Commission head weighs in on English syllabus debate

Dr Brian Croke, executive director of the NSW Catholic Educatino Commission has defended the high school English curriculum which Cardinal George Pell has said can promote "moral and social disorder".

CLICK HEREDescribing Dr Croke as the state's leading Catholic authority on school curriculum, the Sydney Morning Herald reports today that Dr Croke said that, rather than leaving children "rudderless", the NSW high school English syllabus encourages students to adopt a more thoughtful consideration of values than in the past.

"[Teachers] teach a higher standard than they used to," said Dr Croke, the executive director of the NSW Catholic Education Commission.

"Language changes and the way you teach it has to change … We've got a much better range of texts now - more diverse - but the classics are still there."

In a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Cardinal Pell said students were being deprived of great authors such as the Brontės, George Orwell and Charles Dickens.

He also regretted the way traditional notions of the family and sexuality were being "undermined by a … focus on 'texts' which normalise moral and social disorder".

However, Dr Croke, a member of the Board of Studies, challenged this view. He said: "Most of Shakespeare's characters were pretty dysfunctional. Look at King Lear's family - how dysfunctional were they?"

Meanwhile the ABC's PM program reported that the comments also caused debate in Victoria, where there has been a fierce controversy raging over the teaching of English.

Catholic backs English syllabus (Sydney Morning Herald 23/9/05)
Cardinal Pell wades into Victorian education debate (ABC Radio PM 22/9/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Commission NSW

Pell urges more study of classic English texts (CathNews 22/9/05)

Editorial: The cardinal and the canon (Sydney Morning Herald 23/9/05)
Pell warns on curtailing unions (Catholic News Agency 22/9/05)

23 Sep 2005