for training logical and abstract thought, much as the study of Latin had been justified before it. The pre-eminence of grammar continued despite objections in the 1870s by Professor Charles Badham of Sydney University, by University examiners and by school Inspectors - all of whom complained that students were 'parroting' exercises and terminology with little understanding, and that delaying writing for the study of grammar was self-defeating (Chapt. 5 - 6).
Boomer's brief coverage of the history of subject English in Australia confirms the early influence, during the mid-60s, of international figures such as Holbrook, Flower and Chomsky. Thematic texts such as Delves and Tickell's Themes and Responses, Hannan, Hannan and Allinson's English Part One, Carozzi's Patchwork and Hansen's The Tiger and the Rose became prominent in this period and the Victorian Technical Schools picked up the Cal Durrant - EdD Proposal . 15.
notion of exploring the needs and interests of students (Boomer, 1977: 4 - 5). As a result of the 1972 UNESCO Seminar, Britton's work was picked up in Australia, quickly followed by that of Martin, Dixon, Halliday, Rosen and Barnes. Boomer sees opposing tendencies among Halliday's followers and those of Barnes and Rosen, with the former stressing 'studying language as an end in itself' and the latter stressing the notion of learning language through use (1977: 10). Boomer suggested that in 1977, the bulk of Australian English teachers knew 'precious little about any of the map-makers... and even less about their maps ... (but) all is changed, irrevocably changed... no one remains unaffected (pp.10 -11).
Brock views English teaching in NSW particularly as having grown out of a British tradition, with very little significant North American influence apart from the 1961 English syllabus (1996: 52). The ruling paradigm for NSW secondary English was dominated by 'heavy' literature, grammar and 'formal' written expression (1983a: 177). Prior to the introduction of the Intermediate Certificate in 1911, it was governed by the matriculation requirements of Sydney University (Nay-Brock, 1984). Using an organisational change analysis based on Kuhn, Brock argues that English in NSW was not controlled by sets of rules, but rather a 'common set of practices'. He argues that it was not the Syllabuses that directed teaching from the early 1900s until the 1950s, but rather external examinations, textbooks and English teaching folklore (Brock, 1983a: 177ff; 1983b: 28 - 29). For Brock, nowhere is the prominence of 'teaching folklore' more evident than in the strong emphasis on teaching the rules of grammar through parsing and analysis, which was downplayed in two of the four Years 7 -10 (or equivalent) Syllabuses written between 1911 and 1962, but remained a feature of classroom teaching (Brock, 1983a: 176ff; 1983b: 19; Nay-Brock, 1984).
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He identifies the 1953 and 1971 Syllabuses, in particular, as bringing into NSW important new directions in English from the UK - the 1953 syllabus being derived strongly from Newbolt English, despite it being some thirty years later, and the 1971 document coming from Dixon's Growth Through English. Brock also claims that the 1971 NSW Syllabus was a revolutionary document that was the first to implement the ideas contained in Growth Through English (Brock,1983a: 179;1983b: 27;1996: 46ff; Nay-Brock, 1984: 56ff). In his opinion, Graham Little (Chair of the Syllabus Committee) was heavily influenced by Dixon, and even more so by James Moffett's Teaching the Universe of Discourse. Brock also sees in the 1971 document the influence of Eisner, in both its reaction against behaviourism and its prescription for teachers to accept the responsibility of developing relevant curricula (Brock, 1983a). In reality, what happened was that teachers jumped aboard the thematic teaching bandwagon based on the explosion of theme-based textbooks (Brock, 1983a: 178; 1983b: 28 - 29). Brock suggests that an early lack of adequately funded training meant that, until the early 1980s, intelligent implementation of the new Syllabus was rather partial, despite the best efforts of the fledgling NSW English Teachers' Association (Brock, 1983a: 184-85; 1983b: 26-28; Nay-Brock, 1984: 57).
In arguing against the notion that Australian versions of English since the 1960s have simply adopted overseas influences, Davis and Watson highlight a number of factors that have had particular impact in this country: its multiculturalism; the search for a national identity; economic pressures; a notable lack of support from university English departments and the division of the education system into a number of separate state-based systems (1990: 152). Despite the divisional nature of separate state education systems, Davis and Watson see the period prior to 1960 as being characterised by an excess of national conformity: the use of sets of anthologies of poetry and short
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stories and one-act plays, spelling lists, comprehension passages, parsing, analysis, sentence correction and a fragmented curriculum (1990: 154-56). Changes to this situation started in the early 60s with the establishment of state English Teachers' Associations, as well as the Australian Association for the Teaching of English (RATE). These associations were significant for their publications, and, together with the rise of theme-based textbooks, led the move away from repetitive language exercises and comprehension passages. Dartmouth and Dixon were very influential from the late 60s, and NSW - along with Victoria, South Australia and Queensland - soon gave official endorsement through Syllabuses to the 'new English'. This was followed in some states by the appointment of state and regional consultants, who were successful agents of change. The 1972 UNESCO Seminar, with James Britton and Roger Shuy as consultants, led directly to the establishment of the National Committee on English Teaching and its Language Development Project, with Frances Christie as Project Officer. Davis and Watson attribute the early failure to widely implement the spirit of the 'new English' in Syllabuses to the 'back to basics' movement of the 1970s, especially as led by the Australian Council for Educational Standards (ACES) (Davis and Watson, 1990: 156 - 59; also, Watson, 1994: 38 - 40).
Watson argues that English teaching in NSW has always been driven by external examinations and textbooks. To cite one example, while the 1911 Syllabus tends to downplay the place of grammar instruction, the Intermediate Certificate examination of the succeeding years focused on parsing and analysis. Though an influential figure like George Mackaness - for two decades senior lecturer in English at Sydney Teachers' College, and hence overseeing the training of all graduate English teachers in NSW - advocated the practices of Caldwell Cook's The Play Way, the examination system 'provided an effective brake on change' (1994: 34). The other theme Cal Durrant - EdD Proposal . 18.
dominating the history of English in NSW was the obsession with grammar. Watson, like Brock, highlights this obsession in the 1944 and 1962 Syllabuses, despite the growing body of research that questioned the value of grammar for writing (1994: 35 - 37). In spite of all the changes evident in the 1971 Syllabus and its 1987 successor, when writing in 1994, Watson still saw English in NSW as in conflict between'new English' and the 'back-to-basics' movement that had lingered on since the 1970s (p. 41).
C. The Research Plan
(i) Theoretical Framework
The history of curriculum is a relatively recent area of study within the broader academic discipline, the History of Education. Much work in the history of the school curriculum focuses on the school subject. School subjects do not develop and change 'out of nothing'; nor do they consist of timeless bodies of knowledge with fixed teaching methodologies. As Goodson says, they are not 'monolithic entities but shifting amalgamations of sub-groups and traditions' (1983: 3). Such subjects undergo change through experiencing and reacting to the significant pressures and tensions that arise from within and without their communities of practitioners. Hargreaves notes that:
... school subjects are more than groupings of intellectual thought. They are social systems too. They compete for power, prestige, recognition and reward within the secondary or high school situation (1989:56).
Indeed, many of the celebrated debates about curriculum can be interpreted Cal Durrant - EdD Proposal . 19.
in terms of 'conflict between subjects over status, resources and territory' (Goodson 1983: 3). On this, Williams noted over forty years ago that an educational curriculum 'expresses a compromise between an inherited selection of interests and the emphasis of new interests' (1961: 104). More recently, in writing about the history of syllabus development in Tertiary Entrance Examination (TEE) English in Western Australia, O'Neill makes the point that these competing interests 'frequently result in syllabuses being wrenched in various directions' (1995: 167).
A study of the literature suggests that there has been a general shortage of historical studies of school subject curricula, particularly in Australia. Musgrave describes the output since 1945 as 'a thin trickle of papers' (1988: 1). Some of those that have been undertaken often appear to fall into the trap of assuming that 'writing and reading history is simply a matter of recovering (and discovering) the past and displaying (and replaying) the "truth"' (Green and Beavis 1996: 9).
Brock also raises the matter of how deceptively easy it is looking from the standpoint of the present to 'perceive the history of the past as moving inexorably towards the present in a developmental continuum' (1984: 2). It is important, then, that the writing of curriculum history should not be seen simply as the recording of 'a series of developmental stages' (Doyle 1989: 5). Rather, such an exercise is best described as being a 'complex practice of representation, and so it is always a matter of contest and interpretation' (Green and Beavis 1996: 9). This study will adopt just such a view.
In discussing curriculum, there are crucial distinctions to be made between the state - designed curriculum in the form of Syllabuses, and the curriculum as it is interpreted by teachers in their classrooms. Goodson describes the Cal Durrant - EdD Proposal . 20.
former as the 'preactive' and the latter as the 'interactive' curricula (Goodson, 1992, 1994). The 'preactive' curriculum, as defined particularly in Syllabus documents, he refers to as the 'written curriculum' (Goodson, 1992, 1994, 1994a). The emphasis in this study will be not so much on classroom practice, but rather the constructions of subject English found in Syllabus documents, professional journals, textbooks and examinations. These constructions, it might be argued, are what potentially drive Goodson's 'interactive
(ii) Research Questions
The principal aim of this study, it will be recalled, is to analyse the design, emergence and development of English as a school subject within the Western Australian lower secondary school curriculum over the period 1969 - 2001.
In order to address the aims of the study, the research will focus on the following major research questions:
1. How was English constructed as a secondary school subject in the post-World War II period in Western Australia?
2. How and why did English develop and expand as a lower secondary school subject in Western Australia?
3. What was the nature and extent of the relationship between 'the English Curriculum as conceptualised' and 'the English Curriculum as translated into syllabus documents' between 1969 and 2001, and how can the historian account for this relationship?
A number of more specific guiding questions can be developed from these central questions in order to guide the study in the initial stages. However, they can be reformulated, developed and expanded as the study progresses and new evidence becomes available. Initially, the following guiding questions will be used:
1. What were the reasons for the continued dominance of English as a school subject in the curriculum of Western Australia after World War II?
2. Who are the major stakeholders in the development and implementation of English as a school subject in the lower secondary school curriculum in Western Australia?
3. What pressures were exerted by the major stakeholders on the development and implementation of English as a school subject in the lower secondary school curriculum in Western Australia?
4. What changes in content and approach have developed in the English curriculum since 1969, and how have these changes affected the position of English in the lower secondary school curriculum?
5. In the lower secondary school curriculum, how has English fared in relation to other school subjects in terms of time allocation, teaching and assessment approaches?
6. What are the current trends in English curriculum delivery in lower
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secondary schools in Western Australia?
In the initial stages of the research, the study will also be guided by the following hypotheses formulated by Goodson (1983) in relation to the study of school subjects:
i/ school subjects are not monolithic entities but shifting amalgamations of sub-groups and traditions;
ii/ in the process of establishing a school subject, a subject group moves from promoting pedagogic and utilitarian traditions to an academic tradition;
iii/ much of the curriculum debate that occurs about a school subject over time can be interpreted in terms of conflict between subjects over status, resources and territories.
These in turn will be based on the three-point analytical schema developed by Ball (1987):
i/ Relations of Change - the power struggles between social groups, coalitions, and segments within the subject community, each with their own sense of 'mission' and differing and competing vested interests, resources and influence;
ii/ Structures of Change - the institutions, organisations, procedures, roles and persons that constitute the formal channels of educational policy-making and administration through which - or in relation to which - change must be accomplished, mediated, fought for and negotiated. Such structures generally lie outside of the subject community itself. Cal Durrant - EdD Proposal . 23.
iii/ Conditions of Change - the political and economic context, the ebb and flow of public opinion and consciousness, the 'limits of tolerance' within which the subject community works. As conditions change, so the degrees of freedom available for the subject community to construct its own discourses also change (Ball 1987:17-18).
As the study progresses, other hypotheses and propositions will likely emerge.
(iii) Data Collection
This study will rely heavily on an analysis of both primary and secondary documents, including:
Secondary Education Authority syllabus publications, Curriculum Branch, EDWA publications, Curriculum Council syllabus publications, Education Department of Western Australia/ Ministry of Education English syllabus manuals.
Curriculum Framework, English Student Outcomes Statements, and Work Samples booklets.
• Secondary Sources
Beazley, K. (1984) Education in Western Australia (The Beazley Report). Birch, l. And Smart, D. (1977) The Commonwealth Government and Education 1964-1976: Political Initiatives and Developments.
Dettman, H. (1969) Secondary Education in Western Australia (The Dettman Cal Durrant - EdD Proposal . 24.
Dudley, J. and Vidovich, L. (1995) The Politics of Education: Commonwealth Schools Policy 1973-95.
Neal, W. (Ed.) (1979) Education in Western Australia.
Mossenson, D. (1972) State Education in Western Australia, 1829 -1960. Petch, J. (1964) Report on Public Examination System in Western Australia. Smart, D. (1990) Dealing with Government: The past and future issues in education policy.
Smart, D. and Alderson, A. (1980) The Politics of Education in Western Australia: An exploratory study of state education department policy-making.
Wilson, P. and Smart, D. (1991) Reversing the Policy process in WA: From Top Down to Bottom Up?
(iv) Data Analysis
This study aims to develop a set of propositions regarding the developments of English as a lower secondary school subject over the period 1969 - 2001. These propositions will be formulated through the use of the historical skills of interpretation and analysis. The propositions will relate to the 'preactive' or 'written' curriculum (Goodson, 1992, 1994, 1994a). Analysis of curriculum documents, state and federal government policies on education, education union platforms, professional association policy positions and other written materials will be undertaken using procedures as devised by Eraut (1975), Piper (1976) and Gall (1981). The researcher will also be alert to elements of continuity, parallels and comparisons that can be drawn between the period under consideration and other time frames, and also between the situation in Western Australia and other states and nations.
(v) Proposed Timeline
Cal Durrant - EdD Proposal . 25.
January - December 2004
- Literature review
- Preparation of research proposal
January - June, 2005
- Analysis of written data
- Ongoing literature searches and review
July - December, 2005
- Ongoing analysis of written data
January - June, 2006
- Preliminary interpretations
July - December, 2006
- Formulating and drawing conclusions
- Begin preparing draft to verify conclusions
January - June, 2007
- Prepare draft of research findings
- Prepare draft of dissertation
July - December, 2007
- Submit first draft
- Subsequent drafts and alterations
- Presentation of final draft.
(vi) Estimated Costs
Cal Durrant - EdD Proposal . 26.
Photocopying costs to be met by candidate.
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Eraut, M. et al (1975) The Analysis of Curriculum Materials, Brighton: University of Sussex.
Gall, M. (1981) Handbook for Evaluating and Selecting Curriculum Materials, Boston: Allen & Unwin.
Goodson, I. (1983) School Subjects and Curriculum Change: Case studies in curriculum history, Kent: Croom Helm.
Goodson, I. (1988) The Making of Curriculum: Collected Essays, New York, Falmer Press.
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Hunter, Ian (1994) Rethinking the school: Subjectivity, bureaucracy, criticism, St. Leonards: Allen and Unwin.
Little, G. (1998) 'Introduction', in W. Sawyer, K. Watson and E. Gold (Eds.) ReViewing English, Sydney: St Clair Press.
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