Faculty launches books to broaden literacies

15 March 2011

Sydney Theatre Company co-artistic directors Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton (pictured right) joined with 2010 NSW Young Australian of the Year Jack Manning Bancroft (below) in the STC's Richard Wherrett Studio on March 15 to celebrate the launch of books by associate deans Professor Robyn Ewing and Associate Professor Alyson Simpson aimed at broadening the reach of educational opportunity.

Professor Ewing's work – The Arts and Australian Education: realising potential– is a commissioned review of international research that explores the importance of learning embedded in the arts.

The book edited jointly by Associate Professor Simpson and faculty honorary Professor of Education Frances Christie – Literacy and Social Responsibility – brings together writers from the complementary fields of literacy education and social work, all of whom are committed to the view that the provision of effective literacy programs in a society is a matter of equity and social justice.

The Arts and Australian Education: realising potential, mounts a compelling argument for the arts to be embedded in all academic disciplines and fields as a way of cultivating creativity and imagination.

Professor Ewing said examples from education and community-education programs that embed quality arts experiences demonstrate the potential of the arts to change the lives of children and young people, particularly those experiencing difficulties.

"Despite the growing body of evidence pointing to educational and wider social benefits of the arts, to date equitable provision and resourcing of the arts and monitoring teaching quality in arts education has received insufficient attention in Australia," she said.

"Similarly, provision of quality teacher preparation in the arts and ongoing professional learning has been almost nonexistent."

In launching Literacy and Social Responsibility, Mr Manning Bancroft, founder and CEO of the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) program talked about his belief that universities can help turn the tide of Indigenous education so that across the nation classrooms will resonate with the message: "to be Indigenous means to be successful".