Schooling and nation-building, the Australian imaginary and subject English: Exploring the possibilities of placestory for imagining post-colonial possibilities in subject English

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Schooling has long been identified as a mechanism of nation-building, cultural reproduction, and cultivating national allegiance. In Australia, colonial systems and structures that shape education policy, official curricular and school governance have assisted in the continued privileged construction of a white Australian identity and downplay Australia’s rich and diverse cultural and linguistic histories. Yet, subject English is understood, at least in part, to be about examining and developing situated linguistic, cultural, symbolic and semiotic codes that we use to make meaning in our everyday lives. Given the diversity of Australia’s vast communities and school classrooms, there seems to be rich possibilities in drawing on local meaning making practices, diverse cultural and linguistic repertoires, and diverse means of textual work to interrogate normative constructions of Australian identity and encourage complex articulations of who ‘we’ are as Australians and imagine nuanced possibilities of who ‘we’ might yet become. As the unofficial but dominant language of Australia and a heavy-weight of school curricular, subject English not only has a role to play, but a responsibility to engage with the emotional landscapes of the hearts, minds and stories of diverse learners and use these to construct complex understandings of selves and others.

In this workshop, placestory is proposed as a mode of curriculum inquiry in subject English that opens up possibilities for developing post-colonial identities. Workshop participants will be encouraged to engage with their own placestories to explore the opportunities and possibilities of placestory as an anchor for situated textual work that values diverse explorations of linguistic and cultural meaning making. The workshop will have three distinct foci: describing complex experiences of place, language and meaning making; critical reflection on the tensions and opportunities of these experiences; and finding ways to resist normative cultural-linguistic modes within the constraints of official curriculum requirements.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 05 Jul 2022
EventAustralian Association for Teachers of English National Conference 2022 - Darwin Conference Centre, Darwin, Australia
Duration: 07 Jul 202211 Jul 2022 (Conference website) (Program and e-booklet)


ConferenceAustralian Association for Teachers of English National Conference 2022
Abbreviated titleHearts Minds Stories: Landscapes of Learning
OtherIn times of rapid change, we are faced with honouring what has come before, being mindful of the present and how to prepare for future possibilities. With expanding landscapes of literacy, language and literature, educators are tasked with adapting and contextualising teaching and learning to connect with the diverse minds and hearts of our learners. Our landscapes shape, influence and thread together stories of rich literacy experiences, cultivating growth. They provide unique perspectives and pathways that drive innovation and creative thinking for learning in the 21st century that is research and evidence aligned, culturally responsive and create rich, genuine futures for our learners.
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