Callow, Jon
University of Western Sydney, Macarthur

Jon Callow
University of Western Sydney, Macarthur
Faculty of Education
PO Box 555
Campbelltown NSW 2560

Ph: 61 2 9772 9630
Fax: 61 2 772 1565

Strand: educational

Title: Equity in the Videosphere

To the videosphere, the era of the visual..... We are there. - Regis Debray, The Three Ages of Looking, p.532

As Debray declares, we are in the era of the visual. While people have produced and viewed images for thousands of years, the present era confronts us with a multitude and choice of image that has been unachievable and unimaginable in the past. If images are so pervasive and `valued' by our culture(s) it follows that we, as a society, should be quite visually literate. But is this the case? Is visual literacy understood by teachers and taught in an equitable fashion, allowing students to meet the demands that both the schooling system and the culture in general puts upon them?

After a brief overview of systemic theory in the visual context, this paper will examine some of the viewing demands that are placed on Australian students, in terms of national profiles and state syllabus outcomes in English K-10 and in the formal context of the Year 12 New South Wales Higher School Certificate English examination. By analysing both the questions that ask students to critically analyse images and the sample answers and comments provided by the New South Wales Board of Studies (the independent body responsible for setting and administering the examination), some of the implicit expectations that are placed upon students in interpreting images will be drawn out. The final section of the paper will explore how some of the systemic theorising could be applied to further assist students in analysing and critiquing these and other images.