Durrant, C. (2012). Whispering to the hippopotamus about the 'Literacy Boomerang': Literacy wars and rumours of wars. B. Down, J. Smyth. Critical Voices in Teacher Education 185-195. The Netherlands: Springer Science and Business Media. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-3974-1_13
Over the past decade, the English-speaking world has witnessed a series of relentless attacks on school education, in particular the perceived state of English literacy levels amongst school-aged children, and the alleged lamentable standards of teaching methods contributing to this outcome. While there have also been concerted efforts to resist such a discourse, Australia’s print media have tended to highlight the viewpoints put forward by neoliberal education critics. This chapter will examine some of the main arguments and counterarguments that have been proposed during these very public ‘wars of the words’ in Australia in the light of the development of a National Curriculum. Indeed, such ‘wars’ could be interpreted as being both necessary and inevitable precursors to the definition and establishment of a national curriculum in English. This chapter will also explore the role of the media in mediating, weighting, ordering and privileging particular positions when reporting these debates.
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