Contestation over literary theories: English teachers as syllabus interpreters
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 01:20 authored by Jillian Rosemary Ireland
This thesis investigates how teachers responded to various perceptions that a new senior English curriculum was influenced by conflicting literary theories. It analyses teachers' responses to the English Stage 6 Syllabus, introduced in 2000 in New South Wales, Australia, which challenged existing paradigms, unsettling established beliefs and practices. Controversy about whether and how teachers of this Syllabus were to emphasise multiple literary theories significantly affected teachers' work. The major focus of the study is how teachers respond to syllabus innovations which they see as ambiguous or in conflict with their personal epistemological and pedagogical beliefs. The study found high levels of teacher anxiety associated with an educational innovation seen to de-stabilise existing attitudes and practices without commensurate benefits to students. Lack of theoretical clarity in a mandated syllabus is seen to lead teachers to assign paramount authority to examiners' reports, causing the assessed curriculum to dominate the other dimensions of curriculum in practice.