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‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.’

Can I begin like that? It’s risky, and contentious, and will probably come back at me. But it’s no less a stupid comment for all that. In my experience it is usually the ones who say it who are the ones who can’t.

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The first thing to be noted about this collection of essays is that it is aimed at a quite specific market – HSC/VCE students. There is a list of ‘Study Questions’ at the end, and the language of the essays is consistently pitched at an upper secondary school level. Readers who want more complex responses to My Place would be better served by consulting the eclectic bibliography to the text as a starting point.

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I would like to begin by talking about the work of the Committee to review Australian studies on tertiary education and try to bring out some of the implications of our work for publishing and for teaching. I will look particularly at the question of resources for Australian studies.

The brief of the Committee was to examine ways in which students in tertiary education institutions – in universities, colleges of advanced education, and TAFE – learn about Australia in their tertiary studies, and to recommend ways in which these studies can be developed. We were concerned not only with the humanities, with history, and with literature, but also with science and with professional and vocational studies across the curriculum. In fact one of our major tasks became to look at vocational areas to see in what ways students who took those studies were prepared for the world in which they would be used.

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The last time I’d seen this particular Bob was when we were at the school where I had to pretend not to be good at English and French and where he was a bikie and one of the likeable Bad Boys. I’d admired his audacity in running for school prefect and his campaign posters with their slogan ‘VOTE FOR BOB AND YOU WON’T GET DOBBED’.

And here he was at a party almost twenty years later, a taxation officer in a grey suit saying to me ‘And whaddya do for a crust?’ I said, ‘I teach a course in Australian Literature’. ‘Yeah?’ He didn’t sound too surprised. ‘Be a short course, wouldn’t it?’

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Teacher Learning edited by Gwyneth Dow & Melbourne Studies in Education 1982 edited by Stephen Murray-Smith

October 1983, no. 55

Gwyneth Dow has edited a collection of essays that forms a relevant and coherent whole. The authors seek to salvage what they see as ‘the good things’ in education reform of the late sixties and early seventies, reform that had weaknesses which were the result of ‘faulty thinking, poor social analysis, romantic psychological theories, slip-shod pedagogy’. The contributors to this book are Rory Barnes, Gwyneth Dow, Rod Foster, Noel P. Gough, Bill Hannan, and Doug White. Gwyneth Dow points out they do not all share the same ideological positions, but they are clearly in fundamental agreement about curriculum reform, a more democratic approach to teaching and to the running of schools, and a more socially aware view of teaching and teacher education.

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Brian Crittenden’s book, Education for Rational Understanding, is a defence of liberal education. By a liberal education Crittenden means an induction into the principal modes of understanding and evaluation which have evolved in our culture with the aim of enabling human beings ‘to act in the light of rules and standards that they apply with understanding and discrimination’, thus setting them ‘free from prejudice, ignorance, blind feeling, dull imagination and irrational action’. At the secondary-school level, the aim should be adapted to the needs of the majority of students, and so should be ‘to provide a systematic introduction to the major modes of thought, not as a prelude to the professional life of a scholar but for an intelligent participation in the critical and reflective domains of culture’.

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During its twenty-two years Melbourne Studies in Education (MSE) has served many masters: the publication of public lectures, staff and visitors’ papers at the Faculty of Education, Melbourne University, thesis work and so on. ... (read more)
We Australians, in common with everyone else on this planet, live in a very scary world. The survival of the human race is at risk with the threat of Russian/American nuclear war, with the threat of pollution, overpopulation, energy depletion and the risks of nucleology. We are at risk because of the problems created by the dependence of the world economy on continuous economic growth in both the capitalist and communist worlds. Associated with the problems created by economic growth are the ones mentioned above, as well as the base materialism and consumerism which Australia’s transformation from a sheep­walk into a quarry brings, together with it large scale, permanent unemployment. Especially for school leavers. These are what might be termed, the materials problems. ... (read more)

So much has been written about Language One in various English teaching journals that there is little to add. What has been written has usually been critical – often very critical – ranging from ‘not only is it a bad book, but it is misleading’ (Idiom) to ‘buy one for your barbeque. soon’ (Opinion). Language Two will doubtless produce a similar response – from theorists, book reviewers, and the occasional highly competent teacher.

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