Project 40 Essay 1

Literacy as behaviour, process, and social activity

4o logo 1972–2012

December 2012
Also published as PETAA Paper 188

Professor Peter FreebodyProfessor Peter Freebody

Faculty of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney

The first in a series of Project 40 essays supported by video interviews and key PETAA resources.

Video interview  

What can we say about PETAA’s 40th anniversary?


Personal reflections on PETAA’s 40th anniversary

A first comment is that the changes confronting Australian primary English teachers over this period, and therefore the challenges of providing these teachers with useful resources and ideas, are such that this association’s years might be thought of as being like dog-years — you multiply the human years by about five, so 40 becomes 200.

On such a momentous anniversary it would be heartwarming to find this association still showing signs of life; so it is all the more impressive to find it thriving.

Second, marking this anniversary gives us an opportunity to look back at the four decades travelled to see if we can trace out an interpretable journey. PETAA appeared out of the then eight-year-old Australian Association for the Teaching of English, just a breath before the Karmel Report appeared, the Commonwealth Schools Commission formed, and moments before the ascendancy of Australia’s first commonwealth Labor government in 23 years. Clearly this moment brought along a sense of general renewal and redirection, perhaps most dramatically felt in education. Professionally, culturally, ideologically and intellectually, that feels like dog-years ago.

To develop a sense of what an anniversary means, we need at least a sketch of a history lesson, in this case, a lesson about the state of teaching English in primary schools over the last 40 years, and about the ways in which PETAA may have contributed both directly and indirectly to any changes we can observe over the period. Responsive education associations know when and how to lead and to follow, to caution and to encourage, all the while informing teaching and learning. We might develop an assessment of what kind of offerings PETAA has made on those counts.

1972 English

When we consider the state of English education around 1972, as practice, research and policy, we do find some lessons to be had about then and now. One is that across Australian settings in general, English, language and literacy were not thought of as unified or even particularly connected educational efforts in 1972.

This seems to apply even in the case of the primary school years, where the integration of knowledge domains, skills, attitudes and processes was generally more prevalent than in secondary education. In some curriculum formations, English-in-use, as a resource for communicating — largely in written forms but gradually also as oral communication — was the principal responsibility of the primary years; English-as-literary-studies and cultural heritage preoccupied the secondary years.

In other places, it was not English at all that was named as a primary school curriculum area, but rather the Language Arts was, whether formally in some places, as in the US, or operationally in other Anglophone countries (Freebody & Gilbert, 1999; Monaghan & Hartman, 2011).

A noticeable feature of that terrain concerns what we now think of as literacy education. In the early 1970s the professional development and research activities aimed at literacy education, along with the teacher education programs that addressed this topic, were not only named as, but largely were, ‘reading’ education. In 1975 the 'Australian Reading Association' was formed, and it was to be 20 years before that name was changed to the 'Australian Literacy Educators' Association' (ALEA). That change tells us that this association was, overtly at least, to be mainly about and for educators and their daily work, not about packages, formal curricula, or jurisdiction-level policy.

From reading to literacy: PETAA resources


Exploring the New English
Better reading/writing - Now!
Teaching Literature
Learning to read the media
Towards A Reading Writing Classroom
Word Magic: poetry as shared adventure
PETA Guide To Childrens’ Literacy
The Reading Environment
Tell Me: children, reading and talk

Inside Whole Language
Beyond the Reading Wars

Literacy at Home and School
Every Child Can Write
Now We Want to Write

Getting it together
Writing and reading to learn
Coping with Chaos
Spell by Writing
Young Imagination
Writing for Life

Learning to Learn in a Second Language
Scaffolding : Teaching and learning in language and literacy education

Write Me In: Inclusive Texts ...
Designing Learning for Diverse Classrooms

Turnaround Pedagogies

Teaching English Language Learners in Mainstream Classrooms

Talking to learn

Exploring How Texts Work
What’s Your Purpose
Critical Literacies in the Primary Classroom
A Grammar Companion
Image Matters
Conversations About Texts 1: Literary
Conversations About Texts 2: Factual
Grammar and Meaning: New Edition
Multimodal Texts

From reading to literacy

So where there is now an area named as ‘literacy’ in 1972 there was reading and English. What then was ‘reading’ education and research at that time? In their useful reviews of theories and research in reading and reading research published in the leading research journal in the area, Reading Research Quarterly, in 1972, Samuels and Williams identified four recurring themes in the terrain: assessing readiness for reading, visual and auditory training as a co-requisite of reading development, the predominance of word lists in research and professional practice, and a small but growing interest in reading what was termed ‘meaningful prose’ and later ‘extended discourse’. 1

In 1972 the reading education world was in the middle of a feisty and at times entertaining digression that we now think of as the ‘whole language’ versus ‘phonics’ debate. 2

In some places this was re-worked as ‘top-down versus bottom-up’ processes, and so on. While a moment’s reflection does now what it could have done then — dissolve this spurious dichotomy — it is clear that this debate in reading was a proxy for, or maybe a leading edge of a broader set of ways in which 1970s educators were trying not to be 1950s educators.  This larger debate divided the world into, on the one hand, ‘content-oriented’, instructionally explicit, ‘teacher-centred’, letter and word-directed theory and practice, and on the other, their opposites: ‘process-oriented’, instructionally implicit, ‘student-centred’, sentence- and extended text-directed theory and practice. 3

The former program was staffed by more conventional psychologists with interest and experience in students with ‘special needs’ diagnosis and testing, and an orientation to the benefits of psychology in the more ‘basic training’ aspects of early education. The latter by people interested in the emerging forms of cognitive and humanistic psychology, many of whom saw a focus of their work to be issues related to equity and cultural and linguistic diversity that were increasingly facing Australian teachers. 4

This dichotomy was more handy than productive: it simplified debates about complex problems, it presented us with teachers, students, and activities that were, and were most righteously one-dimensional, and it provided product-badging for the rapidly emerging and lucrative market in commercial reading and language education packages for parents and teachers.

There are sites in which the territories and tribes of literacy continue to be demarcated in this way, but this was a map that, in my view, enjoyed a longer life than it deserved, due largely to its connection to the burgeoning market in reading education products, and the ease of over-relying on the classroom scripts provided in many of these products (Shannon 1983 and 2001 expand eloquently on the effects of these trends and ways to resist them).

A key feature of the last 40 years, and one that educators with special interests in English and literacy must factor into their understanding of the professional and media churn around them, is the massive increase in this commercialisation of education, again, most dramatically felt in the area of language and literacy learning. Many primary English teachers have come to see their responsibilities as being about the integration of the preoccupations of both English education and literacy education. Many have long known, some of whom appear even in the review of primary literacy and language education conducted by Edmund Huey in 1908, that primary English education, including the ‘English language arts’, is charged with preparing students both for secondary English studies, and for the language and literacy demands of pretty much everything that we could imagine at the time as laying in wait for young Australian students. 5

The state of English

While these things were happening in reading / literacy education at the time of PETAA’s inception, much was afoot in English as well. Perennially, indeed long before formal schooling in English language and culture became a feature of English-speaking societies, there has been a tussle between the technical-rhetorical and the cultural-heritage wings of English studies (Freebody, Barton & Chan, in press 2013). The contesting claims for territory were devoted to, on the one hand, the study of the structures of a range of spoken and written language uses, and, on the other, ‘belles lettres’. 6

Crawford (1998) has argued that there were two crucial moments in which a redefined notion of English was recruited as a solution to cultural crises. The first of these was the unification of the crown in 1707 — the production of ‘Britain’. This event fairly suddenly introduced the need to cater culturally and thus educationally for linguistic and literary differences in the process of establishing a ‘united kingdom’ across speakers of different language and dialects. 

The problem was particularly acute in the case of the relationship between England and Scotland (a matter that seems almost resolved a mere 305 years later). Hence, the first university department of English language and literature was established in Edinburgh, a fact proudly announced on the first page of their new website (University of Edinburgh, 2012). It embodied the Scottish ruling class’s determination to access the valued language and cultural codes of their powerful southern neighbours, as a step along the way of sharing in their economic and military expansion. Languages and dialects were lost along the way, and others almost lost, as a result of this ‘education in English’.

The state of English: PETAA resources


A Sea of Talk
Reading Under the Covers

Writing Like  a Writer (New Edition)
Writing Links
Writing Better Stories


Designing Learning for Diverse Classrooms


Inside Whole Language
Beyond the Reading Wars


Exploring the New English
Better reading/writing — Now!
New English in Action
This Works for Me


Quest for Wonders
Laugh Lines: Exploring humour in children's literature
Taking a closer look at literature-based programs
For the Love of Poetry
Growing into Readers
Beyond the Script 1
Beyond the Script Take 2
Drama Anytime
Kids’ Best


Where Do I Start?
Getting Started
May I see Your Program Please?

In the winter of 1972 I visited a school on the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland. There I watched a Hawaiian anthropologist record a primary classroom lesson conducted in Scottish Gaelic. This was the only remaining place on earth, the anthropologist assured me, where lessons were carried out with this particular language as the medium of instruction. It was an English lesson that she recorded.

There have been centuries-long language and dialect tussles within the United Kingdom, but I was reminded of this extraordinary event on Skye over 35 years later when the government of the Northern Territory of Australia abandoned its bi- and multi-lingual schools programs for Aboriginal Australian students. 7

The ongoing history of incomplete victories and temporary defeats have ensured the prominence of curriculum subject English in debates about almost any aspect of education, culture, and, from time to time, the wellbeing of the economy, the extinction of languages by the rolling out, in small and large ways, of English (Tsunoda, 2005), and even the continued existence of the nation state.

To close in on the grand narrative about English as it was, or was imagined, in 1972, we find that Crawford argued that English cultures experienced their second crisis point at the end of the First World War. The significant part played by the United States in the war ensured the dominance of English internationally over its chief competitor of the time, German. At the exact same moment, English-speaking cultures felt both a sense of the cultural, ‘civilising’ potential of this victory, and a sense of threat from the Bolshevik revolution in Russia (another matter that seems to have resolved itself a mere 70 years later).

The study of literature written in the world’s then most powerful language, English, was put to work to ‘promote a sense of cultural coherence as a bulwark against Bolshevism’ (Hawkes, 1999: 23). The UK National Board of Education had a committee report on the ‘teaching of English in England’ in 1919 (which eventually appeared as the ‘Newbolt Report’).  One of the members of that committee, George Sampson remarked in his well-known English for the English:

‘Deny to working-class children any common share in the immaterial and presently they will grow into the men who demand with menaces a communism of the material.’ (quoted in Sampson, 1952, p. xv)

English at school and university, and gradually beyond, became among other things a vehicle for political liberalism and a psychology of the personal-interior (Crawford, 1998). In the case of Australia, an additional layer in this account is that dominant groups traditionally oriented to England as a cultural source; a source not only of language but also of public custom and organisation. Subject English became a site in which this source is re-legitimated for each generation.

But in 1972 building up a head of steam in English education was an orientation articulated and consolidated at a conference titled ‘The Anglo-American Seminar on the Teaching of English’ held at Dartmouth College in 1966. Angelotti and Allen (1982) later summarized the emphases that arose from this conference:

‘Here was a profession with a solid base, a clear direction. The personal growth of students would replace a slavish worship of text, experiencing would replace parroting, student-generated text would replace drills and skills.’ (p. 214)

For primary English educators, these dichotomies in the characterisation of English education indicated some parallels with those established by the ‘whole language versus phonics’ map of their professional world. 8

Many of the first books published by PETAA, those in the 1970s and into the 1980s, were principally concerned with new ways of thinking about and implementing what was then called the ‘new English’ — that was, essentially, aiming to apply some of the insights from Dartmouth English to Primary education. 9

A perceived lack of an intellectually rich and morally-charged basis for primary language, literacy and literary education at the time led the membership of PETAA to embrace the ‘new English’ and to work up and extend its brief in the local setting. But most of these applications remained conscious of the language and literacy demands facing young students. 10

This increased interest in the responsiveness of students to ‘good literature’ combined with a burgeoning market in age-specialised literary products — children’s, adolescents’ and young adults’ literature. This combination is developed well in PETAA’s publications in the 1970s and early 1980s. Especially influential in NSW was The teaching of English : Exploring the new English, proceedings of the Conference of Primary and Infant School Teachers held at Sydney University, November 3 and 4, 1972,  edited by the prolific R.D. Walshe. It announced a sharpening of focus on the early school years and a renewed interest in and professional commitment to the language practices and dispositions that young students brought to schools. 11

What are some of the main continuities and discontinuities inherited from these times, looking back now, from 2012?

Then and now: continuities and discontinuities

Looking back, we usually end up being struck by both the extent of the changes and the depth of the continuities, and we remain attached to the idea of imposing some linear explicability to the events: it had to happen that we would look back and say ‘it had to happen’. To get a sense of continuities and ruptures, it is informative to return to the reviews by Samuels and Williams. These things stand out to me as continuing trends and challenges when I read those reviews.

In Samuels’s review of the state of reading research in 1972, he complained about the labeling of students as a fake way of explaining their literacy learning. As he put it: ‘many educators and psychologists delude themselves into believing they have gained insight into the causes of the problem’ (p. 203). This circularity, which now draws in a byzantine collection of psychological, social and cultural categorizations for children learning to read, is really, Samuels asserted, only explanation by ‘elimination of other labels’.

We can note here the strong, and still recurring, reliance on a medical approach to this question of teaching and learning, ‘a recasting of the latter into a question of diagnosis, prescription and treatment’. The expressions ‘medical model’ is generally now used dismissively in teaching and learning circles, but it remains an ongoing presence in the English-literacy connection over the last 40 years. It seems to me not a simple matter, and it remains important to ask if on balance it has unequivocally helped or obstructed educational practice and research, or if it has at least sharpened our debates.

Then and now: PETAA resources


Literacy Evaluations: Issues and Practicalities
Small Group Learning
Negotiated Evaluation

Patterns of Thinking: Top-level structures in the classroom


Literacy Evaluations: Issues and Practicalities
Look Again: Longitudinal studies in children’s literacy learning
On Task: Focused literacy learning
Primary English Teaching: Introduction to Language, Literacy and Learning


Ways of Knowing
Text Next
A Year in Text
Look Again: Longitudinal studies in children’s literacy learning
Towards a Reading Writing Classroom


A Literature Companion
Beyond the Script 1
Beyond the Script Take 2
Quest for Wonders
Laugh Lines: Exploring humour children’s literature
Smart Thinking
Play & Literacy in Children’s World
Thinking Together: Philosophical enquiry in the classroom
Patterns of thinking: Top level structures in the classroom

Second, Samuels nominated the problem of what counts, generally and across specific educational sites, as adequate teaching practice. The primordial problem for teachers and students in classrooms is that there are at hand about the topic more than 20 kinds and degrees of partial knowledge and resources to access and display knowledge about it. In that light, Samuels pointed out, it is effectively inevitable that for some students too much is taken in English and literacy programs, and for others, too much is already old hat. As Samuels put it with regard to these skills, understandings and practices,  ‘the teacher assumes the students have already mastered these or … the teacher is unaware that they are important’ (p. 204).

Learning English and literacy in a classroom, in ways that continue to build up the capacity to continue to do so in precisely that setting in the years ahead, is different from learning in isolation. The learning demands are embedded in the interactional systems of classroom life. 12

Samuels and Williams both noted that, in the case of both of these issues — labeling and adequate pedagogy — there was up to that time an unhelpful reliance on the use of intelligence testing to support assumptions about students and about practice. While 40 years later we tend not to talk in precisely those terms, at least in formal educational settings, it is evident from lots of research that we have often replaced them with talk about ‘able’ and ‘not-so-able-students’ and ‘high and low achieving students’. This indicates a deep continuity in the educational community over the last 40 years that can be described as an unsophisticated, un-nuanced appreciation of the breadth and limitations of the value of testing and assessment more broadly. 13

This dogs the profession, especially in its relationships to research communities, policy-makers, and the media. It may be, in the broader public sphere, one of the urgent issues for associations such as PETAA for the next 40 years (I discuss the celebrity status of literacy and language education in Freebody, 2005).

A third issue Samuels and Williams raised in their 40-year-old reviews is the problem of mixing levels of explanation and the related issue of correlation and cause. Social class is connected to cognitive enrichment, or with ‘cultural level’ as a way of accounting for durable differences in how well contemporary schooling serves youngsters from differing socio-economic backgrounds.

Bureaucracies preoccupied with tracking down affordable best-practices using statistical data that take aggregated scores across students from qualitatively different cultural, socio-economic and linguistic backgrounds still set aside the advice of Catherine Snow in her 1998 summary of the research in teaching literacy:

‘If we have learned anything from this effort, it is that effective teachers are able to craft a special mix of instructional ingredients for every child they work with.  But ... there is a common menu of materials, strategies, and environments from which effective teachers make choices.’ (Snow and others, 1998, Executive Summary).

Snow also noted that ‘teaching reading is difficult and this has been underestimated by those involved in teaching for many decades’.

A fourth continuity arises from the persistent difficulties in connecting funded-, generally academic research to educational policy and practice. Samuels and Williams describe it as the problem of ‘piecemeal research’, that is, bits of one-off, short-term and/or small-scale studies.

The effects of good English and literacy research in the primary years are positive and demonstrable in the long term using programmatic and consistent, rich assessments of the demands facing youngsters in and out of school, or they are merely provisional promissory notes. Collaborative research projects between researchers and professional associations — which retain both their rigour and their strong connections to students’ and teachers’ lived experiences — are important ways forward in this regard, particularly as some notion of ‘evidence’, emanating from state, national and international bodies, has come to bear down heavily on educational policy in and around literacy education. 14

In a fifth point these reviewers direct our attention to the complaint that systematic research, policy priority and professional development has perennially focused on cognitive aspects of reading, with comparatively little attempt to incorporate affective, imaginative and aesthetic aspects into the models, even in light of the continued emphasis on ‘experience’ of and ‘response’ to literature in the early school years. 15

An understanding of the power of the emotions in early learning, including the most under-rated emotion, amusement (a curriculum-branch way of saying ‘having fun’), is something that PETAA’s classroom materials have continually displayed. This may be one explanation of their ongoing currency among teachers. The technical and cognitive aspects of much English and literacy policy, perhaps understandably, continue to assume centre stage. An extensive interview study conducted in the UK a decade ago by Dart (2001) shows that teachers and school leaders remain concerned about the lack of space for affective and imagination-based work in primary classrooms, and a growing insecurity among British teachers concerning their role in this regard.

What of some of the discontinuities from PETAA’s inception to now?

Discontinuities 1972–2012: PETAA resources


Grammar in teaching
English Grammar: A Functional Approach
Writing and Reading to Learn
A New Grammar Companion
Exploring how texts work
Grammar and Meaning: An Introduction for Primary Teachers
Conversations about Texts 1
Conversations about Texts 2

Discontinuities 1972–2012

Growing through the 1960s and 70s, spurred by Chomsky’s attack on Skinner’s behaviourist account of language (in 1959), was a particular kind of cognitive science that revitalized ‘mind’ as a valid object of study and theory in language and literacy education.

The US Center for the Study of Reading was established in 1976 at the University of Illinois, and for the next 20 years or so, developed the application of these forms of cognitive psychology to reading, focusing on the ‘middle years’, school years 4–9. It represented a major investment of US government funding in literacy in the middle years, beyond the acquisition phase of so-called ‘generic literacy’; it aimed to lead researchers and teachers alike to think about the connections between reading writing, and knowledge and curriculum.

Signals of the success of this general movement include a leading US journal that published reading and literacy research, the Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, changing its name in 1984 to Journal of Memory and Language, still reflecting its psychological take on our interests but also taking on board the influence of building mental models as a way of enhancing education. But this is a legacy still to be fully honoured.

This broadening of interest loosened the monopoly enjoyed by experimentally based psychological theory and research, and allowed the gradual incursion of a range of social scientists. These have included political activists and critical theorists (Freire’s 1972 Pedagogy of the oppressed, and Lankshear and Lawler’s 1987 study of the literacy movement in post-revolutionary Nicaragua Literacy, Schooling and Revolution), historians (Graff’s 1979 Literacy myths), cross-cultural and ethnographic psychologists (Scribner and Cole’s 1981 Psychology of literacy), sociologists (Brice Heath’s 1983 Ways with words), anthropologists (for example Street’s 1984 Literacy in theory and practice) and many variations of text analysis drawing principally on developments in the study of language as a social semiotic (Halliday’s 1973 Explorations in the functions of language, and the work of several of PETAA’s  authors, such as Nea Stewart-Dore 1986, John Collerson 1988, and Beverly Derewianka 1990). 16

In summary: PETAA's contribution ...


We can conclude this wayward, not to say conveniently selective stroll through the last four decades, by asking ‘what might PETA have contributed to all that?’

I think it is fair to say that PETAA has made an active contribution in Australia and elsewhere to a number of lines of development. Certainly the national and international sales of their materials make it hard to query that modest point.

One way of summarising these contributions is that PETAA has offered much that has been positive in the effort to refuse three aspects of simplification that have threatened the work of English and literacy educators for years: the refusal of professional simplification, of knowledge simplification, and of methodological simplification.

PETAA has actively influenced – initiated, shaped, supported – resistance to these drives toward simplification by:

  1. connecting literacy and English as a coherent, productive topic for theory, research, and educational practice
  2. embracing the incursions of anthropology, sociology, history, text linguistics, into the study of literacy and literary teaching and learning, and a stance of drawing on all the methodological expansions these social-science disciplines bring with them
  3. displaying an interest in the play between inductive and theory-testing research – that is, a connection between teacher practice in situ and the professional knowledge it can help develop as a site for the emergence of rigorous, generalizable work on the improvement of English teaching and learning
  4. developing an interest in the promotion of quality reading materials as a force for improvement, rather than the refinement of categorisations of reading and writing difficulties
  5. maintaining an ongoing, healthy skepticism in the face of some journalists’ and politicians’ instincts for catastrophising problems in literacy and literacy education
  6. confronting the sustained challenge to the over-investment of educational researchers and policy-makers in standardised testing as the sole embodiment of the success of English and literacy education
  7. celebrating the ‘new mainstream’ (Enright, 2010), treating a clientele that is increasingly diverse and hybrid in their cultural and language backgrounds, and physically, culturally and digitally mobile.

It has to be said — just in case anyone relaxes on their 40th birthday — that there are no signs that these drives toward simplification are easing up, even in our more optimistic estimates of the educational future of Australia. In light of the complexities ahead and the forces that would have us and our students retreat from them, maybe I opened this piece with the lens around the wrong way. Maybe we had better hope that the first 40 years was just a warm-up

Peter Freebody
Faculty of Education and Social Work
The University of Sydney
December 2012


  • Angelotti, M & Allen, J 1982 ‘From Dartmouth to Sydney: Where next for English education?’ English Education, 14, pp. 214–221.
  • Cane, B & Smithers, J 1971 The roots of reading: a study of 12 infant schools in deprived areas, National Foundation for Educational Research in England and Wales, London.
  • Chomsky, N 1959 ‘A Review of B.F. Skinner’s ‘Verbal Behavior’’ Language, 35, pp. 26–58
  • Crawford, R 1998 The Scottish invention of English literature, Cambridge University Pres, Cambridge.
  • Dart, L 2001 ‘Literacy and the lost world of the imagination’ in Educational Research, 43, pp. 63–77
  • Enright, K 2010 ‘Language and literacy for a new mainstream’ in American Educational Research Journal, 48, pp. 80–118
  • Freebody, P 2005 ‘Critical literacy’ in R Beach, J Green, M Michael & T Shanahan  (Eds), Multidisciplinary perspectives on literacy research, Second Edition. Hampton Press, Cresskill, New Jersey.
  • Freebody, P, Barton, G & Chan, E (in press/2013), 'Literacy education: about ‘being in the world’, to appear in C. Leung & B V Street (Eds.), Handbook of English language studies, Routledge, London
  • Freebody, P & Gilbert, P 1999 ‘Research into language and literacy’ In J P Keeves & K. Marjoribanks (Eds.) Australian Education: Review of research, 1965–1998. (pp 145–169) Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia/ACER Press, Melbourne.
  • Freire, P 1972 Pedagogy of the oppressed, Penguin Harmondsworth, UK.
  • Graff, H.J. 1979 The literacy myth, Academic Press, New York.
  • Halliday, M A K  1973 Explorations in the functions of language, Edward Arnold, London.
  • Heath, S B 1983 Ways with words, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Lankshear, C & Lawler, M 1987 Literacy, schooling and revolution, Falmer Press, London.
  • Monoghan, E J & Hartman, D K 2011, ‘Integrating the elementary language arts: An historical perspective’ in D Lapp & D Fisher (Eds.) Handbook of research on teaching the English language arts, Third Edition. (pp. 113–119) Routledge, New York.
  • Samuels S J 1973 ‘Success and failure in learning to read: A critique of the research’ Reading Research Quarterly, 8, pp. 200–239.
  • Scribner, S & Cole, M 1981 The psychology of literacy, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Shannon, P 1983 ‘The use of commercial reading materials in American elementary schools,’ in Reading Research Quarterly, 19, pp. 68–85.
  • Shannon, P 2001 iSHOP, You Shop, Raising questions about reading commodities, Heinemann, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
  • Snow, C et al 1998 Preventing reading difficulties in young children, National Research Council report, US Department of Education, Washington, DC.
  • Snow, C (nd) Why reading is hard. Retrieved 17/11/12 from Centre for Applied Linguistrics (since removed)
  • Street, B V 1984 Literacy in theory and practice, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Tsunoda, T 2005 Language endangerment and language revitalization, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin/New York.
  • Williams, J P 1973 ‘Learning to read: A review of theories and models’ in Reading Research Quarterly, 8, pp. 121–146.

Full list of PETAA books


  • Exploring the New English, 1973 (out of print)
  • Better reading/writing - Now! 1979 Walshe, R. D. (out of print)
  • Teaching Literature 1983 Walshe, R. D., Jensen & Moore, T. (out of print)
  • Learning to read the media 1984 Dwyer, B. & Walshe, B. (out of print)
  • Towards A Reading Writing Classroom 1984 Butler, A. & Turbill, J. (out of print)
  • Word Magic: Poetry as shared adventure 1985 McVitty, W. (out of print)
  • PETA Guide To Childrens' Literacy 1985 McVitty, W. (out of print)
  • The Reading Environment 1991 Chambers, A. (out of print)


  • Inside Whole Language 1990 Browne, H. & Mathie, V. (out of print)
  • Beyond the Reading Wars  2006 (Editor) Ewing, R. (Contributors) Dufficy, P.  Hertzberg, M. McArthur, C. Reid, J.  Self, K. Simpson, A. Spence, B. Turbill, J. and Wild, R.
  • Literacy at Home and School 1991 (Editors) Nicoll, V. & Wilkie, L. (Contributors) Hogan, J. Green, J. Roberts, V. Howard, H.  Parker, R.  Wilkie, M. A.  Turbill, J. Weightman, R.  McDonald, L. Tunica, M. Hogan, H.  Parker, R. and Buchan, A. (out of print)
  • Every Child Can Write 1981 Walshe, R. D. (out of print)
  • Now We Want to Write 1983 Turbill, J. (out of print)


  • Getting it together 1986 (out of print)
  • Writing and reading to learn 1986 (Editor) Stewart-Dore, N. (Contributors) Dwyer, J. Parkes, B. Christie, F.  Anstey, M. Morris, B.  Weis, W.  Guttormsen, R. and Kennedy, N. (out of print)
  • Coping with Chaos 1987 Cambourne, B. & Turbill, J. (out of print)
  • Spell by Writing 1987 Bean, W. & Bouffler, C (out of print)
  • Young Imagination 1988 (Editors) Roy, S. & Steele, J. (out of print)
  • Writing for Life 1988 (Editor) Collerson, J. (Contributors) Nicoll, V. Hammond, J. Woodward, H. Pledger, L.  O’Connell, E.  Weightman, R. Tonkin, D. Rowles, L. Crowley, B. and Schultz, B. (out of print)




  • A Sea of Talk 1989 (Editor) Dwyer, J. (Contributors) Tunstall, J, Dwyer, N. Hetherington, M. D’Arcy, J.  Van Dijk, D. Stronach, S. Murray, B. and Schloss, J. (out of print)
  • Reading Under the Covers  2008 (Editor) Simpson, A. (Contributor) Saxby, M.
  • Writing Like  a Writer  2007 Gleeson L.
  • Writing Links  2000 Rushton, K. & Love, C.
  • Writing Better Stories  2006 (Editor) Nicoll-Hatton, V. (Contributors) Shanahan, L. West, H. Flynn, P. Havel, G. Mawter, J.  Stafford, P.  and McFarlane, P.



  • Inside Whole Language 1990 Brown, H. & Mathie, V. (out of print)
  • Beyond the Reading Wars  2006 (Editor) Ewing, R. (Contributors) Dufficy, P.  Hertzberg, M. McArthur, C. Reid, J.  Self, K. Simpson, A. Spence, B. Turbill, J. and Wild, R.


  • Exploring the New English, 1973 (out of print)
  • Better reading/writing - Now! 1979 Walshe, R. D. (out of print)
  • New English in Action, 1974 (out of print)
  • This Works for Me, 1982 Holliday, M. & Furniss, E.


  • Quest for Wonders  1993 Tingay, J.
  • Laugh Lines: Exploring humour children’s literature 1993 Mallan, K.
  • Taking a closer look at literature-based programs  1993 (Editors) Nicoll, V. & Roberts, V. (Contributors) Cusworth, R. and  McKay, F.
  • For the Love of Poetry, 1995 Tunica, M. (out of print)
  • Growing into Readers, 1994 (Editor) Lowe, C. (Contributors) Deagan, R. Richards, K. Simpson, A.  Wilson, P.  Moriss, M. Fitzgibbon, S. Gogarty, L. MacDonald, J. Fagg, S. Hancock, J.Sprouster, M. Graham, J. and Mathie, V. (out of print)
  • Beyond the Script 1, 1997 Cusworth, R. (out of print)
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  • Kids’ Best: Australian Books for Children and Young Adults 1996-2000, (2000)


  • Where Do I Start?  2009 Wild, R.
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  • May I see Your Program Please? 1996 (Editor) Nicoll, V. (Contributors) Boak, P. Briggs, V. A. Brockhoff, V. L. Caird, K. Caroca, S. Carter, S. M. Cooper, L. Cornhill, N. Crook, K. A. de Bruin , H. Dew J. L. Farrell, M. Forster, J. French, R. Fullgrabe, J. Gardner, J. Gordon, D. Gralton, T. Grealy, R. Grey, S. Gunter, C. Hagan, B. Hamer, C. Hewer, K. Isbister, J. Italiano, F. Jackson, H. and Jackson, S. (out of print)


  • Literacy Evaluations: Issues and Practicalities, 1992 (Editor) Bouffler, C (Contributors) Crebbin, W. Lowe, K. Bintz, B. Freppon, P. Dwyer, J. Mincham, L. Barrs, M. Hayward, V. Hancock, J. Fryar, R. Johnston, N. Leaker, J. and Fehring, H (out of print)
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  • Patterns of Thinking: Top-level structures in the classroom 1992 (Editor) Turner, A. (Contributors) Apostolos, M. Apostolos, I. Bliss, W. Burns, S. Butler, R. Drysdale, A. King, S. Turner and A. Willett, L.


  • Literacy Evaluations: Issues and Practicalities, 1992 (Editor) Bouffler, C (Contributors) Crebbin, W. Lowe, K. Bintz, B. Freppon, P. Dwyer, J. Mincham, L. Barrs, M. Hayward, V. Hancock, J. Fryar, R. Johnston, N. Leaker, J. and Fehring, H (out of print)
  • Look Again: Longitudinal studies in children’s literacy learning 2003 (Editors) Comber, B. & Barnett, J. (Contributors) Louden, W. Hunter, J. Reid, J. Rivalland, J. Nichols, S. Nixon, H. Pitt, J. and Badger, L. (out of print)
  • On Task: Focused literacy learning  2003 Edwards-Groves, C.
  • Primary English Teaching: Introduction to Language, Literacy and Learning  2012 (Editor) Cox, R. (Contributors) Lambirth, A. Chamberlain, L. Webb, J. Fox, B. Medwell, J. Ansell, C. and Durrant, C.


  • Ways of Knowing 1999 Knobel, M. & Lankshear, C.
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  • A Year in Texts: An Explicit Reading Program  2000 Gehling, K.
  • Look Again: Longitudinal studies in children’s literacy learning 2003 (Editors) Comber, B. & Barnett, J. (Contributors) Louden, W. Hunter, J. Reid, J. Rivalland, J. Nichols, S. Nixon, H. Pitt, J. and Badger, L. (out of print)
  • Towards A Reading Writing Classroom 1984 Butler, A. & Turbill, J (out of print)



How this content relates to AITSL teaching standards

Standard 1: Know students and how they learn

  • 1.2.3 Highly Accomplished Understand how students learn. Expand understanding of how students learn using research and workplace knowledge.

AITSL Illustration of Practice: Questioning for student generated learning

Standard 6: Engage in professional learning

  • 6.2.2 Proficient Engage in professional learning and improve practice. Participate in learning to update knowledge and practice, targeted to professional needs and school and/or system priorities.
  • 6.2.3 Highly Accomplished Engage in professional learning and improve practice.Plan for professional learning by accessing and critiquing relevant research, engage in high quality targeted opportunities to improve practice and offer quality placements for pre-service teachers where applicable.

AITSL Illustration of Practice: Quality placements for pre-service teachers