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English teachers and the Asia Literacy Priority: Is it really a priority?

Nilsson, Benjamin Anders (2019) English teachers and the Asia Literacy Priority: Is it really a priority? Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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The recently developed Australian Curriculum consists of eight Learning Areas, seven General Capabilities and three Cross Curricular Priorities. Negotiating all three dimensions is challenging for learning area and discipline specialists particularly when no system level accountability exists for two of the three cross curriculum priorities. Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia, one of the non-assessed Cross-Curricular Priorities, is expected to be delivered by teachers in all learning areas. However, in an environment where the numbers of students studying Asian languages is in decline, it is often through the compulsory subject of English that students are exposed to Asian peoples and cultures.

This study highlights how policy is enacted. It reveals how Asia Literacy becomes a personal choice for English teachers and considers the complex issues impacting both its adoption and assessment in secondary school settings. It also exposes how the intersection of Asia literacies and the key element ‘intercultural understanding’ within the General Capabilities is reinforced. The findings examine text choice and consider how teachers access professional development without the impetus of cogent policy.

Findings also reveal where the new curriculum and associated documentation can be conflicting regarding the provision of parameters and expectations about the enactment of Asia Literacy. In this atmosphere of educational uncertainty and within an already packed syllabus, the voices of four high school English teachers provide insight into their lived experience of negotiating Asia Literacy in culturally diverse classrooms.

The research clarifies how the broader educational sector can support teachers including reinforcing the need for Asia Literacy to be prioritised in a wider range of regulatory and professional documentation. In these ways, the stated aim of using policy to create a more prosperous nation that engages in building strong relationships with Asia can be better realised.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation: Education
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
Supervisor(s): Glass, Christine and Ledger, Susan
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