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Freebody appointment doesn't inspire confidence.

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Freebody appointment doesn’t inspire confidence

Reports yesterday that Monash University has been forced to introduce a remedial writing course to teach basic grammar to first year students demonstrates why the proposed national English curriculum must get back to traditional learning methods that give young people the start they need in grammar and spelling, according to Shadow Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

“When the former Government announced support for a national curriculum, we intended that such a curriculum should reinforce high standards,” said Mr Pyne.

“In appointing an advocate of whole-language learning, and critical literacy, Professor Peter Freebody, to frame the national English curriculum, Julia Gillard has cast doubt on her stated aims to reinforce traditional teaching methods.

“This appointment has been criticised by the Australian Academy of Humanities, the Australian Research Council Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, and now by the Monash University School of English and Communications.

“Their concern, which the Opposition shares, is that Professor Freebody is not an expert in the discipline but instead has a general background in education.

“Professor Freebody’s appointment should be a “red light flashing” to those interested in a return to traditional teaching methods.

“Here is an example of Professor Freebody’s writing:

Literacy education is not about skill development, not about deep competence. It is about the institutional shaping of social practises and cultural resources, about inducting successive generations into particular cultural, normative ways of handling texts, and about access to technologies and artifacts and to the social institutions where these tools and artifacts are used.1

“As a parent myself, knowing this is his way of thinking provides me with little comfort!

“Parents expect that by the time their children have finished school and if they go on to higher education, they should be across the basics of grammar, spelling and punctuation,” he said.

“Julia Gillard has said that she is an educational traditionalist, and agrees with our back-to-basics approach, but as is typical of this Government you need to look at what they do not what they say.

1 Luke, A. and Freebody, P. (1999) Further notes on the four resources model.

“Parents expect and children deserve much better.

“This is another example of where Ms Gillard says one thing and does another, either she has too much on her plate to focus on the details or she is being hamstrung by ideologues in her own office.”

1 October 2008

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