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Too Pale and Stale

This comparative paper was published in the Oxford Review of Education, while I was on a Fellowship at the University of Oxford, Department for Education, Centre for Comparative and International Education in 2015.

As a Fellow I delivered a public lecture identifying the key curriculum challenges with teaching English Literature in British and Australian curricula. Of critical concern was the lack of variety and autonomy of English literary selections for senior secondary students.


How are English texts selected to teach students from culturally diverse backgrounds in Australia and England? The English curricula in both countries aim for students to read and interpret meanings through texts, while learning about their culture, and that of cultural others. However, the current list of prescribed texts in both curricula are dated and are not frequently changed, nor are new culturally diverse and contemporary texts easily added to reading lists. This makes some curriculum aims difficult to achieve if students are disengaged or do not relate to the content or themes in the prescribed texts. This article proposes that a postcolonial theoretical approach be considered when selecting texts to teach contemporary students from diverse cultural backgrounds. A postcolonial approach does not mean selecting post-colonial texts, or texts that address post-colonial themes, but is rather a method of selecting and comparing literature of any genre that engages with historical and contemporary issues, with particular focus on race, social class and gender. A postcolonial approach would mean that culturally diverse students may better engage with discussions of contemporary issues using a wider range of texts in classrooms.

Reference citation:

Jogie, M.R., (2015). 'Too pale and stale: Prescribed texts used for teaching culturally diverse students in Australia and England'. Oxford Review of Education, 41(3), pp 287-309

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