Academic pushes for English subject to be renamed to 'Language Arts'

Fury over push for the school subject ‘English’ to be renamed to avoid offending Indigenous Australians – but plan is labelled ‘political correctness gone mad’

  • Academic Dr Melitta Hogarth suggested English be renamed to ‘Language Arts’ 
  • She questioned whether the name of the subject was an ‘act of assimilation’  
  • Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge labelled suggestion as ‘nonsense’
  • Hogarth said she expected some outrage but had received support from peers

An academic has proposed the school subject English be renamed after suggesting the name was an ‘act of assimilation’ for Indigenous Australians. 

Dr Melitta Hogarth from the University of Melbourne raised the issue during her address at the Australian Association for the Teaching of English conference.

The Indigenous former schoolteacher suggested the subject to instead be called ‘Language Arts’ or ‘Languages, Literacy and Communications’. 

‘It wasn’t enough that First Nations peoples had been dispossessed of their lands, their children stolen but also their languages were silenced and it was dictated within the government controlled missions that English should be spoken,’ she said.

Dr Melitta Hogarth from the University of Melbourne proposed the English school subject be renamed to ‘Language Arts’ or ‘Languages, Literacy and Communications’

‘A supposedly superior language, the language of the oppressor, and just to make sure you didn’t know who the oppressor was let’s call that subject English.

‘So I’m left asking, is subject English just another act of assimilation?’

Not everyone was on board with her idea, including Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge who labelled it as ‘nonsense’. 

‘This is not just political correctness gone mad, but it actually makes me angry that such views are in our universities’ education faculties – the place that trains our future teachers,’ he told the Courier Mail.

‘Everyday Australians are just sick of this sort of rubbish that infects our universities.’

Not everyone was on board with the radical suggestion, with Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge labelling it as ‘nonsense’

Dr Hogarth, who has taught Indigenous children in schools, said she expected her suggestion would provoke some ‘outrage’ but added she felt the title of English didn’t properly describe what was studied in the subject.

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There was not one English language but ‘many Englishes’, she said.

‘Within the rationale of subject English, it refers to the linguistic and cultural diversity of the country but then counters this by stating that you need to be able to communicate in Standard Australian English,’ she said. 

She said she hoped the education community would be open to new ideas and that her peers and colleagues had shown her great support.

Dr Hogarth is a Senior Research Fellow In Indigenous Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and previously spent 20 years working in Queensland schools.

Dr Hogarth, who has taught Indigenous children in schools, said she expected her suggestion would provoke some ‘outrage’ but added she felt the title of English didn’t properly describe what was studied in the subject (stock image)

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