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ERIC Number: ED498460
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jun-2
Pages: 23
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 39
ISSN: ISSN-1554-5210
"Whole Language" and Moral Panic in Australia
Gannon, Susanne; Sawyer, Wayne
International Journal of Progressive Education, v3 n2 p30-51 2007
This paper examines the media and political landscapes within which "whole language" is currently constituted in Australia. Through surveying the themes and rhetoric deployed in media texts over recent years, we consider how "whole language" has been taken up as part of a wider media campaign around education generally. We consider how this campaign has been instrumental in constructing a moral panic around literacy education in particular. We begin with an overview of how the literacy standards of Australia's young people compare on international measures with young people elsewhere. We consider how the media has bundled these with populist concerns about literacy pedagogy and other educational issues to create a sense of national crisis about education. We argue that the sociological concept of "moral panic" provides a useful and systematic theoretical framework for reading these discursive tactics of the media. Finally, we examine how a National Inquiry into literacy responded to this panic by reinscribing a familiar--and unhelpful--binary between "whole language" and phonics-based instruction. In the title and in the body of the paper we keep "whole language" in quotation marks to remind the readers that use of the term in the media texts that are analysed differs widely from its usage by literacy specialists. (Contains 25 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia