Australian Education Minister Alan Tudge has called an academic’s proposal to rename English to “Language Arts” absolute nonsense.
University of Melbourne senior lecturer Melitta Hogarth told a conference for the Australian Association for the Teaching of English that she believed using the name English was an “act of assimilation,” reported The Courier-Mail.
Hogarth, an Indigenous Australian, proposed to use other names such as “Language Arts” or “Languages, Literacy, and Communications.”
Tudge said he would not support such suggestions and described his concern that a senior lecturer in an Australian university was advocating for such moves.
“Absolute garbage which shouldn’t be part of our school system,” Tudge told 2GB radio. “It wasn’t just wanting to change the name. She went on to say that English was about maintaining power and privilege and asserting the besieged sovereignty of the colonial state.”
Hogarth said in the conference that Indigenous Australians had their lands, children, and language removed from them. They were then directed by controlled government missions to speak English.
“The power of the coloniser within colonial Australia is clear when we consider how essential to the teaching and learning and schooling in Australia is the privileging of Standard Australian English,” Hogarth said. “A supposedly superior language, the language of the oppressor, and just to make sure you didn’t know who the oppressor was, let’s call that subject English.”
“So I’m left asking, is subject English just another act of assimilation?”
Tudge expressed his concern around the future of education in Australia —which has been seeing a dramatic decline in results—when people with these notions were training the country’s future teachers.
“She’s an Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Education at the University of Melbourne,” Tudge said. “So, she’s part of the training of our future teachers, and this is what makes me really concerned about these particular views.”
“Not just the fact that they’re nonsense, we can reject those from the curriculum, but the fact is she’s teaching our future teachers.”
6PR Mornings’ executive producer Karalee Katsambanis said the push to rename English studies was “absolutely ridiculous” and expressed concern that it came from a senior academic.
Australia’s English literacy standards have been in freefall for the last two decades, leaving graduating students with a lack of confidence in the area.
The 2021 review into the national curriculum offered an opportunity to address the falling standards of education.
However, the proposed curriculum was instead revealed to have removed all references to the nation’s democratic and Christian heritage.
Under the proposed revisions curriculum, Indigenous Australians will be renamed as “First Nation Australians,” which Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine criticised. He said it was a term from Canada that had little relation to Australia.