Media Education in Western Australia
In 1972, television was 11 years old in Western Australia, broadcast radio had been available for 50 years, the capital Perth had (and continues to have) one of the highest ratios of cinemas to population in the world, and newspapers had played a significant role in social and political life since the founding of the colony. The term Media Education, however, was never heard nor would it have been understood by teachers, students, or the public. And yet by 1988 study of the media had become a normal part of the curriculum for all Western Australian students. Today, Media Education is a mandated part of the curriculum in every Australian state, and teaching about the media constitutes one quarter of the English syllabus from Years 1 to 12 in Western Australia. In addition to the study of the media within the compulsory subject of English, secondary students may choose to take the discrete subject Media Studies.1 Three factors contributed to the rapid and widespread development of Media Education in Australian schools. First, the change to the school cohort in the early 1970s and related demands from teachers for relevant curriculum. Second, the timely availability of commonwealth government funds for teachers' professional development, and third a major reconception in the 1970s of the purpose and nature of English teaching.