Batt awarded Reading Australia fellowship
The Copyright Agency has named Jantiena Batt, a deputy principal working within the ACT Education Directorate, as the 2022 Reading Australia Fellow for Teachers of English Literacy.
Batt receives a $15,000 grant to investigate approaches and language used by educators, families and publishers when they engage with literature that includes non-heteronormative structures of families or relationships. According to Batt, her research will ‘analyse texts and teaching approaches to ensure that our pedagogy does not inadvertently contribute to the reinforcement of heteronormativity as the dominant discourse’.
‘This project came about when I was crafting a book orientation,’ said Batt. ‘I fell into the trap of identifying the main characters’ sexual orientation, despite the relationship unfolding in the story. I realised that I did not need to include this in the book introduction, and had I been reading a book with a heteronormative family structure I probably wouldn’t have referenced the characters’ sexual orientation. In trying to be inclusive and supportive of all family structures, I was in fact the opposite.
‘This Fellowship will aid in providing recommendations when engaging with literature with non-heteronormative relationships. The ultimate benefit of this project is to ensure that there is access to literature that is both a window and mirror for all children, coupled with informed teaching strategies that build inclusion.’
The annual Reading Australia Fellowship is open to English and literacy teachers and teacher librarians with at least five years’ experience in a primary or secondary school. Edwina West was awarded the 2021 fellowship to develop a resource for teachers and teacher librarians to help students select books that reflect their diverse experiences and address the growing rate of aliteracy, or lack of interest in reading.
Reading Australia was created by the Copyright Agency in 2013 with the goal of ‘making it easier for teachers, through their passion and skills, to spread a love for Australian texts’. It now has 260 resources, covering all year levels from Foundation to Senior Secondary, for books aligned with the Australian Curriculum.