The Hon. John Della Bosca, Minister for Education in NSW, has called for the Board of Studies to review the amount of Australian literature in the NSW English curriculum (see article in the Daily Telegraph by clicking on headline above).
This is a sensible move, even if it seems odd. Think of any state in the USA and the English curriculum in that state -- it would be unthinkable for that curriculum to contain works which were not American. Yet here in Australia there is argument about whether or not Australian literature is good enough or even interesting enough to find a place in NSW schools.
The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) welcomes moves to strengthen the study of Australian literature in NSW classrooms.
The ASA has long advocated the study of Australian literature as a means of providing a sense of cultural identity, insight into our diversity and knowledge of our unique place in the world. Without our literature, we have no stories of our own. We cannot then make film, television and other narratives.
Also, our authors are world class. We have nothing to be ashamed of in teaching our literature. Our children’s writers and illustrators are already being exported and widely translated. Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks’ Fox won the German Children’s Literature Prize in 2004. Shaun Tan’s The Arrival is currently a bestseller in France and Germany. Contemporary adult authors like Michelle de Kretser, Kate Grenville, David Malouf and Peter Carey regularly win prestigious international prizes. Les Murray was in the running for this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature.