n this paper we address the key issue on which this edition is focused – intel- lectual challenge – in light of Poincaré’s concern with understanding bodies of knowledge – how, over time, they are structured, acted upon, built, and theo- rised in educational settings. We make the case for reinstating the teaching of knowledge, including knowledge about language, at the forefront of consid- erations of educational practice and policy, and, more specifically, of teaching and researching language and literacy.
Through this discussion we attempt to contribute to the line of effort rep- resented by contributions to this edition. The authors have taken seriously the fact that the proportion of students from a widening range of language back- grounds other than the medium of instruction in schools in Australia, as in many countries, continues to rise. This presents challenges to educators, and these authors point to fidelity to the intellectual substance and coherence of syllabus contents as the foremost of those challenges. We focus here in particu- lar on extending the two major messages we take from the papers collected in this edition: the need for a clearer articulation, first, of a disciplinarity-based understanding of knowledge, and second, of the relation between curricu- lum knowledge and the language of that curriculum knowledge, as shown in teachers’ knowledge of the nature of language and of how to intertwine the teaching of language with teaching of curriculum knowledge.
Australian language and literacy educators, including those whose work appears in this edition, have attained international recognition for the advances they have made in articulating and studying the challenges and opportunities involved in serving all students’ language and literacy needs in rapid-change, multilingual environments (e.g., Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Derewianka & Khan, 2001; Gibbons, 2002; 2006; Gray, 2007). In aiming to extend that view in this paper, we argue: (i) that there is a case for a redirection of focus onto the issueof intellectual challenge; (ii) that the sense of urgency associated with this redirection relates to the loss of a strong conception of knowledge (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 2003); (iii) that disciplinarity-based language and literacy educa- tion is critical, in that questions concerning language and literacy develop- ment through the school years are, at base, issues that require some coherent conceptualisation of how it is that each discipline/curriculum domain puts language and literacy resources to work in distinctive ways.