Ken Watson Address

The Ken Watson Address

To honour a remarkable educator, the ETA has named the keynote address of the annual conference for Ken Watson who has supported and inspired more than a generation of English teachers. The address focuses on an area of particular significance for the time and this collection of keynotes will provide a record of key concerns for the English teaching profession.

2005: Dr Ken Watson

English Teaching and its Critics
After a year of unprecedented attacks on current practices of teaching English, Ken Watson puts these into perspective by presenting a historical overview of the criticisms of the past 30 years and explains why they are not valid.

2006: Dr Paul Brock

The significance of English in contemporary secondary education; it's time to reclaim the territory.
Dr Paul Brock reflects on the importance of literature to the teaching of English, to his life and to the lives of us all.

2007: Jack Thomson

Some Lasting Principles and Methods of English Teaching: Towards A Rhetorical, Ethical, Socio-Cultural, Political Model Of The English Curriculum
Jack Thomson counters the utilitarian and divisive attitudes towards education prevalent amongst politicians today by offering and explaining approaches to teaching English for engagement with and pleasure in reading and for the development of thoughtful and reflective learners.

2008: Dr Wendy Morgan

Creating Space for the Creative: Rethinking English Curriculum
Wendy Morgan stages a conversation between the curriculum writer, the poet, and the teacher to explore this issue from multiple perspectives.

2009: Associate Professor Ray Misson

"And this gives life to thee":  Refreshing our teaching of Shakespeare

2010: Associate Professor Sherman Young

The Book is Dead, Long Live the Book


2011: Dr Felicity Plunkett

Blood and Bone: an anatomy of wreading

The emergence of an Australian curriculum offers an opportunity to explore and incorporate some of the most inspiring creative and pedagogical models in our burgeoning discipline. As well as the bones of syllabi and rubric an imagined anatomy of an emerging curriculum must also consider blood: protean and transformative, reinventing itself responsively. In this lecture I examine the possibilities of a fruitful nexus between reading and writing, termed ‘wreading’ by key American theorists. Its focus is on how we do what we do in what I call ‘the charged classroom’, and I offer practical ideas and experiments from the metaphor-strewn laboratory of my own thinking as a reader, writer, editor and teacher.


2012: Professor Bill Green and Associate Professor Jane Mills

Screen literacy and English teaching: A matter of affect    
The much-vaunted shift from ‘page’ to ‘screen’ has been of clear significance for English teaching, alongside another related shift from ‘print’ to ‘digital-electronics’. How easy or straightforward such shifts have been to navigate is still under debate, with one argument being that English, as a distinctive school-subject, is historically deeply invested in written language and textuality. While image and the moving screen image have increasingly been engaged, often a certain residual ambivalence or discomfort remains about doing so. Hence, while film has long been brought into the English classroom, this has tended to be framed and limited by certain prevailing logics of text and narrative, language and literacy. Even the notion of ‘screen literacy’ itself may be problematical in this regard. In this paper, we explore such issues and challenges by, first, an account of the historical project of English with specific reference to communication and media, and second, discussing how film might be better understood in its own terms, as specifically a matter of affect and spectacle as much as anything else. In this way, we hope to supplement what English teaching does, as a cultural and educational practice.

Published elsewhere.

2014: Dr Louise D'Arcens

Opening up the world of the text: teaching ‘thick analysis’ at secondary school.                            

This lecture discusses the value of undertaking ‘thick’ textual analysis in the secondary English literature classroom. Adapted by humanities researchers from anthropology, thick analysis refers to the practice of recognising the ways in which textual details contain complex layers of social meaning. Encouraging students to take this analytical approach to literary texts leads to more exciting, nuanced responses in which close reading is enriched by cultural and discursive analysis, opening up the world registered in the micro-details of the text. It also has the potential to produce analyses that are more distinctive, more reflective, and more judicious in their use of Related Texts. Finally, and arguably most crucially, it produces students who are active researchers rather than passive memorisers, and hence more prepared for tertiary study. The lecture will offer a practical guide modelling how to use widely available resources to achieve this deeper analysis in the secondary classroom, and how to encourage students to build their own, singular ‘thick’ accounts of the set texts in the HSC English syllabus.