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Multiculturalism — Caleb Rosado: PRACTICAL DO-ABLES FOR UNLEARNING RACISM

See also A debate on race.

First Published in Message, September/October 1998. Email: rosado@humboldt1.com; Website: www.rosado.net

As the dawn of the 21st century nears, racism, the most important and persistent social problem in America and in the world today, is on the rise in manifold ways. Whether we are talking about ethnic cleansings, tribal conflicts, warring factions, group hatred, subtle discrimination, or retraction of equity laws under the guise of fairness, the underlying result is the same. One group, threatened by a perceived loss of power, exercises social, economic, political, and religious muscle against the Other to retain privilege by restructuring for social advantage. Where lies the solution?

First of all, there is no biological basis for race. Biologically there are no human racial categories, only variations of one humanity. Biology exacerbates racism by providing physical markers, which separate us first in our minds. Out of these mental constructs come the social constructs that then separate us in society, and are undergirded by Power – the preservation of
privilege! Both of these constructs, however, are merely surface issues, differences in one dimension.

The problem with the usual approaches in diversity training to resolve racial, ethnic, gender conflict, is that the focus is on the surface container (race, skin color, gender) rather than on the contents of the container (deep-level value systems – how people think and act in terms of the world they are in). The result is a failure to recognize that racism and diversity function on two dimensions – Horizontal and Vertical. The Horizontal dimension is the surface level of human relations, the area where our differences – color, gender, status, language, physical features, culture, values, worldviews, and national origin – conflict. To focus on these surface differences, the what – the container – is to miss the larger picture, the Vertical dimension, the why and how of human action – the contents. This is the area of Belief Systems – the core values, conceptual schemes, and frameworks for beliefs and behaviors, from which emerge the surface differences. Ninety-five percent of all diversity training, workshops for unlearning racism, conflict resolution, motivational training, law enforcement, education, business management, and social policy planning focus on these surface differences, the Horizontal dimension. Yet our struggle is not with human types, but with deep-level human Value Systems, or memes – ideas that self-replicate like viruses and use the human mind as a host.

These deep-level memes or belief systems are like migrating, bio-psycho-social-spiritual tectonic plates, that on colliding, release energy that reverberates to the surface in conflict over group differences and competition for scarce resources. The problem is not that we are White or Black, male or female, environmentalist or logger, First World or Third World, atheist or believer.
It is the deep values within us that are at war. Since belief systems are deep decision systems in people, not types of people, they transcend race, gender, age, class, culture, and societies. Thus, a middle-class Black and a middle-class White may have more in common in terms of their values, beliefs, and socioeconomic status, than the same African American and a working class African American, whose only commonality may be their melanin.

Racism is a meme – a contagious idea – that leaps from mind to mind infecting individuals, organizations, entire cultures, and societies. And, like a deadly virus, it has contaminated all areas of life. What divides us in society, however, is not our genes, but our memes. We look different because of our genes; we think and act different because of our memes.

So if racism is a meme and not a gene, how do we counter this infectious idea and social virus? By considering an alternate course of action. Here are some practical suggestions that an individual or institution can do to lessen the problem of this social evil and sin in the world today.

An Alternate Course of Action:

How? First, a basic premise: Racism in its essence is the refusal to accept the Other as an equal. To do so, one will have to share in the societal rewards of social wealth, political power, and structural privilege. Thus, if racism has nothing to do with biology, but has everything to do with socially structured beliefs and behavior, then it can also be socially unlearned and
unstructured. How people proceed, however, depends on how they see themselves when confronted with evil. There are four groups of people representing the four types of responses individuals and institutions can make in the face of evil.

1. Victimizers – the perpetrators of evil.
2. Victims – the recipients of evil.
3. Bystanders – the ones who do nothing in the face of evil.
4. Rescuers – the compassionate and altruistic who take action against evil.

The kind of action people take in a given situation will largely depend on how they interpret that situation, or in general view themselves. Thus, if people generally see themselves as Victimizers, rather than come to the help of someone they will be there to take advantage of a situation. Being a Victim, however, can have a paralyzing effect, creating a “victim mentality.” When it comes to racism, people tend to respond on the basis of their own experience. Thus, people who have never experienced racism tend to downplay a situation of racism or discrimination because it has not greatly impacted them. People of color, on the other hand, if they have experienced discrimination, tend to view it as a more aggravated offense. It is a matter of, where you stand
determines what you see. If people do not see a situation as threatening to them they may conclude that it is not threatening to others as well, and will remain as Bystanders, often because they see the social system as fair, “with liberty and justice for all.” This is a result of the “Just World Phenomenon.” Stanley Coren explains the concept this way:

People tend to feel that the world is, with a few bumps here and there, pretty much a fair place, where people generally get what they deserve and deserve what they get. This notion of a just world results from our training as children that good is rewarded and evil is punished. A natural conclusion can be drawn from that kind of reasoning: Those who are rewarded must be good, and those who suffer (even from our own discrimination and prejudice) must deserve their fate.

Unfortunately, much of what passes for racism in America today is not regarded as such by those who have never experienced racism, because they buy into this Just World Phenomenon. The result is that they tend to see situations from their own perspective – as fair and just – and seldom from the perspective of the Other, the victims of evil. If people of color see themselves as victims it is often believed they bring it on themselves or are making a bigger issue of things then there really is need for. The end result is that when it comes to racism in American society, most Americans “naturally” gravitate to the role of bystander and do nothing. So what can one do? How can one become a Rescuer?

Do-ables for Lessening Racism and Prejudice.

For Individuals – Personal Changes:

1. Examine closely your values and beliefs, and why you think, believe, and behave toward others as you do.
2. Do others who are different from you, either by culture or physical features, make you uncomfortable? Why? Probe deep into your psyche to discover the root causes.
3. Become informed about those groups or individuals with whom you have the greatest contact but about whom you know so little. Remember that one of the bases of prejudice is ignorance. Therefore, read, attend lectures, participate in workshops, view films that will provide correct information about others whom you desire to know better.
4. Seek to become “bicultural” – comfortable in more than one setting or with more than one group – with intercultural competence, a key factor for success in any field in the 21st century.
5. Take courses at a local college on diversity and human relations training.
6. “Live love” by setting an example to your friends, children, family, associates of non-prejudiced, non-discriminatory living, respect for, and acceptance of others.
7. Measure your words carefully before you speak with others, especially since what you may think is harmless may come across as insensitive. For example, just because Blacks and Latinos talk to each other in a certain manner, does not mean you have the right to do the same, for you may not totally understand what is behind the expression(s), nor what the expression means in the hands of an “outsider.”
8. Become an “world citizen” – a transcending person who knows no cultural boundaries and who is able to transcend his/her own racial/ethnic, gender, cultural, and socio-political reality and identify with humankind throughout the world, and whose operating life-principle is compassion.
9. Always maintain a teachable spirit and the possibility that we can be wrong due to our ignorance and fears.
10. Make a commitment and act on it!

For Individuals – Assisting Others:

1. Do not conform to prejudiced people.
2. Do not accept prejudiced talk nor racist action. Speak up when you hear disparaging jokes orcomments. Don’t attack the person; rather discourage their talk or action, “I find such a statement[or action] personally offensive to me since it is demeaning of others.”
3. Do not take a “holier-than-thou” attitude or a “self-righteous” behavior in your dealing with others.
4. Give good literature, recommend films, lectures, meetings to your friends and family.
5. If you hear your child making derogatory statements or using “trash-talk” about others, correct them or their friends immediately. For example. “Tyrone, they are not ‘illegal aliens,’ no one is ‘illegal.’ They are ‘undocumented’; meaning they do not have the necessary papers to enter this country.”
6. Write letters to newspapers and magazines giving your opinion on statements and actions that are demeaning of people and inconsistent with your values.
7. Write to TV sponsors and stations regarding offensive or commendable advertisements, programs, or depictions of groups.
8. Organize with others in your community or church to instill positive attitudes and actions toward others and discourage negative ones.
9. Be careful of your political vote, and vote for laws, policies, and propositions that are honest endeavors to bring about justice for all, and are not simply political disguises to protect the interest of a small group.
10. Write and influence others to write to your political leaders, it does help.

For Institutions – Effecting Change:

1. For institutions to change, their culture, values, and ideology must change. Work toward this end.
2. Examine an institution’s deep belief and values systems, and how are such values reflected in surface relations. The key here is not what people think and do, but why and how they do what they do. Work to understand this deeper level of thinking in people.
3. Move from first-order (horizontal) change – fine-tuning and adjusting the system with more of the same – to second-order (vertical) change – awakening in people the next of level of thinking and acting to create a process of continual growth.
4. Examine carefully your employ/membership policies. Do they reflect the diversity of the organization. Are they proactive or merely reactive, to avoid possible lawsuits.
5. Hold training seminars in intercultural competence: how to get to know people of other groups, even though they may be not be highly represented in your organization. But remember that facts or information alone about another group are not sufficient to change attitudes much less behavior.
6. Since class prejudice may be stronger than racial or religious prejudice, create activities that will enable people from various socioeconomic situations to mingle and interact together.
7. Since a high degree of self-acceptance correlates with a low degree of prejudice, address issues of self-acceptance, self-worth, pride in one’s own racial/ethnic group as a positive basis of group relations. Jesus gave the operational principle here: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). I cannot love my neighbor if I do not love my self.
8. Put people to work and interact in interracial learning teams so as to develop positive attitudes and cross-ethnic friendships.
9. Since contact between groups by itself will not reduce prejudice, but only if the groups are of equal status and do not compete with one another, seek to create situations where groups can come together on an equal and non-competitive basis.
10. Make a commitment and act on it!

While racism is an evil and a social sin that will be hard to eradicate, due to the selfish propensities of human nature, the above steps taken individually and institutionally, can help reduce its impact on society and on others. Edmund Burke once declared: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” We cannot take the role of bystanders, but must be rescuers if we are to go about creating a caring society. And thus, Max DePree’s dictum of success for the 21st century serves as a challenge to us: “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”

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From Geocities 5: History essay

Essay 3: Year 10 History/Current Affairs 

This is a remarkably sophisticated piece of writing. The comments in orange are the writer’s questions addressed to me. The writer is of Cantonese background, and if you read carefully you will see that some of the characteristic sentence-level issues (tense, subject-verb agreement) are happening here. The overall quality of the writing, however, does put such issues in perspective. Like accent in speech, they are likely to persist, in some cases for a very long time, especially when the writer is under pressure, as in an exam. While students should try to correct such things, it is more important to focus on having something to say. This writer has done that extraordinarily well.

What have been the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia?

Word limit—1500… Can you find any cuts? Which paragraph/argument should I cut out? Do you think I can get away with writing SE Asia rather than South East Asia?

 

Since the end of the Cold War, acts of terrorism, like the September 11th attacks and the Bali bombings, has led Australia to play an active role in the ‘War on Terror’. As shown in the War on Afghanistan, this new threat is not easily met by the policy and military “tools of the Cold War era”[1]. Instead this war has to be won through the diplomatic channels between countries. Hence it is important to investigate how the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia positively and negatively. Unfortunately, events such as the crisis in East Timor and the “Hanson” phenomenon, has already projected a negative image of Australia among South East Asian countries before the September 11th attacks. As a result, acts of terrorism began to be seen by the majority of the South East Asian public, as a patriotic battle against colonial ties and imperialism, while Australia’s support of America in the ‘War on Terror’ proves to Asia, that Australia is a symbol of American hegemony. Furthermore, Australia’s travel warnings have only increased this rift between Australia and its region. These events has led South East Asia to adopt the policy of Asia only regionalism, claiming that Australia and Asia are heading towards a “clash of civilisations”. On the other hand, Australia has formed many economic ties with Asia, while the ‘War on Terror’ gave Australia the opportunity to enhance political and military relations with South East Asia.

 

In order to see the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with South East Asia, it is important to see where the relationship stood before the September 11th attacks. While there had been many attempts on both sides to improve diplomatic relations, such as Alexander Downer[2] claim to create “a sense of strategic community in the Asia Pacific.”[3], two events in particular damaged Australia’s reputation in the area; the “Hanson phenomenon” and the East Timor Crisis. The Hanson phenomenon confirmed that anti-Asian racism persisted in Australia, and that Australia did not identify with its region. As a result, South East Asian media began to marginalise Australia through assertions such as “Don’t look south for examples of moral leadership.”[4] Bangkok Post. The East Timor crisis was a much bigger issue, and South East Asian politicians and media formed a united front and criticised the “intrusive and boastful”[5] Australians for their “re-colonisation of East Timor”[6]. Similarly, stories of Australians violating human rights and pictures of Australian soldiers aiming guns at civilians were widely publicised in South East Asia. These events were very damaging for relationships between Australia and South East Asia, and hence, these pre-conceptual ideas of Australians affected the way the South East Asian public viewed the Bali bombings.

 

Is the above paragraph necessary?

The reactions of the general public in South East Asia to the Bali bombings on 12 October 2002, in which 89 of the 202 people who died were Australians, revolved around the accusation that Australia “provoked the whole thing”[7]. Due to Australia’s bad reputation in the region and the xenophobic attitudes of South East Asia caused by the spread of First World tourism in Third World countries, the Bali bombings was seen as a good opportunity for South East Asia to scapegoat Australia. A Balinese academic even described the bombing as a “good thing that would cleanse Bali of the evils introduced by foreigners” and that he "welcomed the prospect of Australians not returning for some time.”[8] This opinion clearly show that some of the South East Asian public see acts of terrorism, as positive moves to keep the West out of their region, and in turn prevent the spread of imperialism. Even the media encouraged this opinion by portraying the terrorists as patriots, as shown by the images of a proud Amrozi[9], surrounded by smiling police in the Jakarta Post. As a result, Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” was seen as an attempt by Australia to assert their authority over South East Asia, and furthermore, as a re-introduction of colonial superiority into the region. Hence, the reputation of Australia among the general populace of these countries greatly declined owing to Australia participation in the War against Terrorism.

 

Is the previous paragraph relevant to the question?

 Is the previous argument convincing? Or too vague? Or unrealistic….. esp. the sentence in orange?

 

  While the South East Asian populace did not totally agree on Australia’s decision to participate in the “War on Terror”, the fact that Australia is politically and militarily backing America as a result of this war, has only worsened relationships. Recently, the Pew Research Centre has conducted an investigation on attitudes towards America around the world, and the results shows that in May 2003, only 15% of Indonesians held a favourable view of America, as compared to 75% in year 2000. This dramatic drop in America’s popularity inevitably shows that Australia’s “commitment to a dynamic and diverse relationship with the United States”[10] has not improved the relationship between Australia and South East Asia at all. On the contrary, this alliance with America has projected the image to Asia, that Australia is “merely the regional agent for the US”[11] and hence, a symbol of American imperialism. These views are nicely summarised by Mahathir Mohamad[12] who claimed that “Australia could not be accepted in Asia while it stood so close to the US.”[13] Furthermore, the coming to power of the Bush administration in 2001, has led to a failing Sino-American relationship, due to differences concerning Taiwan, WMD[14] proliferation and the US plans on missile defence programs which were strongly opposed by China. As a result of this rivalry, China, being the major player in South East Asia, has spread an anti-American sentiment in the region, and subsequently, fuelled the hatred of Australia. Hence, due to the decreasing popularity of America among South East Asian countries, caused partly by failing Sino-American relationships, it is clear that Australia’s support of America has led to a worsening in Australia’s relationship with South East Asia

 

Can you think of a way to join the above argument with the one below?

 

One of Australia first reactions to the Bali bombing was to heighten travel warnings in South East Asian countries. Many South East Asian countries criticised these warnings as unreasonable, in particular, Malaysia. In response, Mahathir even declared “Australia unsafe for Muslims.”[15] In Singapore, there was uproar over the warning, in particular the phrase “extreme caution”[16] but shortly afterwards Singapore managed to coax the Australian government to rephrase the warning. In addition, Australia also insulted many Asian countries through actions such as the closure of the Australian embassy in Manila in November 2002 and Howard’s[17] speculation in December 2002 about pre-emptive strikes on terrorism in neighbouring countries, leading to Australia’s reputation among South East Asia, as the “white-man sheriff in some black country”[18]. Together, the travel warnings, closure of embassies and Howard’s threat of war caused a further weakening of Australia’s relationship with South East Asia.

 

Australia’s commitment to the ‘War on Terror’ and America, along with Australia’s responses to Bali has all resulted in a worsening of Australian relationships with South East Asia, which in turn has led to the “strengthening of exclusive, Asia-only regionalism”[19] as opposed to the open APEC[20] regionalism favourable to Australia, This once again raises the age old question about whether Australia is part of Asia. While globalisation is vital to the growth of Asia and Australia, this does not necessarily bring “cultural homogeneity”[21]. Figures from the ASCA[22] shows that targets set in the 1980s, for Asia-teaching in Australian schools has never come close to being met, once again proving that Australian affinities sits with the West. This has led to Huntington theory that Australia and Asia are just too different to each other; a “clash of civilisation”. This viewpoint though has many faults. Firstly, it “underestimates the possibilities of cultural negotiation and of change”[23]. Secondly, it “assumes a degree of homogeneity among Islamic rebellions”[24], which they evidently do not possess. After all, these Islamic rebellions do not necessarily have religious goals; the Abu Sayaaf in the Philipines, which has mercenary interests, and the rebellion in Aceh, fighting for political change, are two such examples. Hence in these instances, it is more of a clash within civilisations rather than between. Thirdly, cooperation between Australia and South East Asia has in fact increased, due to the fight against terrorism.

Is the word “affinities” the right word to use in the context?

Are there too many quotes in the above paragraph?

In the above paragraph, I tried to smoothly link the transition of the negative to positive arguments. Is it too confusing? unnecessary? longwinded? Irrelevant to the question?

 

Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” has given many opportunities for Australia to enhance its relationship with South East Asia. In fact, since the September 11th attacks, Australia has signed eight counter-terrorism memorandum of understanding with regional countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, which has “facilitated co-operation between Australia and Asia’s security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies”[25]. Such agreements have led to various accomplishments against terrorism, such as the freezing of $US137 million of terrorist assets and the capture of 65% of senior al-Qaeda members. These MOUs[26] and successes clearly show that many political leader of South East Asia agree with the concept of anti-terrorism and hence Australia’s support of the ‘War on Terror’ has in fact better Australia-South East Asian relationships. Militarily speaking, Robert Hill[27] has also suggested resuming joint operations with the South East Asian military; in particular Kopassus[28], the Indonesian special forces which is notorious for human rights violations. This has stirred up much public debate, but this proposal at least shows that Australia is willing to forget past differences to advance the cause of the ‘War on Terror’. Furthermore, Australia has also begun training regional countries in counter-terrorism military techniques. Together these agreements and successes have tightened Australia’s relationship with South East Asia both politically and militarily.

 

Should I use these phrases? Or are they too awkward?

Is there anyway of eliminating the two consecutive “these agreements” ?

Kopassus argument- convincing? Or dubious? Or improbable ?

 

Economically, Australia has already developed strong ties with Asia even before the War on Terror. In fact, since the start of the 1990s, Asian countries has accounted for more than 60% of Australia’s total international trade and 15% of Australia’s total FDI. After the September 11th attacks though, Australia has worked closely with APEC to ensure that these economic ties would be kept up and improved regardless of the ‘War on Terror’. This aim has led to, firstly, the signing of the Shanghai accord, which promotes the revitalising and acceleration of regional commitment to trade and investment. Secondly, the concept of paperless trading to save transaction costs, and thirdly trade facilitations to “remove regulatory impediments to competition and improve corporate governance”[29] These economic commitments and cooperation has greatly improved the relationship between Australia and South East Asia.

 

Is this the right sentence structure? i.e. should all three points be in one sentence?

 

In conclusion, the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia both positively and negatively. Due to the East Timor Crisis and the Hanson phenomenon, Australia already has a bad reputation in South East Asia, and as a result, Australia’s ‘War on Terror’ has been criticised as an imperialist and colonialist movement. Furthermore, the falling popularity of America has meant that Australia’s support of the US-led war against terror has provoked a worsening of Australia-South East Asian relationship, while Australia’s travel warnings has only added to this opposition. As a result, South East Asia has adopted an Asia-only regionalism policy, once again raising questions on whether firstly, Australia is part of Asia and secondly, whether Australia and Asia are headed towards a “clash of civilisations”. The recent ‘War on Terror’ seems to contradict the latter point, since it has in many ways, led to the strengthening of political, military and economic ties between Australia and South-East Asia. While this is a good sign that Australian-South East Asian relationships are improving, it seems that the ‘War on Terror’ has more negative impacts on Australia’s relationship with South East Asia, then positive one. This is due the fact that repairing diplomatic relationships are often much harder than damaging them, and furthermore, that the negative impacts are much more widespread among the populace of Asia, while the positive impacts are constrained within the political circles of South East Asia.

 

 

Is there such a thing as “colonialist movements”? i.e. Is it the right word to use?

Does the last few sentences, showing why I think the war on terror has impacted on Australian-South East Asian relationships negatively more than positively, make sense?

Should I put a quote in at the end of the conclusion? If so, can you think of any?

Do you think it’s alright if the “negative” arguments in this essay (800 words) are twice as long as the “positive” ones (400)?

If I cut out the first paragraph, should the negative arguments be before or after the positive ones?

What do you think of the essay as a whole? A convincing essay? Any comments?


[1] M.Lankowski ‘American’s Asian alliances in a changing world’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no.1 p.123

[2] Foreign Minister of Australia

[4] Alison Broinowski About Face p.171

[5] Ibid p.182

[6] Ibid p.180

[7] Ibid p.194

[8] Ibid p.195

[9] Alleged bomber responsible for the Bali bombings

[11] Paul Kelly ‘What is ANZUS for?’ The Diplomat June-July 2003

[12] Prime Minister of Malaysia

[13] D.Filitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no. 1

[14] Weapons of mass destruction

[15] Flitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ loc.cit

[17] John Howard , Prime Minister of Australia

[18] Broinowski op.cit p.195

[19] A Milner ‘Reviewing our Asian engagment’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol.57. no.1

[20] Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

[21] Ibid p.12

[22] Asian Studies Association of Australia

[23] Ibid p.15

[24] Booth and Dunne Worlds in Collision; terror and the future of global order p. 196

[26] memorandum of understanding

[27] Defence Minister of Australia

[28] Indonesian special forces- Komando Pasukan Khusus

 

 

Neil Whitfield’s English and ESL Pages: Essay 3: Year 10 History/Current Affairs: Annotated Version

 

 

What have been the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia?

Word limit—1500…

 

If you don’t count footnotes you have 1957 before I start chopping. Now it is 1724, but if you take out the paragraph I have indicated it will be 1614. Near enough? You might find the extra hundred words to chop yourself.

 

Can you find any cuts? Some

 

Which paragraph/argument should I cut out? See as you read through the essay.

 

Do you think I can get away with writing SE Asia rather than South East Asia? Yes.

 

Since the end of the Cold War, acts of terrorism, like the September 11th attacks and the Bali bombings, have led Australia to play an active role in the ‘War on Terror’. As shown in the War on Afghanistan, this new threat is not easily met by Cold War era policies and military tools[1]. Instead this war has to be won through diplomatic channels. Hence it is important to investigate how the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia positively and negatively. Unfortunately, events such as the crisis in East Timor and the Hanson phenomenon, have projected a negative image of Australia among South East Asian countries, even before the September 11th attacks. As a result, acts of terrorism began to be seen by many in South East Asia as patriotic acts against neocolonialism and globalisation, while Australia’s support of America in the ‘War on Terror’ makes Australia a symbol of American hegemony. Travel warnings have only increased this rift between Australia and its region. These events have led South East Asia to favour a policy of Asia only regionalism, claiming that Australia and Asia are heading towards a “clash of civilisations”. On the other hand, Australia has formed many economic ties with Asia, while the ‘War on Terror’ has given Australia the opportunity to enhance political and military relations with South East Asia.

 

In order to see the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with South East Asia, it is important to see where the relationship stood before the September 11th attacks. While there had been many attempts on both sides to improve diplomatic relations, such as Alexander Downer’s[2] claim to create “a sense of strategic community in the Asia Pacific.”[3], two events in particular damaged Australia’s reputation in the area: the “Hanson phenomenon” and the East Timor Crisis.

 

The Hanson phenomenon confirmed that anti-Asian racism persisted in Australia, and that Australia did not identify with its region. As a result, South East Asian media began to marginalise Australia through assertions such as “Don’t look south for examples of moral leadership.”[4] Bangkok Post. The East Timor crisis was a much bigger issue, and South East Asian politicians and media formed a united front and criticised the “intrusive and boastful”[5] Australians for their “re-colonisation of East Timor”[6]. Stories of Australians violating human rights and pictures of Australian soldiers aiming guns at civilians were widely publicised in South East Asia.

 

Is the above paragraph necessary? The last sentence isn’t.

 

Public reaction in South East Asia to the Bali bombings on 12 October 2002, in which 89 of the 202 people who died were Australians, revolved around the accusation that Australia “provoked the whole thing”[7]. Due to Australia’s bad reputation in the region and S-E Asian xenophobia caused by the spread of First World tourism, the Bali bombings were seen as a good opportunity for South East Asia to scapegoat Australia. A Balinese academic even described the bombing as a “good thing that would cleanse Bali of the evils introduced by foreigners,” welcoming the prospect of Australians not returning for some time.”[8] This opinion clearly shows that some of the South East Asian public see acts of terrorism as positive moves to keep Western neocolonialism out of their region. Even the media encouraged this opinion by portraying the terrorists as patriots, as shown by the images of a proud Amrozi[9], surrounded by smiling police in the Jakarta Post. As a result, Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” was seen as an attempt by Australia to assert their authority over South East Asia, and furthermore, as a re-introduction of colonial superiority into the region.

 

Is the previous paragraph relevant to the question? Yes, but again I have cut the last sentence. (I also note a sprinkling of subject-verb agreement issues still happening: check the relevant item on my http://neilwhitfield.tripod.com/faq.html FAQ Page.)

 

 

Is the previous argument convincing? Or too vague? Or unrealistic….. esp. the sentence in orange? It is convincing, but of course represents the opinion of some (however large a number) in the region. Needs to be said though.

 

 

While the South East Asian populace do not all share such views, the fact that Australia is politically and militarily backing America has only worsened relationships. Recently, the Pew Research Centre conducted an investigation on attitudes towards America around the world, and the results show that in May 2003, only 15% of Indonesians held a favourable view of America, as compared to 75% in year 2000. This dramatic drop in America’s popularity inevitably shows that Australia’s “commitment to a dynamic and diverse relationship with the United States”[10] has not improved the relationship between Australia and South East Asia at all. On the contrary, this alliance with America has projected the image to Asia, that Australia is “merely the regional agent for the US”[11] and hence, a symbol of American imperialism. These views are nicely summarised by Mahathir Mohamad[12] who claimed that “Australia could not be accepted in Asia while it stood so close to the US.”[13] Furthermore, the coming to power of the Bush administration in 2001has led to a failing Sino-American relationship, due to differences concerning Taiwan, WMD[14] proliferation and US plans on missile defence programs which were strongly opposed by China. As a result of this rivalry, China, being the major player in South East Asia, has spread anti-American sentiment in the region, and subsequently, fuelled the hatred of Australia.

 

Again, I have chopped off the last sentence above.

 

Can you think of a way to join the above argument with the one below? I hope I have 🙂

 

When, following the Bali bombings, Australia heightened travel warnings in South East Asian countries, many South East Asian governments criticised these warnings as unreasonable, in particular, Malaysia. In response, Mahathir even declared “Australia unsafe for Muslims.”[15] In Singapore, there was uproar over the warning, in particular the phrase “extreme caution”[16] but shortly afterwards Singapore managed to coax the Australian government to rephrase the warning. In addition, Australia also insulted many Asian countries through actions such as the closure of the Australian embassy in Manila in November 2002 and Howard’s[17] speculation in December 2002 about pre-emptive strikes on terrorism in neighbouring countries, leading to Australia’s reputation in South East Asia, as the “white-man sheriff in some black country”[18]. Together, the travel warnings, closure of embassies and Howard’s threat of war caused a further weakening of Australia’s relationship with South East Asia.

 

Australia’s commitment to the ‘War on Terror’ and America and responses to Bali have resulted in a worsening of Australian relationships with South East Asia, which in turn has led to the “strengthening of exclusive, Asia-only regionalism”[19] as opposed to the open APEC[20] regionalism favourable to Australia, This once again raises the age old question about whether Australia is part of Asia. While globalisation is vital to the growth of Asia and Australia, this does not necessarily bring “cultural homogeneity”[21]. Figures from the ASCA[22] shows that targets set in the 1980s for Asia-teaching in Australian schools have never come close to being met, once again proving that Australia’s affinities are with the West.

 

Since the late 1990s there has also been the effect of the Huntington theory that cultures are just too different to each other; a “clash of civilisation”. This viewpoint though has many faults. Firstly, it “underestimates the possibilities of cultural negotiation and of change”[23]. Secondly, it “assumes a degree of homogeneity among Islamic rebellions”[24], which they evidently do not possess. After all, these Islamic rebellions do not necessarily have religious goals; the Abu Sayaaf in the Philippines has mercenary interests, and the rebellion in Aceh, fighting for political change, are two such examples. Hence in these instances, it is more of a clash within civilisations rather than between.

 

Is the word “affinities” the right word to use in the context? Yes, but note I restructured it.

 

Are there too many quotes in the above paragraph? No

 

In the above paragraph, I tried to smoothly link the transition of the negative to positive arguments. Is it too confusing? unnecessary? longwinded? Irrelevant to the question? Note I have again cut the final sentence of the above paragraph. No, I don’t think it is irrelevant, but if you wanted to cut a paragraph out it could be this one. Hence putting it in italics. Note also the transitional device at the beginning of the following one.

 

On the other hand, Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” has given many opportunities for Australia to enhance its relationship with South East Asia. In fact, since the September 11th attacks, Australia has signed eight counter-terrorism memoranda of understanding with regional countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, which has “facilitated co-operation between Australia and Asia’s security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies”[25]. Such agreements have led to various accomplishments against terrorism, such as the freezing of $US137 million of terrorist assets and the capture of 65% of senior al-Qaeda members. These MOUs[26] and successes clearly show that many political leaders of South East Asia agree with the concept of anti-terrorism and hence Australia’s support of the ‘War on Terror’ may at some levels have improved Australia-South East Asian relationships. The Australian Defence Minister, Robert Hill, has also suggested resuming joint operations with the South East Asian military; in particular Kopassus[27], the Indonesian special forces which is notorious for human rights violations. This has stirred up much public debate, but this proposal at least shows that Australia is willing to forget past differences to advance the cause of the ‘War on Terror’. Furthermore, Australia has also begun training regional countries in counter-terrorism military techniques.

 

Should I use these phrases? Or are they too awkward? Again the final sentence is unnecessary.

 

Is there anyway of eliminating the two consecutive “these agreements” ? I think I have (?)

 

Kopassus argument- convincing? Or dubious? Or improbable ? Fine, and has just been in the news in the past few days.

 

Economically, Australia had been developing strong ties with Asia even before the War on Terror. In fact, since the start of the 1990s, Asian countries have accounted for more than 60% of Australia’s total international trade and 15% of Australia’s total FDI. Since the September 11th attacks Australia has worked closely with APEC to ensure that these economic ties would be kept up and improved. This aim has led to:

 

  • The signing of the Shanghai accord, which promotes the revitalising and acceleration of regional commitment to trade and investment.

  • The concept of paperless trading to save transaction costs.

  • Trade facilitations to “remove regulatory impediments to competition and improve corporate governance”[28]

 

These economic commitments and cooperation have greatly improved the relationship between Australia and South East Asia.

 

Is this the right sentence structure? i.e. should all three points be in one sentence? Point form seems OK to me in this text type.

 

In conclusion, the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia both positively and negatively. Due to the East Timor Crisis and the Hanson phenomenon, Australia already had a bad reputation in South East Asia, and as a result, Australia’s ‘War on Terror’ has been criticised as an imperialist and neocolonialist movement. Furthermore, the falling popularity of America has meant that Australia’s support of the US-led war against terror has provoked a worsening of Australia-South East Asian relationships, while Australia’s travel warnings have only added to this opposition. As a result, South East Asia has adopted an Asia-only regionalism policy, once again raising questions on whether Australia is part of Asia and secondly, whether Australia and Asia are headed towards a “clash of civilisations”. The recent ‘War on Terror’ seems to contradict the latter point, since it has in many ways, led to the strengthening of political, military and economic ties between Australia and South-East Asia. While this is a good sign that Australian-South East Asian relationships are improving, it seems that the ‘War on Terror’ has more negative impacts on Australia’s relationship with South East Asia than positive ones. Repairing diplomatic relationships is often much harder than damaging them, and furthermore the negative impacts are much more widespread among the populace of Asia, while the positive impacts are largely confined to the political elite of South East Asia.

 

 

Is there such a thing as “colonialist movements”? i.e. Is it the right word to use? Yes, but it is better to use the term neocolonialism to describe the current phenomenon.

 

Does the last few sentences, showing why I think the war on terror has impacted on Australian-South East Asian relationships negatively more than positively, make sense? It does now 🙂 (I hope)

 

Should I put a quote in at the end of the conclusion? If so, can you think of any?

 

Do you think it’s alright if the “negative” arguments in this essay (800 words) are twice as long as the “positive” ones (400)?

 

If I cut out the first paragraph, should the negative arguments be before or after the positive ones?

 

What do you think of the essay as a whole? A convincing essay? Any comments?

 

In answer to all of the above I think it is very well researched and very good.


[1] M.Lankowski ‘American’s Asian alliances in a changing world’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no.1 p.123

[2] Foreign Minister of Australia

[4] Alison Broinowski About Face p.171

[5] Ibid p.182

[6] Ibid p.180

[7] Ibid p.194

[8] Ibid p.195

[9] Alleged bomber responsible for the Bali bombings

[11] Paul Kelly ‘What is ANZUS for?’ The Diplomat June-July 2003

[12] Prime Minister of Malaysia

[13] D.Filitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no. 1

[14] Weapons of mass destruction

[15] Flitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ loc.cit

[17] John Howard , Prime Minister of Australia

[18] Broinowski op.cit p.195

[19] A Milner ‘Reviewing our Asian engagment’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol.57. no.1

[20] Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

[21] Ibid p.12

[22] Asian Studies Association of Australia

[23] Ibid p.15

[24] Booth and Dunne Worlds in Collision; terror and the future of global order p. 196

[26] memorandum of understanding

[27] Indonesian special forces- Komando Pasukan Khusus

 

 

Neil Whitfield’s English and ESL Pages: Essay 3: Year 10 History/Current Affairs: final version

 

 

 

What have been the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia?

 

Since the end of the Cold War, acts of terrorism, like the September 11th attacks and the Bali bombings, have led Australia to play an active role in the ‘War on Terror’. As shown in the War on Afghanistan, this new threat is not easily met by Cold War era policies and military tools[1]. Instead this war has to be won through diplomatic channels. Hence it is important to investigate how the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with S-E Asia positively and negatively. Unfortunately, events such as the crisis in East Timor and the Hanson phenomenon, have projected a negative image of Australia among S-E Asian countries, even before the September 11th attacks. As a result, acts of terrorism began to be seen by many in S-E Asia as patriotic acts against neocolonialism and globalisation, while Australia’s support of America in the ‘War on Terror’ makes Australia a symbol of American hegemony. Travel warnings have only increased this rift between Australia and its region. These events have led S-E Asia to favour a policy of Asia only regionalism, claiming that Australia and Asia are heading towards a “clash of civilisations”. On the other hand, Australia has formed many economic ties with Asia, while the ‘War on Terror’ has given Australia the opportunity to enhance political and military relations with S-E Asia.

 

In order to see the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with S-E Asia, it is important to see where the relationship stood before the September 11th attacks. While there had been many attempts on both sides to improve diplomatic relations, such as Alexander Downer’s[2] claim to create “a sense of strategic community in the Asia Pacific.”[3], two events in particular damaged Australia’s reputation in the area: the “Hanson phenomenon” and the East Timor Crisis.

 

The Hanson phenomenon confirmed that anti-Asian racism persisted in Australia, and that Australia did not identify with its region. As a result, S-E Asian media began to marginalise Australia through assertions such as “Don’t look south for examples of moral leadership.”[4] Bangkok Post. The East Timor crisis was a much bigger issue, and S-E Asian politicians and media formed a united front and criticised the “intrusive and boastful”[5] Australians for their “re-colonisation of East Timor”[6]. Stories of Australians violating human rights and pictures of Australian soldiers aiming guns at civilians were widely publicised in S-E Asia.

 

Public reaction in S-E Asia to the Bali bombings on 12 October 2002, in which 89 of the 202 people who died were Australians, revolved around the accusation that Australia “provoked the whole thing”[7]. Due to Australia’s bad reputation in the region and S-E Asian xenophobia caused by the spread of First World tourism, the Bali bombings were seen as a good opportunity for S-E Asia to scapegoat Australia. A Balinese academic even described the bombing as a “good thing that would cleanse Bali of the evils introduced by foreigners,” welcoming the prospect of Australians not returning for some time.”[8] This opinion clearly shows that some of the S-E Asian public see acts of terrorism as positive moves to keep Western neocolonialism out of their region. Even the media encouraged this opinion by portraying the terrorists as patriots, as shown by the images of a proud Amrozi[9], surrounded by smiling police in the Jakarta Post. As a result, Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” was seen as an attempt by Australia to assert their authority over S-E Asia, and furthermore, as a re-introduction of colonial superiority into the region.

 

While the S-E Asian populace do not all share such views, the fact that Australia is politically and militarily backing America has only worsened relationships. Recently, the Pew Research Centre conducted an investigation on attitudes towards America around the world, and the results show that in May 2003, only 15% of Indonesians held a favourable view of America, as compared to 75% in year 2000. This dramatic drop in America’s popularity inevitably shows that Australia’s “commitment to a dynamic and diverse relationship with the United States”[10] has not improved the relationship between Australia and S-E Asia at all. On the contrary, this alliance with America has projected the image to Asia, that Australia is “merely the regional agent for the US”[11] and hence, a symbol of American imperialism. These views are nicely summarised by Mahathir Mohamad[12] who claimed that “Australia could not be accepted in Asia while it stood so close to the US.”[13] Furthermore, the coming to power of the Bush administration in 2001has led to a failing Sino-American relationship, due to differences concerning Taiwan, WMD[14] proliferation and US plans on missile defence programs which were strongly opposed by China. As a result of this rivalry, China, being the major player in S-E Asia, has spread anti-American sentiment in the region, and subsequently, fuelled the hatred of Australia.

When, following the Bali bombings, Australia heightened travel warnings in S-E Asian countries, many S-E Asian governments criticised these warnings as unreasonable, in particular, Malaysia. In response, Mahathir even declared “Australia unsafe for Muslims.”[15] In Singapore, there was uproar over the warning, in particular the phrase “extreme caution”[16] but shortly afterwards Singapore managed to coax the Australian government to rephrase the warning. In addition, Australia also insulted many Asian countries through actions such as the closure of the Australian embassy in Manila in November 2002 and Howard’s[17] speculation in December 2002 about pre-emptive strikes on terrorism in neighbouring countries, leading to Australia’s reputation in S-E Asia, as the “white-man sheriff in some black country”[18]. Together, the travel warnings, closure of embassies and Howard’s threat of war caused a further weakening of Australia’s relationship with S-E Asia.

 

Australia’s commitment to the ‘War on Terror’ and America and responses to Bali have resulted in a worsening of Australian relationships with S-E Asia, which in turn has led to the “strengthening of exclusive, Asia-only regionalism”[19] as opposed to the open APEC[20] regionalism favourable to Australia, This once again raises the age old question about whether Australia is part of Asia. While globalisation is vital to the growth of Asia and Australia, this does not necessarily bring “cultural homogeneity”[21]. Figures from the ASCA[22] shows that targets set in the 1980s for Asia-teaching in Australian schools have never come close to being met, once again proving that Australia’s affinities are with the West.

 

On the other hand, Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” has given many opportunities for Australia to enhance its relationship with S-E Asia. In fact, since the September 11th attacks, Australia has signed eight counter-terrorism memoranda of understanding with regional countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, which has “facilitated co-operation between Australia and Asia’s security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies”[23]. Such agreements have led to various accomplishments against terrorism, such as the freezing of $US137 million of terrorist assets and the capture of 65% of senior al-Qaeda members. These MOUs[24] and successes clearly show that many political leaders of S-E Asia agree with the concept of anti-terrorism and hence Australia’s support of the ‘War on Terror’ may at some levels have improved Australia-S-E Asian relationships. The Australian Defence Minister, Robert Hill, has also suggested resuming joint operations with the S-E Asian military; in particular Kopassus[25], the Indonesian special forces which is notorious for human rights violations. This has stirred up much public debate, but this proposal at least shows that Australia is willing to forget past differences to advance the cause of the ‘War on Terror’. Furthermore, Australia has also begun training regional countries in counter-terrorism military techniques.

 

Economically, Australia had been developing strong ties with Asia even before the War on Terror. In fact, since the start of the 1990s, Asian countries have accounted for more than 60% of Australia’s total international trade and 15% of Australia’s total FDI. Since the September 11th attacks Australia has worked closely with APEC to ensure that these economic ties would be kept up and improved. This aim has led to:

 

  • The signing of the Shanghai accord, which promotes the revitalising and acceleration of regional commitment to trade and investment.

  • The concept of paperless trading to save transaction costs.

  • Trade facilitations to “remove regulatory impediments to competition and improve corporate governance”[26]

 

These economic commitments and cooperation have greatly improved the relationship between Australia and S-E Asia.

 

In conclusion, the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with S-E Asia both positively and negatively. Due to the East Timor Crisis and the Hanson phenomenon, Australia already had a bad reputation in S-E Asia, and as a result, Australia’s ‘War on Terror’ has been criticised as an imperialist and neocolonialist movement. Furthermore, the falling popularity of America has meant that Australia’s support of the US-led war against terror has provoked a worsening of Australia-S-E Asian relationships, while Australia’s travel warnings have only added to this opposition. As a result, S-E Asia has adopted an Asia-only regionalism policy, once again raising questions on whether Australia is part of Asia and secondly, whether Australia and Asia are headed towards a “clash of civilisations”. The recent ‘War on Terror’ seems to contradict the latter point, since it has in many ways, led to the strengthening of political, military and economic ties between Australia and S-E Asia. While this is a good sign that Australian-S-E Asian relationships are improving, it seems that the ‘War on Terror’ has more negative impacts on Australia’s relationship with S-E Asia than positive ones. Repairing diplomatic relationships is often much harder than damaging them, and furthermore the negative impacts are much more widespread among the populace of Asia, while the positive impacts are largely confined to the political elite of S-E Asia.

 

 


[1] M.Lankowski ‘American’s Asian alliances in a changing world’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no.1 p.123

[2] Foreign Minister of Australia

[4] Alison Broinowski About Face p.171

[5] Ibid p.182

[6] Ibid p.180

[7] Ibid p.194

[8] Ibid p.195

[9] Alleged bomber responsible for the Bali bombings

[11] Paul Kelly ‘What is ANZUS for?’ The Diplomat June-July 2003

[12] Prime Minister of Malaysia

[13] D.Filitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no. 1

[14] Weapons of mass destruction

[15] Flitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ loc.cit

[17] John Howard , Prime Minister of Australia

[18] Broinowski op.cit p.195

[19] A Milner ‘Reviewing our Asian engagment’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol.57. no.1

[20] Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

[21] Ibid p.12

[22] Asian Studies Association of Australia

[24] memorandum of understanding

[25] Indonesian special forces- Komando Pasukan Khusus

 

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GUIDE

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On welfare issues with Korean-Australian students

Introduction

This post has become very long. Written over two days, it has four distinct sections.

— The first part is my immediate response to questions being asked about possible cultural factors in the tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech. It should be noted that I do not aim to “explain” that tragedy.
— Then I present some other posts I have found that take up the same or similar questions. The most significant one comes from a Korean-American pastor.
— In the third section you may read further thoughts based on my own observation of Korean and Korean-Australian students in Australia.
— I conclude with reflections on the need to have a perspective shaped by something more than monoculturalism.

****
Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Multiculturalism — Bob’s story

In senior years students used to come voluntarily to the ESL staff if they felt their English may be costing them marks. Let one of 2000’s Year 12 students speak for himself on this, but it should be added that all his teachers assisted him achieve his goal–to study Medicine at the University of New South Wales:

Wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year (and later the Chinese New Year). Hope you have a great holiday!

Thank you tons for teaching me 2 years of English, which enabled me to achieve the top 10% of the state: something I thought unrealistic before.

I still have all these 12/20 and 13/20 poetry essays from early year 11 in my folder… and also the 15/20 ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and ‘Richard III’ essays from the yr11 yearly exam. I still keep the 16/20, 17/20 ‘Empire of the Sun’, ‘Robert Gray’ essays from yr12 assessments, and also the 19/20 ‘Satire’ essay from the trial HSC. And of course, the ESL practice essays which scored 18/20 and 19/20 marked by you over the internet. And now, the record of achievement which says 91-100% percentile band in English.

It was indeed a solid progress, and I thank you again for teaching me, Sir!

The ex-student whose letter of thanks I just quoted is Bob Li (2000). In his email giving permission to quote him he said:

Of course you can quote me in the High Notes! I hope more and more students come to ESL and benefit from it just as I did. English is a headache for so many students from non-English speaking backgrounds. Continuous practice from year 7 is a great way to minimise (or even eliminate) the tremendous difficulty they are likely to experience in the HSC.

It is worth quoting the autobiographical piece Bob wrote as part of an ESL test at the beginning of Year 11 1999:

I’ve only been to Australia for six years, but my personal opinion about Australia has changed quite dramatically.

I still remember how I wanted to go back to China when I first came. I felt that everything had changed. Life here in Australia is so different. The streets are so quiet I could hardly see anybody. I’ve always liked to live in a crowded city like Shanghai, where I could see people everywhere doing all sorts of activities. Language is probably the biggest problem that I have faced. I couldn’t understand anything in English. School was disastrous, as I was always sitting in the corner waiting for the bell. I remember I always got scared when people talked to me. I felt very lonely in this totally unknown world.

My thought of going back to China started to calm as years went by. I started getting fluent in English, made a lot of friends here. I started to like Australia. Today I love Australia. I want to stay in Australia forever. I’m very used
to the life here and I love it.

My first goal for the future is to get an excellent result in the HSC. Hopefully I could get into Dentistry or Medicine and have success in my future. I think I will have my future life in Australia, and I wouldn’t get used to life in China.

In another email Bob had this to say:

Just to share something with you. I’ve been practicing Wing Chun Kung Fu in Melbourne in the last month, and I founded it very very beneficial. It not only helps my self-defence and fitness, but also increases my physical and mental awareness, reflexes and confidence. Kung Fu is really a beautiful art, practicing it transcends to a higher mental and physical level.

Just in case if you haven’t heard of Wing Chun, it’s a style of Kung Fu derived from the Southern Shaolin Temple. Usually it takes 15 to 20 years to develop an efficient martial artist in Shaolin, which was a rather long time. So some 250 years ago, the 5 grandmasters discussed their techniques, by choosing the most efficient techniques from each style, they formulated the new training program which takes only 5 to 7 years to develop a Kung Fu master. It was named “Wing Chun” and represented “hope for the future”.

Here’s the Philosophy of Wing Chun that I’d like to share with you.

  • One who excels as a warrior does not appear formidable;
  • One who excels in fighting is never aroused in anger;
  • One who excels in defeating his enemy does not join issues;
  • One who excels in employing others humbles himself before them.
  • This is the virtue of non-contention and matching the sublimity of heaven. “The practitioner should meditate on these principles and make peace through the study of Kung Fu – a way of life.”
  • I found it very rewarding, so I think I’ll continue to train… hope uni work doesn’t prevent me from doing it.

    Asian Pride

    I have seen such a slogan from time to time. Bob is a good example of healthy pride. As the last letter shows, he is finding much to learn from his Chinese background. At the same time, he is as comfortable as can be with other aspects of Australian society. In him the problem of identity seems to have been solved.

    There are some for whom things may not be so harmonious. For them, perhaps, Asian Pride may be in opposition to people or aspects of cultures other than their own, rather than a healthy balance. At extremes it may even become exclusive and racist. I have to say that, even so, Asian Pride is better than Asian Shame!

    The rest of us must make sure that no-one is ashamed of who he is. That is the core problem of racism–we build ourselves up at the expense of others, making others feel ashamed or inferior–or angry. This is bad for the community as a whole, as we all have to get along.

     

    Diversity

    NOTE: During 2007 the Australian (Howard) government continued down its path away from the “M” word, changing the name of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) to Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIC?). Even so, “The current policy – Multicultural Australia: United in Diversity” remains on the DIAC site. Someone noticed the unfortunate acronym then…

    General Resources


    Electronic Magazine of Multicultural Education — “open-access e-journal published twice a year for international scholars, practitioners, and students of multicultural education, EMME is committed to providing a forum in which scholarly and practical ideas can be exchanged to strengthen the theories and practices of multicultural education.”
    Cultural Issues from All About Counselling.
    Face the Facts— This is the third edition of Face the Facts, published for the Australian Government by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission in 2003.
    What is Australian multiculturalism? from Face the Facts:

    Australia is made up of people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Multiculturalism celebrates this diversity and recognises the challenges and opportunities that come with it. The main principles of Australia’s policy of multiculturalism are:

  • Responsibilities of all – all Australians have a civic duty to support those basic structures and principles of Australian society which guarantee us our freedom and equality and enable diversity in our society to flourish.
  • Respect for each person – subject to the law, all Australians have the right to express their own culture and beliefs and have a reciprocal obligation to respect the right of others to do the same.
  • Fairness for each person – all Australians are entitled to equality of treatment and opportunity. Social equity allows us all to contribute to the social, political and economic life of Australia, free from discrimination, including on the grounds of race, culture, religion, language, location, gender or place of birth.
  • Benefits for all – all Australians benefit from productive diversity, that is, the significant cultural, social and economic dividends arising from the diversity of our population. Diversity works for all Australians.
  • diversity

    Racism No Way— lots of information, including resources on the various communities and cultures in Australia.
    Color Blind: Teaching Tolerance— a new US site worth looking at.
    NSW Charter of Principles for a Culturally Diverse Society.
    The Migration Heritage Centre of NSW values and promotes our diverse cultural heritage.
    Australian Multiculturalism for a New Century: Towards Inclusiveness — great Australian government report 1999.
    Woglife: lively forum for young Australians from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
    Bondi District ESL and Multiculturalism Site: Valuable links to more government documents, translations in community languages, other schools, and much more.

    Some Sydney school communities

    A good place to find more information is Wikipedia: a multilingual project to create a complete and accurate free content encyclopedia. Another good one is SBS World Guide

    … What is multiculturalism? by Bikhu Parekh (1999).

    We instinctively suspect attempts to homogenize a culture and impose a single identity on it, for we are acutely aware that every culture is internally plural and differentiated. And we remain equally sceptical of all attempts to present it as one whose origins lie within itself, as self-generating and sui generis, for we feel persuaded that all cultures are born out of interaction with and absorb the influences of others and are shaped by wider economic, political and other forces. This undercuts the very basis of Afrocentrism, Eurocentrism, Indocentrism, Sinocentrism and other kinds of centrisms, all of which isolate the history of the culture concerned from that of others and credit its achievements to its own genius.

    From a multiculturalist perspective, no political doctrine or ideology can represent the full truth of human life. Each of them — be it liberalism, conservatism, socialism or nationalism — is embedded in a particular culture, represents a particular vision of the good life, and is necessarily narrow and partial. Liberalism, for example, is an inspiring political doctrine stressing such great values as human dignity, autonomy, liberty, critical thought and equality. However, they can be defined in several different ways, of which the liberal is only one and not always the most coherent…

    See the symposium on democracy in culturally diverse societies of which Parekh’s talk is part. Lord Bhiku Parekh is a member of the British House of Lords. He was earlier Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Hull and authored among others two major books on the political philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi.

    See also this Tripod blog item.

    Asia as a whole

    Asia Source: from the Asia Society (USA). A really excellent site, especially for students from Year 10 up. See especially Arts and Culture.
    expressions — poems and stories by young Asian writers. (City University Hong Kong)
    1. Chinese
    Amy Wu, “Passing the cultural identity test”, a feature article from the Boston Christian Science Monitor January 2003: For five years I was different, neither American nor Chinese, neither black nor white, yin nor yang. It bothered me for a while, for the Chinese couldn’t figure me out, and the expatriates didn’t want to figure me out. Who was I?
    China the Beautiful: Ming Pei’s site explores Classical Chinese Art, Calligraphy, Poetry, History, Literature, Painting and Philosophy.
    About Chinese Culture
    Mandarin Tools: Chinese language and culture.
    Sinologic–another Chinese cultural and language site.
    Chinese poetry in Chinese and English
    Have fun and profit from this On-line English-Chinese Dictionary

    2. Korean

    See also Report on the Korean Student Forum 2004 originally on the Tripod Blog, but now part of an entry here reflecting on the Virginia Tech tragedy of April 2007.
    When asked by non-Koreans as to “where I’m from” or “what nationality I am”, I usually answer ‘Korean’. In contrast, when I am dialoguing with people who were born and raised in Korea, it is no longer sufficient to answer simply ‘Korean’. So writes Paul Yunsik Chang of Harvard Divinity School in a thoughtful essay published in 1998, but no longer online.
    Soul to Seoul – “The first time I returned to Korea after I had been adopted in 1966 at the age of five to the U.S. was in 1984. I participated on a tour sponsored by the adoption agency I had been adopted through. I was twenty-four, confused &searching for my Korean identity I had lost in the eighteen years I spent in the suburbs of New Jersey & rural New England where my adoptive family lived…” An interesting true story.
    Korea Infogate: portal to lots of information. (Commercial site.)
    Korean Quarterly nominated for national award: The 2002 Utne/Independent Press Association Independent Press Award for Ethnic Issues Coverage (USA). Ideas, opinion pieces, short stories, poetry, photography and other articles. Look at the links page! (Senior students.)
    David Mason’s San-shin Website: Korean Mountain-spirits and Mountain-worship.
    A Generation in Transition: A study of Korean-American youth
    Korea. A cross cultural communication analyzed. by James P. Kim, from Asian EFL Journal June 2002. Mainly of interest to teachers.

    3. India and neighbours I have carefully avoided overtly political sites here, not always an easy task.
    Indian Heritage: “Indian Heritage is a non-commercial site, wherein I attempt to collect and provide information on all topics relating to Indian art, culture and tradition in my spare time.”
    Internet Indian History Sourcebook from Fordham University in the USA: very comprehensive. NOTE: this link is currently broken; I will check it again later.
    Bengali Poetry (English translation).
    Tamil Heritage Foundation: A non-governmental non-political, non-profit organization formed in Boeblingen, Germany. See also An introduction to Tamil Heritage Foundation.
    Sri Lanka: Lonely Planet Guide.
    Pakistan: Lonely Planet Guide/font>

    Shouldn’t there be more???

    Indeed there should!

    I have made a start here with the largest cultural groups currently at the school where I have worked. If you have suggestions for me, please write, or see me, or comment on the guest book.

    About World Literature will lead you to writing from and about many other cultures and places — even Australia!

    Mr. Ashok Dilwali, the renowned Indian photographer who resides in Delhi, took this photo: “Almost looks like a Chinese painting, but is a rare view of fog in a flash of sunlight near Solan in a cold wintry morning.”

    Voices! is the Multicultural Pavilion’s Intercultural Poetry E-Journal. It was inspired by Edwin Markham’s poem, Outwitted:

    He drew a circle that shut me out —
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout;
    But Love and I had the wit to win:
    We drew a circle that took him in!

    Exploring Asian-Australian/Asian Identities

    I have noticed there is a significant number of senior students who are keen to explore this issue, especially through the study of literature or through their own writing. It is an issue much discussed at University level. Here is a quick trawl through some of the relevant sites.

    Please note some of these may prove challenging. They are recommended mainly for good Advanced and Extension English students.

    “Forming a cultural identity: what does it mean to be ethnic?” — Originally prepared for ‘Youth Workers Unplugged’ in New Zealand: interviewees come from Maori, Indian, Greek, and ‘Pakeha’ (Anglo) families in Wellington. Could give some ideas to spark your own.
    Someone’s Private Zoo: Asian Australian Women’s Writing by Tseen-Ling Khoo
    ECHOES OF HOME: Memory and mobility in recent Austral-Asian art by Christine Clark, curator of the Museum of Brisbane’s Echoes of Home: Memory and mobility in recent Austral-Asian art, 2005. The exhibition is currently touring to seven major galleries in city and regional centres throughout Australia (2006-2008).
    Professor Ien Ang has written much about “living between Asia and the West.” If you can stand a dose of postcolonial theory-based language, you may find her work interesting. The link is to an article called “Migrations of Chineseness” in SPAN, Journal of the South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies
    Number 34-35 (1993). The whole issue (edited by Vijay Mishra) is online. Recommended for top Year 12 Advanced or Extension students (and teachers of course.)

    Why still identify ourselves as “Overseas Chinese” at all? Why still tribalize ourselves? The answer depends on context: sometimes it is and sometimes it is not useful to stress our Chineseness, however defined.

    Professor Ang’s book, On Not Speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West (London, Routledge 2001) may also interest you. There is a conversation between Ang and Maxine McKew in The Bulletin Vol 120 No 12 2002. (Subscriber only now.)
    Learn a little about Ouyang Yu, Chinese-born Australian poet, novelist and critic.”He writes with insight about the dilemmas of transnational artists and intellectuals caught between different literary, cultural and linguistic traditions.” See also this Tripod Blog entry.
    Eurasian Australian writer Brian Castro talks about his experience of language and culture: Language marks the spot where the self loses its prison bars–where the border crossing takes place, traversing the spaces of others.
    Henry Chan, Rethinking the Chinese Diasporic Identity: Citizenship, Cultural Identity, and the Chinese in Australia.
    Asia-Pacific Arts: an online magazine from UCLA Asia Institute.
    “Issues of Tradition and Modernity in Korean-American Literature” by Carolyn So, Assistant Professor of Korean Language and Literature, Claremont-McKenna College.
    Index of South Asian Writers Writing in English: just a list, but may guide your reading.
    Monsoon Magazine: Here are some links on South Asian literature and culture worth looking into.
    Persimmon: Asian Literature, Arts, and Culture: Persimmon aims to both inform and entertain. Its mission is to bring to readers insights into Asia not readily available elsewhere. It features established writers, as well as exciting new voices, and presents: contemporary Asian literature in translation (short stories, excerpts from novels, excerpts from memoirs, poetry), feature articles on both cultural and social issues.
    Junoon, a Pakistani rock and roll group: gives insight into the complexity that is Pakistan, and Islam, in a postmodern world. Not uncontroversial, but intelligent people like to think about such things, don’t they?
    Introduction to Postcolonial Studies from Emory University in the USA.
    borderlands e-journal from Adelaide University. “Although our beginnings are modest, we hope that over time you will be able to view writings cutting across and between politics, media, literature, history, law, science, medicine, philosophy, economics, music, film and more, along with incisive debate about contemporary culture.” For teachers and tertiary students.

     

    Literacy

    See also Why I reject Kevin Donnelly’s educational analysis.

  • CSLPLC: The Schooling Australia Project: A curriculum history of English teaching, teacher education and public schooling from Federation to World War II.
  • AIS Literacy Website. — from the Australian Government Quality Teacher Programme.
  • The National Institute for Literacy (USA)
  • Literacy and Technology. This site was created by Dr. Joyce Hinkson, an educator from California, to assist teachers, students, parents and others, with the integration of curriculum and the Internet to promote student literacy.
  • LEO: Literacy Education Online. LEO provides online handouts about a variety of writing topics. Although LEO is affiliated with the Write Place (the writing center at St. Cloud State University), LEO does not offer online tutoring, answer questions about grammar or punctuation, or give feedback about your writing or papers.
  • Literacy Matters. The goal of the Literacy Matters project is to improve the literacy development of middle grades and secondary school students, especially those students who are struggling to succeed. The content within this web site focuses on what matters most in adolescent literacy development.
  • LiteracyWeb Australia.
  • Australian Literacy Educators’ Association – Winner of the Technology Showcase section of the Australian Awards for Excellence in Educational Publishing 2003.
  • Literacy Resources from the P.L. Duffy Resource Centre, Trinity College, Western Australia, Rosemary K Horton Teacher Librarian.
  • * * * * *
    The following essay was written in 1998 for a post-graduate certificate course in TESOL at the University of Technology Sydney. The course particularly favoured Halliday’s systemic/functional grammar, and that’s a pretty good site on this. However, this essay does not draw too heavily on Halliday, at least not in depth.

    On related matters, especially on the obsession with standardised tests of literacy in a US context, search the archives of Teacher Magazine. You may be asked to register.

    America’s obsession with standardized tests is about to become even more intense as states move to comply with the new Bush education law requiring annual testing in grades 3 through 8. The foolish emphasis we put on testing is expensive, unnecessary, and probably harmful to millions of children.

    See also Fair Test for some valuable critiques of testing techniques.

    Update

    For an overview from a UK perspective, read Viv Ellis, “Rethinking English in English Schools”, Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education and Training Discussion Paper 5 2005 (PDF)

    My 1998 essay

    LITERACY OR LITERACIES? THIRTY YEARS AT THE CHALK-FACE

    My mind and my teaching practice are archaeological sites. Some exploration of those sites seems a good way to focus the development of my present approach to literacy education, primarily but not exclusively in English in secondary schools. So far as this article has a thesis it is this: that, despite the sometimes combative rhetoric of those advocating one model or pedagogy or another (as when Martin [1993:159] pillories whole language approaches as ‘benevolent neglect’), an informed, dynamic eclecticism is a viable stance. (Compare Anstey and Bull 1996:52-53, Brock 1998:11 on the ‘either/or myth’.)

    Thirty years have deposited approaches beginning with the very traditional mainstream English teaching of 1966, not much changed from the 1950s.

    THE ETERNAL CRISIS

    Throughout these thirty years literacy has apparently been in a state of crisis. In the late 1950s and early 60s certain Science professors at the University of Sydney lamented the ‘illiteracy’ of their students. In the 1970s, even before any rational person could have detected any impact on school leavers of the various ‘progressive’ developments of the early 70s, many commentators (such as Professor Crisp of the Australian National University) discerned a rapid decline in literacy and numeracy between 1970 and 1975 (Watson 1994:1).

    Even today successful adman and potboiler writer Bryce Courtney (speaking in a good cause against tax on books) can claim:

    This country is facing a serious literacy problem. We could very easily by about 2020 have a country where 55pc of the population is illiterate. (Sun-Herald 23 August 1998.)

    Just what Courtney means by literacy and how he arrived at this alarming prognostication is anybody’s guess. Such critics usually have in mind one or more of the following: that phonics and other skill-centred pedagogies constitute ‘real teaching’ as opposed to trendiness or left-wing subversion; that traditional grammar is the same; that spelling is in a parlous state; that our white Anglo-Saxon Protestant heritage is being systematically white-anted; that teachers are responsible for crime, drugs and youth unemployment; that infinitives are being split–and so on.

    Nearer the mark is Mem Fox who observed on Margaret Throsby’s ABC-FM program on August 24 1998 that we think literacy standards are falling because more people’s literacy is exposed; in other words social demands have changed.

    WHOLE LANGUAGE?

    The 1971 Year 7-10 NSW English Syllabus brought into a growing number of classrooms approaches derived from the Dartmouth Conference of 1966 (James Moffett, Teaching the Universe of Discourse 1968; John Dixon, Growth through English 1967). Among a host of influences one major one was Noam Chomsky with his nativist view of language acquisition, summed up by Richard Ohmann (1969:xxxii):

    Speakers do not need to learn to create sentences, understand new sentences, and distinguish between English and non-English through formal instruction; preschool children, illiterates and feeble-minded adults are capable of such acts.

    In the late 60s and early 70s a shift of emphasis occurred “…from English as information to English as activity. The objectives in English are concerned with what the pupil does and can do in English, not with what he (sic) knows about it in some theoretical way.” (NSW Syllabus support document 1972 in Watson 1994:40.)

    In addition, through the 70s and early 80s teachers sought clues to good literacy teaching in the practices of proficient readers and writers (Goodman 1988; Murray 1982). Among the outcomes in literacy practice were the process approach to writing, psycholinguistic approaches to reading and the whole language view of literacy learning in general. Carol Zucker (1993) encapsulates the essence of whole language:

    According to whole language, the fundamental basis for literacy learning emphasizes, among other things, the integration of content curriculum areas and the four related language processes of reading, writing, listening, and speaking in authentic settings. It is based on the premise that students can gain competence in these areas if they are immersed in a literate environment, given opportunities to communicate through print, and provided with supportive feedback.

    One articulate exponent of whole language has been Brian Cambourne who emphasises the crucial role in literacy development of what he called conditions of learning (Cambourne 1988) which may be summarised as follows:

    Learners need:

    a) immersion in appropriate texts.

    b) appropriate demonstrations.

    c) responsibility for making some decisions about when, how and what they read and write.

    d) high expectations about themselves as potential readers and writers.

    e) high expectations about their abilities to complete the reading and writing tasks they attempt.

    f) freedom to approximate mature and/or ‘ideal’ forms of reading and writing.

    g) time to engage in the acts of reading and writing.

    h) opportunities to employ developing reading and writing skills and knowledge in meaningful and purposeful contexts.

    i) responses and feedback from knowledgeable others which both support and inform their attempts at constructing meaning using written language.

    j) plenty of opportunities, with respect to the written form of language, to reflect upon and make explicit what they are learning.

    When Whitfield examined the practices of reading teachers K-12 in the Botany region of Sydney in 1993 he found this to be the dominant approach, aside from a minority who favoured such skills-centred, bottom-up approaches as the Macquarie Probes, for example. However, many teachers were taking up the genre pedagogy advocated by the various Metropolitan East Disadvantaged Schools projects on literacy and the then developing English K-6 syllabus document, the final version of which has recently been published. In very many cases the genre pedagogy was deployed in a whole language framework. Typical of this blend of approaches is this STLD (support teacher learning difficulties) teacher in an Infants School:

    We work within a framework of a Whole Language Classroom, which reflects also a Naturalistic Approach, and by Naturalistic Approach we mean that the conditions which are operating when a child learns to talk can also be applied to the classroom. Within that Whole Language framework we also do the Genre Writing Approach based on Halliday’s Systemic Functional Model of language and learning. What we are actually talking about is that children have a purpose or a social goal and an audience in mind. So we work with all these frameworks, so I guess we’re a bit eclectic in the approaches and methodologies that we actually use. (Whitfield 1993:4.)

    To the ESL trained teacher all this has a familiar ring. Stephen Krashen immediately comes to mind, with his emphasis on acquisition as primary compared to learning, his emphasis on comprehensible input, and the various ‘natural approaches’ modelled on the way in which the infant learns his or her first language (Lightbown and Spada 1993:26-29; Brown 1994:65-66; Dulay, Burt and Krashen 1982). In both whole language and the Natural Approach to L2 teaching, there is a faith in the implicit, subconscious operations of some ‘language acquisition device’ which simply needs the right kind of stimulation, the most auspicious kind of environment, to kick in with language acquisition.

    Both whole language and Natural Approaches are attractive, and it is fair to say that they have enhanced the learning and educational experiences of many students. Both mainstream and second-language classes became places where meaning was valued, where communication really took place, where the students could deploy their growing resources of language in interesting and stimulating ways.

    Looking back through my own teaching in the 1970s and 1980s I must acknowledge the positive inputs of this family of approaches and their continuing relevance. Among the benefits was an opening of the concerns of English teaching to the world itself, including the mass media and issues of importance in the lives of students and their communities. It was a liberation from the narrow round of literary text analysis, vapid ‘compositions”, mechanical ‘comprehensions’ and arbitrarily sequenced sentence grammar exercises. Students engaged in reception and production of much more authentic texts for real purposes. There was more scope for small group work and an increase in classroom talk and reflection on process. We all found much to be excited about in those years.

    It was not all fizz and excitement, however, with blind faith in the students to become literate ‘naturally’. Bob Walshe, an influential advocate in NSW of the process approach to writing, always advocated careful attention to what he called the ‘writing situation’ with attention to the effect on text of variables such as purpose, audience and context. He also advocated the teaching of a minimal sentence grammar, preferably as the need arose in students’ writing. (See Emmitt and Pollock 1991:103.)

    Conscious study of language was recommended even by the ‘growth through English’ school:

    What is clear, however, is that working with themes allows for a natural flow between talk, drama, writing and reading, and for varieties of language and genres to be explored within each mode. By giving pupils the chance to engage with experience through different varieties, the teacher is helping them to understand more clearly the opportunities and constraints which each offers, but also that experiences can be ordered, modified, and seen differently through working in different ways with language. (Stratta, Dixon and Wilkinson 1973:105.)

    MARTIN’S CRITIQUE OF THE ‘NEW ENGLISH’

    Looking at Cambourne’s conditions of learning, too, one can see there something beyond mere faith in students’ own innate capacities. While it is true that the approaches we have been discussing so far emphasise the ‘learning through language’ part of the Hallidayan triad (Anstey and Bull 1996: 2, 12) at the expense, perhaps, of ‘learning of language’ and ‘learning about language’, there is scope in conditions (b) ‘appropriate demonstrations’ and (i) ‘responses and feedback from knowledgeable others’ for that to take place, if the teacher has the appropriate tools. In an influential contribution to the debate on learning to write, Martin found this was often not the case:

    The fact that currently in Australia most teachers and students share next to no knowledge about language is a crippling problem for educational linguistics. (Martin 1986 in Painter and Martin (eds) 1986:12.)

    Martin also claimed that he and Joan Rothery constantly found ‘ideological hang-ups about intervening at all’:

    To take just a very few examples: many people view texts as private property and feel it is wrong to tamper with something someone else owns; or there are people who treat writing (I should perhaps say authoring) as creative expression, and conclude that if we give children models, we will crush the poet or author the child might otherwise become; or, to take a third, many members of our culture perceive children first and foremost as individuals, and worry that if we teach them to write they will all come out the same. (Martin 1986:12.)

    CRITIQUE OF MARTIN, AND INFLUENCES ON MY PRACTICE IN THE 1980s

    Such views did exist, perhaps still do; however, as Paul Brock points out, the idea that ‘Children should own their own writing and never be directed to do anything with their writing’, for example, is actually disavowed by Donald Graves one of the founding figures of process writing (Brock 1998:12.) We have already seen that there is no necessary contradiction between providing models, teaching the stages of a genre, intervening with the writing process at any level, or exploring how texts work and a whole language approach using Cambourne’s conditions of learning.

    As a secondary mainstream English teacher I benefited greatly from the insights of the various whole language approaches. The most important element for me was the stress on making meaning. I had by 1983 been modifying (but not rejecting) a cultural heritage model, the growth and whole language models, and adding insights from various linguistic sources, among them such early formulations of the functional model of language as Benson and Greaves (1973) and of critical linguistics (Kress and Hodge 1979), together with developments in the early 1980s in semiotics and post-modernism, such as Barthes (1977), Image- Music-Text. I was able then to formulate the following statement of purpose to which I still essentially subscribe.

    I am concerned here with theory at a fairly low level of generality; or, putting it another way, I am in search of models and procedures which might make my practice more effective, more critical, or more broadly based… In all of this I am making the following assumptions about English teaching:

    1. Language creates and orders meanings, personal and social, outward and inward. Language is the primary means of creating, expressing and interpreting the self, in the context of society and history. Language is also a means of ordering and interpreting reality. While there are many difficult theoretical questions raised by the idea that language constructs the self and reality, we cannot give up the idea that in doing so language is more than merely self-reflexive.

    2. Central to English teaching is the learner as meaning-maker, a participant in the network of meanings that constitute our culture.

    3. In using and studying language or other means of meaning-making in a variety of contexts and realizations, the learner grows more competent, more aware, and less helpless. (Published in The Teaching of English, NSW English Teachers’ Association, 1983.)

    …AND SOME OF MY CONCERNS FOR A NEW CENTURY

    I would love to take up issues concerned with the status today of the cultural heritage model as of considerable relevance to, for example, the 1998 draft Stage 6 English Syllabus in NSW, and a controversial aspect of literacy broadly defined. Any vestigial Leavisism (adherence to the elitist literary ideas of F R Leavis, the English critic) has for me been effectively killed off by Andrew Reimer’s Sandstone Gothic (Sydney, Allen and Unwin 1998), but the issues raised on the one hand, say, by Fish (1994) and on the other by Denby (1996) are still to me extremely important. Such issues are dealt with in Maybin and Spencer (1996) in a most digestible manner.

    Fascinating too, given that I work in a situation where the ‘minorities’ are now the majority, are issues raised in post-colonial studies such as Said (1985, 1994) and Webb and Enstice (1998). Texts such as Martino (1997) and Kenworthy and Kenworthy (1997) provide models for a post-colonial, critically literate reading practice. The cross-cultural anthology From Yellow Earth to Eucalypt (Whitfield 1995) attempts to come to grips with some of these issues. I might add that much can also be gained from Macken-Horarik (1995 and 1996) whose conceptualising of the curriculum (in English and Science) in terms of an extended functional language model has much influenced Feez (1998) in her text-based syllabus design for ELT. However, while I find Macken-Horarik’s articles quite inspiring , I think at the moment she underplays the potential of ‘canonical’ literary studies and the whole field of creativity and imagination, perhaps in reaction to rather less informed practice in the past.

    GENRE PEDAGOGY

    A problem with the whole language approach may stem from what at first seems an advantage: that it is concerned with the growth of the individual child.

    While a number of studies have found good results with the whole language model in second language (Lim and Watson 1993) and learning disabilities classes (Zucker 1993), the weight of evidence seems on the side of those who suggest that whole language alone may not be enough. The seminal research of Brice-Heath (1994) and other research reported by Gee (1990) are sufficient reminder that students arrive at school with much already learned, and the degree to which this learning may or may not be congruent with school learning could affect outcomes achieved by some ‘natural’ pedagogy alone. Students may need an ‘apprenticeship in literacy’ (Wells 1991); indeed it would be unjust to deny them such an apprenticeship in the interests of ‘personal growth’ or even some perhaps sentimental sense of social equity (Delpit 1988):

    In an insightful study entitled “Racism without Racists: Institutional Racism in Urban Schools”, Massey, Scott and Dornbusch (1975) found that under the pressures of teaching, and with all intentions of “being nice”, teachers had essentially stopped attempting to teach Black children.. ..As I have been reminded by many teachers since the publication of my article, those who are most skillful at educating Black and poor children do not allow themselves to be placed in “skills” or “process” boxes. They understand the need for both approaches, the need to help students to establish their own voices, but to coach those voices to produce notes that will be heard in the larger society. (Delpit 1988:296)

    In such a spirit a number of teams working in Sydney from the later 1980s on literacy education, principally through the old Disadvantaged Schools Program, began applying the functional model of language to literacy in schools, especially at first to writing. (For example, Callaghan and Rothery 1988, Rothery 1992, Knapp and Watkins 1994.) Their work has been most influential.

    Without going into too much detail here, I would say the essential elements that have proved useful in this approach to literacy education are:

    1. A clear sense of text, of the importance of using whole texts.

    2. A clear sense of language as social semiotic, of the ways the resources of language enact and achieve social purposes.

    3. A much more satisfactory metalanguage for mapping the contexts of situation and contexts of culture that constrain the language in a text. The mode continuum, for example, maps clearly the differences between speech and writing (Hammond 1990), and this in turn can be explored by students in their reading and writing and may also be used by teachers to help organise their programming (Feez 1998:81-83).

    4. A more satisfactory metalanguage for looking at the language itself at all levels ranging from the graphophonic, through lexis to sentence and text. A somewhat less scholastic version of this metalanguage has been adopted in the 1998 NSW K-6 English Syllabus and in the 1997 and 1998 Literacy documents from the NSW Department of Education and Training. In looking at textuality, for example, I have found the idea of word-chains and other forms of cohesion enabling for my students, both mainstream and ESL.

    5. A sense of genre or text-type, and the ability to discern the stages and characteristic lexical and syntactic patterns that typically mark each text-type. This can be a powerful tool for developing reading and writing, making much that was previously implicit or mysterious accessible to students.

    6. A clearly articulated teaching-learning cycle, typically involving negotiating the field, deconstructing context and text, joint construction and independent construction of text. (Rothery 1992:30.)

    Needless to say none of this has escaped criticism. As we shall see, it does not constitute a complete account of literacy, but it does address the ‘learning of language’ and ‘learning about language’ arms of the Hallidayan triad, as well as the ‘learning through language’ arm. It is also productive in all Key Learning Areas. In my own school continuing inservice work in this area has raised the consciousness of teachers in all faculties about the language they use, the language of textbooks and examinations, and the language students are expected to process and produce. The idea that Science and Mathematics are sites for language teaching no longer seems alien; the idea that the English Department or the ESL teacher ‘looks after all that’ seems to be dying. Teachers are now developing a common language for talking about text and literacy.

    HASAN’S CRITIQUE OF GENRE PEDAGOGY

    One rather interesting criticism of genre pedagogy has come from within the genre camp itself. While asserting that it is the only pedagogy worth considering (a touch arrogant perhaps?), Ruqaiya Hasan (1996:402-404) speaks of a tendency, noted by Alan Luke amongst others, for genre-based pedagogy to reproduce existing social relations by following currently approved models of discourse. Against that, she says, is the greater problem of maintaining the inequities of the social system by not teaching the educational genres that such gatekeepers as HSC examiners are looking for. However she does see a potential problem in the lack of encouragement of reflection in many genre-based programs:

    So an important question is whether in learning discursive ability through genre-based pedagogy, one is also learning the ability to analyse and to challenge the desirability of the prevalent ways of being, doing and saying… The implied underlying message of this pedagogy is conformism, a respect for convention which is not required to be tempered by analytical reflection. (Hasan 1996:404- 405.)

    Hasan goes on, of course, to propose a ‘reflection literacy’ whose aim is to ‘produce in the pupils a disposition to distrust doxic knowledge, that is, knowledge whose sole authority is the authority of someone in authority.’ (Hasan 1996:412)

    A worry similar to Hasan’s occurs to me as I examine the marking criteria for the ELLA Year 7 literacy tests. They are criterion-referenced, so one either does or does not score on a series of purely formal and textual criteria, couched though they may be in the language of the functional model. Nowhere, it occurs to me, is there scope for the brilliant if eccentric response, nowhere is what the student says actually taken into account. I have real reservations about this which seems to me formalism out of control in the interests of producing a “measure” essentially for political consumption, that drivel with the appropriate formal or generic characteristics is indistinguishable in this test from intelligent writing. However, it can also be said that ELLA has some diagnostic use, particularly for ESL teachers who can line up certain criteria in reading and writing with ESL Scales indicators.

    However, does ELLA measure literacy? It depends what you mean…

    LITERACIES?

    The arguments put forward by Hasan (1996) echo earlier work by Kress (1988), Freebody and Luke (1990) and Wells (1991). They can be followed extensively, along with excursions into feminist and post-colonial reading practices, in Muspratt, Luke and Freebody (1997). Essentially these are family quarrels as all these writers share a concern for the contextual, social and ideological dimensions of language and literacy. While they differ in detail, proposals for critical literacy share a concern that Ernest Hemingway once said was the aim of education: to provide students with a “built-in crap detector.”

    A feature of these discussions is the idea that there is not a single literacy, but rather “literacies”. By this is meant not only the principle that different fields and registers or media might require different reading practices (decoding images/ advertisements; “reading” film; interpreting law, and so on). We all engage in a range of literacy practices involving various domains of discourse (Brice-Heath 1994; Barton 1991).

    A further dimension is that text in any domain is never neutral but is implicated in ideology. Text positions us as acted on or acting, as male or female, straight or gay, mainstream or marginal. Text enacts power relations (Kress 1988). Rothery builds this into her version of the functional model of language (1992) as does Martin (1993), while Macken-Horarik (1995 and 1996) incorporates this aspect of language as social semiotic into her model of the curriculum.

    Literacy or literacies encompass at least four levels. Wells (1991), Hasan (1996) and Freebody and Luke (1990) come up with similar descriptions. In the case of Freebody and Luke these are:

    1. Learning your role as a code breaker. This includes decoding skills, being able to process print.

    2. Learning your role as a text participant. This enables the reader to access the network of meanings in a text, and may include access to necessary background or cultural knowledge. (In an interesting study of himself learning Cantonese,
    Sinclair Bell (1995) found this could include teaching and learning styles considered appropriate in the L1 and L2 cultural settings, indeed even cultural concepts of writing itself. Sinclair Bell found that an unexpected mismatch between himself and his teacher in this regard inhibited his learning of Cantonese, not only in this role but also in the role of code breaker.)

    3. Learning your role as text user. Here the learner is enabled through classroom demonstrations and discussion to participate in a range of social situations beyond the everyday. These may include important gatekeeping situations such as the ability to read and interpret a literary text in the manner valued by the culture one is being inducted into, where that differs from the culture of the home. Much of the genre pedagogy is directed at this role.

    4. Learning your role as text analyst. Here there is “an expanded notion of what has traditionally been called critical reading” (Freebody and Luke 1990:7). It corresponds fairly closely to Wells’s concept of “epistemic literacy” (Wells 1991:3-4) and to Hasan’s “reflection literacy” (Hasan 1996:32-36). Perhaps Hasan’s version is the most radical, proposing “a literacy that turns back upon the very systems that perpetuate the literacy teaching practices in a society”, an ability to deconstruct text in order to throw into relief its ideological antecedents, to perceive with clarity what the text is doing to you, a reading of resistance. (Such a person could not possibly support Pauline Hanson, or even Dr Kemp whose interventions in the literacy debate both before and after becoming a government minister have done much to fuel popular panic, but have been narrow in their concept of literacy and even downright devious in their interpretation of the available data. Paul Brock covers this well [1998:6-8].)

    Macken-Horarik (1995 and 1996) gives concrete examples of such literacies in practice in the pedagogy of an English teacher in a Western Sydney School. In our own school we have a unit on heroes in Year 8, another on news in Year 10, where texts in many media are examined, analysed and written and/or performed in order to develop critical literacy. The Topic Area in Year 12 2-Unit General English provided many opportunities for similar activity, as do units such as that proposed on the media creation of Princess Diana in the 1998 English Stage 6 draft syllabus.

    A range of texts is appearing that may help provide material and examples for teachers (for example Schill 1996, Whitfield 1995, Kenworthy and Kenworthy 1997, Martino 1997). The best option, however, would seem to be in being open to possibilities in all Key Learning Areas for demonstrating and practising literacies of all kinds wherever possible, and more aware of the literacy demands our particular Key Learning Area is making.

    A VIABLE POSITION?

    My own position (and that of many I suspect) has been an evolving one. Rather than earlier approaches being absolutely displaced by later ones, I have tended to keep what works from many perspectives. So when I embraced aspects of the process or whole language approaches, it was because these opened up the range of things students could do; but I continued to look at sentence grammar, paragraphing, spelling and so on. Teaching of grammar and style was enhanced by reading in the areas of stylistics and language variation in the later 1970s and 1980s, and these were in turn strengthened by the genre pedagogy of the early 1990s. An abiding concern of most English teachers has been critical reading; the meaning and scope of that has been enriched by insights from Freebody and Luke, Kress and Hasan, to name a few.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY

    Anstey, M. and Bull, G. (1996), The Literacy Labyrinth, Sydney, Prentice Hall.
    Barthes, R. (1977), Image-Music-Text, London, Collins.
    Barton, D. (1991), “The Social Nature of Writing”, in D. Burton and S. Padmore (eds) Writing in the Community, London, Sage.
    Bell, J. Sinclair (1995), “The Relationship between L1 and L2 Literacy: Some Complicating Factors”, TESOL Quarterly Vol 29, No 4, 687-704.
    Benson, J. D. and Greaves, W. S. (1973), The Language People Really Use, Agincourt, The Book Society of Canada.
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    A debate on race

    INTRODUCTION

    In our school newsletter I had been running a series of articles dealing with racism, leading up to the International Day for the Elimination of Racism on March 21 2001. I received the following anonymous letter from a senior student. I would be interested in your responses. I would not normally publish an anonymous letter, but behind the anger and some serious misconceptions, I feel there is an intelligence that deserves respect. I have slightly abridged the letter, but kept true to the author’s views.
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    Posted by on December 3, 2006 in Australian, diversity, equity/welfare, multiculturalism

     

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