Questioning the Language of Improvement and Reform in Education challenges the language used in education by linking the
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Table of contents :
1 Language matters
2 The language of reform in education policy
3 The seduction of effectiveness
4 Compliance, voice and power
5 The language of reform and teachers’ work
6 The work of learners in the face of curriculum reform
7 Toward practical wisdom
8 The ‘mediation’ of educational reform and improvement
9 Beyond nostalgia
Questioning the Language of Improvement and Reform in Education
Questioning the Language of Improvement and Reform in Education challenges the language used in education by linking the language of both the public and professional domains with the changing intentions of the governance of education. Exploring various issues, which embody the many manifestations of the manner in which strident, conservative language has captured the public view of education, the book covers topics such as the importance of language in the context of educational practice, the media’s portrayal of teachers globally, the role of students in the face of curriculum reform and the language used in educational policy worldwide. The book addresses the ways in which the words ‘improvement’ and ‘reform’ have been appropriated and hollowed-out by policymakers in order to justify globalised education policies. Using international case studies and reports, the authors argue that the employment of specific words masks the reality that new educational policies are regressive and require re-examination, while perpetuating the illusion that progressive educational practice is being brought to the fore. Questioning the Language of Improvement and Reform in Education is a fascinating and original take on this topic, which will be of great interest to educational practitioners, policymakers and linguists. Nicole Mockler is Associate Professor in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, Australia, and a University of Sydney SOAR Fellow 2018–2019. Susan Groundwater-Smith is Honorary Professor of Education at the University of Sydney, Australia, and Chair of the Teacher Education Advisory Board.
Routledge Research in Education
This series aims to present the latest research from right across the field of education. It is not confined to any particular area or school of thought and seeks to provide coverage of a broad range of topics, theories and issues from around the world. Recent titles in the series include: Blended Basic Language Courses Design, Pedagogy, and Implementation Hope M. Anderson Latina Bilingual Education Teachers Examining Structural Racism in Schools Yukari Takimoto Amos Questioning the Language of Improvement and Reform in Education Reclaiming Meaning Nicole Mockler and Susan Groundwater-Smith Learning from Urban Immigrant Youth about Academic Literacies Jie Y. Park Manufacturing the Mathematical Child A Deconstruction of Dominant Spaces of Production and Governance Anna Llewellyn The Arts as Learning Cultivating Landscapes of Democracy Edited by Jay Hanes and Eleanor Weisman For more information about this series, please visit: www.routledge.com/ Routledge-Research-in-Education/book-series/SE0393
Questioning the Language of Improvement and Reform in Education Reclaiming Meaning Nicole Mockler and Susan Groundwater-Smith
First published 2018 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2018 Nicole Mockler and Susan Groundwater-Smith The right of Nicole Mockler and Susan Groundwater-Smith to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Mockler, Nicole, author. | Groundwater-Smith, Susan, author. Title: Questioning the language of improvement and reform in education : reclaiming meaning / Nicole Mockler and Susan Groundwater-Smith. Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2018. | Includes bibliographical references. Identifiers: LCCN 2018003464 (print) | LCCN 2018016078 (ebook) | ISBN 9781315519579 | ISBN 9781138698208 (hbk) | ISBN 9781315519579 (ebk) Subjects: LCSH: Educational change. | Education and state. | Education and globalization. | Education—Terminology. Classification: LCC LB2806 (ebook) | LCC LB2806 .M55 2018 (print) | DDC 371.102/2—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018003464 ISBN: 978-1-138-69820-8 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-51957-9 (ebk) Typeset in Galliard by Apex CoVantage, LLC
The language of reform in education policy
The seduction of effectiveness
Compliance, voice and power
The language of reform and teachers’ work
The work of learners in the face of curriculum reform
Toward practical wisdom
The ‘mediation’ of educational reform and improvement
This book has been a long time in the making. It began with a conversation with Dr Catherine Burke, of the University of Cambridge, many years ago, and we thank her for her encouragement to continue working on these ideas. Our heartfelt thanks to Stephen Kemmis, our ‘critical friend’ who provided extensive, thoughtful and incisive feedback on the final draft of our manuscript. Thanks also to Matthew AM Thomas and the members of Nicole’s 2017 Writing Group at the Sydney School of Education and Social Work (Marianne Fenech, Christine Preston, Michelle Bonati, Suzanne Egan, Alison O’Grady and Hongzhi Yang), who provided feedback on some of the chapters. Ruth McHugh provided outstanding editorial assistance in the final stages of the project, and sincere thanks are also due to her. Finally, our thanks to the team at Routledge, for their encouragement, patience and advice over the course of the manuscript preparation.
This book aims to ‘trouble’ the language of reform and improvement in education, arguing that there is a nexus between the use of such language in both the public and professional domains and changing intentions around the governance of education. Increasingly, we see this being achieved through conservative global policies designed to address instrumental, national and intersecting international interests beyond and aside from the development of a more generous social enterprise based upon mutual respect and notions of the public good. In this opening chapter, we aim to open up and contextualise the subsequent chapters, all of which focus on specific dimensions of the language of reform and improvement in action. We make the case here for the impact of language upon public perceptions of educational practices, especially those practices that emanate from and are connected to the global educational reform movement, located generally within neoliberal educational discourses; a term that itself characterises some of the ‘doublespeak’ with which we are concerned. These concerns are not new. Aldous Huxley (1958, p. 4) brought together much of his remarkable thinking across a range of publications in the Collected Essays. He opened an essay on Words and Behaviour [from The Olive Tree] thus: “Words form the thread on which we string our experiences” (p. 31). At another juncture, when writing on psychology he wrote: Clothed in an ugly and hardly comprehensible jargon, the obvious is portentously enunciated, as though it were some kind of esoteric mystery. The immemorially ancient is presented, with fanfares, as a brand-new, epochmaking discovery. Instead of open-mindedness, we find dogmatism; instead of comprehensive views, we are given theories which ignore whole provinces of given reality, whole categories of the most significant kinds of facts. And instead of the concreteness so essential in a science of observation, instead of the principle of multiple causation which must govern all thinking about so complex a creature as man [sic], we are treated to shameless displays of those gravest of intellectual sins, overabstraction, overgeneralization and oversimplification. (p. 40)
He may well have been writing of the ways in which, today, many educational practices, particularly those associated with 21st century teaching and learning, are characterised in overblown and often inaccessible terms embodying at one and the same time ‘overabstraction, overgeneralisation and oversimplification’, many of which will be exemplified as our argument unfolds. We appreciate that there are potentially multiple ways in which the rhetoric of reform and improvement may be employed; however, we also see that much of the language associated with these terms performs a regulatory function disguising meaning and driving practitioners to conformity and compliance (Groundwater-Smith & Mockler, 2009). In effect, we see them as ‘weasel words’, a term recently revived by Don Watson (2003, 2005, 2015), historian and speech writer to Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating in the 1990s. Watson identified the language used by bureaucrats in the nation’s capital as “sludge, clag and gruel” (Button, 2003). Over more recent years he has taken the public sector to task for adopting, wholeheartedly, the impoverished language of economics, business and commerce. He has enumerated countless examples of the ways in which language is misused and abused, and the attendant meaning ‘sucked out’. For some years now Watson has maintained a website encouraging people to identify and nominate examples of ‘weasel words’ in public discourse, a collection of which has recently been published as Worst Words: A Compendium of Contemporary Cant, Gibberish and Jargon (Watson, 2015). The pernicious use of words such as ‘improvement’ and ‘reform’ is, we would argue, doubly insidious in that they are taken to suggest that they are ‘for the better’; that they must occur not only for the right reasons, but by the right means. Indeed, we are reminded that, ‘improvement’ carries the burden of history. It was in the name of ‘improvement’ that the Scottish land clearances took place, where first lowlanders and later highlanders were driven from their crofts and living, to make way for grazing and deer farming, leaving them with no alternative other than to make a scant living from kelp harvested on the sea-shore or to emigrate to distant lands (Prebble, 1969). For us, in this book, we shall be challenging those who wish to ‘improve’ educational provisions with the question: ‘improvement for whom and at what cost?’ Seemingly, today’s improvers and reformers know what is best and how best to achieve specific ends. That is as long as they have a carefully engineered model that grows out of the kind of commercial activities that guarantee success in the market place. Educational processes can be transformed into agreed procedures and ritualised as a commercial enterprise charged with “running an outfit” such as building cars or developing a supermarket chain (Moffett, 1994, p. 141). To summarise, in this book we intend to trouble the language of improvement and reform because we find it, in itself, to be troubling. Of course we are not alone in having these concerns. Bates (2013) draws upon the ways in which successive governments have used totalising and hyperbolic language to justify so-called reforms in the English education system and argues that the very use of a specific language associated with systems thinking is limiting in that the conversations of practitioners are intruded upon such that they
are required to “think like a state” (p. 42) rather than as professionals embedded in their practice. Systems language does not admit contestability and privileges the pragmatic and political. Few who attended the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference held in Warwick, 2006, would forget the words of Baroness Estelle Morris in her opening address when she claimed that educational policy is developed from ideology, not research or through consultation with the profession. The ‘what works’ agenda takes on the status of improvement to practice as educationally sound – as understood by the politicians and their bureaucrats. In the long run, ideology both defines the ends and specifies the means of education.
Not imagined: some examples Lest it be a charge that there is little substance in the case being put, that language is no innocent bystander when it comes to articulating government policies, we offer some of many examples that could be drawn. In her argument cited above Bates draws attention to the ways in which, more broadly, the UK public service, which among other things governs educational principles and practices, is characterised as a “self-improving system” (p. 41) Her analysis has led us to look more carefully at the document upon which she based her claims, The UK Government’s Approach to Public Service Reform (PSR, 2006). It indeed would provide rich pickings for Watson’s weasel words website. The government has a clear vision: everyone should have access to public services that are efficient, effective, excellent, equitable, empowering and constantly improving. (p. 4) The UK Government’s approach to public service reform combines pressures from government and citizens, competitive provision and measures to build capability and capacity. (p. 5) Crucial though top down performance management, competitive provision and choice and voice are, strengthening the capability and capacity of civil and public servants and central and local government are vital. (p. 9) As Bates observes in relation to education, these assumptions “privilege the simplicity and precision of the design over the complexity of everyday reality of working in schools” (Bates, 2013, p. 42). Kemmis, Wilkinson, Edwards-Groves, Hardy, Grootenboer and Bristol (2015) in their work that considers the ways in which changing practices can change education, are emphatic in claiming that “individual human beings do not encounter one another in unmediated ways” (p. 4). Thus, they give voice to the ways in which places can be considered as
distinctive and that the practice architectures that operate within them are enabled and constrained by many complex arrangements. We shall return to this work, and to the theory of practice architectures, at a later point in the book, but suffice to say here that education policy needs a language of reform and improvement that recognises differentiation, history and a capacity for authentic transformation, that asks not only the question ‘what is going on?’ but also ‘how should we go on?’. This sentiment is echoed by Alexander (2004) when he argues that time, place and the social world anchored in matters of human identity and social purpose, are critical to making decisions regarding teaching and learning. In commenting on the Excellence and Enjoyment strategy for primary schools in England in 2003, he wrote: First there’s the soft sell of that title: Excellence and enjoyment. The default vocabulary for education policy since 1997 highlights ‘standards’, ‘driving up standards’ ‘underperforming’, ‘failing’, ‘intervention’, ‘hard-hitting’, ‘the challenge ahead’, ‘step change’, ‘tough’, ‘new’, ‘tough new’, ‘world class’, ‘best practice’, ‘delivery’ and so on . ‘Enjoyment’ sits unconvincingly with the more familiar ministerial machismo, and in the wake of the unrelenting tide of initiatives, targets and public criticism of schools’ performance since 1997, a certain amount of professional scepticism towards the geniality or even hedonism of ‘enjoyment’ might be understandable. (p. 14) Slee (2011) in his trenchant criticism of prevailing educational policies as exercised in countries such as the US and those in the UK and Australasia argues that the language of schooling has been profoundly politicised, that a “Watsonian approach to ‘eduspeak’ is overdue” and that a number of the many hollow words that are typically employed such as ‘improvement’ and ‘reform’ deserve to be questioned. He concludes that currently “a maxim for educational policy could read, ‘the triumph of the slogan’ ” (p. 4).
Welcome to the force of neoliberalism At the heart of the matter is the formation of contemporary, widely embraced educational policies and practices, within an ideology of neoliberalism. These have come to signify “a radical form of market fundamentalism with which no-one wants to be associated” (Boas & Gans-Morse, 2009, p. 138) except, that is, those who have formulated them at the behest of governments of a range of persuasions. Certainly there have been trenchant critiques of the consequences of policies that seek to restrict the role of the state in the interests of maximising choice as exercised by consuming individuals (Rizvi & Lingard, 2009) but Boas and Gans-Morse argue that the historical development of the term ‘neoliberalism’ has evaded those who use it. They see that its take-up has been asymmetrical, with those who resist its employment finding it slippery and evasive as a set of
coherent ideas embodying, at one and the same time, policy frameworks, ideology and the efforts of governmentality. In effect, as we have noted above, the term itself is another victim of the double speak with which we are concerned, leading to Rowlands and Rawolle’s salient reminder that “neoliberalism is not a theory of everything” (2013, p. 260). Nonetheless, the policy practice of progressively removing the state from the management of public services such as education both in schools and higher education settings (Marginson, 2013), and the provision of space for marketbased enterprises to emerge is unquestionably burgeoning. Stephen Ball has long been concerned with the consequences of market economies mis-shaping and malforming education (e.g., Ball, 2003; Ball & Vincent, 1998), and has more recently exposed what he sees to be uneven and unclear education provisions that allow those who are well-informed and able to unravel the maze of sloganeering and sales pitches to entrench their social advantage (Ball, 2013). There is no room in this for parents who just want to send their child to a good local state school – the one they attended, and friends, neighbours and relatives attend, that is a real part of their community and history. Rather, this new education system is a market in which competitive individuals can seek to avoid others who are “not like us”. The result, as in other choicebased systems [Chile, New Orleans, Sweden etc.], is increased inequality and social segregation. In all the current political rhetoric around education, choice has almost totally displaced democracy as a positive social value. Parents can choose the school they want, or not, but communities cannot. Neoliberalism in whichever form it is adopted, does not stand alone. As an ideology it transcends national boundaries. It is marked by: privatisation and deregulation; and governed by ‘targets’ and ‘trajectories’ (Barber, Kihn & Moffit, 2010) but only to the extent that these exigencies will assist in the upholding of markets and promote their operation. It is a global phenomenon that treats the market as a normal and natural condition rather than seeing it as a complex social construction, designed to produce different kinds of effects for different groups with different self-interests, that has consequences for the ways in which social relations are conducted (Scholte, 2005). Clearly, then, the language within which neoliberalism and globalisation function, is critical. It is a language of obfuscation and imprecision. Its terms are transported from one context to another not only through government agencies and think tanks but through the media itself, a matter to which we will return in a subsequent chapter. Concurrently, radio and television have become filled with business reports – mostly couched in neoliberal assumptions – on a scale unknown several decades ago. In this environment, journals and broadcasts that explore other policy frameworks have tended to struggle at the margins. (Scholte, 2005, p. 22)
In another time and place We do not want our arguments regarding the use of language as a means of capturing and promoting flawed policies to be seen as an appeal to nostalgia, suggesting how much better things were in a past and perfect world. Our last chapter in this book specifically rejects the notion of a ‘golden age’ in education and raises issues regarding the provision of schooling that was neither fair nor equitable. However, we do identify by way of example the creep of a negative language across the face of progressivism, acting to inhibit and trammel aspects of a more generous and inclusive educational world. Ideas surrounding progressive education practices were certainly alive and well at the beginning of the 20th century as were also stultifying and narrowing regimes of practice. We shall “look back to imagine the future” as espoused by Burke (2014, p.39). Over one hundred years ago John and Evelyn Dewey published Schools of Tomorrow (Dewey & Dewey, 1915). In their preface they reminded their readers that they were not attempting to create a “how to” textbook, nor a method treatise, but rather a synthesis of what have been acknowledged as sound and defensible practices over time, since Plato, through to Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Frobel and Montessori. However, and in spite of these ongoing conversations, they point out that there was a prevailing public view that the classroom is a place of “fads and caprices, lacking in any far reaching aim or guiding principle”,1 a not unfamiliar cry today. The opening chapter of the book asks the reader why it is that education in schools begins with the assumption that what’s important is what it is that adults should know rather than what it is that children and young people can make, do and perform. They argue that this represents a deficit approach to children that attends primarily to their shortcomings and weaknesses, and furthermore that much, if not most, learning occurs outside classrooms and is the result of dealing with many diverse and sometimes conflicting situations and experiences. Dewey and Dewey posit that all too often schools imagine that those whom they serve will come to them with an aversion to learning, an aversion that requires remediating by drilling and instruction that may bear little upon their practical and intellectual needs. In a quite radical way, Dewey and Dewey advocate that schools should be prepared to “lose time” rather than attempting to “save it”. By this they mean that we are tempted to speed up development, rather than letting it occur naturally, “our tragic error is that we are so anxious for the results of growth that we neglect the process of growing” (p. 7). The emphasis thus becomes focused upon the quantity rather than the quality of knowledge, principally because results can be displayed and compared, when asked for, rather than as a demonstration of a deeper understanding of what the knowledge may mean. In a prescient way, considering our current age of rapid technological change, the book suggests that with continuing and burgeoning scientific development merely accumulating knowledge of various discrete facts can have little merit. Much is made throughout the book of the ways in which school students acquire skills and competencies, not for their sake alone, but as tools that can
support learners to become good citizens, happy and fulfilled, and able to contribute to the world of which they are a part both materially and morally. Turning their attention to ‘culture’, Dewey and Dewey argued that children and young people were not being encouraged to find meaning in that which was around them or about what was happening in a wider world; rather, the term meant reviewing the achievements of the past based upon those who were privileged and leisured. They went on to argue: Our world has been so tremendously enlarged and complicated, our horizons so widened and our sympathies so stimulated by the changes in our surroundings and habits brought about by machinery, that a school curriculum which does not show this same growth can be only very partially successful. The subject matter of the school-room must be enlarged to take in the new elements and needs of society. (p. 171) This argument is not unlike that which espouses 21st century skills today, but the terms of the debate are very different, where the needs of society are most often not ameliorated by an authentic concern to develop the ‘good citizen’ beyond a functioning cog in the machinery of human capital. The writing of Dewey and Dewey resonates with us today on another score also. They discuss the nature of international interdependence that has since been characterised as ‘globalisation’. Modern conditions of production and exchange of commodities have made the whole world one to a degree never approximated before. A war to-day may close banks and paralyze trade in places thousands of miles away from the scene of action. This is only a coarse and sensational manifestation of an interdependence which is quietly and persistently operating in the activity of every farmer, manufacturer, laborer, and merchant, in every part of the civilized globe. Consequently there is a demand which never existed before that all the items of school instruction shall be seen and appreciated in their bearing upon the network of social activities. (p. 245) The progressive but contested views of the Deweys persisted well into the 1970s and were well documented in the UK in the Plowden Report (Plowden, 1967), a document written in clear and accessible English. The context of the Plowden Report was one in which there was a burgeoning of progressive education in parts of England, and the spirit of the report can be encapsulated in the phrase “at the heart of the educational process lies the child” (Plowden, 1967, p. 9). As Shaw notes, “Plowden advocated experiential learning, increased parental involvement, universal pre-school education and opportunities for the less privileged’ (2011, p. 7) The report highlighted firmly the need for differentiation and supported the requirement for personalisation,
noting “individual differences between children of the same age are so great that any class . . . must always be treated as a body of children needing individual and different attention” (Plowden, 1967, p. 25). The report was published at a time when questions were being asked about the transition from primary to secondary schooling in England when the high stakes 11+ examination that determined children’s futures was undertaken. There was a political determination to phase out grammar schools and develop a more comprehensive and inclusive secondary education, which aroused great ire among conservative commentators. The Plowden Report was widely read, not only in England but in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, where many schools sought to emulate the principles of ‘open education’ that recommended that children and young people should have greater agency in their learning, should be able to develop and sustain their own interests while, at the same time be enabled to use a wide array of skills and competencies that would be taught to them. While some believed that the teaching of fundamental basic skills had been neglected (see Cox & Dyson, 1969) other critiques began to emerge. Many of these were based on a notion that education was ‘moving backwards’. The Cox and Dyson initial publication of The Fight for Education as an edition of Critical Survey 4  counted among its contributors Cyril Burt, since exposed for his manipulation of the 11+ data and Hans Eysenck, who espoused theories of intelligence based on race. A second set of papers was also published in Critical Survey 4 , with a focus upon primary education. It is worth pausing for a moment to look at a piece by Bantock (1969) in which he traduces the eminently sensible concept of discovery learning as espoused by Plowden but acknowledged as but one tool in a teacher’s box of methods. The ‘so-called’ discovery method, based on the work of such thinkers as Socrates and Rousseau, is seen thus by Bantock: “modern advocates of discovery and activity methods seem peculiarly suspicious of verbal exposition” (p. 112). But there is little evidence that this is indeed the case. Bantock claims that “practice without theory is blind” (p. 110), but appears blind to any theories that might not support his thesis. He asserts: Too many modern teachers in the euphoria of the new found freedoms have neglected the structural aspects, possibly partly because there are times when the orderly development of subject matter can best be furthered by intelligent and relevant formal exposition and explanation. (p. 113) He concludes with the aphorism “systematic coddling is as dangerous as it is impertinent” (p. 118). Seemingly the language of progressivism has been translated as the vernacular of permissiveness. Such linguistic sleights of hand are not new. What is noteworthy of the overall critique of progressive education in the second half of the 20th century is the language in which it is couched – a language that increasingly denies both teachers and their students agency in developing educational practices that are both constructive and equitable. The trend
to develop policies by bureaucrats driven by their political masters with little recourse to professional advice was gathering speed, informed by public entrepreneurs with an eye to the advantages that may accrue to them through public sector reform. This has become increasingly obvious in the new millennium as one that would embody ‘improvement’ and ‘reform’ based upon rapid technological change.
Moving on to more recent times By the close of the 20th century there were movements to attempt to characterise what was understood by the phrase ‘21st Century Learning’. At the cusp of this new millennium, writers such as Garth Boomer (1992) were calling for a resistance to the burgeoning control over pedagogy and curriculum that was being exercised in countries such as England and parts of the US and increasingly in Australia. Opportunities for young people to negotiate aspects of both the contents of their learning and the manner in which they should learn were being called for. After the first decade of the new century more writers, academics and practitioners are advocating that what needs to be taught are the very generic skills that were called for by Dewey a hundred years before. It takes but 0.49 seconds to locate 153,000,000 “hits” on Google using the phrase 21st Century Learning, and while later postings stray well away from the subject it is clear that there is a wealth of advice via websites, blogs, YouTube creations and even scholarly articles on how to structure curriculum, build schools, employ teachers and manage systems. Even Google Scholar produces almost 1 million results, many concerned with managing learning in a digital age with the associated demands upon information literacy. Dede, for example, looks at the ways skill sets have changed in response to the hugely burgeoning sources of information, growing and spreading virtually by the minute and claims: Rather than rummaging through library stacks to find a few pieces of knowledge, an activity characteristic of information access in the 20th century, users of modern search engines receive thousands or even millions of “hits.” However, many of these resources are off-target, incomplete, inconsistent, and perhaps even biased. The ability to separate signal from noise in a potentially overwhelming flood of incoming data is a suite of 21st century skills not in degree – because this is novel in history as a valuable capability – but in type. (2009, p. 8) And so it goes on. How ironic, then, that political figures, with their power to control and command educational matters, still want to engage in what some would think of as 19th century practices, but using 21st century rhetoric. A recent Australian Federal Minister for Education has claimed that while the
“education system is not broken” he wishes for schools and systems to return to the “basics”. As Groundwater-Smith (2013, p. vi) noted just prior to a recent Australian federal election: What is it about school education that brings out the ‘back of the envelope ideas?’ In an interview on Australia’s Radio National Christopher Pyne, the then Shadow Education Minister, asserted that if elected the Coalition party would establish an expert panel to advise on “how to bring out more practical teaching methods based on more didactic teaching methods, more traditional methods rather than the child-centred learning that has dominated the system for the last 20, 30 or 40 years”. Pyne is incorrect in his characterisation of recent educational practice as ‘child centred’, although this term might well have applied to trends in the 1960s and 1970s as influenced by, among others, Plowden (1967). Alexander implores us to “note how heavily professional ignorance features in this historical pathology, and how it is presented as an inevitable concomitant of professional autonomy” (2004, p. 16). Seemingly, teachers do not know what they are doing and why they are doing it. Furthermore, it is now argued that “not only are schools and pupils being commodified, but so too are knowledge and policy themselves” (Soudien, Apple & Slaughter, 2013, p. 457). The vocabulary of practice runs the risk of being detached from those who are the practitioners, disarticulated then rearticulated. The meaning is sucked out of them but the words themselves remain in circulation. These, then, are the issues that we wish to take up in this book. Through an examination of various aspects of the education enterprise, and their representation in the public space, we argue that there is great scope to problematise and trouble current orthodoxies and taken-for-granteds, and in doing so, to reclaim meaning. In this first chapter we have sought to make the case for the importance of language in framing perceptions of educational practices, especially those in relation to the conduct of schooling. We have argued that there is a nexus between the use of language in both the public and professional domains and the changing intentions of the governance of education through increasingly conservative, global policies designed to address instrumental national interests beyond and aside from the development of a more generous social capital. We now outline the arguments of the chapters that follow.
Chapter 2 – The language of reform in education policy Chapter 2 explores the language of reform in education policy – particularly that which aims to regulate and standardise teachers’ curriculum and pedagogical work – that removes it further and further from the capacity of practitioners to exercise professional judgment that takes account of complex, contextual exigencies. Three key education policy documents from different national contexts are analysed, with a particular eye to the relationship between reform and improvement in education and education policy ‘problems’. The analysis focuses on both
local expressions and interpretations, along with international resonances in the context of the Global Educational Reform Movement.
Chapter 3 – The seduction of ‘effectiveness’ In Chapter 3, the discussion centres around the growth of the school effectiveness movement and the ways in which a generation of policy designers have valorised certainty as opposed to complexity; formulaic mantra as opposed to differentiation; and, narrow, utilitarian economic values as opposed to social and inclusive mores. Effectiveness has a pernicious appeal that eschews professional and constructive feedback and makes claims to be evidence based without challenging the nature of the evidence itself. In this chapter we explore the narrow rendering of ‘evidence’ and ‘effectiveness’ in the name of reform and improvement, arguing that these do little to advance the quality of education. We raise questions about the dominant concepts of ‘evidence-based practice’ and ‘what works’, arguing that the latter, in particular, has come to function as a contemporary regime of truth in education.
Chapter 4 – Compliance, power and voice This chapter concerns itself with the conditions of schooling that fail to recognise the vulnerabilities of practitioners who are hard pressed to ‘deliver’ outcomes determined by those unfamiliar with the exigencies of daily life in the school. It documents the difficulties experienced by educators in resisting the demands of the audit society that require rigid adherence to sets of professional standards without themselves having had a capacity to have contributed to or been enabled to evaluate those standards through professional engagement. It poses the question “how is ‘reform’ understood in the context of macro policies, particularly those that are now seen as immutable standards which practitioners are required to meet?”
Chapter 5 – The language of reform and teachers’ work This chapter returns to the complex purposes of schooling, considering teaching standards as ‘practice architectures’ for the teaching profession and exploring the language of reform and improvement as embedded in various standards from three different national contexts. It posits that much of the language favoured in professional teaching standards fails to acknowledge practice as embedded, historical and interdependent, deserving of much closer and more careful attention than that captured by simplistic and often adversarial refrains.
Chapter 6 – The work of learners in the face of curriculum reform Just as Chapter 5 raises issues regarding teacher professional agency, threatened by a predominant audit discourse regarding certain kinds of accountability, Chapter 6 traces the agency of learners, not as passive recipients of a curriculum designed as a script to be followed but as a feature of student development that
requires the kind of responsible self-regulation that can be taught and modelled in recognition of the impact on others. The chapter examines the rhetoric and promise of ‘student voice’ in curriculum reform and improvement and argues for a position that moves beyond tokenism to one of authentic participation in decision making.
Chapter 7 – Toward practical wisdom Here we acknowledge the great contribution made over the millennia in relation to concepts of practical wisdom, that is to say a conception of what is good or bad in terms of human needs and the flourishing of a society; and adopt a stance that proposes that a translation of that conception into action is deliberative and responsible in the form of praxis, i.e., morally informed action. We argue that in order to transcend the narrow and utilitarian views that we have nominated as currently being in the ascendancy, it is now necessary to go beyond an understanding that practical wisdom is inherent in a ‘good society’ but that it must be rendered explicit through the rejection of narrow definitions of improvement and reform and be re-cast as affirming and attaining a decent society.
Chapter 8 – The ‘mediation’ of educational reform and improvement In this chapter we explore the language of educational reform and improvement as employed in news media. Specifically, we focus on media representations of educational reform, improvement and ‘quality’ across a range of different contexts, drawing on examples from the UK, US and Australia, exploring both ‘local vernaculars’ (Rizvi & Lingard, 2009) and international resonances. We argue that the media plays a particular role in driving the neoliberal imaginary into the public consciousness, and map some of the ways in which the language of reform and improvement are employed with this intent in the public space.
Chapter 9 – Beyond nostalgia In this concluding chapter we argue that this book is not a manifesto of nostalgia – we do not hold the position that in the past education traditions were always generous, gentle and inclusive, for indeed and manifestly they were not. We do, however, hold that educational practice at some times in the past was less varnished by ‘weasel words’ and conclude by arguing that it was possible and remains possible to generate a more democratic public space by ‘reclaiming meaning’, reconstituting those defensible and progressive practices before they sink into the morass of ‘newspeak’.
In conclusion – keeping up appearances Throughout this book, when it comes to ‘reform and ‘improvement’ we shall argue that public bureaucracies, notably those governing educational practices,
are more effective in shaping our beliefs about the challenges and problems to be faced than they are in ameliorating them in practical and realistic ways. We wish to signpost where there are discrepancies between promise as espoused in policies, and performance as found in practice. Effectively, the employment of these ‘weasel words’ ‘reform’ and ‘improvement’ can lead to an implicit consent if we are not prepared and ready to contest them. There is a banality to the language of ‘reform’ and ‘improvement’ that is designed to capture our quiescence as opposed to constructive resistance. Hannah Arendt (1963, p. 94) once wrote, “In politics, more than anywhere else, we have no possibility of distinguishing between being and appearance. In the realm of human affairs being and appearance are indeed one and the same”; that is unless, we would argue, we are willing to engage with and contest the rhetoric.
Note 1 No page numbers given in the preface.
References Alexander, R. (2004). Still no pedagogy: Principle, pragmatism and compliance in primary education. Cambridge Journal of Education, 34(1), 7–33. Arendt, H. (1963). On revolution. New York: Viking. Ball, S. (2003). The risks of social reproduction: The middle class and education markets. London Review of Education, 1(3), 163–175. Ball, S. (2013, October 24). Free schools: Our education system has been dismembered in pursuit of choice. The Guardian. Ball, S., & Vincent, C. (1998). ‘I heard it on the grapevine’: ‘hot’ knowledge and school choice. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 19(3), 377–400. Bantock, G. (1969). Discovery methods. Critical Survey, 4(1), 110–118. Barber, M., Kihn, P., & Moffit, A. (2010). Deliverology 101: A field guide for educational leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Bates, A. (2013). Transcending systems thinking in education reform: Implications for policy-makers and school leaders. Journal of Education Policy, 28(1), 38–54. Boas, T., & Gans-Morse, J. (2009). Neoliberalism: From new liberal philosophy to anti-liberal slogan. Studies in Comparative International Development, 44, 137– 161 doi:10.1007/s12116-009-9040-5 Boomer, G. (1992). Negotiating the curriculum. In G. Boomer, N. Lester, C. Onore, & J. Cook (Eds.), Negotiating the curriculum: Educating for the 21st century (pp. 4–14). London and New York: Routledge. Burke, C. (2014). Looking back to imagine the future: Connecting with the radical past in technologies of school design. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 23(1), 39–55. Button, J. (2003, November 1). Fighting the death sentence. The Age Newspaper. Retrieved from www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/10/31/1067566083688.html Cox, C., & Dyson, A. E. (1969a). Paper 1, fight for education. Critical Survey, 4(1). Cox, C., & Dyson, A. E. (1969b). Paper 2, the crisis in education. Critical Survey, 4(3), 1, 3–15.
Dede, C. (2009). Comparing frameworks for 21st century skills. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press. Dewey, J., & Dewey, E. (1915). School of tomorrow. New York: EP Dutton & Company. Groundwater-Smith, S. (2013). Foreword. In R. Ewing (Ed.), Curriculum and assessment (2nd ed., pp. v–vii). Melbourne: Oxford University Press. Groundwater-Smith, S., & Mockler, N. (2009). Teacher professional learning in an age of compliance: Mind the gap. Dordrecht: Springer. Huxley, A. (1958). Collected essays. Retrieved from mural.uv.es/vicordo/firstpaper/ etexts/1958collectedessays.doc Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P., & Bristol, L. (2015). Changing practices, changing education. Rotterdam: Springer. Marginson, S. (2013, February 6). Yes, minister, the recipe for a world class university is a piece of cake. The Australian. Moffett, J. (1994). The universal schoolhouse. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. Plowden, B. (1967). The Plowden report – A report of the Central Advisory Council for Education. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. Prebble, J. (1969). The highland clearances (Vol. 2837). London, UK: Penguin. PSR. (2006). The UK government’s approach to public service reform. London: Crown Copyright. Rizvi, F., & Lingard, B. (2009). Globalizing education policy. London: Routledge. Rowlands, J., & Rawolle, S. (2013). Neoliberalism is not a theory of everything: A Bourdieuian analysis of illusion in educational research. Critical Studies in Education, 54(3), 260–272. doi:10.1080/17508487.2013.830631 Scholte, J. (2005). The sources of neoliberal globalisation. Overarching Concerns Program Paper (Vol. 8). United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Shaw, S. (2011). History of education. In H. Cooper (Ed.), Professional studies in primary education. London: Sage Publishing. Slee, R. (2011). The irregular school: Exclusion, schooling, and inclusive education. London: Routledge. Soudien, C., Apple, M. W., & Slaughter, S. (2013). Global Education Inc.: The new policy networks and the neo-liberal imaginary. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 34(3), 453–466. Watson, D. (2003). Death sentence: The decay of public language. Sydney: Knopf. Watson, D. (2005). Watson’s dictionary of weasel words, contemporary clichés, cant and management jargon. Sydney: Random House. Watson, D. (2015). Worst words: A compendium of contemporary cant, gibberish and jargon. Sydney: Random House Australia.
The language of reform in education policy
Educational reform is the new black. Over the past two decades, reform of education systems, of schools, of teachers and of student learning has become a constant. Furthermore, in policy terms, the very concept of successful educational reform has become an object of desire, as governments and policy makers have sought to make their mark on education, and as ‘edu-preneurs’ of all shapes and sizes have peddled their wares on international, national and local scales. In this chapter, we will explore the language of educational reform in education policy, particularly articulations of policy that aim to regulate and standardise educational practice, removing it further and further from the capacity of practitioners to exercise professional judgment that takes account of complex, contextual exigencies. We argue that the language of reform in education policy has been driven, at least since the mid-1980s, by discourses of crisis and moral panic, and that the practical manifestation of these discourses in contemporary education policy are located around the central tenets of the Global Education Reform Movement. The chapter is presented in three parts. In the first, we provide background to contemporary understandings of policy, exploring the conceptualisation of policy, writ large, as a solution to an often-unnamed problem. In the second, we draw together previous arguments around the role of crisis in the shaping of education policy, and sketch the shape of the so-called Global Education Reform Movement (Sahlberg, 2011a, 2011b), an education policy suite that has developed via a complex sequence of education policy “borrowing and lending” (Steiner-Khamsi, 2004). In the third section, we explore three national education policy texts, identifying the role of crisis and panic in the shaping of these policy responses, with a particular eye to the trans-national differences and resonances.
Understanding policy Easton’s classic articulation of policy as “the authoritative allocation of values” (1953) is an oft-taken starting point for defining policy for the purpose of research. Policy, however, in the field of education and elsewhere, has been subject to multiple, often vague or imprecise definitions which, as Ball (1990) notes, accounts for significant conceptual problems in education policy research. Lingard (2013)
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argues that while Easton’s definition implied that policy was “framed by politics and mediated by the logics of practice of the state and its claim to the application of the universal” (p. 128), that “we need to understand how globalisation has destabilised each element of this definition” (p. 116). He writes: Political authority in the present post-Westphalian reality has seen the sovereignty of national polities challenged by agencies, organisations, fields and discourses from beyond the nation. This means that political authority – the legitimate right to exercise power in a Weberian sense – now is exercised beyond the nation, as well as within the nation. This does not mean a weakened nation-state but rather one that works in very different ways from older Westphalian practices. (2013, pp. 116–117) Our understanding of what constitutes education policy, on both a national and a transnational level, is informed by Lingard’s argument here, but also by Ball’s distinction between policy as text, policy as discourse and policy effects (1993). Ball refers to policies as “textual interventions into practice” (p. 12), while also recognising that “practice and the ‘effects’ of policy cannot be simply read-off from texts” (p. 13). In terms of policy as discourse, he argues that there are real struggles over the interpretation and enactment of policies. But these are set within a moving discursive frame which articulates and constrains the possibilities and probabilities of interpretation and enactment. We read and respond to policies in discursive circumstances that we cannot, or perhaps do not, think about. (Ball, 1993, p. 15) Policy effects, he argues, emerge from both policy as text and policy as discourse, played out in different ways in different contexts, enabled and constrained in those contexts by complex, local factors. In this chapter, we aim to explore both the discursive and textual dimensions of education policy.
Policy as problem In the same classic article, Ball notes that “policies pose problems to their subjects” (p. 12), a notion taken up by Carol Bacchi in her work on policy as discourse (Bacchi, 2000, 2009; Bacchi & Goodwin, 2016). She draws on the work of Edelman (1988) on the link between discourse and policy problems to posit that policy-as-discourse analyses focus on “the ways in which language, and more broadly discourse, sets limits upon what can be said” and “encourage deeper reflection on the contours of a particular policy discussion, the shape assigned a particular ‘problem’ ” (2000, p. 48). This assertion closely accords with our discussion, throughout this book, on the ways in which issues regarding ‘reform’ and ‘improvement’ are governed by the language in which they are couched.
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Elsewhere, Bacchi has developed an approach to policy analysis that draws on these ideas, known as ‘What’s the problem represented to be?’ (WPR) (Bacchi, 2009). The strategy is defined thus: WPR is an analytic strategy that puts in question the common view that the role of governments is to solve problems that sit outside them, waiting to be “addressed”. Rather, it considers how governmental practices, understood broadly, produce “problems” as particular kinds of problems. Alongside and through the production of “problems”, governmental practices contribute to the production of “subjects”, “objects”, and “places”. (Bacchi & Goodwin, 2016, p. 14) Bacchi’s approach is centred around six critical questions, namely: 1 2 3 4 5 6
What’s the ‘problem’ represented to be in a specific policy? What presuppositions or assumptions underlie this representation of the ‘problem’? How has this representation of the ‘problem’ come about? What is left unproblematic in this problem representation? Where are the silences? Can the ‘problem’ be thought about differently? What effects are produced by this representation of the ‘problem’? How/where has this representation of the ‘problem’ been produced, disseminated and defended? How could it be questioned, disrupted and replaced? (Bacchi, 2009, p. 2)
The WPR approach is consistent with our understanding of education policy as often formed out of and framed by a sense of crisis, a notion that is borne out in a range of literature around crisis and public policy as well as crisis and education policy.
Crisis and public policy The links between discourses of crisis and public policy are well documented. Milton Friedman, the arguable ‘Father of Neoliberalism’, shamelessly expounded upon the utility of crisis in his preface to Capitalism and Freedom: Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable. (Friedman, 1982, p. ix) The capacity of crises, both manufactured and real, to turn the “politically impossible” into the “politically inevitable” has long been realised by politicians and
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policy makers. Boin, Stern and Sundelius (2016) argue that in this, much hinges on the framing of crises by political leaders, the way in which meaning is made through the construction of a ‘crisis narrative’. By way of demonstrating this, they contrast the way that US President George W. Bush “masterfully framed the events of 9/11 as an attack on the nation that demanded a protracted war effort, but failed to shape the public understanding of Hurricane Katrina” (p. 79). The productive nature of crisis, to which Friedman points, resonates with Stanley Cohen’s classic take on moral panic. In 1979, Cohen wrote: Societies seem to be subject, every now and then, to periods of moral panic. A condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylised and stereotypical fashion by the mass media; the moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians and other right-thinking people; socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions; ways of coping are evolved or (more often) resorted to; the condition then disappears, submerges or deteriorates and becomes more visible. Sometimes the object of the panic is quite novel and at other times it is something that has been in existence long enough, but suddenly appears in the limelight. Sometimes the panic passes over and is forgotten . . . at other times it has more serious and long-lasting repercussions and might produce such changes as those in legal or social policy or even in the way the society conceives itself. (Cohen, 2002, p. 9) While Cohen’s emphasis was predominantly on the role of the media in the production of moral panic, we understand the interplay of the media, policy makers, and public opinion in the formation of public policy to be a complex one. As we shall highlight, in relation to contemporary education policy, the emergence of crisis or moral panic discourse is not linear, and neither does the responsibility rest solely with the media. Indeed, in a later chapter we will take up issues around the role of the media in greater detail and focus. One of Friedman’s ‘last hurrahs’, the encouragement of the emergency adoption of school vouchers in the rebuilding of New Orleans public schools postKatrina (Friedman, 2005) demonstrates the durability of this idea for him. Friedman had first posed the idea of school vouchers, in his 1955 work ‘The role of government in education’ (Friedman, 1955), in which he argued that the flourishing of educational services “rendered by private enterprises operated for profit, or by non-profit institutions of various kinds” (p. 127) and a diminution of the role of the government in the provision of public education, a kind of free market approach to schooling, would be beneficial. At the time, his proposal, however, in the words of Verger, Fontedevila and Zancajo (2016), “failed to resonate among key policymakers and broad public opinion” (p. 70). His 2005 post-Katrina Wall Street Journal opinion piece re-floated these once “politically impossible” ideas, ideas that had been successfully rebadged in some parts of the US under the banner of ‘freedom’ in the 1980s (Verger et al., 2016), in the light
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of the very real crisis brought about by Katrina. Here Friedman argues once again for vouchers as a vehicle for a free market approach to public education and the fostering of not-for profit and for profit providers. He noted that “As part of doing so it should make clear that the vouchers are not an emergency expedient that will be terminated once the emergency is over, but are a permanent reform” (Friedman, 2005). Vouchers became a “politically inevitable” alternative in New Orleans, in that a 12-month emergency voucher scheme was introduced in 2006 and replaced by a permanent means-tested scheme in 2008 (Verger et al., 2016).
Crisis and education policy The idea that governments and policy makers are fond of using manufactured crises in education as a vehicle for advancing their preferred solutions is not a new one. In his classic work on the shaping of American education, Raymond Callaghan (1962) noted that “I am convinced that very much of what has happened in American education since 1900 can be explained on the basis of the extreme vulnerability of our school-men (sic.) to public criticism and pressure” (p. viii). Thirty years later, Berliner and Biddle’s book The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America’s Public Schools (Berliner & Biddle, 1995) explored and addressed a series of manufactured crises that they argued had bloomed in the US in the years after the publication of A Nation at Risk (Gardner, 1983). More recently, Yong Zhao (2009) and Christopher Tienken and Donald Orlich (2013) have published similarly-pitched works aimed at addressing the myth of crisis in American schools. A sense of crisis in education has been tied in the research literature to the increasing privatisation and marketisation of education. For example, of the US context, Pauline Lipman writes of corporate foundations and business-led think tanks: Their discursive strategy was to shape public conversation around an education ‘crisis’ and a narrative that attributed the US’s global economic decline to a ‘failing’ education system. This narrative was instrumental in the shift to data-driven accountability, privatization, and the application of business strategies to schooling, beginning in the 1990s. (Lipman, 2015, p. 243) Writing from a Canadian perspective, Steeves (2014) similarly conceptualises market solutions in British Columbia to the manufactured but politically expedient crisis of education as a form of ‘shock therapy’. Meanwhile, Ball (2010) writes of ‘the market solution’ in the UK context in the following way: It links individual (choice) and institutional (autonomy/responsiveness) transformation to universal salvation: a transformation from mundane citizen to archetype, from dependent subject to active consumer/citizen, and from dull bureaucracy to innovative, entrepreneurial management (of course
Language of reform in education policy the policies of welfarism can be subjected to a similar sort of analysis). . . . Minor personal and physical changes are linked to large scale transformation. Again then, all of this is founded upon the play of opposites, order against chaos and the redress of crisis. (Ball, 2010, pp. 124–125)
Exploring moves toward privatisation of education in ‘catastrophe settings’, Verger et al. (2016) survey the rebuilding of education systems in New Orleans, Haiti, El Salvador and Iraq, concluding, reminiscent of Friedman’s claim, that “catastrophe works as a material catalyst of change, opening up opportunities for privatisation advocates to question the current state of education” (p. 132). They continue on to argue that the crises wrought by catastrophes, whether natural or human-induced, makes the public more likely to embrace privatisation: “Due to the destruction and sense of urgency that catastrophes generate, policymakers and other educational actors are more open to considering drastic policy changes, especially if such changes are framed and perceived as inherent to the reconstruction process” (p. 132). Beyond catastrophe settings, contemporary crises in education are often linked to performance on international standardised tests. Gorur and Wu (2015) point to the oft-cited causal connection between practices and results in this arena, and an associated idea that Australian education is “heading toward a crisis”, indicative of the role of crisis discourses in fuelling international comparisons and associated reforms. Grek’s work on ‘the PISA effect’ in Europe (2009) tells a similar tale in a different context. Thompson and Cook, taking a global view, observe the disciplinary role of international standardised testing, refracted at the local level: Within this global policy and testing machine, it remains the local context that reterritorialises on the disciplinary – the global tests are paid for by local governments who use the results to inform some discourses of education, sometimes as crisis, sometimes as improvement, but always as disciplinary. (Thompson & Cook, 2015, p. 15) Other authors have observed the role of crisis in the shaping of education policy in relation to teachers’ practices (Gale, 2006; Larsen, 2010), national curriculum (Harris-Hart, 2010), public education (Junemann & Ball, 2015; Keating & Klatt, 2013), and alternative provision of initial teacher education (Mungal, 2016). The language of crisis is an important asset to the ‘education reform’ toolkit.
Contemporary education reform Sahlberg (2011a, 2011b, 2014) has focused on the shape of what he has coined the Global Education Reform Movement, or GERM, noting that his native Finland “has remained quite uninfected to viruses” related to the GERM (2014). Puns, of which there are many, aside, Sahlberg argues that the GERM draws its strength
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from the backlash against constructivist, learner centred approaches to education that have emerged since the 1990s; “the public demand for guaranteed, effective learning for all” (2011a, p. 100); and the marketisation of education, encapsulated in the competition and accountability movement. He argues that these three sources have given rise to five observable trends in education reform, which have been enacted on a global scale, albeit articulated in different contexts according to ‘local vernaculars’ (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). The five trends are: standardisation; increased focus on core subjects; prescribed curriculum; transfer of models from the corporate world to education; and high-stakes accountability. The work of policy sociologist Sotiria Grek (see, for example, Grek, 2009, 2012, 2013) suggests that these trends have emerged on a global scale not just through organic policy borrowing and lending on the part of nation-states (Lingard, 2010; Steiner-Khamsi, 2004), but that transnational organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have played a particular role in fostering and encouraging them through the use of a variety of ‘policy tools’.
Standardisation Standardisation in education, of curriculum, assessment and teachers’ work, is at the heart of the ‘what works’ movement, on which we will focus, in part, in a subsequent chapter. Moves to ‘teacher proof’ the curriculum and classroom through scripted lessons and direct instruction are manifestations of the standardisation agenda, as are moves toward standardised testing as a ‘true’ representation of student performance. Professional standards for teachers, where teachers’ work is often represented in an overly quantified and technical manner is another manifestation of standardisation. Through moves toward standardisation, the GERM subjugates teacher professional judgement and elements of teacher professionalism in favour of ‘objectively obtained’ data, which has over time become a proxy for educational effectiveness.
Increased focus on core subjects Literacy, numeracy, and increasingly Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects are positioned as core ‘subjects’, within the GERM, with basic literacy and numeracy skills often regarded as primary educational goals on both a national and transnational level. This increased focus on basic skills is linked to international standardised assessment such as the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) run by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. In the past two decades, and consistent with the OECD’s agenda, most Western countries have instituted national standardised testing within these core subject areas as they seek to clamber up the ladder of international comparisons, spurious as these may be.
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Prescribed curriculum Consistent with moves toward standardisation and the definition of a narrow set of ‘core subjects’, prescribed curriculum has often come in the form of national curriculum (such as in England and Australia) or a set of national performance standards from which emerges a default curriculum (such as in the case of the Common Core State Standards Initiative in the US). Sahlberg has described the process of prescribing the curriculum in such ways as “searching for safe and low-risk ways to reach pre-determined learning goals” (2011a, p. 101). Closely related to the tenet of standardisation discussed above, the embrace of low-risk curricular and pedagogical practice lends toward a return to ‘traditional instruction’, a turn away from efforts to differentiate the curriculum and student learning, with students positioned more as passive receptacles of knowledge than active agents of their own learning. The prescribed, low risk curriculum has also played a role in the de-skilling of teachers in the area of curriculum design, and this, coupled with the emergence of textbooks as a ‘default curriculum’ is also a hallmark of this aspect of the GERM.
Corporate management models in schools Corporate management models first made their way into school education in the 1990s, however over the first two decades of the 21st century have increasingly come to dominate. The marketisation of schooling, helped along in many jurisdictions by the creation of mechanisms to compare standardised testing results, such as the MySchool website in Australia, the ‘Compare School Performance’ website in England and various mechanisms run at State/Province and local levels in North America has taken hold as a tool of the ‘choice’ agenda. Increased competition between schools and school systems, has been a by-product of these mechanisms, and in some jurisdictions the introduction of performance pay for teachers has laid the groundwork for increased competition between teachers also. While it is now some years since the OECD, having encouraged widespread international and local competition amongst schools for many years, suggested that competition and ‘choice’ may in fact be corrosive of efforts toward greater equity in education (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2014), drives toward marketisation in the form of promoting choice (which also includes the development and expansion of charter school, academy and independent public school programs) have persisted and indeed expanded in many jurisdictions in recent years.
High-stakes accountability In the context of global education reform, high-stakes accountability utilises standardised testing scores as proxies for a range of different elements, including holistic student learning, teacher effectiveness and quality, and school and system performance. Ongoing ranking of schools via publicly-available league tables and websites, some of which have been developed by states themselves
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and some of which have been privately developed (see, for example, Los Angeles Times, 2010), feeds the marketisation and choice project discussed above. The closure of schools practiced as a consequence of OfSTED inspections in the UK over many years and also in some states in the US as a consequence of student test performance has brought a ‘high stakes’ dimension to the regimes of testing and accountability. While in Australia key personnel representing the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority are fond of arguing that the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy is not a high stakes testing regime as it does not lead to school closures and other adverse consequences (Bagshaw, 2015; McGaw, 2012), research suggests that teachers and students certainly experience the program as one reflecting high-stakes accountability (Howell, 2017; Polesel, Rice & Dulfer, 2014; Thompson, 2013).
Sustaining the GERM Three key mechanisms have sustained the global education reform movement and led to its ever-increasing pervasiveness. First is the concept of “global policy borrowing and lending” (Steiner-Khamsi, 2004). As a consequence of globalisation, educational policy ‘flows’ on a global level move from country to country, supported by international organisations such as the OECD, multi-national corporations and not-for-profits. Rizvi and Lingard (2010) have argued that these policy flows are ‘vernacularised’ (p. 17), or adapted to local circumstances and settings as they are adopted in different national contexts. In the words of Rizvi and Lingard: Traditionally, most policy problems and solutions were constructed within the nation-state. In recent decades, however, policy gestation, especially for national, state-centric, top-down policies can now increasingly be traced to international organisations and globalised policy discourses. While there has always been policy borrowing and policy lending across nations (Steiner-Khamsi, 2004), these processes today have been speeded up with the emergence of a global field of education policy production, even if local factors remain important for many nations. But even for these nations, measures of comparative educational performance on an international scale have become important. (2010, p. 56) Second is the growth of ‘audit culture’ (Power, 1999) within and beyond education, understood by Taubman as “the emergence of systems of regulation in which questions of quality are subordinate to logics of management and in which audit serves as a form of meta-regulation whereby the focus is on control of control” (2009, p. 108). The proliferation of standardisation and standards in education has integrated seamlessly with the rise of audit cultures more broadly and the popularity of processes of audit. The primary danger with audit in relation to education, is that what we value most as a society cannot always be measured, and that over time we may come to value only that which can. Audit cultures work to
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expand audit by encouraging people to engage in self-auditing, “by standardising people and making them into self-monitoring, self-motivating persons who use audit to align themselves with . . . regulations” (Dunn, 2005, p. 189). Third is the rise of what Stephen Ball has referred to as ‘social capitalism’ in education (2012, p. 66ff.). Defined as philanthropy with an emphasis on ‘return on investment’ that further reinforces the commodification of education, social capitalism is seen to support the production of market ‘solutions’ to educational ‘problems’, and often takes the form of involvement of not-for profit organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, or the philanthropic wing of companies such as Pearson in the funding and support of educational ventures. Together, these three mechanisms have worked over an extended period to support and normalise the various tenets of global education reform internationally, and by way of demonstrating this argument, we now turn to explore three articulations of education policy in terms of their resonances with the GERM.
A window on reform and improvement in education in three jurisdictions To further explore the local manifestations of the global education reform movement in a range of contexts, we turn to a discussion of three recent education policy documents, one each from the US, UK and Australia. The documents selected were identified for their: • • • • •
currency, with each being a recent iteration of reform and improvement; scope, relating to a national context; public availability; salience to the issues of reform and improvement in education; and substantiveness, with each representing a broad-based aspirational policy settlement.
Furthermore, each of the documents was prepared by a federal department of education to convey the government’s perspective on education to the broader community: the Australian government’s Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes (2016); the US Department of Education’s A Blueprint for Reform (2010), developed ahead of the reauthorisation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and the UK Department for Education’s (DfE) DfE Strategy 2015– 2020: World Class Education and Care (2016). Our consideration of the policy documents draws on Bacchi’s ‘What’s the problem represented to be?’ approach outlined earlier, while also looking for resonances between the policy settlements and the key tenets and mechanisms supporting the GERM.
Quality schools, quality outcomes The Australian government’s May 2016 manifesto was published in the leadup to the July 2016 election. It reiterates the strength and importance of the
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“Students First pillars” established after a change of government in 2013, namely teacher quality, school autonomy, engaging parents in education and strengthening the curriculum. To these, it adds six “areas for future focus”, (a) boosting literacy, numeracy and STEM performance; (b) teaching and school leadership; (c) preparing our students for a globalised world; (d) focusing on what matters most and those who need it most; (e) accountability through transparency; and (f) funding. The document emphasises the close link between education and the Australian economy, drawing on the Australian Productivity Commission’s1 observation that Australia’s future depends on the development of ‘human capital’, and the vital role of schools in this development. It claims that “the importance of education to Australia’s economic performance will continue to grow” (Australian Government, 2016, p. 1), linking this to the rationale for the Australian government’s role in schooling (despite the constitutional responsibility for schooling resting with the States and Territories), and the development of a “credible school funding plan” (p. 1). The introduction moves seamlessly from economic concerns to falling performance on international standardised tests (after brief acknowledgement of the generally good performance of Australian schools and Australia’s high-quality, high-equity classification on PISA 2012). Finally, the introduction to the document moves to what might be regarded as the ‘sting in the tail’, observations regarding funding: While we all know money is needed to support our schools, studies of student achievement demonstrate that there is no strong or consistent relationship between higher student achievement and just providing additional school funding. The OECD has found that how money is allocated across the system matters more in education spending than the amount of money that is spent. (Australian Government, 2016, p. 2) The OECD publication the Australian government is drawing on here is entitled Does Money Buy Strong Performance in PISA? (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2012), and indeed it does make the point that “just providing additional school funding” does not uniformly produce increased PISA scores. It does, however, note some things that do: The strongest performers among high-income countries and economies tend to invest more in teachers. For example, lower secondary teachers in Korea and the partner economy Hong Kong-China, two high-performing systems in the PISA reading tests, earn more than twice the per capita GDP in their respective countries. In general, the countries that perform well in PISA attract the best students into the teaching profession by offering them higher salaries and greater professional status. (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2012, p. 3) Perhaps unsurprisingly, increased teacher salaries and enhanced professional status for teachers are not advanced as possible solutions to the problem of falling
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performance in Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes. Instead, the introduction of performance pay, “recognising high performing teachers and rewarding them with increased pay” (Australian Government, 2016, p. 10), and further regulation of educators’ practice through a tightening of accreditation requirements and the introduction of a certification process for principals are mooted as strategies to address the ongoing issue of “improving the quality of teachers and school leaders” (p. 9). Another ‘solution’ offered in Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes, this time related to the boosting of literacy, numeracy and STEM performance, includes “mandating literacy/numeracy as a specialisation for primary teacher training and requiring teachers to use explicit literacy and numeracy instruction in schools”, which “will help reverse Australia’s current decline in international assessments” (p. 8). Reading this, one could be forgiven for thinking that the explicit teaching of literacy and numeracy has been absent from primary school curricula in Australia to date, although this is hardly the case. The introduction of a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy in order for students to complete Year 12 and receive an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)2 is another ‘solution’ proffered in the document. The policy focuses on the expansion of early language learning and improvement of career and post school advice, along with an enhanced desire to measure and track student progress against ‘21st century skills’ such as collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and innovation as strategies for preparing students for a globalised world. The government expresses an intention to “continue to focus on reforms that support students who need it most”, noting that: Systems that receive additional funding for disadvantage in areas such as Indigenous, low English proficiency, disability and low SES will be required to show how this money will be used to improve outcomes for the targeted group of students. (Australian Government, 2016, p. 12) Mechanisms of accountability to be introduced in this area include attendance targets, including those specifically related to the school attendance of Indigenous students. Accountability through transparency is seen to be important for determining “what interventions deliver value-for-money” (p. 13), and while the government expresses a desire that “increased accountability requirements should be efficient and not adversely impinge on teachers’ time or impose additional costs” (p. 13), they also note that accountability and transparency need to be improved. The advent of the requirement for all schools to provide parents with a literacy and numeracy report every year and the improvement of national availability “of data on students, schools and teachers” are further solutions proffered to the ‘problem’ of inadequate accountability and transparency in schools. Finally, the document turns to school funding, a topic of intense debate in Australia particularly in the years since the commissioning of the ‘Gonski Review’
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of school funding, by the Labour Government in April 2010. The government notes that over the past decade, while Commonwealth3 spending on school education has increased significantly, state government funding has increased to a lesser extent. They write: From 2018, we will require states and territories to at least maintain the real level of their per student funding effort and growth, with a focus on improved student outcomes. In addition, indexation of Commonwealth funding will be contingent on states and territories and the non-government sector meeting the outlined reform commitments. (Australian Government, 2016, p. 14) The document then returns to the issue raised in the introduction, noting that “research has shown that for high-income countries like Australia, building an excellent education system requires more than just money – it matters more how resources are spent rather than how much is spent” (p. 14). It draws a link between this phenomena and a perceived lack of accountability by continuing directly on with: “it is therefore important that systems and schools are accountable for expenditure of Commonwealth funding and being able to demonstrate improved student outcomes” (p. 14). But little attention is paid to a reciprocal accountability for governments to take a stance on improving the status of teachers, which OECD research suggests is actually the core difference between countries that perform well on PISA and those that do not. While a resolution to debates over school funding in the form of a new funding arrangement is not found in this document, a set of principles for determining the details of future school funding arrangements are articulated. Namely, they are: affordability; the provision for a contribution for every child (i.e., regardless of whether they attend a government or non-government school); needs based; stable; simple, fair and transparent; and “increases in school funding is a means not an end – Commonwealth increased contributions to school education will in future be used to drive real reforms to lift school and student outcomes” (p. 15).
A blueprint for reform The US Department of Education’s Blueprint for Reform was published in March 2010, and articulated broad-based education goals of the Obama administration, looking toward 2020. The document opens with letter from the President, who notes: America was once the best educated nation in the world. A generation ago, we led all nations in college completion, but today, 10 countries have passed us. It is not that their students are smarter than ours. It is that these countries are being smarter about how to educate their students. And the countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow.
Language of reform in education policy We must do better. Together, we must achieve a new goal, that by 2020, the United States will once again lead the world in college completion. We must raise the expectations for our students, for our schools, and for ourselves – this must be a national priority. (US Department of Education, 2010, p. 1)
As Ernest Morrell (2010) has noted in his analysis, the Blueprint thus begins with a call for action articulated through the language of crisis, the very language that we critically evoked earlier in this chapter. Five ‘key priorities’ are articulated in the Blueprint, with somewhat varying linguistic characteristics: college and career-ready students; great teachers and leaders in every school; equity and opportunity for all students; raise the bar and reward excellence; and promote innovation and continuous improvement. The creation of college and career-ready students is seen to rest on raising standards for all students, “calling on all states to develop and adopt standards in English language arts and mathematics that build toward college- and careerreadiness by the time students graduate from high school” (p. 3); on the development of “better assessments” aligned to new standards; and on the development of a ‘complete education’, which will allow students to “contribute as citizens in our democracy and thrive in a global economy” (p. 4). Further into the Blueprint, however, the notion of a ‘complete education’ is seen as closely aligned with strengthening of instruction in literacy and STEM subjects in particular (p. 26–27), while competitive grants to “strengthen the teaching and learning of arts, foreign languages, history and civics, financial literacy, environmental education and other subjects” (p. 28) are also available. The provision of great teachers and leaders in every school is seen to rest on the fostering of teacher and principal ‘effectiveness’. The Blueprint claims that the department intends to “elevate the teaching profession” (p. 4), noting that this will occur through states and districts developing and implementing “systems of teacher and principal evaluation and support” (p. 4) and identifying “effective and highly effective teachers and principals on the basis of student growth and other factors” (p. 4). Encouraging outstanding teachers to work in high-need schools and professional development for all teachers working in highneed schools are also articulated as part of the plan. The Blueprint requires states to develop state-wide definitions of “effective teacher”, “effective principal”, “highly effective teacher” and “highly effective principal”; and to develop “data systems that link information on teacher and principal preparation programs to the job placement, student growth and retention outcomes of their graduates” (p. 15). Furthermore, districts are required to develop evaluation systems that “meaningfully differentiate teachers and principals by effectiveness across at least three performance levels” and are consistent with the state definitions developed. The creation of equality and opportunity for all students is linked to the development of “rigorous and fair accountability for all levels”, and the remediation of schools that are deemed to be the lowest performing. Additional resourcing to schools to enable them to meet the needs of diverse learners and to even out the
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resourcing of high- and low-poverty schools are also of note here. ‘Raising the bar’ and ‘rewarding excellence’ is linked to maintenance and expansion of the Race to the Top program to “school districts that are willing to take on bold, comprehensive reforms” (p. 6); support for the expansion of charter schools and autonomous public schools of other kinds, and the expansion of choice within public schooling; and access to challenging high school curriculum in “highneed schools”. Promoting innovation and continuous improvement is seen to be linked to successful partnerships and “fewer restrictions on blending funds from different categories with less red tape” (p. 6). The Blueprint calls upon “public agencies, community organizations and families to share responsibility for improving outcomes for students” (p. 6). The Blueprint concludes by noting that the proposal on the part of the DoE seeks to “redefine the federal role in education: shifting from a focus merely on compliance to allowing state and local innovation to flourish, rewarding success, and fostering supportive and collaborative relationships with states, districts and non-profit partners” (p. 39). Part of this redefinition relies on a number of “additional cross-cutting priorities”, namely technologies that can improve teaching, learning and schooling broadly; evidence; efficiency; and supporting English learners, students with disabilities and students in rural and other high-need areas.
World-class education and care The English Department for Education (DfE) published the DfE Strategy 2015– 2020: World Class Education and Care in March 2016. The Strategy was the companion to the Educational Excellence Everywhere white paper, also published in March 2016, and seeks to clearly articulate the government’s vision for education and plans for achieving their vision for the next electoral period. The Strategy begins with an introduction from Nicky Morgan MP, who was at the time the Secretary of State for Education.4 She writes: Education is the hallmark of a civilised society, the engine of its productivity and the foundation of its culture. Transforming education and children’s social care are the cornerstones of this Government’s commitments to social justice and economic growth. That’s why both are central to our ambitious manifesto. Huge progress has been made over the last five years – as we see in many exciting, innovative schools, colleges and children’s social care services around the country. But this progress is not felt in every area of England – there is still so much more to do. (Department for Education, 2016, p. 3) Here, while the government closely ties education to productivity and economic growth, the ‘social justice’ agenda is also said to be “central to our ambitious manifesto”. Similarly, while the introduction affirms progress that has been made, it lays the groundwork for addressing the issue of consistent progress across all of England.
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The Strategy poses three ‘system goals’, namely safety and well-being; educational excellence everywhere; and preparedness for adult life. These are underpinned by the five reform principles of children and young people first; high expectations for every child; outcomes, not methods; supported autonomy; and responsive to need and performance. Twelve strategic priorities then relate to school education, early years education, vocational education and children’s social care. The goal of achieving ‘educational excellence everywhere’ is said to be linked to “raising the bar” on educational standards (Department for Education, 2016, p. 7) and “ensuring that irrespective of location, prior attainment or economic or social background, children and young people have access to high-quality provision” (p. 8, emphasis in original). The goal of preparing students for adult life recognises that the “fundamentals” (p. 9), said to be literacy and numeracy, need to be supplemented with “skills” and “character” to ensure success in life after school. The discussion of the five reform principles depicts a particular take on reform that in some ways sits consistently with recent policy directions in English education (such as noting that the capacity for communities to establish Free Schools epitomises the intention to put children and young people first), while others appear to cut against the grain. Under Outcomes, not methods, for example, the DfE notes that: Our strategy is based on the notion that society is complicated and subtle; that there are few areas in which there is a single, standardised solution waiting to be imposed from the top. ... Our strategy starts from the premise that our best leaders know best what works; that good, enthusiastic people should be able to unleash their creativity, innovation and up-to-date knowledge. Practitioners must be allowed to respond to situations as they find them, using their expertise to identify and implement the most effective approaches. Whilst there will always be exceptions to any rule, the bar for mandating practice, rather than stipulating an outcome is high. (p. 12) Perhaps unsurprisingly, “supported autonomy” is seen as a way to achieve the ‘outcomes, not methods’ approach, with strict “accountability for performance” (p. 14) providing a necessary framework for autonomy, “to ensure resources are invested where they can do the most good” (p. 14). Eight of the twelve strategic priorities contained in the Strategy relate primarily and directly to school education. Under the priority to recruit, develop and support teachers, the DfE cites the widely-invoked claim that “if there is one uncontested fact in education, it’s that the quality of teaching is the single most important school-level determinant of educational outcomes” (p. 15) as a rationale for attracting high-quality candidates for initial teacher education courses,
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providing high-quality initial and continuing teacher education and “foster[ing] a world-leading, vibrant teaching profession” (p. 17). Part of this is seen to be “ensur[ing] the profession can make use of high-quality evidence about ‘what works’ through the continued growth of the Education Endowment Foundation” (p. 17), a strategy which contrasts with the outcomes, not methods goal, as articulated above. The priority to strengthen school and system leadership relates to enhanced training and development for current and prospective school leaders; encouraging outstanding leaders to work in challenging schools; improving infrastructure such that local collaboration and support (the sharing of “best practice”, p. 19) can take place; supporting the development of skilled Governors and “grow[ing] the supply and capacity of high-quality sponsors” (p. 19) who will work “to maximise opportunities for growth and ensure school improvement” (p. 19). The DfE will drive sustainable school improvement by establishing a “selfimproving school system that prevents underperformance in the first place”, via all schools in England becoming Academies, governed by Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) rather than Local Education Authorities, which are described in the Strategy as “geographic monopolies” (p. 20), by 2022.5 The proposed “selfimproving system” is explained in the following way: For a self-improving system to operate effectively, it must be dynamic and open to challenge, responding to success and failure. This approach means that the size and influence of MATs will vary according to performance. The best MATs will flourish, taking over and turning around weak academies. MATs which are underperforming will be challenged and, if necessary, their schools will be transferred to a stronger trust. (p. 21) Market forces, then, are seen to be a key part of driving sustainable school improvement into the future. The strategic priority to embed clear and intelligent accountability, while making use of Onora O’Neill’s notion of intelligent accountability (2002, 2013) in name, in essence appears to be more about ‘garden variety’ accountability than intelligent accountability. The strengthening of the OfSTED inspectorate, and recognition that “what gets measured gets done” as a rationale for implementing updated accountability mechanisms are key tenets, along with enhanced transparency measures “so parents can make informed choices over which school is best for their child and ask questions of the leaders of the schools their children attend” (p. 23). Embed[ding] rigorous standards, curriculum and assessment, strategic priority five, argues for an end to “dumbed down curricula” (p. 23) through reforms to GCSEs and A-levels, as “gold standard qualifications” (p. 24), further reforms with relation to the National Curriculum, a focus on “mastering fundamental English and maths skills” (p. 24) and increases in the “rigour and depth of content” in STEM subjects. Offering the English Baccalaureate to more students
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and encouraging a focus on the performance of all children, particularly those in the highest or lowest attaining groups are further strategies advanced within this priority. Expanding the provision of school places, both through establishing new schools and expanding existing ones, is at the heart of priority six, ensure access to quality places where they are needed. Priority seven, deliver fair and sustainable funding, involves redistribution of funding directly to schools and allocating funding on a needs-basis. Finally, priority twelve, build character and resilience, focuses on scaling up ‘what works’ from “the country’s leading state and independent schools [who] demonstrate how a concerted focus on instilling these kinds of character traits throughout school life is the most effective model” (p. 36) to all schools and enhancing the provision of careers advice.
Reform and improvement in education: local solutions, international resonances Each of the three documents explored is responding to similar but differently articulated anxieties about education on the part of governments. First, we see in all three an anxiety around international comparisons, in the case of the US in relation to university (college) completion and in the case of Australia and the UK in relation to performance on PISA and other similar tests. A sense of competition between nation-states permeates these visions of education on the part of governments from the outset. The language of ‘raising the bar’ that features strongly in both the US and UK policies also resonates with this sense of competition. Second, the three documents each hold the issue of ‘teacher quality’ as a central problem requiring an urgent solution. They each subscribe to what Marianne Larsen (2010) has termed the ‘discourse of teacher centrality’ to argue for ‘improvements’ in terms of teacher quality. Consider, for example, the following three extracts: If there is one uncontested fact in education, it’s that the quality of teaching is the single most important school-level determinant of educational outcomes. (Department for Education, 2016, p. 15) We know that from the moment students enter a school, the most important factor in their success is not the color of their skin or the income of their parents – it is the teacher standing at the front of the classroom. (US Department of Education, 2010, p. 1) Research evidence recognises the importance of quality teaching in the achievement of student outcomes. (Australian Government, 2016, p. 3) Solutions to the problem of teacher quality, furthermore, are said to come in the form of increased accountability, transparency and regulation/standardisation of
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practice for teachers and schools, across the three jurisdictions. Once again, the articulation of these is slightly different in the three contexts, but the message is the same: teachers will improve their practice as a consequence of greater regulation and surveillance, and student results will improve as a consequence. Third, the three policy documents demonstrate Sahlberg’s claims about the growing importance of ‘core subjects’ and prescribed curriculum, with a clear focus on literacy, numeracy and STEM-related subjects across all three jurisdictions. While the articulation of these is, again, slightly different in the three contexts, the through-line here is that these subjects represent both the ‘fundamentals’ and the pathway to innovation and competition in knowledge economies, without which both individuals and societies will struggle to compete and excel. While literacy, numeracy and STEM-related subjects are undoubtedly important, a one-eyed focus on these areas risks the marginalisation of other equally important subjects. In each of the three documents we see evidence of the claim laid out at the opening of this chapter around the way in which the language of reform and improvement as reflected in education policy focuses narrowly on approved and pre-ordained solutions and naturally closes off other less manageable options. Solutions comprised of accountability and standardisation, for example, are relatively simple to implement and give short shrift to the intractability of policy problems around educational equity. Finally, while the aspirations espoused in these policy documents and, indeed, many other contemporary expressions of education policy, around such things as quality, standards and accountability, are all on the surface laudable and difficult to argue against, what is consistently missing from these visions of education is any sustained reference to the purposes of education beyond instrumental goals. Essentially, through the lens of policy formulation we might see the language of improvement and reform in education as an example exposing the paucity of debate, and the way in which notions of quality, accountability, standards and so on act within education policy as what Foucault referred to as ‘regimes of truth’: Each society has its regime of truth, its “general politics” of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true. (Foucault, 1980, p. 131) One of our key interests in this book is in the role of the language of reform and improvement in education in the shaping and perpetuating of such regimes of truth. We will return to this theme in the next chapter, where we explore the notion of effectiveness as it is deployed in education, along the closely associated concepts of ‘evidence-based practice’ and ‘what works’, which, we argue, functions as a regime of truth in contemporary times.
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Notes 1 Established in 1998, the Productivity Commission is housed within the Commonwealth Department of Treasury and describes itself as “the Australian Government’s independent research and advisory body on a range of economic, social and environmental issues affecting the welfare of Australians” (Productivity Commission, 2017) 2 The Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank is a national rank used to determine entry to higher education programs in Australia. 3 The Commonwealth Government is the federal/national government of Australia. 4 Justine Greening MP became Secretary of State for Education when David Cameron stepped down as Prime Minister after the after EU Referendum of July 2016. 5 This plan was abandoned by the Conservative Party in May 2016.
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The seduction of effectiveness
Notions of effectiveness – of schools, teachers and systems – are deeply embedded in drives toward educational reform and improvement. Indeed, Slee and Weiner, in posing the question ‘school effectiveness for whom?’, refer to the school improvement movement as the “operational branch” (Slee & Weiner, 1998, p. 1) of school effectiveness research. In this chapter, we consider the growth of the school effectiveness movement and the ways in which, through their engagement with effectiveness, a generation of policy designers have valorised certainty over complexity; formulaic mantra as opposed to differentiation; and, narrow, utilitarian economic values as opposed to social and inclusive mores. We argue that effectiveness has a pernicious appeal that eschews professional judgement and constructive feedback and makes claims to be evidencebased without challenging the nature of the evidence itself. In this chapter we explore the narrow rendering of ‘evidence’ and ‘effectiveness’ in the name of reform and improvement, arguing that these do little to advance the quality of education. The chapter is presented in four parts. After this brief introduction, we locate our observations about school effectiveness historically, providing a brief history of the concept of effectiveness in education and its influence on educational policy and practice. Next, we explore in some depth two key concepts closely linked to effectiveness, namely evidence-based practice and what works. In relation to the first of these, we consider the shape of evidence based practice in an age of burgeoning data, and the problem of evidence itself. In relation to the second, we explore the notion of what works as a contemporary ‘regime of truth’ (Foucault, 1980a) in education, exploring its provenance briefly and its influence on education policy and practice in different parts of the world. Finally, in conclusion, we argue that what is required is a recasting of effectiveness for contemporary times, suggesting that the simple solutions embedded in orthodox approaches to effectiveness are less likely than ever to be useful in solving the intransigent or ‘wicked’ (Rittel & Webber, 1973) educational problems that require addressing in our ever-more complex times.
The seduction of effectiveness
Background: what’s the problem with effectiveness (and improvement)? First emerging in the late 1970s but rising to prominence in the 1990s as neoliberal approaches to education took hold in the UK and elsewhere in the Western world, Thomson has noted that initially, “school effectiveness research arose from a concern with social justice. Early studies sought to understand the different influences of schooling and society on educational achievement” (Thomson, 2017, p. 41). In a recent series of ‘state of the art’ reviews produced by some of the leading scholars in the field of school effectiveness and improvement (see Hopkins, Stringfield, Harris, Stoll & Mackay, 2014; Muijs, Kyriakides, van der Werf, Creemers, Timperley & Earl, 2014; Reynolds et al., 2014), the authors delineate the field of educational effectiveness research as being animated by the core questions of “what makes a ‘good’ school?” and “how do we make more schools ‘good’?” (Reynolds et al., 2014, p. 197). They continue, noting that educational effectiveness research (EER) involves distinguishing the effects of schools from other effects such as those of student intake and educational background, which therefore requires modelling tools that involve comparable complexity (Creemers, Kyriakides & Sammons, 2010; Goldstein, 2003). Thus, the methodological issues of how we analyse complex data from multiple levels of the educational system have had, and continue to have, a salience in EER more than in many other educational specialities. (Reynolds et al., 2014, pp. 197–198) Together, these three reviews, which focus variously on educational effectiveness research (Reynolds et al., 2014), teacher effectiveness and its relationship to teacher professional learning (Muijs et al., 2014) and school and system improvement (Hopkins et al., 2014) provide a comprehensive picture of an ever-expanding field of research. The field has clearly been fed by the increasing popularity of concepts such as ‘evidence-based practice’, ‘best practice’ and ‘what works’ in the first two decades of the 21st century, along with an increasing fascination on the part of policy makers with randomised controlled trials and other similar approaches to educational research. Wrigley has argued that “it is appropriate to speak of the hegemony of [school effectiveness] and [school improvement], given the degree of official support, and the saturation of practice, which gives the impression that they are the ‘only show in town’, the only way of conceptualising school evaluation and change” (2013, p. 32). Wrigley refers to the “frantic productivity of effectiveness and improvement experts” as “marked by the absence of a critical debate about educational purpose” (p. 31). Indeed, this frantic productivity yielded 3,440 scholarly publications in 2016 alone that included the terms “school effectiveness” or “school improvement”.1 Regardless of whether or not this constitutes hegemonic proportions, this is clearly a field with a great deal of contemporary action.
The seduction of effectiveness 39 While Thomson recognises the different orientations of scholars within the school effectiveness and school improvement field, she also articulates the two key critiques levelled at all scholarship in this field by critical sociologists: 1
The initial move – to separate out the ‘internal’ school from ‘external’ context, to statistically eliminate the social from the school or to confine it to context – is untenable and does not stand up to scrutiny (see Lupton, 2004; Thomson, 2000, 2002), and The measure of effectiveness and improvement – the use of student test and examination data – is reductive and ignores the ways in which curriculum and assessment, school organisation and teaching practices are themselves implicated in the production of inequalities. In short, the argument is that the measure used to test effect is part of the problem and is not a ‘neutral factor’. (Thomson, 2017, p. 42)
She goes on to argue that these critiques are both theoretical and methodological, an observation made also by Wrigley, who uses the work of Kuhn (1962) to explore what he sees as the problematics of school effectiveness and school improvement research in terms of both research paradigms and methodology. Here he draws attention to what he regards as the methodological, contextual, historical and moral reductionism implicit in approaches to effectiveness and improvement. Our own primary problem with ‘effectiveness’ encompasses those sketched out by Thomson and Wrigley, but also relates to the assumptions underpinning both the driving questions and the associated approach. The twin questions of “what makes a ‘good’ school?” and “how do we make more schools ‘good’?” suppose that the characteristics of ‘good schools’ stand independent of the schools themselves. Resonant of the fallacious notion of ‘best practice’, this approach suggests that decontextualised practices can be transplanted to the same effect from one classroom, school or community to another. Furthermore, the suggestion that, theoretically and methodologically, school effects can and should be regarded as separate from other ‘outside’ effects is enormously problematic. Reminiscent of the OECD’s suggestion that only ‘internal’ factors are “potentially open to policy influence” (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2005, p. 26), an issue raised by Raewyn Connell (2009), this approach feeds directly into discourses around teacher quality, and in particular the oft-repeated claim, discussed in Chapter 2 of this volume, that: If there is one uncontested fact in education, it’s that the quality of teaching is the single most important school-level determinant of educational outcomes. (Department for Education, 2016, p. 15) The notion of school effectiveness, in the way it is deployed within the school effectiveness and school improvement fields, regards the solution to intractable
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educational problems to be the province of individuals rather than communities, and the problems themselves to be more aligned with the agency (or lack thereof) of individuals and small groups of people than governing structures. Finally, the use of proxies for student performance, largely national standardised test results, themselves known to be problematic (Wu, 2016), within school effectiveness research, and the privileging of this ‘objective’ data over teachers’ professional judgement about learning, is methodologically inadequate, for reasons we will highlight in this chapter. Embedded in this notion of ‘effectiveness’ is the development of simple, supposedly ‘scalable’ solutions to educational problems that are both complex and highly contextual. Conceptually, the notions of evidence-based practice and the desirability of ‘what works’ are central to effectiveness, and operationally, the employment of approaches to research that seek to minimise complexity and streamline solutions provide the vehicle for the generation of a new common sense knowledge designed to maintain the momentum of the global education reform movement.
Evidence-based practice and the problem of ‘evidence’ The history of contemporary discussions of evidence-based practice in education are reasonably well-rehearsed (see, for example, Groundwater-Smith & Mockler, 2009; Hammersley, 2007). David Hargreaves’ Teacher Training Agency (TTA) Lecture in 1996 (published as Hargreaves, 2007) prosecuted the argument that educational research (predominantly in the UK) did not impact practice and consequently, was largely irrelevant to practice. He drew on the (now well-worn) example of evidence-based practice in medicine to argue that applied research conducted by practitioners was more valuable than much of the educational research produced at the time, and proposed the establishment of a National Educational Research Forum: Whose function would be to establish a continuing dialogue between all the stakeholders and to shape the agenda of educational research and its policy implications and applications. The Forum’s directors would be formed from a mixture of policy makers (at national and local levels), practitioners (heads, teachers), representatives from funding bodies (research councils, charities and trusts) and relevant lay persons (governors, parents) as well as researchers themselves. (Hargreaves, 2007, p. 10) Consequently, although Hargreaves notes that research funding via research councils such as the Economic and Social Research Council should be maintained, because “curiosity-driven, long-term ‘basic’ and blue skies research is as vital in education as in any other scientific field” (p. 11), What would come to an end is the frankly second-rate educational research which does not make a serious contribution to fundamental theory or
The seduction of effectiveness 41 knowledge; which is irrelevant to practice; which is unco-ordinated with any preceding or follow-up research; and which clutters up academic journals that virtually nobody reads. (Hargreaves, 2007, p. 11) Hargreaves does not dwell on the distinction between high-quality “blue skies research” and the second-rate research “irrelevant to practice” and who might be an appropriate arbiter of the difference. Similarly, his lecture is scant when it comes to what he means by ‘evidence’, but clearly here he is talking about the kind of evidence that he regards as “scientifically sound” (p. 5), that which “demonstrates conclusively that if teachers change their practice from x to y there will be a significant and enduring improvement in teaching and learning” (p. 9). Hargreaves provides an extended discussion of the differing orientations of teachers and doctors toward research, in which, of course, the engagement of the medical profession with both basic and applied research is seen to be far superior to that of the teaching profession, wherein “trainee teachers soon spot the yawning gap between theory and practice and the low value of research as a guide to the solution of practical problems” (p. 4) and “teachers are not even seeing their severe lack of evidence-based research as a problem in urgent need of remedy” (p. 7). He chooses not to explore the origins of these differing orientations in corresponding professional education for the two professions, the structures of the two professions, and other factors which might account for (and perhaps provide a way of remedying) this disconnect. We will return to this issue at a later point in this chapter. At the end of his lecture, Hargreaves pre-empted the critique of his argument by educational researchers, suggesting that his ideas might be “too radical for them” and that such critiques would be motivated by a fear of “loss of their autonomy and control over the research process” (p. 13). Critiques, however, including those of Hammersley (1997), Edwards (1996) and Goldstein (1996), centred more on Hargreaves’ limited and narrow conceptualisation of ‘evidence’. In Goldstein’s words: A major problem with this debate has been its terms of reference, as defined by the TTA lecture. For me there are two crucial issues which seem not to have been addressed. One is what counts as evidence and the other is how that evidence used. Let me elaborate. In discussing what we mean by evidence it is useful to distinguish evidence which helps to explain whether and why things occur and evidence which rules out certain explanations or courses of action. The debate has been about the former: an example would be evidence about the learning effects of reducing class size and the factors which further inhibit or promote learning in smaller or larger classes. Another example would be evaluations of particular schemes, such as reading recovery. Such evidence can be used, for example, to inform resource allocation and teaching. In both these cases some good, if limited, evidence is available.
The seduction of effectiveness The second kind of evidence is, in many respects, even more important. Researchers rightly spend time criticising the quality of existing research and practice, in education as much as in other fields. We need to know what doesn’t work, what is logically inconsistent and what should actually count as well established evidence. In my view we know quite a lot about these things. One only has to look at the work which demonstrates the fallacy of confusing performance indicators based upon raw exam results with the quality of education in schools. If such evidence was acted upon by policymakers we would be spared many time wasting and expensive activities, to the general benefit of teaching and learning. (Goldstein, 1996, no page)
This question of what actually constitutes the ‘evidence’ that evidence-based practice advocates is an enduring one. Many years after Hargreaves’ TTA lecture, Hammersley argued that the ascendancy of evidence-based practice in education had largely occurred by “sleight of tongue” or “illicit rhetoric” (2009, p. 139). He noted that evidence-based practice was treated as beyond question, so that anyone who raises doubts about it is regarded as either mad or bad: as incapable of recognising the obvious (who, after all, would want policymaking or practice not to be based on evidence?); or as acting on the basis of ulterior motives (for instance, ‘supply-side prejudice’, which is often treated as a synonym for old-style ‘professionalism’). (Hammersley, 2009, p. 139) Hammersley argues here that while the type of social science research advanced by advocates of evidence-based practice, such as randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews, provides one source of evidence to inform practice, it is not by any means the only source of evidence. He suggests that such evidence should not be privileged over evidence of practice from other sources, noting that “practice cannot be made completely transparent in a way that eliminates the need for specialised expertise relying on tacit knowledge, skill and judgment” (Hammersley, 2009, p. 145). The fact is that ‘evidence’, in the context of classroom practice, is always complex. Elsewhere (see, for example, Mockler & Groundwater-Smith, 2015), we have argued stridently for the critical role of teacher professional judgement, intertwined with what Hammersley, in the quotation above, refers to as “specialist expertise relying on tacit knowledge”, in the enactment of teaching practice. Our observation is that this relies on teachers understanding and engaging skilfully with multiple and diverse sources of evidence gathered in their schools and classrooms. It also relies on teachers’ abilities to use different pieces of evidence to illuminate aspects of their practice, and to utilise strategies for building their expertise and knowledge where required. At a time when schools and teachers are awash with data, when, according to Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan, “in North America, in district after
The seduction of effectiveness 43 district, data warehouses are being created – places that store vast quantities of data, especially about student achievement” (2012, p. 171), the pressure on teachers to engage in ‘evidence-based’ or ‘data-driven’ practice is greater than ever. The need for teachers to possess the knowledge and skills required to understand and utilise evidence, and to know what to do with data to extract meaningful information about teaching and learning, for example, is also correspondingly high. As noted above, one of David Hargreaves’ original arguments in favour of a shift toward evidence-based practice was a perceived lack of teachers’ engagement with educational research. He argued that “if the defects in the way educational research is organised were remedied, research would play a more effective role in advancing the professional quality and standing of teachers” (2007, p. 4), contrasting the engagement of doctors in medical research: If practising doctors, especially those in hospitals, stopped doing research and left it almost entirely to a special breed of people called ‘medical researchers’ who were mainly university academics without patients, then medical research would go the same way as educational research – a private, esoteric activity, seen as irrelevant by most practitioners. (2007, p. 6) Leaving aside the veracity of the argument that most medical research is undertaken by practising doctors rather than medical researchers – considering that the vast majority of research published in medical journals and undertaken via major research grants in medicine is done by scholars with university affiliations, many of whom are medical research scientists rather than doctors – Hargreaves’ argument fails to engage with either the differences in structure and histories of the medical and teaching profession or the different approaches taken to professional education in the two fields. The ‘practice architectures’ (Kemmis & Grootenboer, 2008; Kemmis, Wilkinson, Edwards-Groves, Hardy, Grootenboer & Bristol, 2014)2 of medicine involve material-economic arrangements such as clinical appointments of practitioners to universities wherein appointees engage in research and teaching; and cultural-discursive arrangements whereby reading, applying and engaging in research inhabits a privileged space within initial and ongoing medical education. In other words, the research literacy of doctors is a priority for the profession both in terms of professional preparation and professional practice. In line with this, sociologist of medicine Kathryn Montgomery has argued that in the enactment of clinical practice, doctors are users of scientific knowledge rather than scientists (2006). The practice architectures of teaching, on the other hand, reveal a different relationship between research and practice. A recent inquiry into research and teacher education conducted jointly by the British Educational Research Association and the RSA Action and Research Centre (Furlong, Menter, Munn, Whitty, Hallgarten & Johnson, 2014) argued that, particularly given the proliferation of data in contemporary times, research literacy needs to be regarded as
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a key dimension of teacher professionalism and a priority for initial and ongoing teacher education. The report defines ‘research literacy’ as: the extent to which teachers and school and college leaders are familiar with a range of research methods, with the latest research findings and with the implications of this research for their day-to-day practice, and for education policy and practice more broadly. To be research literate is to ‘get’ research – to understand why it is important and what might be learnt from it, and to maintain a sense of critical appreciation and healthy scepticism throughout. (Furlong et al., 2014, p. 40) The inquiry concluded that across the UK, a more concentrated and sustained effort to build research literacy through initial and ongoing teacher education was required. Furthermore, a revision of professional teaching standards in England and Wales, such that they more explicitly position research literacy as a key priority and prerequisite for professional practice, was recommended. In recent work on the role of research in teacher education in Australia, Martin Mills and Merrilyn Goos (2017) observed the relative absence of research literacy or a research focus from recent discussions of teacher education as represented in the Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers report produced by the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group in 2015 (Craven et al., 2015). They argued that while the report, which reflects the current Commonwealth Government’s vision for initial teacher education, does suggest that initial teacher education should equip pre-service teachers with data collection and analysis skills in the interests of diagnosing student learning needs, that this did not equate with an imperative around research literacy: While this approach could position teachers as discerning consumers of research, it limits research literacy to data-driven approaches that might not engage teachers with richer forms of research inquiry. (Mills & Goos, 2017, p. 647) The integration of available data and other rich evidence into educational decision making on the part of teachers is highly desirable. This desirability is not just a product of the contemporary educational zeitgeist, and the omnipresence of data, but in fact has a long history steeped in ideas about educational transformation and the role of both the teacher and the research enterprise in bringing about this transformation. In the early 1980s, for example, Lawrence Stenhouse wrote: There is within the research field of education little theory which could be relied upon by the teacher without testing it. Many of the findings of research are based on small-scale or laboratory experiments which often do not replicate or cannot be successfully applied in classrooms. Many are actuarial and probabilistic, and if they are to be used by the individual teacher, they
The seduction of effectiveness 45 demand situational verification . . . Using research means doing research. The teacher has grounds for motivation to research. We researchers have reason to excite that motivation: without a research response from teachers our research cannot be utilised. (Stenhouse, 1981, p. 110) Stenhouse’s ideas about teacher as researcher were not predicated, as is the case for Hargreaves, on the idea that applied research conducted by teachers might replace the research conducted by university-based researchers, but rather on the idea that teachers might work with the ideas generated by external researchers and test them in their classrooms, utilising their professional judgement. On the relationship between data and professional judgement, he had the following to say: I’d like you . . . to assume the position that any results I present to you are less reliable than your own experience, properly examined. That is because those results are in terms of general trends and possibilities, they are not reliable for your own experience, so they have to be tested by your judgement. I’m trying to contrast that with what many people were taught in college – that measurement results could be used to override your judgement – which is a common point of view . . . and I’m trying to say that I think measurement should be subordinate to judgement. If after comparing the measurement results with your own experience you find yourself uncertain of judgement, then basically there’s no alternative to doing your own research in your own classroom . . . [Secondly], results are intended to contribute to your perception of the situation; they are not intended to discriminate one course of action which would be better for you than another. (Stenhouse, 1985, p. 41) Stenhouse’s argument, here and elsewhere, was that teachers should use their own professional judgement as their primary tool for drawing on different types of evidence in making educational decisions. While he argued adamantly for the use of evidence by teachers, and indeed for ‘research as a basis for teaching’ (1983), his perspective on evidence, as illuminated in the final sentence of the quotation above, stands in direct contrast to Hargreaves notion of the desirability of “what works”.
‘What works’: a contemporary regime of truth? Discussion of ‘what works’ in education well predates Hargreaves’ 1996 lecture (see, for example, Bennett, 1986); however, he has largely been credited with reinvigorating the discussion in the UK, at least. Hargreaves’ initial take on ‘what works’ was that such research “demonstrates conclusively that if teachers change their practice from x to y there will be a significant end enduring improvement in teaching and learning” (2007, p. 9), while elsewhere he elaborates by arguing that teachers “are primarily interested in what works in what circumstances and
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only secondarily in why it works” (Hargreaves, 1997, p. 411). This is a far cry from Stenhouse’s notion of measurement being subordinate to judgement. Despite the protestations of many (see, for example, Atkinson, 2000; Biesta, 2007, 2010; Blackmore, 2002), along with the impossibility of “conclusive proof ” in a field so humanly complex as education that a change “from x to y” will result in “significant and enduring improvement”, regardless of the particularities of context, ‘what works’ has become a favoured catchcry in neoliberalised education. Arguments against a ‘what works’ approach include the relative impoverishment of ideas about education that regard the educative process as context-free (Atkinson, 2000; Blackmore, 2002) and what Biesta has called “the tension between scientific and democratic control over educational practice and educational research” (2007, p. 5) In his discussion of ‘regimes of truth’, Foucault (1980b) argues that the ‘political economy’ of truth comprises five characteristics: “Truth” is centred on the form of scientific discourse and the institutions that produce it; it is subject to constant economic and political incitement (the demand for truth, as much for economic production as for political power); it is the object, under diverse forms, of immense diffusion and consumption (circulating through apparatuses of education and information whose extent is relatively broad in the social body, notwithstanding certain strict limitations); it is produced and transmitted under the control, dominant if not exclusive, of a few great political and economic apparatuses (university, army, writing, media); finally, it is the issue of a whole political debate and social confrontation. (p. 131) We argue that the discourse of ‘what works’ has become a regime of truth in education: that in the years since the mid-1990s, through mechanisms of both policy and sanctioned practice, anchored in debates around what constitutes scientific evidence and how data and evidence should be understood and regarded, that ‘what works’ has become, in many educational spaces, an unassailable truth. Furthermore, and associated with ‘what works’ and the school effectiveness and improvement movement, the ‘gold standard’ (Slavin, 2002) of evidence in the form of the randomised controlled trial (RCT) in education has also taken on unassailable status in the eyes of politicians and policymakers. In the UK, the publication of Test, Learn, Adapt: Developing Public Policy with Randomised Controlled Trials (Haynes, Service, Goldacre & Torgerson, 2012) heralded a renewed focus on RCTs as a tool for public policy development. Subsequently, then Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, commissioned Ben Goldacre, a medical doctor, science communicator and Research Fellow in Epidemiology at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, to explore the application of these ideas to education. The result, Building Evidence into Education (Goldacre, 2013), seeks to persuade teachers that the adoption of an
The seduction of effectiveness 47 approach to evidence akin to that used in medicine will be good for both their students and themselves: I think there is a huge prize waiting to be claimed by teachers. By collecting better evidence about what works best, and establishing a culture where this evidence is used as a matter of routine, we can improve outcomes for children, and increase professional independence. (Goldacre, 2013, p. 7) Goldacre explains the concept of RCTs to his audience thus: Where they are feasible, randomised trials are generally the most reliable tool we have for finding out which of two interventions works best. We simply take a group of children, or schools (or patients, or people); we split them into two groups at random; we give one intervention to one group, and the other intervention to the other group; then we measure how each group is doing, to see if one intervention achieved its supposed outcome any better. This is how medicines are tested, and in most circumstances it would be regarded as dangerous for anyone to use a treatment today, without ensuring that it had been shown to work well in a randomised trial. (Goldacre, 2013, p. 8) Quite aside from Goldacre’s assumption that ‘evidence’ in education equates to that which can be deduced from RCTs – although later in the report he does note that “ ‘Qualitative’ research – such as asking people questions about their experiences – can help give a better understanding of how and why things worked, or failed, on the ground” (p. 13), before going on to note that “qualitative research is very bad for working out whether an intervention has worked” (p. 13) – is the assumption that RCTs in education can be conducted “simply”. Randomly dividing students in a class, year group or school into two groups does not constitute randomisation in the way it is understood as part of the ‘gold standard’ of RCTs. Furthermore, we would argue that encouraging teachers to do so and then regard the fruits of their labours as reliable proof that an intervention has worked, is a dangerous business. In response to Goldacre’s report, Dylan Wiliam (2014) offered a number of factors that render the use of RCTs in education problematic, among them: •
Clustering effects, such as those alluded to above, where randomisation on an individual level is impossible due to the grouping of students into classes and within schools, such that the logical unit of analysis for investigation of educational interventions would be the school rather than the individual student, rendering appropriate experiment sizes very large; The difficulty of identifying large effect sizes in educational interventions due to the broad range of achievement within any single group of students;
The seduction of effectiveness Issues related to ‘implementation fidelity’, wherein schools and teachers cannot be relied upon to implement interventions in exactly the same way in each site or situation; The presence of contributing factors in some school settings that may not be present in all settings, rendering generalisability problematic.
Notwithstanding these critiques, which have also been highlighted by others, discussions regarding the adoption of RCTs as superior generators of evidence in education are widespread. Advised by Andrew Leigh MP, a member of the Australian Labor Party (currently in opposition) who has long argued for the adoption of RCTs in social policy, “providing evidence on what works, and what does not” (Leigh, 2003, p. 352), Ames and Wilson found in 2016 that 73% of Australian politicians supported “the use of controlled experiments or trials to design and test more areas of government social policy” such as education (Ames & Wilson, 2016). The illogical nature of such proposals is emphatically argued by Michael Scriven (2008), who notes that due to the impossibility of double-blinding research studies in the social sciences, “The RCT banner in the applied human sciences is in fact being flown over pseudo-RCTs” (p. 13). In the US, the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, established by the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, oversees the What Works Clearinghouse, “an important part of IES’ strategy to use rigorous and relevant research, evaluation and statistics to improve our nation’s education system” (What Works Clearinghouse, 2017, p. 1). The use of “scientifically based research” was embedded in the No Child Left Behind re-authorisation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2001, and both the IES and WWC were established in the name of supporting such use. In the establishment of guidelines for scientifically based research, Randomized control group experimental designs have been given the “gold” standards, whereas quasi-experimental designs get the “silver”, correlational studies with statistical controls get the “bronze”, and so forth. In the eyes of the group that designed this clearinghouse, the expert judgements model did not provide the evidence needed to claim the identified programs “really worked”. (Ryan & Hood, 2006, p. 62) All this is not to argue, however, that randomised controlled trials and other similar approaches to evidence do not have their place in educational research. Recent work by Australian researchers (Gore, Lloyd, Smith, Bowe, Ellis & Lubans, 2017), for example, demonstrates the utility of RCTs in evaluating educational interventions, particularly when supplemented with other approaches to evidence, such as case studies, that seek to understand the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. Our argument is for a more expansive, nuanced understanding of ‘evidence’ in education that does not reduce the notion of ‘effectiveness’ to that which can be measured simply, using convenient but often inadequate proxies for educational achievement.
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Recasting effectiveness for contemporary times Elsewhere, with our colleague Jane Mitchell, we have argued for a recasting of school improvement using the notion of inquiry within a framework of morally informed and committed action, or praxis (Groundwater-Smith, Mitchell & Mockler, 2016). We well understand the seduction of ‘what works’, which lies predominantly in its alluring simplicity, suggesting that complex problems can be solved by the application of simple solutions in wildly diverse contexts. Furthermore, a ‘what works’ approach seeks to address the messy, human dimension of education that leaves student learning open to the idiosyncrasies, strengths and weaknesses of individual teachers. Eliminating the human dimension of education, however, is not the answer. A more generative response would be to recognise that within this complexity, a teaching profession that understands what constitutes good (but varied) evidence of learning, and how to engage in true evidence-informed practice, building complex pictures of student learning to inform their judgement and decision making, is critical. We believe that fostering a closer relationship between educational research and teacher education is a vital part of enabling this, as is an increased focus on research literacy for the teaching profession. Like ‘quality’, it’s hard to argue against effectiveness. We do not believe that there is a government, system, school or teacher who would defend the development of an ineffective school system. What we have endeavoured to do in this chapter, however, is to argue against dominant conceptualisations of educational effectiveness, with their attendant emphasis on evidence-based practice, ‘what works’, and narrow ideas about evidence. Particularly given the increased social complexity that has come with information and knowledge ‘revolutions’, we need more than ever to embrace and understand the complexity of education if we are to stand a chance of addressing some of the intractable educational problems of our time. These are ideas we return to in part in the next chapter, where we focus on issues of compliance, voice and power.
Notes 1 According to Google Scholar. Search conducted May 1, 2017. 2 For a more expansive discussion of the theory of practice architectures, see Chapter 5 of this volume.
References Ames, P., & Wilson, J. (2016). Unleashing the potential of randomised controlled trials in Australian governments. M-RCBG Associate Working Paper Series, 55. Atkinson, E. (2000). In defence of ideas, or why ‘what works’ is not enough. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 21(3), 307–330. Bennett, D. (1986). What works: Research about teaching and learning. Washington, DC: Department of Education. Biesta, G. (2007). Why ‘what works’ won’t work: Evidence-based practice and the democratic deficit in educational research. Educational Theory, 57(1), 1–22.
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Biesta, G. (2010). Why ‘what works’ still won’t work: From evidence-based education to value-based education. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 29(5), 491–503. Blackmore, J. (2002). Is it only ‘what works’ that counts in new knowledge economies? Evidence based practice, educational research and teacher education in Australia. Social Policy and Society, 1(3), 257–266. Connell, R. W. (2009). Good teachers on dangerous ground: Towards a new view of teacher quality and professionalism. Critical Studies in Education, 50(3), 213–229. Craven, G., Beswick, K., Fleming, J., Fletcher, T., Green, M., Jensen, B., . . . Rickards, F. (2015). Action now: Classroom ready teachers. Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Education. Creemers, B., Kyriakides, L., & Sammons, P. (2010). Methodological advances in educational effectiveness research. London: Routledge. Department for Education. (2016). DfE strategy 2015–2020: World-class education and care. London: Department for Education. Edwards, T. (1996). The research base of effective teacher education (Universities Council for the Education of Teachers Occasional Paper 5). London: UCET. Foucault, M. (1980a). Power/knowledge. New York: Pantheon. Foucault, M. (1980b). Truth and power. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings 1972–1977 (pp. 109–133). New York: Pantheon Books. Furlong, J., Menter, I., Munn, P., Whitty, G., Hallgarten, J., & Johnson, N. (2014). Research and the teaching profession: Building the capacity for a self-improving education system. London: BERA. Goldacre, B. (2013). Building evidence into education. London: Department for Education. Goldstein, H. (1996). A response to Hargreaves on ‘evidence based educational research’. Retrieved from www.bristol.ac.uk/cmm/team/hg/hargresp.html Goldstein, H. (2003). Multilevel models in educational and social research (3rd ed.). London: Edward Arnold. Gore, J., Lloyd, A., Smith, M., Bowe, J., Ellis, H., & Lubans, D. (2017). Effects of professional development on the quality of teaching: Results from a randomised controlled trial of Quality Teaching Rounds. Teaching and Teacher Education, 68, 99–113. Groundwater-Smith, S., Mitchell, J., & Mockler, N. (2016). Praxis and the language of improvement: Inquiry-based approaches to authentic improvement in Australasian schools. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 27(1), 80–90. doi:10.10 80/09243453.2014.975137 Groundwater-Smith, S., & Mockler, N. (2009). Teacher professional learning in an age of compliance: Mind the gap. Dordrecht: Springer. Hammersley, M. (1997). Educational research and teaching: A response to David Hargreaves’ TTA lecture. British Educational Research Journal, 23, 141–161. Hammersley, M. (Ed.). (2007). Educational research and evidence-based practice. Milton Keynes/London: Open University Press/Sage. Hammersley, M. (2009). What is evidence for evidence based practice? In H. Otto, A. Polutta, & H. Ziegler (Eds.), Evidence-based practice: Modernising the knowledge base of social work? (pp. 139–150). Opladen: Barbara Budrich Publishers. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York: Teachers College Press. Hargreaves, D. (1997). In defence of research for evidence-based practice: A rejoinder to Martyn Hammersley. British Educational Research Journal, 23(4), 405–419.
The seduction of effectiveness 51 Hargreaves, D. (2007). Teaching as a research based profession: Possibilities and prospects (Teacher Training Agency Lecture, 1996). In M. Hammersley (Ed.), Educational research and evidence-based practice. Milton Keynes/London: Open University Press/Sage. Haynes, L., Service, O., Goldacre, B., & Torgerson, D. (2012). Test, learn, adapt: Developing public policy with randomised controlled trials. London: Cabinet OfficeBehavioural Insights Team. Hopkins, D., Stringfield, S., Harris, A., Stoll, L., & Mackay, T. (2014). School and system improvement: A narrative state-of-the-art review. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(2), 257–281. doi:10.1080/09243453.2014.885452 Kemmis, S., & Grootenboer, P. (2008). Situating praxis in practice: Practice architectures and the cultural, social and material conditions for practice. In S. Kemmis & T. Smith (Eds.), Enabling praxis: Challenges for education (pp. 37–62). Rotterdam: Sense. Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P., & Bristol, L. (2014). Changing practices, changing education. Dordrecht: Springer. Kuhn, T. S. (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Leigh, A. (2003). Randomised policy trials. Agenda: A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform, 10(4), 341–354. Lupton, R. (2004). Schools in disadvantaged areas: Recognising context and raising performance. CASE Paper 76. London: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics and Political Science. Mills, M., & Goos, M. (2017). The place of research in teacher education? An analysis of the Australian teacher education ministerial advisory group report action now: Classroom ready teachers. In M. Peters, B. Cowie, & I. Menter (Eds.), A companion to research in teacher education. Dordrecht: Springer. Mockler, N., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2015). Engaging with student voice in research, education and community: Beyond legitimation and guardianship. Dordrecht: Springer. Montgomery, K. (2006). How doctors think: Clinical judgement and the practice of medicine. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Muijs, D., Kyriakides, L., van der Werf, G., Creemers, B., Timperley, H., & Earl, L. (2014). State of the art – teacher effectiveness and professional learning. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(2), 231–256. doi:10.1080/09243453.2 014.885451 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2005). Teachers matter: Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Paris: OECD Publishing. Reynolds, D., Sammons, P., De Fraine, B., Van Damme, J., Townsend, T., Teddlie, C., & Stringfield, S. (2014). Educational effectiveness research (EER): A state-ofthe-art review. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(2), 197–230. doi:10. 1080/09243453.2014.885450 Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4(2), 155–169. Ryan, K., & Hood, L. (2006). Guarding the castle and opening the gates. In N. Denzin & M. Giardina (Eds.), Qualitative inquiry and the conservative challenge (pp. 57–78). Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. Scriven, M. (2008). A summative evaluation of RCT methodology: An alternative approach to causal research. Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation, 5(9), 11–24.
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Slavin, R. (2002). Evidence-based education policies: Transforming educational practice and research. Educational Researcher, 31(7), 15–21. Slee, R., & Weiner, G. (1998). School effectiveness for whom? In R. Slee, G. Weiner, & S. Tomlinson (Eds.), School effectiveness for whom? Challenges to the school effectiveness and school improvement movements (pp. 1–9). London: Falmer Press. Stenhouse, L. (1981). What counts as research? British Journal of Educational Studies, 29(2), 103–114. Stenhouse, L. (1983). Research as a basis for teaching. In L. Stenhouse (Ed.), Authority, education and emancipation. London: Heinemann. Stenhouse, L. (1985). What research can offer teachers: Reporting research to teachers – The appeal to professional judgement. In J. Rudduck & D. Hopkins (Eds.), Research as a basis for teaching: Readings from the work of Lawrence Stenhouse. London: Heinemann Books. Thomson, P. (2000). Like schools’, educational ‘disadvantage’ and ‘thisness. The Australian Educational Researcher, 27(3), 157–172. Thomson, P. (2002). Schooling the rustbelt kids: Making the difference in changing times. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Thomson, P. (2017). Educational leadership and Pierre Bourdieu. London: Routledge. What Works Clearinghouse. (2017). Standards handbook version 4.0. Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences. Wiliam, D. (2014). Randomised control trials in education. Research in Education, 6(1), 3–4. Wrigley, T. (2013). Rethinking school effectiveness and improvement: A question of paradigms. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 34(1), 31–47. Wu, M. (2016). What can national testing data tell us? In B. Lingard, G. Thompson & S. Sellar (Eds.), National testing in schools: An Australian assessment (pp. 19–29). Abingdon: Routledge.
Compliance, voice and power
This chapter is concerned with the conditions of schooling that fail to recognise the vulnerabilities of practitioners who are hard pressed to ‘deliver’ outcomes determined by those unfamiliar with the exigencies of everyday life in schools, especially when they relate to the complexity of policies and practices in the educational enterprise as demonstrated in the previous chapter’s discussion regarding issues arising from an ‘effectiveness’ discourse. It will document, for example, the difficulties experienced by educators to resist the demands of the audit society that require rigid adherence and compliance to sets of professional standards without themselves having a capacity to have contributed to or been enabled to evaluate those standards through professional engagement. As Kemmis (2006, p. 462) reminds us, teachers are placed in a tenuous position in meeting requirements of the state: Increasingly, states regulate the conduct of schooling through regimes of curriculum, assessment and pedagogical prescriptions that limit the reach and grasp of the educational practice of educational professionals, making them the instruments of legislators and administrators. The chapter, then, seeks to make visible that language employed by regulators in order to achieve compliance by engaging with three issues: the forces at work in designing and determining regulation; policy borrowing (also discussed in Chapter 2) and the consequences of the exercise of power when concentrated in the hands of those remote from practice. It will offer two case studies reflecting possibilities for resistance and conclude by raising matters related to a power deficit. While many matters regarding the articulation of policy and practice in education have already been aired in previous chapters we more particularly pose the conundrums that arise allied to the expectations of compliance and the exercise of power that transcend the influence of the state. We shall argue that there is a cacophony of voices in the form of transnational corporations and international government regimes who exercise considerable, but often invisible, power; while at the same time the legitimate voices of practitioners and their students that may have been made publicly available through such agencies as teacher and student inquiry, in the form of action research, are accorded little or no attention.
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As argued in previous chapters, the language of change and reform can be seductive. This chapter will pose the question: ‘how is reform and change understood in the context of macro policies particularly those that set seemingly immutable standards which practitioners are required to meet?’ Fullan (2007, p. 14) rightly notes that many change attempts fail because “no distinction is made between theories of change (what causes change) and theories of changing (how to influence those causes)”. Indeed, while educational change may be seen as technically simple, it is socially complex (Fullan, 2007). Practitioners themselves need to have a shared understanding of educational change, and their commitment to pursue it not as an act of compliance and obedience but one of cooperation based upon that understanding. It is therefore beholden upon agents for change to be clear in their intentions and directions, be inclusive of a range of practitioners and use a language that is accessible to them in their schools and classrooms. Large, framing government policies such as Every Child Matters (Department for Education and Skills, 2003) and No Child Left Behind (No Child Left Behind Act, 2001) set out, among other matters, expectations for practice characterised inevitably as professional standards. They are most often influenced by those who are not themselves educators, and provide little direction regarding how they might be implemented in contexts such as ‘failing schools’, and could be constructed as coercive (Lipman, 2013). Neither shall we neglect those procedures for policy setting that may not fall within regulatory discourses, governing such matters as standards; but which, nonetheless, place particular requirements upon practitioners, again with little reference to their experiences or inputs. This matter has been highlighted by the Institute of Public Administration Australia (2012) report that is critical of the development of ‘policy on the run’ and ‘policy by fiat’ arguing instead for the building of a ‘business case’ as an approach to regain public confidence. By ‘business case’ the writers are not advocating for profitable outcomes, but that policies should be identified and shared with key stakeholders as a form of ‘policy stewardship’ (p. 28). Too often, it is the experts who are recognised and consulted with little engagement by practitioners. In Australia, a prime example of this was Building the Education Revolution (Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations, 2009) that took little or no account of practitioners’ views of what might best be required. We aim in this chapter to make visible the language by which these coercive ends are attained. We shall reference a range of terms employed in this environment in a number of jurisdictions and argue for them being prime examples of the ‘double-speak’ with which this book is concerned. Our first task will be to consider broader issues in relation to compliance, power and voice before turning to specific cases that will illuminate our argument.
Compliance and obedience within a regulatory environment in education There is little doubt that recent years have seen the burgeoning of regulation in the education sector across the ‘developed’ world in the context of the global
Compliance, voice and power 55 education reform movement (GERM) discussed at some length in the opening chapters of this book. Whether it is manifest in terms of curriculum and assessment regimes, teacher credentials and who determines them, or matters of school choice and the ways in which schools market themselves, there has been a proliferation of pronouncements and injunctions with an expectation of compliance that requires practitioners to obey this edict or that one. Indeed, while the terms ‘regulation’ and ‘standards’ are not themselves synonymous, it can be argued that in their enactment they provide a similar degree of pressure and in practice can be seen as melding one into the other. In the broadest sense regulations are seen by organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2014) as a means of achieving government objectives through laws and other instruments to deliver better economic and social outcomes, thus enhancing the lives of citizens. In Australia, for example, it is seen that: Regulations are essential for the proper functioning of society and the economy. They include any laws or other government-endorsed ‘rules’ where there is an expectation of compliance. In Australia, regulation is made at the federal level as well as by the states and territories, in the form of legislation and subordinate legislation and at a local government level as regulations and by-laws. (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2017) Such a regulatory configuration requires continuing government surveillance with an expectation that a given national policy will meet the needs of a ‘one size fits all’ regime; this in the face of the critique that ‘one size fits few’ (Ohanian, 1999). In his book published almost two decades ago Sparrow (2000) asked the question: “Do we need to change the behaviour of the regulators or the regulations themselves?”, to which we would add, “Do we also need to change the behaviour of the regulated when matters of compliance and obedience arise?” Sparrow recommends that those considering these questions should attend to setting priorities, picking the matters that are of importance and concentrating upon them. Understanding the regulatory task may seem beguilingly simple – just read and obey. Sparrow sees that most regulation is constructed as preventive, that is, it is designed to prevent a circumstance that may result in harm Sparrow (2000, p. 33). However, this somewhat benevolent operational definition is belied by the unintended consequences of many regulations with respect to educational arrangements. This is not to say that a regulatory framework for schooling is not necessary, but rather that over many decades there has been an accumulation and layering of regulation resulting in a culture of micro-management and a stripping back of professional agency. In fairness to Sparrow his concerns are primarily with criminal law; beyond that arena many regulatory frameworks are designed to consider economic issues such as banking and consumer law. Furthermore, they are designed, among other
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matters, to cover issues of risk, for example, in the management of the environment; in terms of consumer protection in food and drug administration; and, in safety in such industries as building and travel. This makes it all the more concerning that practices regarding regulation are being applied to an enterprise such as education where they fail to take account of complexity, variability and unintended consequences and treat the whole enterprise of schooling as a commodity (Teese & Polesel, 2003).
Whose voice informs regulation? Closely associated with matters of compliance and power is the troubling issue of who it is that has voice and power in determining one regulatory policy or another. Curriculum and assessment standards, for example, may be variously in the hands of government agencies and specific interest groups, but far more rarely are classroom practitioners invited to make a substantial contribution; although they are continuously monitored in order to enforce whatever provisions have been made. Consider the ‘Partnership for 21st Century Learning’, a corporate-funded think tank that drives a standardised curriculum with standardised assessments in the US. Said to be developed with input from educators, education experts and business leaders to enable the definition and illustration of skills, knowledge and expertise required for students to succeed in work, life and citizenship, it is the voice of large corporations that is paramount. Seemingly, the partnership is less than transparent in identifying who actually has the power to fashion the curriculum and provide resources to support its enactment. Ohanian and Kovacs (2007, p. 272) identified the following key stakeholders to the exclusion of classroom practitioners: Apple, AT&T, Blackboard Inc., Cable in the Classroom, Cisco Systems, ETS (Educational Testing Service), Intel Foundation, LeapFrog SchoolHouse, McGraw Hill Education, Microsoft Corporation, Oracle Education Foundation, Texas Instruments, and THINKkronise. These powerful organisations are well positioned to assert the skills, knowledge and expertise required in their workplaces, such as job readiness, but does their voice exclude the possibility of other perspectives being considered, for example, in relation to community building, and the exercise of such social benefits as trust, inclusion, respect and empathy? In her discussion of the power of these organisations Hogan (2015) invokes the notion of network capital as a means of influencing public policy making. She draws upon Urry (2007, p. 197) who defines network capital as “the capacity to engender and sustain social relations with those people who are not necessarily proximate and which generates emotional, financial and practical benefits”, thus demonstrating the power geometries of networks; who no matter how far from the boundaries of actual practice, powerful operators can collude to influence that practice. Hogan, in common with Ball (2012a), argues that the involvement of multi-national ‘edu-businesses’ such as those cited above, is occurring in the context of an increasing privatisation of education policy on a global scale.
Compliance, voice and power 57 The purpose of the investment made by corporate enterprises in education is to gain structural advantage in making and shaping public policy decisions in ways that are beneficial to the organisations and their shareholders but are realised in “mundane and immediate ways in our institutions of everyday life and the ways it . . . speaks and acts through our language, purposes, decisions and social relations” (Ball, 2012a, p. 29). In these machinations, the language of practice is more often than not eclipsed by the language of business and commerce. This achievement has led to the appropriation and commodification of educational practice, with its emphasis upon measurement, by materialising educational practices into scores and league tables, what Ozga (2008, p. 264) has called “a regime of numbers”.
Policy borrowing beyond regulation Of course not all educational policy is governed by regulation. Looking beyond those macro-policies that have evolved in major economies such as Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003) and No Child Left Behind (No Child Left Behind Act, 2001) employing authorities working at the meso level in, for example, State Departments of Education in Australia, and Provincial Offices in Canada,1 will often develop their policies through a process of diffusion or policy borrowing. Policy diffusion is a process in which policy innovations spread from one government to another (Shipan & Volden, 2008) by employing four mechanisms: learning from earlier adopters, economic competition, imitation and coercion. Policy-makers are seen to learn from experiences of other governments: if an adopted policy elsewhere is deemed successful, then another country/system might also implement it. A less neutral term for policy diffusion is ‘policy borrowing’, that might be characterised as a form of copying, appropriation and importing ideas from elsewhere often indiscriminatingly as a ‘quick fix’ (Phillips, 2015, p. 144). Whitty (2012) characterises the practice as a form of policy tourism, where governments adopt what is seen as ‘best practice’ (discussed in Chapter 3 of this book) as a means of accelerating reform. But, learning from early adopters may not offer sound solutions to educational challenges. Lingard in discussing policy learning argues that policy flows from the UK to Australia should be read as a “warning, not a system from which to learn” (2009, p. 17). He cites, in particular, the development of restrictive national curriculum policies and state-wide testing coupled with public accountabilities. This is achieved through the publication of results on a public website, leading in particular to the erosion of trust in teachers who have little option but to comply with the high stakes testing measures. In contrast, Raffe (2011, p. 1) argues that policy learning comes about through the development of tailored national policies, rather than those taken ‘off the peg’. But it does not have to be so. There is a plethora of literature pointing to the ways in which the voices of those in classrooms and schools can be heard and honoured. After all it is the practitioners who operationalise policy along with
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their students who engage with it as ‘the consequential stakeholders’ (Mockler & Groundwater-Smith, 2011).
Who has the power? While it is a given that corporations and businesses, large and small, along with elected governments will be interested parties in the development and enactment of educational policy, the question that we need to pose is: ‘Do they have disproportionate power?’ Writers such as Ball (2012a) and Hogan (2015) would answer this question in the affirmative and have provided significant data to make their case. Perhaps more worrying is the invisibility of this power and the norms upon which it is based. Those businesses and corporations with an interest in policies in education may be quite inflexible in their ideas with regard to how education should be conducted in relation to their enterprises. In this way they might be seen as specific stakeholder groups, in contrast to those consequential stakeholders referred to earlier. They will have a range of strategic interests that may not coincide with the needs of the wider community, in particular the education community whose primary work is in schools and classrooms. As Kahane, Loptson, Herriman and Hardy (2013, p. 13) argue: Readiness to change position on the basis of good arguments and collective reasoning is generally treated as a deliberative virtue. Yet this willingness to change position may be less likely in stakeholder representatives. For one thing, stakeholder groups often are defined by particular positions, beliefs, and cognitive frames. For another, participants from stakeholder groups tend to be seen, and to see themselves, as representatives of a broader constituency, with explicit or implicit accountability to that constituency. In circumstances such as these that could indicate self-interest, it is interesting to reflect upon how practitioners in schools either across a country or in small niches can find opportunities to be more agentic through innovative practices and even demonstrate resistance to the slough of regulations that come their way.
Spaces for innovation and resistance: two case studies Seemingly, there are decreasing spaces in which innovation and resistance to the overweening and increasingly constraining educational regulations and arrangements can be found. Here we look at two quite different cases and ask whether there may be any optimism that educational practices at the boundaries may offer hope for those closest to practice to actually influence and inform policy. In the first example, that scopes a wide variety of schools in very different geographic circumstances, the best that can be learned is to identify the mismatch between a well-established philosophy of practice and the burden of meeting government requirements. The second example is more of a local nature and demonstrates that with persistence policy makers may be influenced to modify
Compliance, voice and power 59 and adapt in particular the language that they employ in consideration of practices less familiar to them.
The Steiner/Waldorf example We take as our first example the policies and practices of Steiner Schools, otherwise known as Waldorf Schools, in relation to matters such as assessment and school governance. Steiner schools are flourishing around the globe from Europe to the US, from Africa to India; there are currently, internationally, over 1,000 Steiner/Waldorf Schools (Schaefer, 2012). They have a well-developed philosophy of practice that embraces body, soul and spirit. Education in Steiner schools, which is based on Rudolf Steiner’s educational philosophy, has a particular view of what constitutes learning, achievement and educational development through an understanding of the contribution of what is commonly cited as ‘head, heart and hand’: that is, any understanding of what counts as “valued learning – that which is learnt (including cognitive, affective and other aspects of learning) and which is felt or considered to be worthwhile and of benefit” (Woods & Woods, 2002, p. 262). Steiner educational philosophy takes account of the individual’s learning in all of its important dimensions and the learning context in which the mind operates. Lajoie (2008, p. 471) notes, “it is the interaction between mind and (social) environment that present the most interesting questions in terms of the active nature of learning”, thus referring not only to cognitive and intrapersonal participations but also the active participation in social or interpersonal processes which promote independent and lifelong learning. Many current assessment regimes, then, are inimical to Steiner education. Larrison (2013, pp. 69–70) in her dissertation regarding the functions of mind, brain and education (MBE) quoted Steiner on testing when he said: When you have to cram for an examination you are assimilating a great deal in opposition to your interest. For if we only assimilated what aroused our interest we should not get through our examinations under modern conditions. It follows that cramming for an examination disturbs sleep and brings disorder into our normal life. This must be specially borne in mind where children are concerned. Therefore for children it is best of all, and most in accordance with an educational ideal, if we omit cramming for examinations. That is, we should omit examinations altogether and let the school year finish as it began. (Steiner, 1923/1996, p. 123) Current summative assessment practices, that is, ones that have been developed as having high stakes characteristics because they cater to competition and comparison at both the individual and national levels, are very much in the ascendance in mainstream school education. The former level is often in terms of entry to tertiary education or scarce places in highly desired schools; the latter
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is in relation to national and global accountability systems. They stand in sharp contrast to matters surrounding formative assessment that are founded upon the notion of providing forms of feedback that will assist both learning and teaching so valued in Steiner schools. Waldorf/Steiner schools, while strongly oriented to formative assessment, often feel that they have little choice in participating in national testing regimes that are a requirement of government. For example in Australia the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 is mandated. This program is in line with state wide testing in other national jurisdictions. Commenting on national testing regimes in England, and their impact on education in Steiner schools (Woods, Ashley & Woods, 2005) noted: National tests are regarded as taking time away from the teaching of the Steiner curriculum. Assessment is integral to the Steiner approach and national tests are not necessarily seen as helpful. Pupils are, however, entered for pragmatic reasons and there is evidence of good pass rates. (p. 6) All the same, in Australia, Steiner Education in its submission to the Education, Employment and Workplace Committee regarding NAPLAN’s effectiveness (Steiner Education Australia, 2013) argues that the program is both limited and problematic. NAPLAN as an accountability measure focuses more on outputs and outcomes, rather than inputs and processes (Lingard, 2010, p. 135). This form of testing does not account for a holistic approach to child development. Schools have both short and long term goals for students; they teach much more than literacy and numeracy. The importance of healthy student/ teacher relationships supports not only academic learning, but also social/ emotional, aesthetic, moral, physical and spiritual development. (p. 9) A number of critics, not only those within the Steiner Waldorf tradition, have now lined up to question the kinds of summative assessment practices that have been referred to here. Yong Zhao, a professor of education at the University of Oregon, was reported in The Australian (Hare, 2011) as opposing a national curriculum and associated national testing in schools, saying, “no one is smart enough to come up with a system that works for everybody . . . You have to allow for individual differences and local solutions. There is the argument that, without standards, some people get left behind, that some institutions will . . . not deliver high-quality education. But . . . when you standardise, you definitely squeeze out space for innovation”. He went on to argue that the trend to accountability in Western nations was worrying. “It means that you measure something, yet you can only measure a small part of something and what you can measure might not be important”.
Compliance, voice and power 61 The governance of schools in the Steiner/Waldorf tradition is another matter where there is a gap between them and mainstream schools in relation to state regulatory policies. The schools organise the work of their communities in a very different manner from that which prevails in most jurisdictions, where school leadership is generally both nominal and hierarchical. The body that contributes to policies and practices within Steiner schools is known as the ‘College of Teachers’. Responsibility and accountability for educational practices are located at the school level through a democratically formed group. The collegial model appears to have been remarkably robust since 1919, but as Rawson (2014) notes, while all schools are regulated to some extent, global trends have driven the leadership policy technologies of standardisation, performativity and managerialism in ways that are a poor fit with Steiner philosophy. The College of Teachers is seen to embody and develop the spiritual life of the school as well as exercise responsibility for the school’s educational activities and management. It is intended to create a democratic management carrying out the functions associated with traditional school leadership practices embodied by Principals/Headteachers and their deputies. This is not to say that there may be major challenges such as: slowness and inefficiency; unequal distribution of responsibilities; internal power differentials; and individual limitations (Woods et al., 2005, p. 101). But, it is argued that resolving these challenges is a matter for the school community, rather than one that is managed by regulatory fiat. Nonetheless, as with the case of national testing practices, the ways in which teaching and leadership standards have evolved at state and national levels have placed Steiner schools under considerable pressure to conform if they are to receive various forms of government funding for their programs. They are faced with something of a Hobson’s Choice, a free choice in which there is no alternative. Nonetheless, there are some degrees of freedom as schools continue to find their way through the morass of regulation and continue to have some integrity. Clearly the Steiner schools example is a salutary reminder of how pervasive (even invasive) over-arching policies requiring conformity and compliance may be. Nevertheless, the seeds of resistance continue to be expressed through the powerful formulations of the purposes of education as expressed at the local, national and international levels.
Home-schooling, home education It is not by chance that we have co-selected the terms ‘home-schooling’ and ‘home education’ in this example. Advocates make the point that their purpose is not to replicate that which takes place in schools, as suggested by the word ‘schooling’ but rather to create an alternative form of education as underwritten by such writers as John Holt (1964, 1976, 1981) . Some would argue that the movement is devoted to “reinventing the idea of school” (Basham, Merrifield & Hepburn, 2007, p. 5). Certainly, the motivation for educating children at home varies greatly and is often characterised as dichotomous. While the Christian right look to redeem
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their children from the pervasive influences of secular schooling, the libertarian left seek to liberate their young people from what are seen as unnecessary constraints, especially in relation to the curriculum and the ways in which teaching and learning are conducted. Clearly though, both groups see that it is the responsibility of the home to inculcate values and beliefs and to create a safe environment in which children can escape from the perceived negative effects of schooling (Bauman, 2002; Hill, 2000). Jackson (2014) looked particularly at the case of home schooling in Australia in comparison to that which prevails in the US. She argued that the most significant difference was that parental reasons for choosing to home educate children were less likely to be motivated directly by religious beliefs and rather being based upon the needs of the child. She made the case for home education as a workable alternative ensuring that children have a meaningful future in the society of which they are a part. She notes that all Australian states and territories require home educators to provide the eight key learning areas in their programs and that this requirement can be met by home educators in different ways. The principal need for families is that they are able to select from a wide range of curriculum styles and deliveries. In writing this case study we chose to interview a home education advocate who engaged with the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government (Australian Capital Territory Education Act, 2004) as a means of informing its newly emergent policies and practices. Notable in her experience was the way in which seemingly innocent words were loaded when it came to writing the legislation. Home Education versus Home Schooling was a territory to be contested. ‘They ( government nominees) constantly wanted to turn the words into the existing language of schooling. We were trying to get their head around different vocabulary around ideas like play and mess. ‘How can I reframe this in a more positive way and relax around conditions that don’t replicate school’ – so if anything we wanted more ‘loops and around’; that is room for flexibility and debate’. Home educating parents had to fight for the right for a place at the table. Teacher union officers, academics, consultants, school principals, parents and citizens were all included. However, until they made their concerns known, parents were not invited. In early meetings unnecessary time was spent upon appropriate furniture that would be required in the home (table heights, chair construction) rather than upon a philosophy of education. Parents looked to emphasise that education can occur in many sites and is not amenable to being cut into ‘chunks of the day’. Parents wanted terms such as ‘assessment’ replaced with their own language of observation. They resisted attempts to characterise what was to be learned as ‘work’ and ‘instruction’ preferring to see that young people were learning by doing and having opportunities to observe the range of activities that their parents engaged with as a contribution to the family. As a consequence of their vigorous defence of their philosophy, principles and practices, the home educators influenced the chapter of the legislation concerned with home education, such that ‘Our chapter was the only one that didn’t have principles adapted from the non-government school sector’.
Compliance, voice and power 63 The Principles appeared as: (a) parents have the right to choose a suitable educational environment for their children; (b) there is a diversity of religious and educational philosophies held by parents providing home education for their children; (c) the diversity of educational philosophies reflects the diversity of preferences of parents for particular forms of education for their children; (d) home education is committed to – i
offering a broad range of opportunities that foster in each child the development of the child’s unique spiritual, emotional, physical, social and intellectual being; and valuing the individual needs, interests and aptitudes of each child; and preparing each child to become an independent and effective global citizen (Australian Capital Territory Education Act, 2004, p. 114)
Who could be closer to practice than the home educator? We have included this example not as a justification for home education but as an illustration that current regimes, especially in relation to regulations governing the performance and practices of those engaged in the education of children and young people can be challenged especially when undertaken under the aegis of ‘improvement’ and ‘reform’. There is no question that performance management, as a regulatory tool, has become de rigeur in the context of educational policy in countries such as England in the form of a de facto educational standards strategy. By embedding professional development and improvement standards in the fabric of the school via the tools of evaluation, appraisal and capability procedures, teachers are regulated and standards enforced (Page, 2015, p. 1031). Innovation and resistance is increasingly hampered.
Conclusion The drive for national competition in educational enterprises is relentless. It is used as a means of advancing a particular model of the global education reform movement. As Biesta (2015, p. 356) reminds us, the various curriculum and assessment practices so common in countries such as England and Australia “feed into a whole tradition that sees education through the metaphor of production and control”. Necessarily, these two enterprises require governing through regulatory regimes. In this chapter we have paid particular attention to asking ourselves ‘who has the power’ to develop and enforce regulation in education?’ Perhaps a more salutary question may be: ‘Who has little power and agency in determining regulation and those standards that apply to regulatory frameworks?’ We have sought to make visible that commercial interests in the form of large global ‘edu-businesses’ have a disproportionate influence upon a wide range of policy decisions to the exclusion of those who are required to enact them. We
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have argued that spaces for innovation and resistance are increasingly difficult to locate in the face of the language of educational markets with their emphases upon efficiency and effectiveness. Michael Barber’s construct “Deliverology” says it all (Barber, Moffit & Kihn, 2010): said to be the art of ensuring that governments meet their goals there is little in the rhetoric and language that questions the goals themselves and whether the means of meeting them are to the good of nations beyond those determined by economic standards. The language is one of manufacture: inputs, outputs, targets and investment. We suggest that it would bewilder educationists of the past such as Plato, Confucius, or more recently Dewey, Friere and Steiner as referenced earlier. In the chapter that follows we shall examine the ways in which the language of improvement and reform is having a direct impact upon the ways in which teachers work and whether the territories of schooling may be more permeable than has been hitherto imagined or suggested here. We acknowledge that schooling is being conducted in a rapidly changing world where teachers’ work is not only governed by matters related to standards but also a socio-political environment that is itself responsive to burgeoning technological change, and argue that these and other aspects of teachers’ work might be understood within a framework of practice architectures.
Note 1 Canada is unique among developed nations in that it has no federal office of education. Nonetheless, while provincial autonomy in educational matters is constitutionally acknowledged and frequently asserted, it would be naive to ignore the fact that the federal government also plays a significant part in education in Canada, www.the canadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/education-policy/ accessed 11th April, 2017.
References Australian Capital Territory Education Act. (2004). Canberra: ACT Parliamentary Counsel’s Office. Ball, S. (2012a). Global Education Inc.: New policy networks and the neo-liberal imaginary. London and New York: Routledge. Barber, M., Moffit, A., & Kihn, P. (2010). Deliverology 101: A field guide for educational leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Basham, P., Merrifield, J., & Hepburn, C. (2007). Home schooling: From the extreme to the mainstream. Vancouver: The Fraser Institute. Bauman, K. J. (2002). Home schooling in the United States. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10(26). Biesta, G. (2015). Resisting the seduction of the global education measurement industry: Notes on the social psychology of PISA. Ethics and Education, 10(3), 348–360. Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations. (2009). Building the education revolution. Canberra: Australian Government. Department for Education and Skills. (2003). Every child matters. London: Department for Education and Skills.
Compliance, voice and power 65 Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. (2017). Regulation. Retrieved 3 April 2017, from www.dpmc.gov.au/regulation Fullan, M. (2007). The new meaning of educational change (4th ed.). New York: Teachers College Press. Hare, J. (2011, October 5). Test culture chokes creativity. Australian Higher Education Supplement. Hill, P. T. (2000). Home schooling and the future of public education. Peabody Journal of Education, 75(1–2), 20–31. Hogan, A. (2015). Boundary spanners, network capital and the rise of edu-businesses. Critical Studies in Education, 56(3), 301–314. Holt, J. (1964). How children fail. New York: Pitman. Holt, J. (1976). Instead of education: Ways to help people do things better. New York: Dutton & Co. Holt, J. (1981). Teach your own. New York: Delacourte Press. Institute of Public Administration Australia. (2012). Why governments must replace ‘policy on the run’ and ‘policy by fiat’ with a ‘business case’ approach to regain public confidence. Public Policy Discussion Paper. Canberra: Institute of Public Administration Australia. Jackson, G. (2014). Australian research on home education: And how it can inform legislation and regulation. Invited submission (0412) to the Select Committee on Home Schooling, 142. Retrieved from: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/ inquiries/Pages/inquiry-submission-details.aspx?pk=%2050267, 10 January 2017. Kahane, D., Loptson, K., Herriman, J., & Hardy, M. (2013). Stakeholder and citizen roles in public deliberation. Journal of Public Deliberation, 9(2). Kemmis, S. (2006). Participatory action research and the public sphere. Educational Action Research, 14(4), 459–476. Lajoie, S. P. (2008). Metacognition, self regulation, and self-regulated learning: A rose by any other name? Educational Psychology Review, 20(4), 469–475. Larrison, A. L. (2013). Mind, brain and education as a framework for curricular reform (Ed. D.). San Diego: University of California. Lingard, B. (2009, November). Testing times: The need for new intelligent accountabilities for schooling. QTU Professional Magazine, 24, 13–19. Lingard, B. (2010) Policy borrowing, policy learning: Testing times in Australian schooling. Critical Studies in Education, 51(2), 129–147. Lipman, P. (2013). Economic crisis, accountability, and the state’s coercive assault on public education in the USA. Journal of Education Policy, 28(5), 557–573. Mockler, N., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2011). Weaving the web of professional practice: The coalition of knowledge-building schools. In B. Lingard, P. Thomson & T. Wrigley (Eds.), Changing schools: Making a world of difference (pp. 294– 322). London: Routledge. No Child Left Behind Act 2001, U.S. Department of Education, Pub. L. No. 107–110. Ohanian, S. (1999). One size fits few: The folly of educational standards. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Ohanian, S., & Kovacs, P. (2007). Make room at the table for teachers. Phi Delta Kappan, 89(4), 270–272. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2014). The governance of regulators: Best practice for regulation policy. Paris: OECD Publishing.
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Ozga, J. (2008). Governing knowledge: Research steering and research quality. European Educational Research Journal, 7(3), 261–272. Page, D. (2015). The visibility and invisibility of performance management in schools. British Educational Research Journal, 41(6), 1031–1049. Phillips, D. (2015). Policy borrowing in education: Frameworks for analysis. In J. Zajda (Ed.), Second international handbook on globalisation, education and policy research (pp. 137–148). Dordrecht: Springer. Raffe, D. (2011). Policy borrowing or policy learning?: How (not) to improve education systems. CES Briefing 57. Edinburgh: Centre for Educational Sociology. Rawson, M. (2014). Practices of teacher learning in Waldorf schools: Some recommendations based on qualitative inquiry. Other Education, 3(2), 45–68. Schaefer, C. (2012). Partnerships in hope: Building Steiner school communities. New York: Association of Waldorf Schools in North America (AWSNA). Shipan, C. R., & Volden, C. (2008). The mechanisms of policy diffusion. American Journal of Political Science, 52(4), 840–857. Sparrow, M. K. (2000). The regulatory craft: Controlling risks, solving problems, and managing compliance. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Steiner Education Australia. (2013). Submission 43. The effectiveness of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and numeracy. Chatswood: Steiner Education Australia. Steiner, R. (1996). The foundations of human experience (Foundations of Waldorf Education). (Trans. R. F. Lathe & N. P. Whittaker). Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press. (Reprinted from: 1923). Teese, R., & Polesel, J. (2003). Undemocratic schooling: Equity and quality in mass secondary education in Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. Urry, J. (2007). Mobilities. Cambridge: Polity Press. Whitty, G. (2012). Policy tourism and policy borrowing in education: A trans-Atlantic case study. In G. Steiner-Khamsi & F. Waldow (Eds.), World yearbook of education: Policy borrowing and lending in education (pp. 354–370). Abingdon: Routledge. Woods, P. A., Ashley, M., & Woods, G. (2005). Steiner schools in England. Bristol: Department for Education and Skills. Woods, P. A., & Woods, G. J. (2002). Policy on school diversity: Taking an existential turn in the pursuit of valued learning? British Journal of Educational Studies, 50(2), 254–278.
The language of reform and teachers’ work
In this chapter, we explore the way that the language of educational reform and improvement shapes and frames teachers’ work. Building on the discussion of ‘teacher quality’ begun in Chapter 2, and the discussion of compliance and power in Chapter 4, we use the theory of practice architectures (Kemmis & Grootenboer, 2008; Kemmis, Wilkinson, Edwards-Groves, Hardy, Grootenboer & Bristol, 2014) to argue that the language of reform and improvement impacts the culturaldiscursive, material-economic and social-political arrangements that enable and constrain the characteristic sayings, doings and relatings of teachers in multiple contexts. The chapter is presented in three substantive parts. After an introduction in which we locate this discussion in relation to some of the key complexities of teaching in contemporary times, we provide an overview of the theory of practice architectures, highlighting the contribution of decades of reform and improvement to the practice architectures that frame teachers’ work. While we recognise that the many and varied contexts within which teachers’ practice is enacted mean that these practice architectures are brought to bear in different ways, here we focus on the arrangements defined at national and state level and their capacity to shape teachers’ work. In the third section, we explore the emergence of teaching standards across different Anglophone jurisdictions, surveying three sets of teaching standards and exploring what the standards highlight about the discursive construction of teachers’ work. Here we demonstrate how many of the catchphrases favoured in professional teaching standards fail to acknowledge practice as embedded, historical and interdependent, deserving of much closer and more careful attention than that captured by simplistic and often adversarial refrains. Finally, in the concluding section, we contemplate practice beyond standards, considering some of the critical aspects of contemporary education that professional standards do not and cannot address, and highlighting how we might ‘rise above’ this particular expression of reform and improvement in education.
Introduction: the complexity of teaching in contemporary times Fifteen years ago, Marilyn Cochran-Smith had the following to say in an editorial for the Journal of Teacher Education:
Language of reform and teachers’ work we need to conceptualize teaching quality if we are ultimately to understand, assess, and improve it. Teaching is unforgivingly complex. It is not simply good or bad, right or wrong, working or failing. Although absolutes and dichotomies such as these are popular in the headlines and in campaign slogans, they are limited in their usefulness. They tacitly assume there is consensus across our diverse society about the purposes of schooling and what it means to be engaged in the process of becoming an educated person as well as consensus about whose knowledge and values are of most worth and what counts as evidence of the effectiveness of teaching and learning. They ignore almost completely the nuances of “good” (or “bad”) teaching of real students collected in actual classrooms in the context of particular times and places. They mistake reductionism for clarity, myopia for insight. (Cochran-Smith, 2003, p. 4, emphasis in original)
Here, Cochran-Smith was arguing against the application of simple measures of quality to the work of teachers, particularly those that use test scores as a proxy for student learning – reminiscent of our discussion of effectiveness in Chapter 3 – and ignore the significance of institutional context. She was responding to a 2002 poll commissioned by the Educational Testing Center in the US that highlighted educational improvement as a top post-9/11 issue for the American public, outweighed only by ‘family values’ and ‘fighting terrorism’. Furthermore, the poll highlighted the close link in the public consciousness between accountability measures and teaching quality, a link subsequently and increasingly reflected in education policy in the US and elsewhere. Teaching has arguably become more complex in the years since CochranSmith’s editorial. The ‘organised uncertainty’ (Power, 2007) of the post-9/11 period and associated processes of risk management and mitigation around, for example, the growth of the threat of international terrorism and associated discourses around national security has had far-reaching consequences for members of human service professions such as teaching. From the demands that come with supporting young people to navigate increasing uncertainty around their futures, to increasing pressure from governments for schools to participate in building particular forms of social cohesion, as exemplified in the UK’s Prevent strategy (UK Home Office, 2009a, 2009b) and Australia’s various Countering Violent Extremism programs (Australian Government, 2017), the work of schools and teachers has expanded in this domain. Other aspects of the social context of teaching have contributed to growing complexity in the intervening years also. Ubiquitous access to information by virtue of smartphones and other devices has grown exponentially, leading to a rapid expansion of “anywhere, anytime” learning that was beginning to shift classroom practice around the turn of the century (Kalantzis & Cope, 2001, 2004). The reshaping of teaching and learning as a consequence of the ubiquity of information is still very much a work in progress, however the tension between ‘coverage’ of content and the development of ‘21st century skills’, including the navigation and evaluation of information, has emerged as significant for
Language of reform and teachers’ work 69 teachers and schools, and contributed to this complexity. The near-ubiquitous use of social media by secondary school-aged students has added a further layer of complexity to the work of teachers and schools in supporting adolescents to navigate relationships. Furthermore, over the same period of time, moves toward standardisation of education have taken hold, and these too have, even in the face of their attempts to simplify, contributed to the growing complexity of teaching. Attempts to ‘teacher proof’ the classroom through standardising curriculum, pedagogy and assessment; attempts to quantify and standardise teachers’ work through the development and implementation of professional standards that privilege the technical over the human dimensions of education; and attempts to promote competition as a means for improvement on all levels from that of individual teachers and students to nation-states are all examples of these. Many of these shifts have travelled on a global scale, encouraged by proponents of the global education reform movement discussed in Chapter 2, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. At its heart, however, education in contemporary times remains enormously complex. As schools and teachers, driven most usually by a sense of service and emotional commitment to students and society more broadly, navigate the complex terrain of educating and shaping future generations in these complex times, the ‘human dimension’ of education becomes more rather than less important. Raewyn Connell (2013), writing about the impact of market reforms in education on the work of teachers, says this about the human dimension: To say that education involves nurture is important. Education involves encounter between persons, and that encounter involves care. Learning from a computer is not education; the machine does not care. Learning from a person behaving like a machine is not education; that person’s capacity for care is being suppressed. It is care that is the basis of the creativity in teaching, at all levels from Kindergarten to PhD supervision, as the teacher’s practice evolves in response to the learner’s development and needs. Encounter between persons implies people capable of encounter; that is, people with significant autonomy. The more that power relations impinge on a situation, the less scope there is for encounter and therefore for education. Military training is not education. Power of course exists in many forms, and one of the tasks of educational research is to explore the many ways power in and around educational relations can be diagnosed and contested. (Connell, 2013, p. 104) Connell argues here that all the ‘locking down’ of practice, the desire to guarantee an educational experience through standardisation, the emphasis on competition rather that collaboration and collegiality that drives contemporary education policy is likely to produce worse, rather than better educative outcomes for students. Furthermore, she suggests that the more we discredit the messy, human dimensions of education, the more impoverished our systems are likely to become.
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It is against this backdrop of the tension between the technical and human dimensions of education that contemporary teachers’ work is enacted. While we acknowledge that the nested ‘sites’ of practice – the national, state/province, system and school contexts – vary enormously, we also understand that something of this tension has the capacity to play out in multiple national and other contexts. It is with this understanding of the complexity of teachers’ work in the contemporary age that we now move to consider the theory of practice architectures and how reform and improvement have shaped the practice architectures of teachers’ work.
The practice architectures of teaching Drawing initially on the work of Theodore Schatzki (2002a, 2002b), the theory of practice architectures was developed by Stephen Kemmis and colleagues roughly a decade ago, and has subsequently grown and evolved through collaborative research (see, for example, Grootenboer, Edwards-Groves & Choy, 2017; Kemmis, Edwards-Groves, Wilkinson & Hardy, 2012; Kemmis & Grootenboer, 2008; Kemmis et al., 2014; Mahon, Francisco & Kemmis, 2017). The theory holds that: (a) Individual and collective practice shapes and is shaped by (b) what we will describe as practice architectures, so that (c) the sayings, doings, and relatings characteristic of the practice hang together in projects that in turn shape and are shaped by (d) practice traditions that encapsulate the history of the happenings of the practice, allow it to be reproduced and act as a kind of collective ‘memory’ of the practice. (Kemmis et al., 2014, p. 31, emphasis in original) Practice architectures, in turn, are said to comprise of arrangements, variously cultural-discursive, realised in the medium of language; material-economic, realised in the medium of activity and work; and social-political, realised in the medium of power and solidarity. The theory works so that “people’s individual and collective participation in practices is prefigured and shaped by the practice architectures characteristic of the practice, that is, the cultural-discursive, material-economic and social-political arrangements present in or brought to a site” (Kemmis et al., 2014, pp. 32–33). Practices are enacted within practice landscapes, “in which there may be multiple and overlapping sites of practice” (Mahon, Kemmis, Francisco & Lloyd, 2017, p. 25), such as, in the case of teaching, the classroom, the school, the school system and the education system as a whole; they are also enacted within practice traditions which “carry the imprints of prior sayings, doings and ways of relating enacted in a practice” (Mahon, Kemmis et al., 2017, p. 25). Furthermore, practices are made sustainable, they come to persist or endure in a site through the creation of habitats for practice known as ‘niches’, defined by Wilkinson as a “hospitable set of practice conditions” (2017, p. 170). Niches, according to
Language of reform and teachers’ work 71 Kemmis (2017), are frequently the product of human agency, which deliberately brings together the appropriate cultural-discursive, material-economic and socialpolitical arrangements required for a niche to be created and, consequently, a practice or suite of practices to flourish over time. The theory of practice architectures is useful in framing a discussion of the language of reform and improvement in education, particularly with respect to the discursive construction of teachers’ work in contemporary times. As outlined in Chapter 2, writing in relation to education policy, Stephen Ball (1993, 1994; Ball, Maguire & Braun, 2012) has noted the need to simultaneously understand policy as text and discourse while attending to policy effects. He writes that an exploration of policy effects takes into account that “policies both change what we do (with implications for equity and social justice) and what we are (with implications for subjectivity)” (Ball, 2015, p. 306). Here, Ball is effectively arguing that education policy, both as text and discourse, contributes to the practice architectures of schooling and teaching, shaping teachers’ and leaders’ practices and identities, making some things more and others less possible in different sites. Elsewhere, one of us has explored the way that different ‘policy settlements’ give rise to different ‘practice architectures’, arguing that they each “suggest a preferred set of arrangements that to a greater or lesser degree may be adopted in different educational contexts” (Mockler, 2018, p. 275). That is, recognising that education policy, understood, as we noted earlier, as the “authoritative allocation of values” (Easton, 1953) and from which we see much of the language of reform and improvement in education emanating and resonating, contributes both to practice architectures of teaching ‘writ large’ in the sense that education systems might be thought of as sites of practice, and to practice architectures of teaching at a local level, through the enactment of policies in ways that are peculiar to individual schools and classrooms. So what, then, do we see as the potential contribution of the language of reform and improvement to the practice architectures of teaching? In a recent study that employed policy historiography, one of us explored the practice architectures of teaching suggested by Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers, the report of the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group in Australia (Craven et al., 2015), a report focused squarely on reform and improvement of initial teacher education and early career teachers. The research suggested that in terms of culturaldiscursive arrangements, at the heart of the report was a discursive recasting the image of ‘the good teacher’ (Connell, 2009; Moore, 2004), which made use of the conflation of teach-er and teach-ing quality, an issue which will be explored in some depth later in this chapter. In terms of material-economic arrangements, the research drew attention to the increasing linking of teacher professional learning (both pre- and in-service) to regimes of accountability, standards and accreditation, effectively privileging learning that could be linked to these regimes over that which could not. Finally, in terms of social-political arrangements, the research suggested that the diminished trust in the teaching profession reflected in this particular expression of reform and improvement potentially laid the groundwork for increased surveillance, and further quantification and technicisation of teachers’
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work at the hands of accountability regimes. We recognise, as noted above, that the many and varied sites of teachers’ work, governed by complex and locally constructed practice architectures that reflect the particular practice landscapes and traditions that have emerged in these different sites, mean that the ‘policy effects’ are not felt or lived in the same way by all teachers. What we argue is that the practice architectures suggested by education policy texts that privilege the language of reform and improvement have the capacity to frame teachers’ work in particular ways. To explore this argument more deeply, we will consider the role of teaching standards and their contribution to the practice architectures of teaching. Standards for teachers, variously known as professional teaching standards, teachers’ standards and professional standards, have been part of national and global discussions about teachers’ work since the mid-1980s. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) was established in the US in 1987, a consequence of a 1986 report by the Task Force on Teaching as a Profession, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and entitled A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century (Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy Task Force on Teaching as a Profession, 1986). The report recommended the establishment of a national board to define teacher knowledge and skills and to oversee the certification of teachers. What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do, a set of five core propositions for teaching, was first published in 1989 (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2016), and these core propositions form the basis for the 25 linked teaching standards, articulated at four different levels, depending on the age group of students (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2017). In the UK, the first set of teacher competences was published in 1984, with further updates in 1989 and 1992/93. In 1997, with the election of the Blair Labour Government, a transition was made from ‘competences’ to ‘standards’ and the first set of standards was published, with updates provided in 2002 and 2007, and finally the establishment of the current Teachers’ Standards (Department for Education UK, 2012) by the Cameron Coalition Government in 2012. Heather Smith (2013) makes the point that the evolution of standards in the UK has been one of both form and substance: Each of these documents varies in length, depth, style and complexity of presentation. The earlier documents were rather dry official circulars utilising mostly plain and capitalized text whereas the standards published in 2002 and 2007 were ‘stand-alone’ documents produced as glossy brightly coloured brochures as if marketing ‘the profession’, in line with New Labour’s promotional style (Fairclough, 2000). The 2012 document is a throwback to the earlier Conservative competences in its no-frills presentation. (p. 430) The 2012 Teachers’ Standards define the level of practice required for teachers to be awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) by the National College for Teaching and Leadership.
Language of reform and teachers’ work 73 In Australia, discussions of professional standards can largely be dated to the report of a 1998 Senate Inquiry into the status of the teaching profession known as A Class Act (Commonwealth of Australia, 1998), which recommended the establishment of a national body similar to the NBPTS in the US, to oversee teaching standards and accreditation of teachers. The Government of the day rejected this recommendation of the Inquiry on the basis that school education was the constitutional responsibility of the Australian States and Territories, instead recommending the establishment of equivalent bodies in each of the states and territories. This duly occurred over the first decade of the 21st century, with the establishment of eight different sets of teaching standards. By 2012, however, by which time the federal field of education in Australia had developed considerably at the hands of the Rudd/Gillard Labor Governments (Hardy, 2015; Lingard & Sellar, 2013), the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) had been established, and a set of national professional standards for teachers had been developed (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2012). National standards work differently in the three national contexts. In 2010, approximately 91,000 teachers in the US (roughly 3%) had volunteered to become National Board certified (Exstrom, 2011). Darling-Hammond highlights that the certification process is “designed to identify experienced accomplished teachers” (2010, p. 220), and the process of becoming National Board Certified involves a multi-dimensional teacher performance assessment. In England and Wales, QTS is mandatory for teachers working in schools (other than independent schools), and the Teachers’ Standards are linked to the shaping of all initial teacher education, both Higher Education Institution and school-based, that leads to QTS. Additionally, the Teachers’ Standards are used in annual performance appraisal for all teachers. The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers link explicitly to accreditation of initial teacher education programs (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2015), and thus directly shape these programs. All teachers are accredited at Graduate level upon graduation from an approved initial teacher education program, and have up to five years to gain accreditation at Proficient level. Two higher levels, Accomplished and Lead, are available for voluntary accreditation for more experienced teachers. In all three countries, professional standards impact teacher remuneration: in the US, a broad range of benefits are paid to teachers in different states who have achieved National Board Certification. In England, teachers can apply to access the ‘upper pay range’ based on demonstrating their high level of competence in relation to all standards (Department for Education UK, 2016). In Australia, higher levels of remuneration are able to be accessed by teachers with accreditation at accomplished and lead levels (NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2015). Professional teaching standards work to shape and influence the practice architectures of teaching in three main ways. First, as we shall argue in some detail below, they both shape and reflect the discursive construction of ‘the good teacher’ (Connell, 2009; Moore, 2004), in ways that can be generative, as in the case of what Judyth Sachs (2005) refers to as developmental standards, or not, as
Language of reform and teachers’ work
in the case of what she refers to as performance standards. Peter Taubman refers to the latter and their consequences when he writes: because performance standards define specific demonstrable behaviours, for example, performance on a test, doing group work in class, or putting up an aim on the board, and because the level of success in demonstrating these behaviours must be assessed by standardised measures, activities such as teaching are broken down into finer and finer units, what Richard Sennett refers to as the “miniaturization of focus” (1986, p. 43). Thus standards not only standardise work, they also divide it up into component parts. (Taubman, 2009, p. 115) Second, professional standards, over time, come to define what counts as and constitutes good professional development and learning for teachers. As one of us has argued elsewhere (Mockler, 2013, 2015), the quantification of professional learning that has taken place in some jurisdictions at the hands of standards and accreditation requirements is not always consistent with what we know about effective or powerful professional learning. Third, the linking of standards and certification/ accreditation to remuneration impacts the material economic arrangements that frame teachers’ work. These and other influences of professional standards and accreditation/certification processes on the practice architectures of teachers’ work are felt, of course, in different ways in the many and diverse contexts within which teachers practice. In the next section, we consider at close quarters three expressions of national professional teaching standards, considering in particular what they, individually and collectively, highlight about the cultural-discursive arrangements which frame teachers’ work on a national and global level.
Professional teaching standards: national frameworks, international comparisons In this section, after a brief account of each of the three sets of current teaching standards in the UK, Australia and the US, we conduct a comparison of the three sets of standards in terms of the cultural-discursive, material-economic and socialpolitical arrangements they suggest. We explore both the similarities and differences of the frameworks in terms of the practice architectures they contribute to teachers’ work in the contemporary age.
UK Teachers’ Standards In keeping with Smith’s assessment, reported above, that the 2012 UK Teachers’ Standards (Department for Education UK, 2012) reflect a ‘no frills’ presentation, the standards are presented a single page, absent of pleasing design or photography. The preamble notes that teachers “are accountable for achieving the highest possible standards in work and conduct”, and the standards are then presented in two parts: (a) teaching and (b) personal and professional conduct.
Language of reform and teachers’ work 75 Divided into eight elements, the first part, teaching, states that “a teacher must”: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge Plan and teach well-structured lessons Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils Make accurate and productive use of assessment Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment Fulfil wider professional responsibilities
Setting high expectations is framed around the creation of a quality learning environment and establishment of positive relationships to the benefit of all students, with a strong sense of differentiation: teachers should “set goals that stretch and challenge pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and dispositions”. In terms of the promotion of good progress and outcomes by pupils, teachers are required to demonstrate pedagogical knowledge (Shulman, 1987), along with the capacity to work with students’ prior knowledge and to support students in developing metacognitive awareness and work ethics. Teachers are to “be accountable for pupils’ attainment, progress and outcomes”, which brings to mind the words of Onora O’Neill in her work on Intelligent Accountability in Education, where she is reflecting on this very phenomena in the UK: Any claim that evidence provided by systems of assessment can be used to hold to account not only those who are assessed, but those who prepared them for assessment, deserves close scrutiny. The scrutiny is needed in order to take account of the ways in which the prospect of being held to account for others’ performance, as measured by a given system of assessment, is likely to affect the action of those who do the preparation. While the hope of those who reuse assessment evidence for second-order purposes is that those who teach pupils and prepare them for examination will do it to a higher standard, the reality may be different. Teachers and schools may respond to such systems of accountability in ways that can undermine the very performance that is ostensibly being measured or assessed. Where this happens, the secondary use of assessment evidence to hold teachers and schools to account can damage primary, educational use of that assessment. (O’Neill, 2013, p. 5) We shall return to consider issues of accountability in the subsequent discussion. Good subject and curriculum knowledge is construed in terms of “secure knowledge”, currency of knowledge, and capacity to “foster and maintain” student interest and redress misconceptions. Teachers are required to work to build students’ literacy, regardless of their particular subject focus. Interestingly, early reading and early mathematics are singled out together but separately: if teachers are teaching early reading, they are to “demonstrate a clear understanding of
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systematic synthetic phonics”, while in the case of early mathematics, teachers are to “demonstrate a clear understanding of appropriate teaching strategies”. This contrast seems curious, given that in the context of teaching early reading there is some agreement, despite the extreme perspectives on the part of some warriors in the ongoing literacy wars (Snyder, 2008), that there remains a suite of “appropriate teaching strategies” for early reading also. The planning and teaching of “well structured” lessons involves the directive that teachers should “impart knowledge” to students while also developing their understanding and fostering intellectual curiosity. Curriculum design and reflective practice with relation to teaching and learning are also included, along with a requirement to “set homework” and other out-of-class activities to consolidate student learning. The principle of differentiation is central to the requirement to “adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils”, including knowledge of child development and special learning needs, along with knowledge of differentiation practices. Knowledge of appropriate assessment practices, capacity to use both formative and summative assessment “to secure pupils’ progress”, to use data and to provide feedback are central to the “accurate and productive use of assessment”. Behaviour management is conceived of as entirely separate to pedagogy and learning, understood to be about the establishment of boundaries, high expectations of behaviour, and classroom management. The maintenance of “good relationships with pupils” is also conceived of as part of behaviour management but is quickly juxtaposed with the need to “exercise appropriate authority and act decisively when necessary”. The fulfilment of wider professional responsibilities comprises a contribution to the ‘wider life’ of the school and school ethos; professional relationships with colleagues; professional development and effective communication with parents. Finally, personal, and professional conduct is constructed around upholding public trust and high standards of ethics and behaviour by maintaining appropriate and productive relationships with students; exercising appropriate duty of care; and “showing tolerance of and respect for the rights of others”. Two final means are expressed in the negative: •
not undermining fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs; ensuring that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways which exploit pupils’ vulnerability or might lead them to break the law (Department for Education UK, 2012)
Finally, teachers are required to observe the legal frameworks within which they practice, and to have “proper and professional regard for the ethos, policies and practices” of their school, while maintaining “high standards in their own attendance and punctuality”. The UK standards are thus an interesting combination of ‘rules’ for teachers (such as those discussed immediately above); direct instructions for practice (such
Language of reform and teachers’ work 77 as relating to phonics and homework); elements involving professional judgement (such as those related to differentiation); and accountability requirements. The standards are underpinned by assumptions about the nature of knowledge and pedagogical practice, but also, and somewhat contradictorily, about the need for learning to be differentiated (albeit primarily with an eye to students’ special needs).
Australian Professional Standards for Teachers The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2012) comprise seven standards, each with a number of focus areas: • • • • • • •
Know students and how they learn Know content and how to teach it Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning Create and maintain safe and supportive learning environments Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning Engage in professional learning Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community
The first of these, know students and how they learn, centres around understanding child and adolescent development and learning theory generally, and then developing differentiated teaching strategies for students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds; for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; for students “across the full range of abilities” and for students with disabilities. Knowing content and how to teach it focuses on content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, design of curriculum, assessment and reporting, the provision of opportunities for students to develop understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (with a view to promoting reconciliation); knowledge of “effective teaching strategies” for developing students’ literacy and numeracy, and for integrating information and communication technologies. Planning for and implementing effective teaching and learning is said to comprise the setting of goals and expectations, curriculum design (including evaluation), selection of teaching strategies and resources, classroom communication and the engagement of parents and carers. Creating and maintaining supportive and safe learning environments comprises the support of student participation, including positive and inclusive interactions, management of classroom activities and “challenging behaviours”, maintenance of student safety through compliance with “system, curriculum and legislative requirements”, and safe, responsible and ethical use of information and communication technologies in teaching and learning. Standard 5, which requires teachers to assess, provide feedback and report on student learning, includes the requirements that teachers will assess student
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learning and provide feedback to students, use their professional judgement such that they make “consistent and comparable judgements”, interpret student assessment data with a view to “identifying interventions and modifying teaching practice”, and report on student achievement to parents/carers in ways that are clear, accurate and respectful. Engaging in professional learning comprises an ability to identify and plan professional learning needs, to engage in professional learning “to update knowledge and practice, targeted to professional needs and school and/or system priorities” (p. 11) and to engage with colleagues for the improvement of practice. Further, teachers are expected to apply professional learning to their practice with a view to improving student learning. Finally, Standard 7, engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community, involves teachers meeting professional ethics and other responsibilities, compliance with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements, engaging productively with the parents and carers of their students, and engaging with the profession more broadly through participation in professional and community networks. The articulation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers at the four levels of Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead gives them a developmental edge that is lacking in the UK Teachers’ Standards. With few exceptions, at graduate level, teachers are expected to demonstrate understanding of each of the focus area, gained through their initial teacher education, including but not limited to their professional experience placements in schools.1 Particularly with respect to Standards 2, 3, and 4, which relate to the creation of productive classroom environments for learning, pre-service teachers are expected to demonstrate each of the focus areas at a ‘beginning’ level. Proficient teachers, however, are required to demonstrate consistent application of each of the focus areas that draws on both their knowledge and experience in practice. Highly Accomplished teachers demonstrate each of the standards at a more sophisticated level, working with and supporting colleagues in their own development of practice and demonstrating innovation. Lead teachers demonstrate their capacity to lead others, whether formally or informally, at a whole-school or within-school level, and to take responsibility for shaping the enactment of the standards at a broader-than-classroom level. While the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers do at some level constitute ‘rules’ for teachers, they stop short of articulating or advocating for any particular curricular or pedagogical approach. They articulate the need for “effective strategies” to be implemented, for example, in relation to students with diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and students with special needs, but do not attempt to articulate what these effective strategies should be, presumably leaving their identification to the professional judgement of teachers and school leaders. Furthermore, while the Australian standards clearly aim to provide a guide for teachers’ practice, they do not aim to dictate what constitutes good teacher behaviour in the same way as the UK Teachers’ Standards do (for example, in relation to homework and the teaching of early reading). Rather, they seem to assume that understandings and expressions of
Language of reform and teachers’ work 79 good practice across the seven standards are ‘out there’ in schools, and focus instead on drawing together the basic tenets of practice in such a way that teachers, guided within their school communities, might find ways of giving these expression that are consistent with their own professional identities and the priorities of their school communities. This is not to say that the Australian Standards do not play into the technicisation and quantification of teachers’ work at all – this is largely a question of how the standards are understood and enacted – but rather that the breadth of expression of each of the focus areas leaves a certain scope for judgement and local articulation that appears to be largely absent from the UK standards.
US NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards (3rd edition) Professional teaching standards developed and certified by the NBPTS are structured such that 25 different sets of teaching standards exist, tailored both to content area and students’ developmental stage. The standards thus range from Generalist Early Childhood to Science – Adolescence and Young Adulthood. Here we have chosen to focus on the Middle Childhood Generalist Standards, for teachers of students aged from 7 to 12, with the expectation that the general focus of these standards might provide a sensible point of comparison with the generalist UK and Australian professional standards. The standards document draws attention to the fact that these (and like them, other NBPTS standards) have been developed through a collaborative process of gaining consensus between diverse members of the teaching community: Middle Childhood Generalist Standards, 3rd Edition, derives its power to describe accomplished teaching from an amazing degree of collaboration and consensus among educators from the field. (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2012, p. 64) The standards document comprises of nine professional standards, namely: • • • • • • • • •
Knowledge of students Respect for diversity Establishing an environment for learning Knowledge of content and curriculum Instructional decision making Partnership and outreach Professionalism, leadership and advocacy Responsiveness to change Reflective practice
Accomplished achievement of each of these standards is richly described in the document over 43 pages, a strategy very different to the brief ‘bullet point’ approach taken in the UK Teachers’ Standards or the breaking down of standards
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into smaller focus areas and articulation of these at a number of levels of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Here we provide a brief synthesis of each, aiming to draw out the essence of this articulation of each standard. Accomplished knowledge of students is said to include an understanding of the social, physical, emotional and intellectual development that takes place in middle childhood. This understanding informs an appreciation of students as individuals and the interplay between individual characteristics and interests of students and their readiness for learning: “accomplished teachers know that the interests young people share can provide contexts for engaging students in learning” (p. 20). It is also said to inform an understanding of students as learners, which in turn informs the establishment of high expectations for each student, and an understanding of the different ways that students can and should learn to learn. Respect for diversity for accomplished teachers comprises both appreciating and addressing diversity in teaching, and accomplished teachers are said to “understand that a learning environment is enriched when students of various cultures, backgrounds, and abilities can see themselves in curricula and work together to achieve common goals” (p. 22). Furthermore, in addressing diversity, they “identify, model and teach the skills that students need to interact with classmates from different groups in a way that reduces bias, fear, anxiety and discrimination” (p. 23), and through proactively addressing and valuing diversity they foster productive learning environments. In establishing an environment for learning, accomplished teachers build a community that includes students, teachers and family members, develop “respectful and productive educational environments” (p. 26) through the establishment of clear expectations early in the school year and the modelling and encouragement of productive and respectful relationships between all class members. They are constructive in addressing inappropriate behaviour and: recognize the importance of instilling within their students the idea that learning can be enjoyable yet challenging, that experimenting is essential, and that recognizing and correcting mistakes is as critical and worthwhile as enjoying successes. (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2012, p. 27) Additionally, they are said to understand the notion of ‘learning environment’ broadly, to include all physical and virtual spaces in which their students engage in learning. Knowledge of content and curriculum comprises richly described content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1986) across the areas of English language arts; mathematics; science; social studies (including civics, economics, geography and history), the arts; and health and wellness. In each case, content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge are linked to broader questions of why the learning of this content is important for students’ social and academic development. Instructional decision making reflects the way in which accomplished teachers create a desire (linked to their knowledge of their
Language of reform and teachers’ work 81 students) for students to be authentically engaged in learning, through gaining “knowledge and understanding of their students that informs the content they teach and the pedagogical approaches they use to motivate students” (p. 43). They carefully plan and implement instruction based on their knowledge of their students, providing learning activities that address the breadth, depth, novelty, and complexity of subject area content and become more challenging as students gain confidence, reach expected levels of proficiency, and mature. Further, teachers differentiate content, process, and product in ways that are appropriate to subject matter as well as to students’ strengths and needs. (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2012, p. 45) Furthermore, accomplished teachers generate and use a variety of assessment data to inform and improve student learning, understanding the varied roles and use of different types of assessment. They reflect on, evaluate, refine and develop their practice and instructional decision making through careful and ongoing interrogation. With regard to partnership and outreach, accomplished teachers are said to build expansive and productive relationships with families and community members, with a view to leveraging these in the name of improved student learning. They “see these communities as extensions of schools and classrooms, and they recognise the importance of using community resources that students value” (p. 51). Professionalism, leadership and advocacy is primarily about accomplished teachers advocating for the teaching profession and for student learning – as such, it has an ‘activist professional’ (Sachs, 2000, 2003a, 2016) edge to it. Such teachers demonstrate high levels of professionalism and professional responsibility, and are committed to their own professional development and the currency of their professional knowledge. For example, when accomplished teachers become aware of innovative practices in their schools or districts, they may seek professional development experiences, virtual or face-to-face, to understand better the complexity of these practices as well as the current and potential connections the practices may hold for their schools and communities. (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2012, p. 53) In terms of advocacy, accomplished teachers take action both in their own schools and more broadly, as advocates for “children, learning, curricula and their profession. They know that that when they take action, their voices can lead to the development of practices and policies that benefit other teachers, students, and society” (p. 54). Responsiveness to change relates to accomplished teachers’ flexibility, adaptability, their openness to change and associated ability to “model positive dispositions as they anticipate, accept and address change” (p. 55). This standards
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recognises the need for teachers to anticipate and be responsive to change in relation to content and curricula (including the changing needs of students and changing assessment needs); changing technological resources and associated technological literacies; and changing school environments, including “in procedures, funding levels, curriculum, teaching and assessment tools, data collection, the student population and the physical environment” (p. 57). Interestingly, with regard to educational policy, “as new policies emerge”, accomplished teachers are said to “advocate for policies that support educational excellence, and they think critically about the impact that these policies have on their classrooms” (p. 57). Responsiveness to change with regard to students and communities, is primarily seen as accomplished teachers understanding the diversity of those changes, particularly the notion that “the awareness that change can bring benefits and burdens helps them respond practically and thoughtfully” (p. 58). Finally, reflective practice for accomplished teachers is seen to be about cyclical, systematic interrogation of practice. Through reflective practice, accomplished teachers “challenge assumptions, sharpen their judgment, affirm what they are doing well, expand their repertoire of teaching methods, deepen their knowledge, and increase the efficacy of their reflection” (p. 61). Reflective practice is about maintaining and pursuing lifelong learning as a teacher, “recognizing where they have been and where their next steps should take them” (p. 61). The NBPTS standards are thus more expansive and discursive than either of the two sets of standards examined earlier. Furthermore, and partly because of this, they embody a more nuanced and aspirational vision of what it is to be and practice as an accomplished teacher. The standards are essentially about dispositions and orientations, to students, curriculum, schooling and education, rather than about specific practices, and it is relatively easy to see how these standards might be enacted in different ways by teachers working in very different contexts.
Practice within and beyond standards Some years ago now, in the context of what we then saw as the increasing quantification and technicisation of teachers’ work at the hands of mechanisms such as teaching standards, we wrote: It is our fear that the current standards regimes and the policy contexts out of which they grow have, at their hearts, a desire not to build an understanding of the complexity and nuance of teaching practice or to celebrate the diversity of teachers and learners, but rather to standardise practice, stifle debate and promise the fallacious notion of ‘professional objectivity’. (Groundwater-Smith & Mockler, 2009, p. 8) The examination of these three sets of teaching standards suggests that while this fear may have been realised in the ensuing years in some contexts, this is not the case in all contexts. Sachs (2003b, 2016; Sachs & Mockler, 2012) has made a distinction between standards developed and used for regulatory purposes and
Language of reform and teachers’ work 83 those developed and used for purposes of professional development and learning. She argues that the former are an expression of ‘performance’ or ‘audit’ (Power, 1999) cultures, consistent with the development of controlled or compliant teacher professionalism, while the latter are linked with more transformative approaches to teacher professionalism. The UK Teachers’ Standards, with their attempt to define a baseline “level of practice at which all qualified teachers are expected to perform” (Department for Education UK, 2011, p. 6) and their mandating of particular strategies and practices to the exclusion of others, exemplify a regulatory approach to standards. The NBPTS standards, comprising principles, orientations, dispositions and aspirational statements, with teachers encouraged to develop a locally-contextualised repertoire of practices and to develop and document evidence of their practice are more developmental in their scope and intent. The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, with their division of seven standards into observable, demonstrable elements of practice, along with recognition that such standards can be demonstrated at increasing levels of expertise sit, it seems to us, somewhere in the middle of the regulatory–developmental continuum. Furthermore, regardless of the language used and the discourses they feed, the existence of professional standards, quite aside from their intent, does not in and of itself contribute to ‘teacher quality’. Arguments in favour of professional standards, particularly in the early days of standards development, have long assumed a somewhat instantaneous improvement in both the quality of teaching and the status of teachers with the advent of standards. But like all assessment rubrics – for that is essentially what teaching standards are – the power lies more in the processes that surround the standards than in the standards themselves. Standards that exist purely (or perhaps even partially) for the purposes of accountability and compliance, that function as a kind of ‘base line’ expression of practice for teachers necessarily engender, as a default position, a sense of ‘box ticking’ compliance. Talbot (2016) has explored the differences for teachers between the collection of “evidence for no-one” as part of complying with requirements of standards and accreditation and the evidence of transformative professional learning that ensues from authentic problematisation of practice. She concludes: Critical evaluation of teachers’ capacity to produce authentic evidence of transformed teaching work should inform the evolution of policy associated with accreditation against standards in such a way as to improve, rather than inhibit learning outcomes for teachers. (Talbot, 2016, p. 88) Standards such as those developed by the NBPTS work in a different way to these compliance-driven standards. As rich and detailed accounts of the orientations and dispositions of accomplished teachers, a sense of accomplished teacher habitus (Bourdieu, 1990), these standards open the door to discussion of the ways in which teaching practice might be shaped at a local level to the benefit of students and communities. With reference to the theory of practice architectures,
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they constitute a set of arrangements embodying cultural-discursive, materialeconomic and social-political dimensions that hold the capacity to enable and foster generative practice.2 The UK Teachers’ Standards, on the other hand, might be regarded as more constraining of generative practice through not only their limited expression of what good practice looks like, but the narrow processes of compliance and garden-variety accountability within which they are framed. The very notion of good teaching has always been and will always be a contested one. Radically different perspectives exist beyond the profession, and indeed within the profession itself. Raewyn Connell ended her 2009 article Good Teachers on Dangerous Ground with a call for “the broadest possible debate on good teaching and how it can be supported” (Connell, 2009, p. 226), and here, almost a decade into the future, a decade in which much progress has been made on closing down rather than opening up such debate, we echo this call. This brief survey of teaching standards from different jurisdictions has highlighted both the possibilities and hazards of professional standards for teachers, and their capacity to both foster and limit transformative practice, through both the language they employ and discourses they feed, and the processes and arrangements they enable. In the next chapter, we move from considering the work of teachers to that of learners, arguing that the language of reform and improvement in education has shaped curriculum in ways that impact on what it is to be a learner in contemporary schools.
Notes 1 According to the standards and procedures for the accreditation of initial teacher education in Australia (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2015), pre-service teachers are required to complete a minimum of 80 days of professional experience if they are enrolled in an undergraduate initial teacher education program and 60 days if they are enrolled in a postgraduate initial teacher education program. 2 This is not to suggest that all teaching standards emanating from the US exhibit these characteristics. We recognise that teachers’ practice in US schools is governed by a myriad of largely state-level standards and policies, many of which resonate in type more with the UK Teachers’ Standards or Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
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The work of learners in the face of curriculum reform
Whereas much of our discussion, to this point, has been in relation to the conditions of the work of teachers, the ways in which it is governed and the manner in which it is judged to be effective through various representations, in this chapter our attention turns to the work of learners. We do this through examining what it is that learners are expected to make, do and perform – that is, the curriculum and how they perceive and understand their own agency through their experiences and the ways in which these perceptions feed into our understandings of improvement and reform. In effect we see that by acknowledging students as the consequential stakeholders in school education (Mockler & Groundwater-Smith, 2012) and providing for them to have a voice, educational practices have the potential to be formed, re-formed and transformed through the contribution of the learners. Indeed, we could argue that authentic consultation with children and young people is a significant educational reform. Participation rights for young people are becoming more accepted as it is acknowledged that they are the expert witnesses to their experiences of schooling in general and the curriculum in particular. Thus reform comes about when we genuinely know “how to go on in practice” through understanding those factors which enable and constrain what takes place in schools (Kemmis, Wilkinson, Edwards-Groves, Hardy, Grootenboer & Bristol, 2014, p. 207). In this chapter, then, we shall explore two key matters: the challenges inherent in defining what is meant and understood by the term ‘curriculum’ through a device of raising questions that allow us to see the term through a variety of lenses; and the agency of learners as they engage with what is to be learned. We shall make our discussion more concrete by examining a specific learning area (history), its form and purpose and the ways in which learners perceive and shape its study through a particular case. Thus, we shall argue that as we examine issues in relation to ways in which it may be improved and reformed, much will depend upon the manner in which curriculum is defined. Having mapped this difficult and contentious terrain we shall turn to the ways in which young people can contribute to our understanding of curriculum as they experience it within their classrooms. We shall refer briefly to the still relatively rare practice of consulting young people in relation
The work of learners 89 to what it is that they are expected to learn and the consequences for policies and practices when their perspectives are taken into account. We shall demonstrate that through the work of learners we can better understand the relationship between curriculum and pedagogy, in particular through the lens of pedagogic governance as understood in relation to matters of power and control.
Defining ‘curriculum’ The word ‘curriculum’ is seemingly innocent and generally promoted as an official statement of what learners are expected to know and be able to do. It is seen to include skills, performances, values and attitudes and is often expressed in terms of outcomes, apparently unproblematised. But, beneath this settled surface much is troubling. It is not that the meaning has been sucked out of the term but rather that it has become so inflated with multiple and even contradictory meanings that it can scarcely be defined such that discussions regarding improvement and reform may take a whole range of trajectories in relation to, among other things, its politicisation in terms of national ambitions. These policy moves are influenced by a ceaseless momentum motivated by globalisation that positions education systems, more widely, and curriculum, in particular, as drivers of economic development and national competitiveness (Yates & Young, 2010; Young, 2009). Curriculum theorising, then, can be characterised as a series of struggles, each of which has an impact upon the definition of the term and ultimately how it will be experienced by students in schools. These contests can be seen as inter alia: •
• • • • •
the varying narratives arising from other disciplines that relate to the practice of education, in particular, psychology, philosophy and sociology; embodying such matters as behavioural objectives; forms of knowledge; the distribution of knowledge and the force of cultural capital; issues of power and authority; conflicts between asserting non-utilitarian aims and meeting extrinsic material goals; the explicit and hidden curriculum; the dissonance between large scale policy formulation and on-the-ground implementation that poses significant challenges for teachers and learners; and the varying and overlapping contexts and justifications for curriculum decision making.
There are claims and counter claims; library shelves and journals groan under the weight of formulations and definitions regarding ‘curriculum’, each seeking its own set of reasonings in accordance with the principles of practice inherent in the mind(s) of the specific authors. Thus we find a series of the conundrums that we pose in this chapter: ‘If curriculum is the answer to the question, then what question is being asked and by whom?’ And ‘Whose improvement, whose reform?’ To explore these questions, we shall formulate a series of queries each
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with an exemplar, recognising that these examples represent only a small proportion of the many discussions in relation to curriculum theorising from across the last century and into the new millennium. We recognise that curriculum theorising is not curriculum action, but that by identifying a range of theoretical stances including: psychology and educational measurement; philosophy; economic development; sociology and arguments regarding social justice, equity, power and control, and more broadly studies of political systems; it is possible to imagine the actions that might arise from them. Thus we have constructed the questions that follow on the basis that they have their genesis in the ‘disciplinary’ areas from which they have sprung and which have for some time informed the educational imaginary (Furlong, 2013).
Is it mainly a matter of establishing the ‘right’ structure and sequence to better assist learning? The questions of structure and sequence are ones that have plagued the educational designers, who are in the main psychologists. They are those who see the curriculum as basically an artefact to be engineered. The holy grail is to clearly and explicitly state how best to design the curriculum. Some would argue that the definitive answer was provided by Ralph Tyler (1949) who proposed four clear steps: determine purposes by identifying the learning objectives; plan learning experiences that relate to those purposes; organise the experiences in a logical sequence; and evaluate the outcomes and revise. These aphorisms grew out of the work undertaken by Tyler in relation to developing evaluation strategies that could take account of variation in school practices known as “The 8 year study”. In reference to the works of Tyler and the 8 year study, Madaus and Stufflebeam (1988, p. 102) wrote: The aims of any educational program cannot well be stated in terms of the content of the program or in terms of the methods and procedures followed by teachers, for these are only means to other ends. Basically, the goals of education represent these changes in human beings which we hope to bring about through education. The kinds of ideas which we expect students to get and to use, the kinds of skills which we hope they will develop, the techniques of thinking we hope they will acquire, the ways in which we hope they will learn to react to aesthetic experiences – these are illustrations of educational objectives. It thus becomes apparent that, with its emphasis upon efficiency and the Tayloresque breaking down of learning into behavioural objectives, the curriculum focus was and remains a pragmatic one with little or no attention to be paid to the nature of knowledge itself. The ‘weasel’ word is to be found in the title of Tyler’s book that blends curriculum with ‘instruction’, that is, in effect, something to be ‘done to’ the learners, as illustrated in the quote above. An insight into the instructive element of curriculum design can be found by examining the ways in which curriculum statements are voiced. For example, in the recently
The work of learners 91 re-structured curriculum statements developed in New Zealand, each begins with the imperative “students will” (Priestley & Sinnema, 2014, p. 61). This can be constructed as a device subject to assessment regimes and routinised practices, for there is an implicit enforcement in the use of will. How different it might be if curriculum designers adopted the notion of ‘students may’ in recognition of their varying needs and experiences. While others have followed Tyler in developing more nuanced and refined elements, the matter of what constitutes the curriculum in terms of ways and means appears settled for these engineers. Any reforms within such a regime of practice are a matter of fine-tuning.
Is it more a question of the nature of knowledge itself? The pragmatism of Tyler and his like does not go unchallenged by philosophers who have struggled with the ways in which knowledge itself is known and understood. In order to organise the curriculum, thought needs to be given to whether knowledge can be constituted into forms of knowledge and fields of knowledge. The former may be said to require particular skills and experiences while the latter represent the domains in which they occur. For example, Paul Hirst (1974) whose work has certainly been subject to vigorous debate, has argued that forms of knowledge, such as mathematics, physical sciences, human sciences, history, religion, literature and fine arts, and philosophy are distinctive and can be located in experience. In the case of fields of knowledge, Hirst contends that these may transcend disciplinary boundaries and may embody both theoretical and practical reasoning. Hirst sees the acquisition of knowledge as a kind of conversation and in exploring the implications for education there should be prospects to investigate the conditions under which this conversation can best occur. Unlike Tyler’s work and that of his colleagues, in this conceptualisation, the framework for curriculum is not an expedient one. Hirst’s analysis, in seeking to identify the essential qualities and irreducible nature of particular aspects of the curriculum, does not provide a template for either defining or planning a curriculum as would be the expectation of those taking a ‘Tylerian’ position. However, in a future that gives attention to a knowledge economy the matter of the nature of knowledge becomes central. As Robertson (2008, p. 35) puts it, “The focus on knowledge as the key motor for the economy, on how to create, distribute and manage it, has placed education at the centre of policy and politics”. Thus an analysis of what constitutes knowledge is one that can provoke ways of thinking about what should be done in the face of the short-term reformers and improvers. Within this framing of curriculum, the certitude of those who believe that they can insist upon what students will do is interrupted.
Is the question better directed to ‘funds of knowledge’? Curriculum theorists today would not see learners coming to schools as ‘blank slates’ or even embodying a palimpsest upon which new notions and ideas can
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be inscribed. Rather, they understand that each brings with herself or himself an accumulation of knowledge and experience. Moll, Amanti, Neff and Gonzalez (1992) are credited with coining the phrase, ‘funds of knowledge’ taken “to refer to the historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household or individual functioning and well-being” (p. 133). They cite the broad range of diverse cultural experiences that each young person has accumulated. This emphasis is to counteract a deficit view of what it is that children bring to school and re-characterise these experiences as intellectual and social assets. All the same, there is an argument that this ‘cultural capital’ (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990) may not accord with an established curriculum that assumes specific knowledge and experiences relating to socially agreed values. It may well be that young people come to school having accumulated cultural capital but in the wrong currency for use at school, with incommensurable rates of exchange. This is powerfully demonstrated in Thomson’s book, Schooling the Rustbelt Kids (Thomson, 2002), in which she promulgated a powerful image in relation to the ‘virtual school bag’, built upon the notion that all learners come to school not only with their conventional school bags but also virtual bags full of familiar, cultural and linguistic resources, more often than not unrecognised. Those theorists concerned with reform from a perspective of social justice are more interested in identifying the ways in which particular knowledges are privileged and what their consequences may be in creating barriers and boundaries. In contrast to those who would extol and even valorise the benefits of acknowledging the wider range of learner experiences and their consequences for knowing, Young and Muller (2013) explore and delineate what they see to be ‘powerful knowledge’ both as a sociological concept and a curriculum concept, relating these to research and policy options. They make the argument that powerful knowledge is “never distributed to all in an egalitarian manner” (p. 231) and that it may be re-conceptualised as the knowledge of the powerful and that it frees those who have access to it. They cite the current emphasis upon science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as subjects that can transform, predict and control aspects of the material world and take the knower beyond the everyday and common place. Those with a penchant for curriculum improvement and reform may well face a dilemma. Is their objective to ensure that when and where possible all learners in schools have access to ‘powerful knowledge’? Or do they accept Young and Muller’s assertion that such knowledge will not be available to all and take a meritocratic position by developing strategies that select out those most able to benefit through such strategies as selective schooling and streaming?
Is it the case that the curriculum teaches more than is intended, does it contain ‘hidden messages’? Ever since Jackson (1968, pp. 33–34) coined the phrase ‘the hidden curriculum’, there has been much discussion about classroom practices embodying unstated academic and social norms. Jackson’s Life in Classrooms explores his ethnographic
The work of learners 93 observations of a Chicago elementary classroom. The book is divided into five sections: the daily grind; students’ feelings about school; involvement and withdrawal in the classroom; teachers’ views; and the need for new perspectives. His insights touched upon the ways in which the ordinary and the trivial build up, over time, into a notion for the learners about what school is and what school is for. Young people in the classroom do not need to be told who and what is acceptable; who receives praise for what; who is to be punished and castigated; what is boring and what is engaging. It is visceral. While a number of critiques have emerged that point to flaws in Jackson’s exposition, his main concern that complexity cannot be effaced by quick and ready solutions remains a vivid and important lesson. It continues to be the case that much of that which is taught through the communicative practices of the classroom, the school and the system is never made explicit, with processes leaving some learners marginalised and disengaged, particularly from the powerful learning discussed above. This brings us back to those troubling questions regarding who then makes the decisions that can have such profound effects.
Can an understanding of ‘curriculum’ be better apprehended in terms of power and authority? This question further raises concerns in relation to the matter of the worth of knowledge. Michael Apple (2011), among many others, would consider this to be both an ideological and political question since in most countries curriculum policy and practice is highly regulated and controlled through state agencies and bureaucracies. Elsewhere he challenges the notion that educational change, improvement and reform can have an independent power (Apple, 2002). He argues (after Bernstein) that there are three fields within which educational change can occur: the field of production where new knowledge is constructed; the field of reproduction where pedagogy and curriculum are enacted in schools; and the field of recontextualisation where discourses from the field of production are appropriated and transformed. Whereas in past years it was seen that curriculum design was largely a regional matter (for example, in UK through Local Education Authorities, or in Australia at the state rather than federal level), increasingly it is tied to evaluation of outcomes in a competitive globalised world. Thus curriculum decision making is returned effectively to a Tyler-type model where the purposes for learning are related to externally determined, testable outcomes often developed at a national level. Thus, as a form of ‘improvement’ in the interests of accountability, the curriculum becomes increasingly test-driven (Ravitch, 2010).
Does the question then return to whose goals and objectives and to what purpose? In a world increasingly dominated by international rankings through testing regimes such as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and
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the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), governments seek to establish the competitive advantage of their own knowledge economy that must be both measurable and targetable. Under these conditions, improvement and reform rest upon policy borrowing that becomes paramount as countries seek to draw upon the successes of those seen to be world leaders in education irrespective of their prior histories, policies and practices that have developed in a given context (Phillips, 2015). Seemingly, a series of experiences that will form a curriculum can be determined with little or no recourse to a social theory of knowledge, or indeed to the ways in which knowledge can be accessed, acquired and tested within an individual’s repertoire of already-existing knowledge. As Michael Young (2009) has suggested, there is a disconnect in contemporary writing where thinking and learning are treated as if they were processes that can be conceptualised as educational goals independently of what the thinking and learning is about or indeed how it relates to the life of the students and their experiences. Goals and objectives thus become both ahistorical and decontextualised. The knowledge that is of most worth is deemed to be the knowledge that takes a country to the top of the league tables and is then translated into a form of economic doctrine in relation to a country’s investment in its human capital. The centralising force of government policy overrides opportunities for classroom practitioners to exercise professional judgment (Apple, 2011).
What happens in the space between policy and practice? Given the centrality of the development of national curriculum plans, even in the US, where there exists a belief that these are formed locally, through state government instrumentalities, the next critical question arises from the ways in which these plans are realised in practice. Much has been written regarding the matter of curriculum implementation; that is, moving from what is planned to what is actualised. Bamford (2015) has noticed that national curriculum guidelines look remarkably similar across countries. They have followed what has been characterised as a ‘command’ policy whereby governments issues commands that are subsequently mediated by various agencies such as employing authorities and finally arrive on the desk of the practitioner in the classroom. It is interesting that Bamford’s case is made in the context of Arts in education, where there is less emphasis upon fidelity in implementation since control and governance of the arts have less bearing on international rankings. Nonetheless, it is clear that agencies are increasingly concerned with calculating the degree to which a particular curriculum edict is implemented as planned and which factors either facilitate or hinder that implementation. A reform response has been to control implementation by the employment of ‘teacher-proof ’ materials developed by those outside the classroom, often with commercial intent. In effect, the reform is one that privileges those publishers who are participating in new networks of power based in business (and associated philanthropy) with a wide international reach, irrespective of the perceived needs of teachers and learners (Ball, 2012a).
The work of learners 95 Finally, how can this complex territory be mapped and negotiated at the school/classroom level? Throughout this discussion thus far it is clear that matters in relation to the concept of ‘curriculum’ are complex and multi-faceted, and argued for by theorists representing a range of disciplines and practices. Groundwater-Smith (1988) sought to synthesise this complexity for those engaged directly in curriculum work in the classroom by suggesting that attention could be paid to three intersecting and overlapping categories: text, context and pretext. She proposed that this trilateral portrayal would be helpful for the non-specialist engaged in curriculum inquiry. She argued that curriculum texts are inclusive of the written and visual materials available in the classroom as well as the range of verbal and written interactions that take place therein: student to student; student to teacher; teacher to student; teacher to teacher. She alluded to context as that which goes ‘with the text’ being the environment within which the text unfolds, “the interplay between intentions and operations set against a socio-historical background” (p. 95). Finally she argued that ‘pretext’ embodies the reasonings that lie behind governing policies and practices being the articulation that occurs between the state, the economy and the schools themselves. Of course, written some decades ago, this template cannot be seen as an end point, but can act as a generative starting point (Hansen & James, 2016) from which to consider the relationship between theorising and enacting curriculum and the ways in which it is understood through the voice of the consequential stakeholders, the students themselves (Mockler & Groundwater-Smith, 2015). In considering reform and improvement it is relatively rare that the young people in schools are seen to have a voice in what it is that they should learn and how they might go about their learning; however, as we argued in the introduction, authentic consultation with children and young people can be considered as a reform in its own right. So where do we find the constraints that inhibit such a patently powerful potential for transformation? Here we turn to Bernstein’s concept of pedagogic governance as it relates to power and control at the school level, manifest in a variety of social arrangements (Singh, 2017). For our purposes, we most specifically wish to attend to the design, management and enactment of the curriculum in schools and classrooms. Bernstein refers to the “rules or principles for selecting and organizing what is to be taught and how it is deemed to be acquired” (quoted in Singh, 2017, p. 148). Attention is drawn to the performative power of various modes of pedagogic governance as they produce new social distinctions and forms of social reproduction. We could say that the notion of appealing to students to make comment on their curriculum experiences is a pedagogic device open to appropriation and thus a matter of which we should be cautious, wary even. Does appealing to students become a new orthodoxy that becomes enfolded in existing practices so that only the chosen few are given a voice with a high possibility of a reproductive rather than transformative suite of improvements? We would argue that in consulting young people we can see the practice
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itself forming an interruption to the kind of pedagogic ‘makeover’ that is usually available to those in the social hierarchy who have already been recognised and rewarded, and turn instead to ask what may be learned when a wider array of students are engaged in active consultation.
Curriculum decision making and student voice Just as Chapter 5 raises issues regarding teacher professional agency, threatened by a predominant audit discourse regarding certain kinds of accountability, this chapter will now trace the agency of learners, not as passive recipients of a curriculum designed as a script to be followed, but as a feature of student development that requires the kind of responsible self-regulation that can be taught and modelled in recognition of the impact on others. As Woods (2012) has recognised, both teachers and students have a role in defining the curriculum at the classroom level. We will examine the rhetoric and promise of ‘student voice’ in curriculum reform and improvement through the articulation of a particular case and argue for a position that moves beyond tokenism to one of authentic participation in decision-making (Fielding, 2004, 2012). In order to achieve this end we have chosen to identify a specific area of the curriculum – the study of history. We shall ask ourselves: Why history? Whose history? Which history? And expand upon how young people understand and participate in the study of history.
The study of history, its form and purpose Returning to the notion of forms of knowledge, it can be argued that history can be differentiated from other forms such that it requires a different imagination, in that historical events cannot be apprehended through direct observation. A towering figure in relation to the study of history is the philosopher and historian R. G. Collingwood who characterised it as a study of mind and action, with his ideas to be found primarily in the posthumously published The Idea of History (1946). In this work, Collingwood held that history cannot be perceived through the physical senses but must be reconstructed using the historical imagination. Reflection is not only thinking about an object or event, it is also thinking about the genesis of thought about that object or event as a result of experience and professional socialisation. Effectively reflection becomes reflexive. Collingwood sees history as a form of thought “whereby we ask questions and try to answer them”, p. 9. For Collingwood “the prime task of the educator is to help the student achieve self-knowledge. In simple terms, Collingwood thinks that self-knowledge arises when an individual exposes and contemplates the presuppositions that shape his (sic) life” (Hughes-Warrington, 1997, p. 158). So what kinds of things does the study of history seek to find out? The focus is upon actions of human beings that have been undertaken in the past, whether recent or long distant. Thus, as has been argued, history is for human selfknowledge that is “a knowledge of man’s (sic) knowing facilities, his thoughts or understanding or reason” (p. 205). Throughout his book, Collingwood insists upon the act of questioning. Teaching and learning about history, then, can be
The work of learners 97 construed as an area of the curriculum that gives scope to critical thinking and exploration and provides a challenge to existing knowledge and mores. Indeed, Barton and Levstik (2004) argue that history has the potential to prepare students to participate in a pluralistic society. In line with Collingwood, they argue for students to be active agents in the study of history, but they see inquiry as one of the most advocated and least implemented tools of historical study. Many issues remain, for all human actions have their historical roots. So is the study of history related only to grand and signature events, dates and places (that is, the history of the powerful), or is there merit in exploring the everyday? Lüdtke (1995) sees that the history of everyday life centres on the actions and sufferings of everyday, ordinary people. “Descriptions detail housing and homelessness, clothing and nakedness, eating habits and hunger, people’s loves and hates, their quarrels and cooperation, memories, anxieties, hopes for the future” (p. 3). It concentrates on small units and stands apart from large questions of human organisation, instead focusing upon those who would otherwise be nameless and marginalised. Hexter (1971) calls into question the “merit of using the acts of elites as a measure of the past” because they can act, not only to distort what is understood by ‘history’ but also how the learner may apprehend it. Again and again, the argument returns to what is worth knowing, who decides and what will learners do with what they learn (Levstik & Barton, 2011). So who better to contribute to an identification of that than the learners themselves, with the support and intervention of the skilled History teacher who can foster and encourage questioning and the development of inquiries.
Consulting young people The case for consulting young people regarding their experiences of the many provisions made for them is now well documented (for example, GroundwaterSmith, Dockett & Bottrell, 2015; Mockler & Groundwater-Smith, 2015). Attention has been paid in relation to the ways in which students may participate in and investigate the conditions of their learning as well as the constraints and barriers that may be placed before them. Baroutsis, McGregor and Mills (2016), among many others, argue that one way of developing active capability and civic engagement is to respect the views of young people and to provide them with real opportunities to exercise them. Indeed, it is the case that young people who are disengaged from schooling often cite their active dislike for school being based upon a lack of being heard, treated seriously and accorded any active agency. In order to illuminate the ways in which young people respond when given an opportunity to critique the ways in which the history curriculum is presented to them we turn to a specific example.
Studying history in Australia The case reported below falls into two parts. It seeks to address the perceptions of learners in relation to the emergent national history curriculum in Australia at both the national and local levels.
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Australia consists of a federation of six states and two territories, with each having its own education system and means of governance of the curriculum. The country is currently negotiating the hazardous territory in which a national curriculum is being ‘rolled out’ (albeit being articulated differently in different jurisdictions). Throughout the 20th century, divisions and tensions existed between the states and territories with respect to the school curriculum (Seddon, 2001). However the need for greater coherence in the face of an increasingly globalised world led to further pressure for a national curriculum to emerge. In 2008, all Australian governments reached agreement that a national curriculum would have a key role in improving and reforming more equitable outcomes for students irrespective of whether they lived on the urbanised coastal fringe or rural and remote inland communities. The agreement was to develop a Foundation to Year 12 curriculum, initially in the learning areas of English, Mathematics, Science and History. While the first of these areas, namely English, was seen to address Australia’s place in a competitive global economy, the last was seen as a means of building a more cohesive national identity, especially in the face of controversies of the previous decades surrounding what became known as ‘the black armband view of history’ (McKenna, 1997). The term ‘black armband view of history’ was coined by Geoffrey Blainey, an historian, who wrote: To some extent my generation was reared on the Three Cheers view of history. This patriotic view of our past had a long run. It saw Australian history as largely a success. While the convict era was a source of shame or unease, nearly everything that came after was believed to be pretty good. There is a rival view, which I call the Black Armband view of history. In recent years it has assailed the optimistic view of history. . . . The past treatment of Aborigines, of Chinese, of Kanakas, of non-British migrants, of women, the very old, the very young, and the poor was singled out, sometimes legitimately, sometimes not . . . The Black Armband view of history might well represent the swing of the pendulum from a position that had been too favourable, too self congratulatory, to an opposite extreme that is even more unreal and decidedly jaundiced. (Blainey, 1993, pp. 10–15) The prime minister of the day, John Howard, lamented what he perceived as a loss of pride in the national identity and requested that the influential policy makers of the day redress the balance (Birch, 1997). Much of the unrest had been brought to a head during Australia’s bicentennial that celebrated 200 of European foundation, seen by many of the country’s Indigenous people as 200 years following the invasion of their country. So it was not surprising that when it came to the development of a national curriculum, history studies would become a focal and contested territory. A new statutory authority had been established, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). As a part of its task, a discussion paper was issued, stating that:
The work of learners 99 History is the study of the past. It provides knowledge, understanding and appreciation of previous events, people, practices and ideas. It orders them, renders them intelligible and discerns patterns of continuity and change. It provides the means whereby individual and collective identities are formed and sustained. It enriches the present and illuminates the future. (ACARA, 2009, p. 4) The document outlined a number of observations regarding the nature of history as an area of the study of human civilisation and the ways in which it might be studied with a particular eye to notions of evidence, fact, opinion and bias. Its anodyne pronouncements did little to uncover the presence of a debate swirling around the notions of ‘a black armband view of history’. This brief portrayal of the introduction of the Australian national curriculum with respect to the study of history serves to illustrate many of those struggles nominated at the beginning of this chapter. We can detect: traces of a Tyler-like template in terms of design principles; contentious epistemological issues in relation to the knowledge of history and which knowledge is to be privileged; the influence of power and authority; and, the implicit messages in delivering a history curriculum that is to be positive and optimistic. It was in the context of the development of the Australian national curriculum that Anna Clark (2008) became a researcher in a project that set out to investigate how young people experienced learning history in their schools. Her study preceded the final formation of the history curriculum but was clearly related to its contentious nature given the title of her book History’s children: History Wars in the Classroom, and her previous long-term work with Stuart McIntyre, one of the architects of the Australian Curriculum: History and adversary of Blainey.
What young people have to say In her introduction, Clark noted: “Politicians, historians and various pundits all have an opinion on what kids should learn and how they should learn it, but where are the kids themselves in all of this?” (p. 6). She then spelled out the scope and nature of her study that brought her into contact with 182 high school students (Years 9–12) generally through small groups. She visited four schools in each state and territory and encountered young people ranging from those greatly engaged in their schooling to those for whom it was a struggle. She found remarkable agreement among them in that all who participated had a great interest in her project in terms of consulting them, but were generally less enchanted with learning the history of their country with the exception of Australia’s engagement in World War I. Stories of the federation were uninspiring and boring. Most troubling to Clark was the indifference, even hostility to the teaching of first encounters with Indigenous people. In terms of that topic it was reported: “This history’s taught to death, but not in depth”, p. 67; emphases in the original). Too often students encountered what were seen to be ‘cultural aspects’ such as dreaming stories, food and shelter; but contentious matters such
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as massacres of Indigenous people and matters related to land ownership and the effects of dispossession were avoided. Among other matters that the students spoke of were poor pedagogical practices that were often the result of teacher ineffectiveness, given that many who taught history were not specifically trained in that curriculum area. Students found themselves copying down notes and identifying websites rather than engaging in investigation and discussion. As well, there was a lack of continuity between primary and secondary school experiences as identified by Groundwater-Smith and Mockler (2015). The improvements that had been advocated in terms of reforming the Australian History Curriculum in order to restore its place in the pantheon of ‘what matters’, had seemingly fallen on deaf ears. A pressure to teach Australian history appears to have been at the cost of student engagement. Clark did encounter students’ approval of those of their teachers who were themselves engaged and committed; however, these were often in the minority. In her conclusion Clark writes: Sure, they (the students) were opinionated, critical and blunt (like many adolescents) but they engaged with the questions they were asked and they had serious things to say about Australian history that deserve to be listened to. For many students, Australian history is ‘repetitive’ and ‘boring’ or both. But is that their fault or ours? (p. 141) In reporting this study we can see through the students’ eyes that curriculum definition is inextricably linked with pedagogy and the notion of pedagogic governance, that is, how the subject is understood and taught. By consulting young people themselves it is possible to apprehend how they have experienced the curriculum with all of its explicit and hidden messages. The second case to be commented upon is one that is of a lesser scope, but greater intensity than the Clark study. As part of a wider investigation of student leadership conducted by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (Black, Walsh, Magee, Hutchins, Berman & Groundwater-Smith, 2014) a case study was included that documented a four year project designed to give young people greater agency in contributing to school policy and practice (GroundwaterSmith, Mayes & Arya-Pinatyh, 2014; Mayes & Groundwater-Smith, 2011). The project established a student steering committee whose task was to investigate a series of key questions: The school I would like? The teaching I would like? The learner I would like to be? and, What I would like to learn? Among the aims of the school’s development of this program had been the desire that the school should not only consider strategies for the academic achievements of its students, but also seek to ‘reform’ a number of its established practices. An important one of these was to investigate the nature of the relationships between students and their teachers with students enabled to feel in control of their learning, to perceive themselves as competent at solving real problems
The work of learners 101 and creating real products, and to be connected with others both within the school and the wider community. Looking at the fourth year of the study, 2013, “what I would like to learn” took the students into the realm of the curriculum. In its submission to the school’s executive regarding the final year of the project, it was argued: The Steering Committee’s aim for the past 3 years has been to support the development of student outcomes through encouraging students to have an active role and voice in the operation and issues of the school. Additionally, through facilitating more active communication between teachers and students it has been hoped that these relationships would strengthen. The implementation of the National Curriculum affects all students in every school across the nation. Conventionally, staff are the only stakeholders to read, deconstruct, workshop, discuss and then make decisions upon the implementation of the document in the classrooms. Once again, students are the consequential stakeholders in this process bearing the consequences of decisions made on their behalf. (Black et al., 2014, p. 57) As a preliminary to students considering what they would like to learn, the steering committee was invited to investigate the ways in which their teachers developed their thinking about enacting the new Year 9 Australian History curriculum. Students were to be enabled to monitor, comment upon and engage in deliberations regarding planning for the implementation of the curriculum. Access to “behind the scenes” decision making was via interviews and observation. Students engaged with the Head of Department and teachers and also observed departmental staff meetings where decisions were made about how the new curriculum could be realised in action. They also had opportunities to peruse the documents from which teachers were working. It was reasoned that prior to articulating what it is that students would like to learn about their nation’s history they should become familiar with the complexities of what it was that their teachers were engaged with as they set about planning for change. They recognised that with their expertise and experience their teachers would assist in enlightening them regarding the nature of the task in hand – curriculum reform. A powerful thread that was to run through the student deliberations was the operation of the ‘hidden curriculum’. Indeed, the young people approached it with some considerable zest. As an introductory procedure they viewed, among other resources, the music video of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. Students were well able to identify the hidden curriculum as in their own words, “that which is not taught ‘on purpose’, but is ‘the way things are taught’ ”. They saw that they were constantly in receipt of messages regarding how to speak, how to behave, what is acknowledged and rewarded, what is sanctioned. Students were responsive and articulate and could make judgments about the juxtaposition of that which was obvious and that which was hidden. They could see that it was “not just what the teacher teaches, but how the teacher teaches it”. “It is the
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things between the lines”. “It is what is obvious and noticeable as well as what we should be learning”. Students saw that both the explicit and implicit curriculum were important. They saw that both teachers and students should have a say in what is to be learnt and how: “students should have a say about what they want and teachers need to know what students can do”. One surmised, “the whole school community should have a say”.1 In their deliberations, students believed that they better understood the complexity of what takes place on the other side of the teacher’s desk, a concept so clearly evoked by Lortie (1975). They saw that curriculum decisions were not arbitrary but governed by procedures and constraints. For their part, teachers saw that students whom they had often characterised as resistant, in fact appeared less engaged because they did not understand how matters came to be as they are. Teachers found the questioning of students about curriculum matters both challenging and exciting. This account goes directly to the matter discussed earlier in relation to the ‘gap’ between policy and practice. Those designing the new national curriculum have specific goals and means of achieving them; teachers perceive that they have an obligation to ‘deliver’ that curriculum with relatively few degrees of freedom. Students in general are scarcely heard at all.
Conclusion From these two brief examples it is possible to apprehend that young people can be insightful and astute when it comes to creating a commentary on the nature of the curriculum that they experience. Although rarely consulted it is clear that by engaging them in an examination of the complexity of curriculum decisionmaking, it is possible to build bridges of significance (Groundwater-Smith et al., 2014; Atweh & Bland, 2004). As one participating student in the above study put it: Student voice breaks the barriers that I think that we have. For example I know when you first start school, there’s always like, ‘this is the teacher, this is the student’ – like a barrier between the two. And having a student voice is sort of the bridge between that barrier that allows us to connect with the teacher . . . not just, ‘this is how it’s going to be, one way, that’s it’. (p. 213) Fielding and Moss (2011) write of the substantive engagement of students in these ways as ‘restless encounters’. They see that by schools and systems taking faltering steps to connect with young people, beyond seeing them as little more than consumers, and instead positioning them as co-creators, a new democratic project can be built. Permeating our earlier discussion regarding the challenges and struggles inherent in defining curriculum work, the contradictions and ambiguities related to better understanding the nature of the curriculum are too often effaced by
The work of learners 103 technicalities. Improvement and reforms are seen as little more than fine-tuning. We argue that by introducing the element of ‘student voice’, it is possible to see that curriculum improvement and reform are more than curricular matters alone but include large and substantial matters of pedagogy and resonate to what is valued and affirmed in schooling. Curriculum formation and decision making can thus be seen as an inclusive practice, forever emergent and governed by the dynamic interactions between students and their teachers. Professional judgment and autonomy is required of teachers if they are to be enabled to engage authentically in such a process. Here we might heed the words of Kemmis et al. (2014) when they observed: Professional learning that is organized as site based educational development gives credence and honour first to the wisdom, professionalism and experience of teachers and others who practice in the site (in our terms regarding the work of curriculum) even though new practices may travel to the site through the mediation of outsiders. (Kemmis et al., 2014, p. 217) A consideration of the values and purposes of education both within and beyond concepts of schooling is critical to our discussion throughout this book; that is to say, in exploring improvement and reform in education, it is inescapable that we should examine what it is that we believe education can and should contribute to the well-being of: the individual, the community and the nation. This is a task for wise minds.
Note 1 For a full account of this project see Mayes (2016). Eve Mayes led the project as a doctoral study with Susan Groundwater-Smith acting in the role of academic partner.
References ACARA. (n.d.). Retrieved 17 March 2016, from www.acara.edu.au/curriculum_1/ learning_areas/humanities_and_social_sciences/history.html ACARA. (2009). Shape of the Australian curriculum. Retrieved 17 March 2016, from www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Australian_Curriculum_-_History.pdf Apple, M. W. (2002). Does education have independent power? Bernstein and the question of relative autonomy. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 23(4), 607–616. Apple, M. W. (2011). Education and power (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge. Atweh, B., & Bland, D. (2004). Problematics in young people as researchers: Visions and voices. Paper presented at the Social Change in the 21st Century Conference. Centre for Social Change Research, Queensland University of Technology, 29th October. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (n.d.). History – Foundation to year 12. Retrieved 17 March 2016, from www.acara.edu. au/curriculum/learning-areas-subjects/humanities-and-social-sciences/history
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Ball, S. (2012a). Global Education Inc.: New policy networks and the neo-liberal imaginary. London and New York: Routledge. Bamford, A. (2015). Making it happen: Closing the gap between policy and practice in arts education In M. Fleming, L. Bresler, & J. O’Toole (Eds.), The Routledge international handbook of the arts and education (pp. 388–397). London: Routledge. Baroutsis, A., McGregor, G., & Mills, M. (2016). Pedagogic voice: Student voice in teaching and engagement pedagogies. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 24(1), 123–140. Barton, K. C., & Levstik, L. S. (2004). Teaching history for the common good. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. Birch, T. (1997). ‘Black armbands and white veils’: John Howard’s moral amnesia. Melbourne Historical Journal, 25, 8–16. Black, R., Walsh, L., Magee, J., Hutchins, L., Berman, N., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2014). Student leadership: A review of effective practice. Canberra: ARACY. Blainey, G. (1993). Drawing up a balance sheet of our history. Quadrant, 37(7–8), 10–15. Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.-C. (1990). Reproduction in education, society and culture (2nd ed.). London: Sage. Clark, A. (2008). History’s children: History wars in the classroom. Sydney: UNSW Press. Collingwood, R. G. (1973). The idea of history. London: Oxford University (Reprinted from: 1946). Fielding, M. (2004). Transformative approaches to student voice: Theoretical underpinnings, recalcitrant realities. British Educational Research Journal, 30(2), 295–311. Fielding, M. (2012). Student voice: Patterns of partnership and the demands of deep democracy. Connect, 197, 10–15. Fielding, M., & Moss, P. (2011). Radical education and the common school: A democratic alternative. Abingdon: Routledge. Furlong, J. (2013). Education – An anatomy of the discipline: Rescuing the university project? Abingdon: Routledge. Groundwater-Smith, S. (1988). The interrogation of case records as a basis for constructing curriculum perspectives. In J. Nias & S. Groundwater-Smith (Eds.), The enquiring teacher: Supporting and sustaining teacher research (pp. 93–105). London: Routledge. Groundwater-Smith, S., Dockett, S., & Bottrell, D. (2015). Participatory research with children and young people. London: SAGE. Groundwater-Smith, S., Mayes, E., & Arya-Pinatyh, K. (2014). A bridge over troubling waters in education: The complexity of a ‘students as co-researchers’ project. Curriculum Matters, 10, 213–231. Groundwater-Smith, S., & Mockler, N. (2015). Challenges for teaching and learning in the middle years. In S. Groundwater-Smith & N. Mockler (Eds.), Big fish, little fish: Teaching and learning in the middle years. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. Hansen, D. T., & James, C. (2016). The importance of cultivating democratic habits in schools: Enduring lessons from democracy and education. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 48(1), 94–112. Hexter, J. H. (1971). The history primer. London: Allen Lane. Hirst, P. H. (1974). Knowledge and the curriculum: A collection of philosophical papers. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
The work of learners 105 Hughes-Warrington, M. (1997). Collingwood and the early Paul Hirst on the forms of experience-knowledge and education. British Journal of Educational Studies, 45(2), 156–173. Jackson, P. W. (1968). Life in classrooms. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P., & Bristol, L. (2014). Changing practices, changing education. Dordrecht: Springer. Levstik, L. S., & Barton, K. C. (2011). Doing history: Investigating with children in elementary and middle schools (5th ed.). New York: Routledge. Lortie, D. (1975). Schoolteacher: A sociological study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lüdtke, A. (1995). Introduction: What is the history of everyday life and who are its practitioners? (Trans. W. Templer). In A. Lüdtke (Ed.), The history of everyday life: Reconstructing historical experiences and ways of life (pp. 3–40). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University. Madaus, G. F., & Stufflebeam, D. L. (1988). Educational evaluation: Classic works of Ralph W. Tyler. Boston, MA: Springer Science & Business Media. Mayes, E. E. T. (2016). The lines of the voice: An ethnography of the ambivalent affects of student voice. PhD thesis, University of Sydney, Sydney. Retrieved from Sydney Digital Theses (Open Access) database, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/15274 Mayes, E. E. T., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2011). Authorised resistance in ‘our gee’d up school’: Students’ voices in school reform. Paper presented at the 5th Biennial Equity Conference, Schooling for Futures, Darling Harbour, Sydney. McKenna, M. (1997). Different perspectives on black armband history. Research Paper 5 1997–98. Retrieved from www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_ Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/RP9798/98RP05 Mockler, N., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2012). Weaving the web of professional practice: The coalition of knowledge-building schools. In B. Lingard, P. Thomson, & T. Wrigley (Eds.), Changing schools: Making a world of difference. London: Routledge. Mockler, N., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2015). Engaging with student voice in research, education and community: Beyond legitimation and guardianship. Dordrecht: Springer. Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory Into Practice, 31(2), 132–141. Phillips, D. (2015). Policy borrowing in education: Frameworks for analysis. In J. Zajda (Ed.), Second international handbook on globalisation, education and policy research (pp. 137–148). Dordrecht: Springer. Priestley, M., & Sinnema, C. (2014). Downgraded curriculum? An analysis of knowledge in new curricula in Scotland and New Zealand. Curriculum Journal, 25(1), 50–75. Ravitch, D. (2010). The death and life of the great American school system. New York: Basic Books. Robertson, S. L. (2008). Professoras/es são importantes, não? Posicionando as/ os professoras/es e seu trabalho na economia do conhecimento global/Teachers matter . . . don’t they?: Placing teachers and their work in the global knowledge economy. Revista Espaço do Currículo, 1(1), 34–73. Seddon, T. (2001). National curriculum in Australia? A matter of politics, powerful knowledge and the regulation of learning. Pedagogy Culture and Society, 9(3), 307–331.
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Singh, P. (2002). Pedagogising knowledge: Bernstein’s theory of the pedagogic device. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 23(4), 571–582. Singh, P. (2017). Pedagogic governance: Theorising with/after Bernstein. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 38(2), 144–163. Thomson, P. (2002). Schooling the rustbelt kids: Making the difference in changing times. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Tyler, R. (1949). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Woods, P. (2012). Teachers, self and curriculum. In I. F. Goodson & S. J. Ball (Eds.), Defining the curriculum: Histories and ethnographies (pp. 239–262). London: Routledge. Yates, L., & Young, M. (2010). Globalisation, knowledge and the curriculum. European Journal of Education, 45(1), 4–10. Young, M. (2009). Education, globalisation and the ‘voice of knowledge’. Journal of Education and Work, 22(3), 193–204. Young, M., & Muller, J. (2013). On the powers of powerful knowledge. Review of Education, 1(3), 229–250.
Toward practical wisdom
In previous chapters we have examined, in detail, the language of improvement and reform in practical terms. We now turn to a more abstract case, concerning underlying principles in the form of ‘wisdom’. Thus, in this chapter we shall acknowledge the great contribution made over the millennia in relation to concepts of practical wisdom, that is to say, a conception of what is good or bad in terms of human needs and the flourishing of a society; and adopt a stance that proposes that a translation of that conception into action is deliberative and responsible in the form of praxis, i.e., morally informed action. Following a brief introduction regarding the definitional problems associated with the notion of ‘wisdom’, we shall mount a series of arguments, namely that in order to transcend the narrow and utilitarian views we have nominated as currently being in the ascendancy, as noted in prior chapters, it is now necessary to go beyond an understanding that practical wisdom is inherent in a ‘good society’. We make the case that it must be rendered explicit through the rejection of narrow definitions of improvement and reform and be re-cast as affirming and asserting of a decent society. We need to understand the behaviour of the wise person in the context of the wise society and what it is that education can ‘do’ for children and young people. We reject the notion that wise practice can be codified, and provide an example of what is problematic when standards for good and defensible practice are permeated by the minutiae of evidence, a matter much discussed earlier in this book. The exercise of engaging in practical wisdom is a difficult and elusive task, especially when it comes to seeking to describe it, let alone enact it. That takes courage. If we take it to mean that we see it relating to discernment, that is sorting the good from the bad and understanding the needs of our society then to be wise is indeed challenging. For it takes us beyond those material desires that are nurtured and cultivated by self-interested wants; instead requiring of us to be hospitable, generous and tolerant. It is not enough to individually lead a happy and successful life. It obliges instead us to ask ourselves: ‘How can we contribute to the quality of life for others?’ We live in a global society whose norms have engendered many environmental, political and moral injustices. It is what Mueller (2012) sees as a thoughtless society, wherein there is an unreflective compliance that can only be ameliorated
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by social actors being not only capable of looking inward at their own motivations and behaviours, but also being a thoughtful spectator of the actions of others. Furthermore, this reflective and reflexive behaviour is best achieved in the company of others, in that the observing and reflecting requires a capacity to engage in a communal discourse that can take on a variety of perspectives. This is not merely a matter of social relativism; it acknowledges that our social selves are formed and developed intersubjectively, in communicative spaces we share with others as interlocutors encountering one another in conversation, as embodied beings encountering each other in physical space-time, and as social beings encountering one another in social space (Kemmis & Edwards-Groves, 2017). In this chapter, we argue that this notion of intersubjectivity can be applied to the many ideas swirling around improvement and reform in education. In the introduction to this book, for example, we troubled the notion of ‘improvement’ and asked ‘improvement for whom and at what cost?’ The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) enjoins governments to seek for ‘improvements’ in learning outcomes as measured by international competitive test programs (discussed in Chapters 3 and 5). It may well be that test scores can be improved by pedagogical practices that limit learners’ opportunities to be creative and require a high degree of professional conformity on the part of their teachers. Or, perhaps, scores may be marginally improved for those at the very top of the ladder at the cost of the engagement of learners who are struggling at its foot. ‘Improvement’ is no innocent term; it can embody features of a thoughtless society that takes for granted that ‘improvement’ is ‘a good thing’. By contrast, we do not see ‘improvement’ or indeed ‘reform’ as needing sets of rules and regulations, but rather as ideals to be approached with a view that they require flexible, adaptable and agile intellectual apparatus to evaluate the opportunities that they present. For, as Schwartz and Sharpe (2010) have observed, there is a mistaken belief that rules and regulations can substitute for wisdom; they see instead that the wise person is able to understand them and apply them selectively, perceptively and insightfully in relation to the specific demands of the situation. In this chapter we shall seek to uncover how the wise person and wise society can improvise in ways that are appropriate to the demands and exigencies of fluid and unpredictable situations. We shall argue that knowing how to respond wisely derives from collective and responsible behaviours – by paying attention to what we do and how we do it. We shall make the case for more closely examining the rules and incentives by which practitioners can engage in practical moral judgment such that is it not undermined by the rigid application of specific procedures as evidenced, for example, by adherence to standards frameworks more appropriate to a technical, manufacturing discourse.
The wise person and the wise society How then might the wise person behave? Many writers have drawn upon Aristotelian precepts in relation to notions of practical wisdom, not as mental models, but
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means to guide us through to a better informed notion of praxis, that is, morally informed action. At the time of writing this chapter the world was celebrating Aristotle’s 2,400th birthday. He formed the intellectual tradition of the West, giving us ‘rules’ for thinking and ways of seeing. These are not the rules and regulations that seemingly govern our lives today, but rather a series of touchstones that allow us to navigate through the many and at times troubled waters of practice. In particular, our attention is drawn to phronesis comprising moral knowledge/ practical wisdom that prompts us to understand that taking a wise course of action cannot be reduced to some kind of algorithm or formula, but requires instead nuanced thinking, flexibility, creativity and empathetic engagement. This view contrasts sharply to the expectation that today’s teacher in the context of today’s society should be technically competent, but not expected to exercise the kind of wisdom discussed above. For, as Higgins (2001, p. 94) has observed in relation to a nation’s teachers, “at the bottom of the pile one finds practitioners not as knowers, but as instrumental problem solvers who employ technical skills and apply propositional knowledge”. Whichever way we turn it is clear that education, in the form of schooling as it is understood by contemporary law makers and policy makers, has a technical orientation. It is constructed to provide those who participate in it with the kinds of skills that align with employability and commercial opportunism. But does it prepare for all the challenges of daily life, of managing, for example, the ways in which we relate to others, that is, ‘how to live’? If we see wisdom as being manifest in how we live our lives, then how can it be possible to find a sense of perspective in the context of a complex and often contradictory world. How can we reconcile being respectful of others when we see the realpolitik of daily life governing the ways in which decisions are made and carried out? Let us first of all reflect upon the attributes of the wise person before turning to the wise society. Schwartz and Sharpe (2010) outline the six core qualities of the person endowed with the practical wisdom of which we write. They may be paraphrased thus: the wise person knows the proper aims of the activity in which she is engaged; she knows how to improvise, balancing conflicting aims and interpreting rules and principles in light of the particularities of each context; she is perceptive, knows how to read a social context; she knows how to take on the perspective of another – to see the situation as the other person does and thus to understand how the other person feels; she knows how to make emotion work with reason; in effect, she is an experienced person. Engaging in practical wisdom is not come upon by chance; it is learned often in the face of scepticism in a world that measures success and achievement in dollars and status as well as one that is risk averse when it comes to the reputation of institutions. It is difficult to make the case that our society is itself a wise society. This is particularly so when it is beset on all sides by change and conflict and where private, profit making interests have penetrated educational policies. As Davis (2013) has observed, it is possible to identify increasingly aggressive moves by companies to capitalise on K-12 schooling, a matter much discussed in Chapter 6 in relation to the governance of the curriculum. She quotes Gene Glass, a well known and
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respected educational researcher in the US, “the corporations just woke up a few years ago to the billions and billions of dollars that exist in public education and they decided to go for it . . . the incredible thing is how easy it is” (p. 1). The Global Education Industry (GEI) and the concomitant rise of education as a complex, interconnected business enterprise is well documented by, among others, Hogan, Sellar and Lingard (2015) and Ball (2012a), who argue that the shaping and control of education has been captured by giant corporations who not only manufacture goods and services, but also have an inordinate influence upon government policy formation through a long chain of powerful associations and lobbying capabilities. Thus, the modes of production of educational resources are globalised with the ascendancy of techniques and technical systems such as text books and digital resources that, in turn, transcend local conditions and local governance. It could be argued that the trend is towards a ‘McDonaldisation’ of schooling, from as diverse contexts as the Indian sub-continent to North of England towns and villages. The consequences of these shifts in the shaping and control of education can be seen in terms of economic activity governed by the financial, information and manufacturing service sectors that has implications for the knowledges to be taught in schools. The wisdom of past practices and their efficacy is lost in a public sphere that is dominated by functional rationality as expressed in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) – at the expense of the less predictable creative arts. Lest it be seen that ‘global’ has become a weasel word of the 21st century, even if global sceptics have re-cast it as ‘globaloney’ (Parker, 2005, p. 15), we need to remind ourselves that globalisation is not a new phenomenon. The notion of the global in terms of world commodity markets “has evolved in fits and starts since Columbus and deGama sailed from Europe more than 500 years ago” (Williamson, 2002, p. 1). It has been recognised by economic historians, such as Stearns (2017), that many prior patterns of interregional contacts have been global in nature if not in name for over a millennium. It is seen that global interconnections occur in six major environments: industries and business; the natural environment; culture; economics; politics; and technology. It could be argued that education provision and policy is a hybrid of all of these where there is a continuing and expanding interconnectedness in every sphere of activity resulting in what Parker (2005) sees as a blurred boundaries between and within organisations, nations and global interests. This is clearly manifest, for example, in the work of the OECD, that holds much sway, among other things, over educational policies and practices across the world, influencing decisions ranging from the desired school leaving age (Groundwater-Smith & Mockler, 2015b) to the determination of standards and achievements, some being beneficial, others open to question with their emphasis upon economic rationality. Nonetheless, many global initiatives have been for the good. Here we cite how very different, as a global influence in terms of educational policy, is the work of Kailash Satyarthi (Satyarthi & Zutshi, 2006) who later who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his international advocacy related to children’s rights to a decent
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education, freedom from slavery and exploitation and matters of social justice. Issues in relation to inclusion, freedom, sustainability and social justice will be more fully explored at a later point in this chapter. Suffice to say that each is an ear-mark of the wise society and the capacity to do good in the world.
What can education do for children and young people in a wise society? In contrast to those forces assembled in the interests of crass commercialism, discussed earlier, we shall argue that knowing how to respond wisely derives from collective and responsible behaviours – by paying attention to what we do and how we do it. Biesta (2015) has posed the questions: ‘What can education do for children and young people?’ ‘What is a good education?’ and ‘What is educationally desirable in the face of the dominant global discourses in relation to effectiveness and accountability?’ Furthermore, we would note that the very notion of accountability has been captured by the need to answer to systems, rather than accountability to learners and through them the community in which they live. Among other matters, Biesta makes the case for an ethic of care that establishes how we should meet and treat one another. He distinguishes between wisdom and cleverness; too often it is the latter that is rewarded, what it is that an individual ‘knows’. But there is a gap between knowing and being wise. In the case of the first there is an accumulation of facts and insights, whereas the second requires discernment, judgment and application. Fielding (2012a) takes us further down this path. Drawing on the writings of John MacMurray he raises fundamental questions regarding human purpose – how we may live good lives together. He argues that an inclusive, caring community is a precondition of being human. It is not sufficient to have a knowledge of ‘things’ but there needs to be an explicit knowledge of the values by which we live and of the community in which we live. He references MacMurray’s notion that “we have immense power and immense resources; we worship efficiency and success; and we do not know how to live finely” (MacMurray, 1935, p. 76). Further he quotes “Instead of training for society, what is required from the beginning is training in society in which children learn the capacity for rhythmic cooperation . . . All discipline is communal” (MacMurray, 1935, pp. 88–89, 90). The emphasis is upon the school as a ‘living community’ and not just an ‘effective organisation’. MacMurray’s account of learning to be a wise human is further advanced by MacAllister and Thorburn (2014) in making the case that all human knowledge and action should be for the sake of friendship and that human persons exist in their bodies as ‘knowing agents’ rather than as ‘knowing subjects’. These writings are a powerful antidote to the ways in which education is captured in this second decade of the 21st century with the current emphasis upon technical and commercial knowledge interests that can be seen as ‘dehumanising’ (p. 149). MacMurray’s emphasis is upon agency built upon interpersonal relations – he “felt that education fails when persons take their own feelings and interest to be more important than those of others” (p. 152).
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Can wise practice be codified? The rich and informed writings regarding education in a ‘wise’ society can be contrasted with much of the material to be found in education policy documents. As discussed at length in Chapter 5, there is, for example, a current international trend to establish ‘standards’ for teachers that, in many senses, can be represented as articulating teachers’ work as a mechanistic process reminiscent of what has been understood as Taylorisation1 (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2006, p. 98): The Taylorisation of work does indeed consist of treating human beings like machines. But precisely because they pertain to an automation of human beings, the rudimentary character of the methods employed does not allow the more human properties of human beings – their emotions, their moral sense, their honour, their inventive capacity to be placed directly in the service of the pursuit of profit. In other words those singular human properties have little place in a world governed by profit and the pursuit of wealth – a world that requires human behaviour to be reduced to mechanics and nostrums. While the arguments for developing standards frameworks are defensible and persuasive as we have conceded in Chapter 5, it is important in the practice of education to adopt an appropriate discourse; after all as we have argued throughout this book, the language that is used to capture practice, by default, drives practice. It is necessary to be cautious of some of the language of standards that has been adapted from a manufacturing regime and that may not, at times, sufficiently recognise the intricacy and variability of the work of teachers, leaders and teacher educators in highly specific contexts (Mayer, Luke & Luke, 2008). Certainly, the UK Teachers’ Standards (2013) document designed to guide school leaders, staff and governing bodies, while couched in general terms, nevertheless have the hallmark of an orientation to practice that embodies the characteristics that we have discussed thus far. The document commences with a preamble: Teachers make the education of their pupils their first concern, and are accountable for achieving the highest possible standards in work and conduct. Teachers act with honesty and integrity, have strong subject knowledge, keep their knowledge and skills as teachers up-to-date and are self-critical, forge positive professional relationships and work with parents in the best interests of their pupils. (p. 10) In its detail it requires that teachers set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils; promote good progress and outcomes by pupils; demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge; plan and teach well-structured lessons; adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils; make accurate and productive use of assessment; manage behaviour effectively
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to ensure a good and safe learning environment; and fulfil wider professional responsibilities (pp. 10–13). As well, the document outlines personal and professional conduct including showing tolerance and respect for the rights of others. The generality of these standards make them difficult to argue with. The language is clear and unambiguous. By way of contrast, the New South Wales (Australia) Education Standards Authority (Previously named the Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards, BOSTES) (2014) requires adherence to a complex matrix covering the range of evidence required to reach a level of proficiency. As noted in Chapter 5, there are seven standards: know students and how they learn; know the content and how to teach it; plan for and implement effective teaching and learning; create and maintain supporting and safe learning environments; assess, provide feedback and report on student learning; engage in professional learning; and engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community. Each in turn has a range of descriptors, up to seven in number with a requirement that a range of evidentiary samples be provided for each of them and that a single piece of evidence can be used to address more than one descriptor For example: 1
Know students and how they learn 1.1.2 Use teaching strategies based on knowledge of students’ physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics to improve student learning. 1.2.2 Structure teaching programs using research and collegial advice about how students learn. 1.3.2 Design and implement teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. 1.4.2 Design and implement effective teaching strategies that are responsive to the local community and cultural setting, linguistic background and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. 1.5.2 Develop teaching activities that incorporate differentiated strategies to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities. 1.6.2 Design and implement teaching activities that support the participation and learning of students with disability and address relevant policy and legislative requirements. (p. 50)
Taking 1.2.2 ‘Structure teaching programs using research and collegial advice about how students learn’, the evidence that would satisfy this standard descriptor would include: •
Teaching and learning programs and/or unit/lesson plans which are annotated to demonstrate how they reflect research and/or collegial advice about how students learn
114 • •
Toward practical wisdom Annotated planning documents that reference professional reading/viewing log and reflections that demonstrate research into how students learn Teaching and learning programs and/or unit/lesson plans that demonstrate a wide range of pedagogy, such as connected lesson delivery, higher order thinking skills, appropriate practical activities Meeting logs or documented reflections in relation to meetings with mentor/ supervisor or other appropriate colleague who have provided advice about how to construct effective teaching programs that is based on colleague’s own research Meeting logs of mentor/supervisor or other appropriate colleague who have provided feedback based on research, on a teacher’s program and the new version of the program (p. 13)
While it is suggested that one quality item of sufficient depth and complexity could provide evidence for the range of descriptors little attention is paid to the problematic nature of evidence itself. As an illustration of the difficulties that may be encountered, some of the most rigorous work undertaken in an attempt to define standards for teaching has been in the US with the National Board Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) established in 1987, leading to the development of National Board Certification (NBC) that requires the completion of performance-based assessment consisting of portfolio entries and assessment centre exercises. The portfolio provides evidence (again unproblematised) that candidate teachers have met the standards in practice; the assessment centre seeks to demonstrate understanding of subject matter and content knowledge. Meeting the NBC requirements is likely to involve a total of 200–400 hours of work (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2004). Even after so much work success is not assured. In some states the pass rate, first time around, is as low as 30%. In Australia, various States and Territories worked in the early 2000s towards developing a range of standards for different points in a teaching career. In 2012, these different systems of teaching standards were displaced by the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (2012), developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). While AITSL is responsible for overseeing the standards (along with standards for initial teacher education programs), accreditation in line with the standards is regulated by the various state and territory bodies, such as the Queensland College of Teachers, and the Victorian Institute of Teaching. In a sponsored discussion paper following early discussions regarding teaching standards, Ingvarson, Anderson, Gronn and Jackson (2006) perceived standards to be tools by which the required degree of quality might be measured. ‘Standards’ are a manufacturing metaphor used to determine what is acceptable in a huge range of goods and services, whether toothpaste or airline comfort. But are they limited in their application to a consideration of wise practice? Can they demonstrate the appreciation of situated awareness in highly variable contexts
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and the capacity to make wise decisions? Can we measure the kind of nuanced perception that is required? Are there socially just and wise ways of knowing – a question raised by Cook (2012) in a consideration of health practitioners. As well as standards for teaching, what of ‘standards’ for student attainment? Consider these ‘progression points’ in relation to student achievement as developed in Victoria, Australia (Victorian Essential Learning Standards, AusVELS, 2016)2. What are progression points? The progression points is a scale used in the assessment and reporting of student achievement. The progression point scale ranges from 0.5 to 6.75. Each progression point represents six months of expected student progress. For each reporting period, teachers make on-balance judgments about student progress in relation to the standards. As students progress along a continuum of learning, teachers will assign the progression point that most closely matches where the student is at in relation to the standards at each level. What are the progression point examples? Progression point examples are provided in each domain for each level where standards are provided. Progression point examples are designed to: • • • •
illustrate how a student might show evidence of progression assist teachers in assessing student progress in relation to the standards be used in conjunction with assessment maps be modified by schools so that the examples reflect the curriculum structure and timing of when content and skills are taught and assessed
Could a more productive way of establishing standards for wise practice be better pursued through the testimony of the consequential stakeholders, in this case the students themselves (Mockler & Groundwater-Smith, 2015)? This is one of many lacunae in discussions regarding wise practice and education – who determines the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ that will be the drivers of education not only today but into our future? When we ally standards to regulation we can see that it is not only the matter of regulation with which we are concerned in the context of considering a wise society, but it is the accumulation of regulation arising from a deficit of trust. Regulation may provide some knowledge of practice but it does not provide insight into a nuanced knowledge about practice. Indeed, it can be said that regulation is a form of surveillance (Lorenz, 2012) with the inference that practitioners are not to be trusted to exercise wise judgment. We would argue that the wise society, governed by practical wisdom, is a graceful society. Its educational processes teach us how to assess, analyse and
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address difficulties and injustices when it addresses such matters as inclusion, freedom and sustainability. It is a learning society, thinking of improvement not only in terms of national economic goals but as a means of attending to the immediate and future needs of its citizens, being compassionate and respectful, aiming for honest, accepting and productive lives. Why is it, then, that such values are missing and rarely articulated in the educational debates that engulf us on a daily basis? In the penultimate chapter to this book, we look at the language of educational practices that is captured by the media, specifically the print media, that so insidiously shapes public consciousness about the policies and practices that inhabit the education space. Seemingly, wise practice is indeed an elusive goal.
Notes 1 After Frederick Taylor who developed a ‘science’ of management. 2 Since re-badged as the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority.
References Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2012). Australian professional standards for teachers. Canberra: AITSL. Ball, S. (2012a). Global Education Inc.: New policy networks and the neo-liberal imaginary. London and New York: Routledge. Biesta, G. (2015). Good education in an age of measurement: Ethics, politics, democracy. London: Routledge. Boltanski, L., & Chiapello, E. (2006). The new spirit of capitalism (Trans. G. Elliott). London: Verso. BOSTES Evidence Guide for the Proficient Teaching Standards. (2014). Retrieved 4 October 2016, from www.google.com.au/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=bo stes+evidence+guide+for+the+proficient+teacher+standards&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF -8&gfe_rd=cr&ei=SyDzV7b0L6rM8gfQwYTQAQ Cook, T. (2012). Where participatory approaches meet pragmatism in funded (health) research: The challenge of finding meaningful spaces. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(1). Davis, M. R. (2013). Education companies exert public-policy influence. Education Week, 22. Education Standards Authority. (2014). Evidence guide for the proficient teacher standards (2014). Retrieved from http://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/ wcm/connect/84c181d8-ac08-4758-8c5b-7f60ea336a71/NESA+Proficient+ Teacher+-+Evidence+Guide.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CVID= Fielding, M. (2012a). Education as if people matter: John MacMurray, community and the struggle for democracy. Oxford Review of Education, 38(6), 675–692. Groundwater-Smith, S., & Mockler, N. (2015b). Why global policies fail disengaged young people at the local level. In H. Proctor, P. Brownlee & P. Freebody (Eds.), Controversies in education: Orthodoxy and heresy in policy and practice. Dordrecht: Springer. Higgins, C. (2001). From reflective practice to practical wisdom: Three models of liberal teacher education. Philosophy of Education Archive, 92–99.
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Hogan, A., Sellar, S., & Lingard, B. (2015). Network restructuring of global edubusiness: The case of Pearson’s Efficacy Framework. In W. Au & J. Ferrare (Eds.), Mapping corporate education reform: Power and policy networks in the neoliberal state (pp. 43–64). New York: Routledge. Ingvarson, L., Anderson, M., Gronn, P., & Jackson, A. (2006). Standards for school leadership: A critical review of the literature. Canberra: Teaching Australia. Kemmis, S., & Edwards-Groves, C. (2017). Understanding education: History, politics and practice. Singapore: Springer. Lorenz, C. (2012). If you’re so smart, why are you under surveillance? Universities, neoliberalism, and new public management. Critical Inquiry, 38(3), 599–629. MacAllister, J., & Thorburn, M. (2014). Living in the senses and learning with love – John MacMurray’s philosophy of embodied emotion. Journal of Pedagogy, 5(2), 143–160. MacMurray, J. (1935). Reason and emotion. London: Faber and Faber. Mayer, D., Luke, C., & Luke, A. (2008). Teachers, national regulation and cosmopolitanism. In A. Phelan & J. Sumsion (Eds.), Critical readings in teacher education: Provoking absences. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Mockler, N., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2015). Engaging with student voice in research, education and community: Beyond legitimation and guardianship. Dordrecht: Springer. Mueller, M. (2012). Contrary to thoughtlessness: Rethinking practical wisdom. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (2004). Event, calendar and resources. Retrieved 2 September 2007, from www.nbpts.org/events/qabrochure.cfm Parker, B. (2005). Introduction to globalization and business: Relationships and responsibilities. London: Sage. Satyarthi, K., & Zutshi, B. (2006). Globalisation, development, and child rights. Delhi: Shipra Publications. Schwartz, B., & Sharpe, K. (2010). Practical wisdom: The right way to do the right thing. New York: Riverhead Books. Stearns, P. N. (2017). Globalization in world history (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge. Teachers’ Standards. (2013). Teachers’ standards: Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies. Retrieved 4 October 2016, from www.gov.uk/government/ uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/301107/Teachers__Standards.pdf Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2016). The Victorian curriculum F – 10. Retrieved 17 October 2016, from http://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au/ Williamson, J. G. (2002). Winners and losers over two centuries of globalization (WIDER annual lecture). Helsinki, Finland: World Institute for Development Economic Research.
The ‘mediation’ of educational reform and improvement
In this book, we seek to make the case that the language employed to capture the debates around educational practices has a profound effect on a wide range of interests. These include governments, as they frame policies; practitioners, as they enact policies; learners as the ‘consequential stakeholders’ of policies; and the wider community with its investment in policies. We argue that the discussions around improvement and reform are critical to the direction which such policies take in relation to neoliberalism. While at other points within the book we find that reform and improvement are terms to be contested in relation to the way they are understood, in this chapter we seek to explore the way that reform and improvement in education are represented in media and policy texts, by conducting a close analysis of a sample of texts gathered across different national contexts. The tool for analysis that we have selected requires a close reading; but we believe that it provides us with an interesting and powerful entrée into the ways in which media texts are constructed and the influence that they carry. So, in this chapter, we will consider the ways in which the language of reform and improvement in education is enacted in the print media, and some of the mechanisms by which this enactment occurs. We hold, at the outset, that the role of the print media in shaping public consciousness around education is significant and, specifically, that the media play a particular role in driving the ‘neoliberal imaginary’ into the public consciousness. Using examples from Australia, the UK and US to explore both ‘local vernaculars’ (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010) and international resonances, we argue here that international educational concerns manifest in different ways in the public space of different jurisdictions, impacted, no doubt, by cultural and social context. In order to explore these ideas empirically, we draw on a case study comprising 374 newspaper articles, collected over a three-month period in 2016–2017. The chapter is presented in three parts. The first lays out the background and methodological and analytical approaches taken. Section two presents the case study, using a corpus-assisted analysis (McEnery & Hardie, 2012; Scott, 2017) to examine the discursive construction of educational reform and improvement across the collection of texts, and also to explore broad-scale similarities and differences between the texts emanating from the three national contexts. The final section concludes with a broader discussion of the mediation of reform and
The ‘mediation’ of educational reform
improvement in education, making use of the data presented in the case study and suggesting avenues for further investigation.
Background and approach This discussion of media representations of the language of reform and improvement in education is located within a body of work that has explored representations of different aspects of education in the print media over time. In the Australian context, this work has been conducted by scholars such as, Blackmore and Thorpe (2003), Mills and Keddie (2010), Thompson and Lasic (2011), Baroutsis (Baroutsis, 2016; Baroutsis & Lingard, 2017), and Fenech and Wilkins (2017). Internationally, similar work has been undertaken by Chesky and Goldstein (2016), Ulmer (2014) and Cohen (2010) in the US, Robert (2012) in Latin America, Punakallio and Dervin (2015) in Finland, and Yemini (2017; Yemini and Gordon, 2017) in Israel. A small body of further work has taken a comparative approach, although usually limited to a very specific focus for analysis (see, for example, Waldow, Takayama & Sung, 2014). Underpinning all of this work is the understanding that print media texts hold the capacity to both shape and reflect dominant perceptions of education in the public space, and are key to what might be known as ‘issue visibility’ (Winburn, Winburn & Niemeyer, 2014). As Mills and Keddie (2010) have argued, the media is a primary source of public knowledge about education: in short, how education is reported in the media matters. At the same time, while the influence of the media on the shaping of public policy is well recognised (see, for example, McCombs, 2014; Rivers, 2016), it should be noted that this discussion is not predicated upon a view of a linear or predictable interplay between the print media and public policy. Rather these different types of texts are understood to reflect different manifestations of similar public concerns (Elmelund-Præstekær & Wien, 2008; Street, 2001). The empirical approach taken in this chapter, aimed to use different lenses at ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ levels in analysis of media texts to develop a textured and comprehensive understanding of media representations within the parameters of the study. We aimed to explore aspects of the discursive production of reform and improvement in education in print media texts. We do not claim to provide here a definitive analysis, but rather to use the selected analytical techniques employed to explore the representations of educational reform and improvement in a subset of print media texts from the three national contexts, with a view to exploring similarities and differences. To this end, a corpus-assisted analysis was conducted using 374 media texts collected between November 2016 and February 2017. As Fenech and Wilkins (2017, p. 168) have noted in their work representations of early childhood education in the print media, corpus linguistic tools “provide a systematic and cost-effective means to quantitatively and thematically analys[ing] large datasets”, as well as identifying “strategic signposts for subsequent and more fine-grained qualitative and discursive analysis of such data”. The corpus linguistic tools of AntConc 3.4 (Anthony, 2014) were used to compare three sub-corpora of texts, drawn from Australian, UK and
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US newspapers. In the section that follows, an explanation of each of the analytical tools used is provided alongside presentation of findings from the analysis.
Print media representations of educational reform and improvement: a corpus-assisted analysis In order to explore representations of educational reform and improvement in the print media broadly, a corpus of media texts was assembled, comprising of 374 articles (approximately 250,000 words), from newspapers in the US, UK and Australia. To construct the corpus, a search was conducted using the Factiva database using the subject ‘Education > School’ and the search terms ‘improvement’, ‘improve’, ‘reform’ and ‘quality’. In the interests of manageability and also with the desire to gain a contemporary snapshot of print media representations, the search was confined to the three-month period from 1 November 2016 to 31 January 2017, and, in each of the three national contexts, to the top ten newspapers by circulation. Duplicate articles were removed from the sample, and the remaining articles were examined to ensure that they were indeed focused upon school education. A small selection of further articles was consequently eliminated on the basis that they did not meet this criterion. Table 8.1 highlights the origin of articles within the corpus by country and newspaper. Often, corpus linguistic tools are used to compare a corpus of texts constructed for research purposes with a larger corpus of texts, such as the British National Corpus (Butler, 2004); however, for the purposes of this discussion, which seeks to explore the similarities and differences between media representations in the three national contexts, the objects of comparison will be the Australian, US and UK sub-corpora. Table 8.1 Origin of Articles in the Corpus by Country and Newspaper Australia1
The Adelaide 18 Advertiser The Age 3 The Australian 28 The Aust. Financial 11 Review The Courier Mail 10 The Daily Telegraph 8 The Herald Sun 4 The Mercury 5 The Sydney 8 Morning Herald The West Australian 9 Total Articles 104
am New York
The Guardian The Telegraph The Daily Mail
60 19 17
New York Daily News Newsday The Chicago Tribune
The Independent The Sun The Observer The Daily Express The Daily Star
15 The Los Angeles Times 5 The New York Post 4 The New York Times 4 The Wall Street Journal 2 The Washington Post
Total words 66441
The Daily Mirror Total Articles
Total words 109316
TOTAL TEXTS 374
USA Today Total Articles Total words 75668
TOTAL WORDS 251425
0 12 0 0 0 11 14 14 46 3 100
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By way of analysis, word lists, keywords and selected collocates were generated, using Laurence Anthony’s AntConc for MacOSX software (Anthony, 2014). The discussion that follows will elaborate on each of these tools along with the findings from the analysis. It is important to note that this analysis is offered as a case study in elaborating the ways in which educational reform and improvement are discursively constructed in the public space: we do not claim to provide a definitive account of the mediatisation of education, but rather to explore the use of corpus linguistic tools in this regard, to make some observations around the use of language in reporting on education in this instance, and to argue for the usefulness of these tools in further research on the mediation of education.
Word lists and frequencies As a starting point, a word list was created for the entire corpus as well as for the three sub-corpora. Data were assembled on the frequency of the appearance of each word, and the number of articles in which each word appeared. Additionally, frequencies were normalised to allow for comparison between the corpus and sub-corpora, accounting for word frequency per 10,000 words. Tables 8.2 to 8.5 show the 20 most frequently used lexical words4 in the entire corpus and three sub-corpora. Seven words were common to the ‘top 20’ list of all three sub-corpora: school, schools, students, education, teachers, parents and children. While there was some Table 8.2 Word List: All Articles ALL ARTICLES (n = 374) Rank
8 10 17 19 24 33 35 36 38 52 54 55 57 59 62 63 66 67 68 72
2,813 2,722 1,646 1,463 1,174 990 916 912 887 595 585 580 572 520 488 480 464 430 429 409
Schools School Said Education Students More Children Year Teachers New One Government Parents High Up Years Public State Says Pupils
340 361 291 325 237 309 248 280 242 239 248 203 201 205 237 220 145 150 109 139
111.88 108.26 65.47 58.19 46.69 39.38 36.43 36.27 35.28 23.67 23.27 23.07 22.75 20.68 19.41 19.09 18.45 17.10 17.06 16.27
Table 8.3 Word List: Australia Articles AUSTRALIA (n = 104) Rank
9 10 14 17 20 23 25 32 38 39 42 44 45 47 54 56 57 59 60 63
698 687 536 442 393 339 327 266 215 204 190 186 185 182 166 165 162 157 155 149
School Schools Students Education Year Said Teachers More High Funding Government Says Teaching Maths Australia Parents Australian Science Children State
99 95 91 97 88 73 76 85 67 51 64 36 63 41 61 59 67 37 50 50
105.06 103.40 80.67 66.53 59.15 51.02 49.22 40.04 32.36 30.70 28.60 27.99 27.84 27.39 24.98 24.83 24.38 23.63 23.33 22.43
Table 8.4 Word List: UK Articles UNITED KINGDOM (n = 170) Rank
8 12 21 24 25 34 37 39 40 44 51 52 57 62 63 68 74 77 79 81
1,245 968 593 558 544 451 387 349 329 299 263 259 240 222 222 200 178 175 173 172
Schools School Education Said Children More Pupils Teachers Government Year New One Up Parents Years Says Ofsted Primary England Grammar
150 162 139 135 134 138 126 106 114 112 110 114 112 81 96 52 52 79 78 47
113.89 88.55 54.25 51.04 49.76 41.26 35.40 31.93 30.10 27.35 24.06 23.69 21.95 20.31 20.31 18.30 16.28 16.01 15.83 15.73
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Table 8.5 Word List: US Articles UNITED STATES (n = 100) Rank
8 11 12 17 20 29 36 40 42 46 48 50 51 52 53 55 58 59 67 71
1,056 881 749 469 428 333 273 246 241 220 217 211 201 201 190 185 181 180 150 136
School Schools Said Students Education Public More City Charter Year Children Teachers High New State Parents District One DeVos Program
100 95 83 89 89 83 86 55 46 80 64 60 79 71 54 61 48 73 21 42
139.56 116.43 98.99 61.98 56.56 44.01 36.08 32.51 31.85 29.07 28.68 27.88 26.56 26.56 25.11 24.45 23.92 23.79 19.82 17.97
Table 8.6 Summary of Unique Words Australia
Australia Australian Funding Maths Science Teaching
England Grammar OfSTED Primary Pupils Up Years
Charter City DeVos District Program Public
variation in the normalised frequencies (for example, students was used 80.67 times in every 10,000 words in the Australian texts, and 61.98 times in every 10,000 words in the UK texts, but only 15.46 times in every 10,000 words in the UK texts [perhaps accounting for the widespread use of the word pupils in these texts]), the frequency with which these words were used in the texts of each of the three sub-corpora was substantial. Funding, government, state, system, year and years were common to two of the three sub-corpora, while approximately half of the 20 words on each list were unique to one sub-corpora. Table 8.6 provides a list of these words, organised alphabetically by sub-corpora. While some of the words that appear in Table 8.6 (for example, Australia/n, England, OfSTED, DeVos) might reasonably be expected to be prominent in
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one sub-corpus but not the others, the frequency of other words represented in Table 8.6 is more telling. For example, the focus on maths, science, teaching and funding in the Australian texts stands in contrast with the focus on types of schools (grammar, primary, public, and charter schools) in the UK and US texts. The word list and frequency analysis also explored ‘lexical bundles’ or clusters of between two and seven words that frequently appeared in each of the sub-corpora. Here we were searching for what Scott and Tribble (2006, p. 19) have named as “true multi-word units” as opposed to simple repeated strings of words. Tables 8.7, 8.8 and 8.9 display a selection of lexical bundles for each of the sub-corpora, chosen because they (a) were deemed to represent true multi-words units and (b) appeared in at least 10% of the texts in each sub-corpus. Common to all three sets of texts is frequent reference to different types of schools: high school, public schools, charter schools, primary schools, secondary schools, private schools, grammar schools, government schools and ‘traditional public schools’. Also common to all three sub-corpora is a set of word clusters related to the governance of schools and school systems. Reference to education systems, ministers/secretaries, the government and government departments, school districts and, in the Australian context, the Australian Education Union (which represents public school teachers) are examples of this category of clusters. A third category, common to the UK and US texts, is a set of word clusters that locate the reporting either temporally or geographically, for example, ‘last year’, ‘this year’, ‘New York City’, ‘DC public schools’. There was then a small number of word clusters that were not so easily categorised. The phrase “the quality of ”
Table 8.7 Lexical Bundles: Australian Articles AUSTRALIA (n = 104) Freq.
75 72 50 49 46 41 37 35 35 35 33 27 24 21 19 17 15 15
High school Maths/mathematics and science Education minister School funding Literacy and numeracy The government Public schools Primary school Independent schools Private schools Government schools Federal government Education Minister Simon Birmingham The quality of Needs based funding Program(me) for International Student Assessment Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study Australian Education Union
32.69 23.08 39.42 25.00 21.15 22.12 15.38 21.15 19.23 13.46 13.46 16.35 23.08 16.35 14.42 16.35 14.42 12.50
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Table 8.8 Lexical Bundles: UK Articles UNITED KINGDOM (n = 170) Freq. 113 76 60 56 55 54 54 52 50 45 45 29 27 23 23 18
Grammar schools Primary school Secondary schools Young people Primary schools Last year Head teachers Education secretary This year Department for education Education system Schools in England Free school meals The quality of Sir Michael Wilshaw In the country
22.94 29.41 19.41 21.18 18.82 26.47 17.06 23.53 20.00 22.35 19.41 14.12 11.76 12.35 10.59 10.00
Table 8.9 Lexical Bundles: US Articles UNITED STATES (n = 100) Freq.
143 136 90 70 64 57 56 50 40 40 31 31 27 25 23 20 19 19 16
Public schools Charter schools High school School choice School system Education department Public school Charter school School district Private schools The school system Traditional public schools The education department New York City The school year In the district DC public schools The Obama administration Department of education
55 42 41 22 30 26 33 26 22 14 15 14 14 18 15 14 13 10 15
appeared in over 16% of the Australian texts and over 12% of the UK texts (and also in just under 6% of the US texts), a total of 44 of the 374 texts. An examination of the concordance for this cluster, which displays the cluster in its original context, revealed that the phrase was most often used in relation to the quality of
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education and schooling generally (18 of the 50 references), followed by ‘teaching’ (11 of the 50 references), teachers (7 of the 50 references) and school leadership (4 of the 50 references). Finally, for each of the three sub-corpora, there was a set of unique lexical bundles. For the Australian texts, these fell into three groups, one relating to curriculum content (‘maths/mathematics and science’ and ‘literacy and numeracy’); one relating to education funding (‘school funding’ and ‘needs based funding’) and one related to international standardised testing (‘program(me) for international student assessment’ and ‘trends in international mathematics and science study’). For the UK texts, the two unique clusters were ‘young people’ and ‘free school meals’; and in the US texts, ‘school choice’ was the only unique cluster. While word lists and frequencies provide an interesting window onto the data, highlighting the shape of some similarities and differences between the three sub-corpora, these techniques include no judgement on whether the differences in word use between texts and groups of texts are statistically significant – in other words, whether the differences can be accounted for by chance, or whether there is something else going on. In order to make such judgements, a keyword analysis was employed.
Keywords Keywords, as a corpus linguistic tool, are those identified, in a statistical sense, as occurring more often in one group of texts than another. As Baker (2006) notes, keywords provide a measure of saliency across a group of texts, as opposed to frequency, which is provided by a simple word list. Using corpus linguistic software, a measure of ‘keyness’ is provided in the form of a chi-squared or log-likelihood statistic and an accompanying p-value, which indicates how confident we can be that a keyword’s appearance in a corpus cannot be accounted for by chance alone. Scott (2010) notes that keywords are text – rather than language – dependent: that is, keywords are not ‘key’ in a given language, but rather in a given text or set of texts. He goes on to note that keywords generally “give robust indications of the text’s aboutness, together with indicators of style” (2010, p. 43). Keywords then, provide a sense of the important distinctions between texts and groups of texts. For this keyword analysis, each sub-corpus was compared to the other two using the AntConc keyword function. The log-likelihood statistic was used for purposes of comparison, as is usual in keyword studies, due to its robustness with regard to skewness (McEnery, Xiao & Tono, 2006; Oakes, 1998). A relatively high threshold was set: to appear as a keyword, a word must appear in at least 10% of the texts in the sub-corpora, and significance testing was conducted at the level of p < 0.000001, meaning that we can be 99.9999% confident that an identified keyword does not appear on the list by chance. Using this criteria, 188 keywords were identified across the three sub-corpora: 50 in the Australian texts, 54 in the UK texts and 84 in the US texts. Scott (2017) suggests that keyword searches usually list three types of words as ‘key’,
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namely proper nouns, grammatical terms (which may provide information on the style of a text, but rarely on its aboutness) and, finally, ‘aboutness’ keywords – nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs that provide a sense of the text or group of texts. It is on these ‘aboutness’ keywords that we have predominantly focused here. Table 8.10 highlights the top 20 ‘aboutness’ keywords, ranked by keyness, present in the three sub-corpora of texts. As is the nature of keywords, the vast majority of these keywords are unique to one national context, the exceptions being Enrollment (US)/Enrolments (Australia); Math (US)/Maths and Mathematics (Australia); and Program (UK)/ Programme (US). Exploration of concordances for each of these pairs of keywords revealed some similarities and some differences in their uses. ‘Enrolments’ in Australia was largely used in the context of public school place shortages in some parts of the country, and also in relation to growing enrolments in independent (private) schools. In the US texts, ‘enrollment’ is largely used to contrast enrolments in charter and traditional public schools, as part of the broader discussion of charters, vouchers and school choice. Maths/Mathematics was used in the Australian texts predominantly in relation to the release of TIMSS and PISA results in December 2016, and related reporting on the need to boost mathematics proficiency and teaching in Australian schools. Only one article in the US texts referred to TIMSS and/or PISA results, while the focus on ‘Math’ in the corpus was in relation to state and national testing, often once again linked to discussions of school choice, vouchers and charter schools. ‘Program/s’ in the US texts and ‘Programme’ in the UK texts Table 8.10 ‘Aboutness’ Keywords Ranked by Keyness Australia
Maths Gonski Science Numeracy Phonics Teaching Funding Mathematics ATAR NAPLAN Literacy Grattan Enrolments Independent Courses Outcomes Indexation Principals Centre TIMSS
Pupils OfSTED Grammar Pupil Head Grammars Attainment Headteacher Cuts Secondary Trust Local Programme Academy GCSE Outstanding Inspectors Academies Budgets Headteachers
Charter Public District Charters City Math Programs Districts City’s Choice Vouchers Elementary Officials Administration County Enrollment Board Program Voucher Graduation
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referred to a range of different programs offered for and/or by schools, without any unifying theme. Here we can see the sense of the sub-corpora suggested in the discussion of frequencies above borne out: an Australian focus on science, mathematics, literacy and numeracy, particularly as related to standardised testing and student achievement is reflected in ten of the keywords (maths, science, numeracy, phonics, mathematics, ATAR, NAPLAN, literacy, outcomes, TIMSS) while the focus on school funding is reflected in a further four (Gonski, finding, enrolments, indexation). In the US sub-corpora, seven of the keywords reflect the focus on school choice (charter, public, charters, choice, vouchers, enrolment, voucher), while a further eight relate to education governance (district, city, districts, city’s, officials, administration, county, board). The UK sub-corpora yielded a series of ten keywords related to school governance (OfSTED, head, headteacher, cuts, trust, local, outstanding, inspectors, budgets, headteachers), and five related to types of schools (grammar, grammars, secondary, academy, academies). This preliminary keyword analysis raises questions about the context of keyword appearances in the sub-corpora, which will be explored further through an analysis of collocation across the three sub-corpora.
Collocation in the three sub-corpora Exploration of the patterns of co-occurrence of words within corpora and subcorpora, sheds light on the relationships between words. Baker notes that All words co-occur with each other to some degree. However, when a word regularly appears near another word, and the relationship is statistically significant in some way, then such co-occurrences are referred to as collocates and the phenomena of certain words frequently occurring next to or near each other is collocation. (2006, pp. 95–96) The study of collocations in corpus linguistics highlights the contextual meaning of words in use, their associations and connotations. Stubbs (1996, p. 172) observed that “words occur in characteristic collocations, which show the associations and connotations they have, and therefore the assumptions they embody”. In using corpus linguistic tools to explore the discursive construction of phenomena, the study of collocations highlights these associations and assumptions, and the ways in which they are both reflected and constructed via the language employed. Two statistical measures have been used to identify collocations in the three sub-corpora. The Mutual Information (MI) score measures collocational strength of the relationship between two words. The higher the MI score, the stronger the relationship is said to be. Hunston (2002) suggests that a MI score of three or above provides evidence that two words are collocates. Hunston, however, also argues against using MI score alone as a measure of collocation, given that this
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statistic does not take into account the size of the corpus. McEnery et al. (2006, p. 56) note that “collocational strength is not always reliable in identifying meaningful collocations. We also need to know the amount of evidence available for a collocation”. To this end, they suggest, drawing on Church, Gale, Hanks, Hindle and Moon (1994), that both the MI score, which, as we have seen, measures the strength of the collocations, and the t-score, which reflects the confidence with which we can conclude that there is an association, and which takes into account the size of the corpus, be used. As per this suggestion, in this exploration of collocation within the three sub-corpora, an intersection of the two measures has been used, where words with both an MI score greater than 3 and a t-score greater than 2 (McEnery et al., 2006, p. 56) have been identified as collocates of the ‘node word’, that is, the word that is the subject of the search. Furthermore, collocations were identified using a 4:4 window (i.e., 4 words on either side of the ‘node word’), which is a standard procedure in exploring linguistic collocations (Scott & Tribble, 2006; Sinclair, Jones & Daley, 1969). Two sets of collocations were explored across the sub-corpora. In the first place, the three initial search terms ‘reform’, ‘improvement’ and ‘quality’ were explored as nodes. These words were identified early on, out of the focus of the book, as what Stubbs (1996, 2001) and others (for example, O’Halloran, 2010) have referred to as ‘cultural keywords’. ‘Reform’ and ‘improvement’ were subjected to a ‘wildcard’ search, such that all words using the stem ‘reform’ and ‘improve’ were searched (i.e., reform, reformed, reforms, reforming, improve, improved, improvement, improving). Subsequent to this, collocations between keywords were explored for each of the sub-corpora. Tables 8.11 and 8.12 show the lexical collocates5 for ‘reform’ and ‘improvement’ respectively. ‘Reform’ had only four collocates across the three sub-corpora, each of which highlighted a particular type of reform. Both education and school collocated with reform in all three groups of texts, while government and radical were collocated with reform in the UK texts only. Furthermore, 60 of the 84 instances of collocation had the collocate to the left of the node – i.e., most usually, these collocates were used to provide information to the reader about the nature of the reform, generally by using the collocate as a modifier for ‘reform’. In the 24 instances where the collocate appeared to the right of reform, this was most usually in the
Table 8.11 Collocates for ‘Reform’, by Sub-corpus Node: Reform* AU Education Government Radical School
Table 8.12 Collocates for ‘Improve’, by Sub-corpus Node: Improv*1 AU
Academic Achievement Areas Behaviour Breakfast Children Classroom Contributing Education Educational England Focus Good Grades Grants Inadequate Learning New Outcomes Performance Program Public Pupils Quality Reading Requires Results School Schools Scores Significant Skills Standards Student Students System Teacher Teachers Teaching Year 1 The asterisk is used here to indicate that the search was conducted so as to include all words beginning with ‘improv’ – as such, improve, improvement, improving, improvements etc were all included.
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form of, for example, reform/s to education or reform of school education. Government is the only collocate of reform positioned as an actor, and in each case the use of government indicates to the reader to whom the reform belongs. The story of improvement is a little more complex, with 40 collocates identified against this node. Performance, school, schools and teachers were all collocated with improve in all three sub-corpora, while academic, education, learning, outcomes, quality, results, significant, standards, teaching and year were collocated with improve in two of the three sub-corpora. Three of the collocates, good (UK), inadequate (UK) and significant (AU, UK), related to the quality or effectiveness of improvement. While the use of good and inadequate in this context was mostly linked to OfSTED assessments in the UK, significant was used approximately equally to flag that which had already improved and that which was in need of significant improvement. The majority of remaining collocates can be divided into three groups: people either in need of or the beneficiaries of improvement; attributes, qualities or activities of people generally in need of improvement; and things in need of improvement. Children (UK), pupils (UK), student/s (AU) and teacher/s (AU, UK, US) are all collocates of improvement. In the case of children, student/s and pupils, improvement of educational outcomes, academic achievement, results and performance all figure significantly when we explore the context. In the case of teacher/s, quality is most often the object of improvement. Improvement of teacher quality, for example, is assumed to contribute to the improvement of student performance or results. While for students, attributes or behaviours are more likely to be the object of improvement, teachers’ very selves are regarded as worthy and appropriate targets for improvement. In terms of attributes, qualities or activities of people collocated with improvement, academic (AU, US), achievement (US), behaviour (UK), grades (UK), learning (AU, UK), performance (AU, UK, US), reading (UK), results (AU, UK), scores (UK), skills (AU) and teaching (AU, UK) all emerged as significant. Academic, achievement, behaviour, grades and reading are generally seen to be the province of students/pupils/children, while the skills up for improvement are fairly equally split between students’ academic skills and teachers’ skills. Performance and results are related to school improvement most usually, while both learning and teaching are often positioned as constructs that are the property of neither humans nor institutions. As to things seen to be in need of, the object of, or contributing to improvement, Breakfast (UK) is collocated with improvement through the impact of ‘breakfast clubs’ in disadvantaged schools. Classroom (UK), education/al (AU, UK), outcomes (AU, UK), public(schools) (US), quality (AU, UK), school/s (AU, UK, US), standards (AU, UK) and system (UK) are all positioned in the texts as the objects or potential beneficiaries of improvement. The cultural keyword ‘quality’ was found to be collocated with eleven words across the three sub-corpora, as highlighted in Table 8.13. Education and high were collocated with quality in each of the three sub-corpora, while school (UK, US), teachers (AU, US) and teaching (AU, UK) were collocated in two of the subcorpora. Six further words were collocated with quality in only one sub-corpus.
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Charter Early Education Good High Improve School Schools Teacher Teachers Teaching
Improve was collocated with quality in the Australian texts, and, as highlighted in bold in the concordance lines (see Table 8.14), in each of the eight instances, the object of improvement was either teacher or teaching quality. The second word that collocates with quality solely in the Australian texts is teacher, and analysis of the concordance lines in this case (see Table 8.15) highlights (in bold) the pervasiveness of the concept of ‘teacher quality’ in the Australian texts. Indeed, the phrase teacher quality accounts for 21 of the 122 of the appearances of the word teacher in the Australian texts (17%), while it appears only once amongst the 152 appearances of the word teacher in the UK texts (0.7%) and once amongst the 118 appearances of the words teacher in the US texts (0.8%). In the UK texts, the collocation of early with quality reflects the focus of a number of texts on the quality of early years education in the UK, while the collocation between good and quality reflects a tendency in the texts to refer to good-quality education. In the US texts, charter is collocated with quality, most usually in the context of referring to ‘high-quality charter schools’. Schools is collocated with quality, generally in the context of referring to high-quality (or on occasion, poor-quality schools) While exploration of these collocations highlights something of what we might know “about a word from the company it keeps” (Firth, 1957, p. 20), many collocates are confined in their use to a relatively small array of texts from each sub-corpus. In order to explore the distinctiveness of the three sets of texts, an examination of the collocations of keywords was undertaken for each corpus. Here, collocations (using the thresholds defined earlier) between keywords (also identified using the thresholds defined earlier) were explored and mapped. Initially, collocations between the ‘top 20’ keywords by keyness (identified using the
States are trying hard to do to improve student outcomes is to good, and the underperforming. As desire to teachers at the forefront of efforts to macro-reforms that governments can make to improving. The Turnbull government’s plan to to increase funding to needy schools and and is part of changes designed to
improve teacher quality. For the past 31 years, improve the quality of teaching and learning in improve teacher quality steadily gains momentum, improve teacher quality is Emily Rhodes at Belmore improve the long-term quality of teachers and improve the quality of teaching includes linking improve teacher quality. Under his proposal, improve teacher quality. Ms Saba said students
Table 8.14 Concordance Lines for Collocation of Improve with Quality in the Australian Sub-corpus
areas to start on, namely funding and science. Research tells us that investment in Kevin Donnelly. A few markers stand out. States are trying hard to improve and the underperforming. As desire to improve Minister Adrian Piccoli has zeroed in on country, state governments are trying to boost red Learning initiatives. Queensland is targeting at the forefront of efforts to improve off. Much of the efforts on boosting we’ve brought them in, and on he says. “But we do that in vital that governments increase focus on focus on the best ways to lift evidence tells us that it’s the quality of the or where they live. Senator Birmingham said evidence tells us that it’s the quality of the teaching positions with higher salaries to boost teaching positions with higher salaries to boost increase funding to needy schools and improve has been known since the 1960s that significant reforms in NSW have focused on its future agenda is focused largely on is part of changes designed to improve
teacher quality. We need a complete account of teacher quality is likely to return benefits many Teacher quality is imperative and long-term teacher quality. For the past 31 years, straight-t teacher quality steadily gains momentum, state teacher quality, taking to task some principals teacher quality. In NSW, Piccoli is instituting teacher quality with an action plan to attract teacher quality is Emily Rhodes at Belmore South teacher quality concentrates on new entrants. But teacher quality they are as supportive as anybody. teacher education.” The academic quality of teach teacher quality. Lastly, we need to look at teacher quality and student performance amid teacher and early intervention that teacher quality was the single largest in-school teacher and early intervention that teacher quality because increased funding alone teacher quality because increased funding alone teacher quality. Under his proposal, schools teacher quality is more important than class sizes teacher quality, including setting minimum entry teacher quality. As a teacher of 35 years? teacher quality. Ms Saba said students had been
Table 8.15 Concordance Lines for Collocation of Teacher with Quality in the Australian Sub-corpus
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log-likelihood statistic) and other keywords were mapped. All keywords identified as collocates were then used as nodes, and their keyword collocates identified and added to the map, and so on, until no further keywords were identified as collocates. Figures 8.1, 8.2 and 8.3 respectively picture the mapped collocated keywords from the Australian, UK and US texts. Keywords that are collocated with and/or collocates of more than three other keywords are highlighted in black. Single headed arrows travel from the node to the collocate, while double headed arrows indicate that two words are collocates of each other. Keywords for which no keyword collocates were identified are indicated in rectangular boxes toward the top of the image. In Figure 8.1, 28 of the 50 keywords from the Australian texts were seen to be collocated with each other. Here we can see four main groups of keywords, with a strong connection, as observed earlier, between mathematics and science, both related to both TIMSS and technology (representing the discussion of STEM in the Australian texts). The strong connection to Australian can be explained by the focus on Australian PISA and TIMSS results in the media texts. Mathematics was collocated with knowledge and ability signalling a focus on a perceived lack thereof amongst Australian students, while science was collocated with courses, representing a link with school- and university-level science courses, and through these linked to ATAR (the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank). Both mathematics and science were collocated with teaching, referencing the perceived lack of quality in mathematics and science teaching and an associated shortage of mathematics and science teachers. The link from mathematics to institute (and through institute, to Grattan6) is reflective of the location from which expert opinion is most often derived in these texts. In the case of mathematics, the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute is most often called upon for expert comment, while more broadly in relation to educational reform and improvement, the Grattan Institute is consulted. The Centre for Independent Studies, a conservative think tank currently running a literacy program focused on phonics, is also referenced here, with both independent and centre collocated with each other (albeit not with any other keywords). Teaching is collated with phonics, which in turn is collocated with numeracy and assessment, largely because of a widely-reported announcement by the Minister in January 2017 of a standardised reading, phonics and numeracy assessment for Year 1 students to be implemented in 2018. Literacy is collocated with numeracy and assessment, but interestingly, none of these terms (or indeed, any others) are collocated with NAPLAN. This is because while NAPLAN appears relatively frequently in the texts (29 times across 16 texts), only on two occasions is the acronym NAPLAN expanded to the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy. On all other occasions, the acronym NAPLAN appears in the text without explanation. Overall, the keyword collocations within the Australian texts suggest a focus on mathematics and science, tied to an anxiety around performance on international standardised testing and a concomitant desire to improve the quality of teaching in those areas that contribute to international comparisons. A secondary focus on
Figure 8.1 Map of Collocated Keywords in the Australian Sub-corpus
Figure 8.2 Map of Collocated Keywords in the UK Sub-corpus
Figure 8.3 Map of Collocated Keywords in the US Sub-corpus
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school funding, representing the continuation of long-running debates around funding and equity is also evident in the collocations. In the UK texts, 25 of the 54 identified keywords were seen to be collocated with each other, as represented in Figure 8.2. The collocation map highlights four clusters of collocated keywords. First, a cluster of keywords related to OfSTED, an acronym representing the UK Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, which is responsible for school inspections and evaluations. In these texts, Of STED is closely linked with Chief and Inspector, reflecting the media coverage of the retirement of the Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, in December 2016, and the appointment of his successor, Amanda Spielman, in January 2017. Rated and outstanding are also collocated with Of STED, reflecting one of the core functions of OfSTED, the inspection and rating of schools, the top rating of which is ‘Outstanding’. A second cluster is evident around Academy/ies, Academies being state funded English schools that are independent of the control of Local Education Authorities, some of which are also ‘free schools’. The majority of Academies are secondary schools, and they are established as not-for-profit trusts, all of which accounts for many of the words collocated with Academy/ies. The collocation between Academy/ies and east and London is prominent because of Sir Michael Wilshaw’s previous role as Head of Mossbourne Academy in East London, which also contributes to the link between Academy/ies, Head/Teacher and OfSTED. The link between Academy/ies and programme reflects a focus in some of the texts on the ‘Academies Programme’, the term used to refer to the program of establishing and governing Academies. A third cluster, focused around England, highlights the focus of a significant proportion of the texts on English (as opposed to Irish, Welsh or Scottish) schools, particularly with respect to the performance of secondary schools and the establishment of a further Grammar schools, which was an expressed policy position of the Conservative Party in the lead up to the 2017 election. The final cluster, grouped around pupil/s, highlights the discussion of pupil attainment in the texts, universally in relation to attainment levels of disadvantaged students. While free appears as a connector between pupils and Academy/ies, as noted above, the collocation of free with Academy/ies is due to the shared characteristics of Free Schools and Academies, which causes the relatively frequent use of the phrase ‘Academies and Free Schools’. In the case of the collocation between pupils and free, the connection is in relation to free school meals (which is also collocated with both pupils and free), where the proportion of students in any school eligible for free school meals is widely regarded within the UK education system as an indicator of disadvantage. Within the US texts, 36 of the 84 keywords were seen to be collocated with other keywords, and the mapping of these is displayed in Figure 8.3. While at first glance the US map may look more complex than those generated from the Australian or UK texts, there are essentially three inter-related hubs of keyword collocates at work in the US map, each of which is interconnected with the others.
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A cluster of keywords around Trump, DeVos and President reflect the timing of the collection of US texts: the period from 1 November 2016 to 31 January 2017 encompassed the US Presidential election (8 November), the announcement that the President-elect would nominate Betsy DeVos for the role of Secretary of Education (23 November), her confirmation hearing (17 January), and the approval of her nomination by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (31 January). Throughout late November, December and January, DeVos was the subject of 21 articles within the US sub-corpus, exploring her background and involvement with Michigan Charter Schools, in particular. DeVos is linked directly to choice and, through Michigan to charter/s, and this collection of collocated keywords provides the second cluster. Key to DeVos’ orientation to education is the charter schools movement, understood, along with school vouchers, to represent a key manifestation of the school choice agenda in the US (Verger, Fontdevila & Zancajo, 2016). Charter/s, choice and voucher/s are consequently very closely linked in the US texts. Advocates is closely linked to both charter/s and choice because of the focus in these texts on the advocacy shown by DeVos and others for school choice as a vehicle for education reform and school improvement. Families is collocated with charter/s, predominantly because of reference in the texts to pro-charter advocacy group ‘Families for Excellent Schools’, while income is collocated with families due to the idea that expansion of school choice vehicles such as charter school and voucher programs will expand options for low income families. Wilson, representative of Antwan Wilson, the incoming Chancellor of D.C. schools, who stepped into the role on 1 February 2017, was collocated with member/s, after the approval of his appointment by Council Members in late December. Member/s, in turn, was collocated with board, representative of discussion of board members of charter schools. Finally, a cluster of collocated keywords relates to the governance of education and reflects the way that governance and school type are interwoven in US discussions of education. Both city/city’s and district/s are collocated with both charter/s and public, reflecting discussion of governance of both public schools and charter schools. Likewise, charter/s and public are both collocated with traditional, a reflection of the comparison often undertaken in the texts between charter schools on the one hand and ‘traditional public schools’ on the other. Within this cluster, links can be observed to significant roles, such as superintendent, which is collocated with district/s and chancellor, which is collocated with city/city’s, and officials, which is collocated with both. The only word collocated with public alone is dollars, consistently related to the prospective flow of public dollars to charter and private schools, via either current or prospective charter and voucher programs.
Representations of educational reform and improvement in the print media: what can we see? So, what does this all mean? This close technical analysis of the lexical qualities of a selection of media texts is not intended to lay the basis for sweeping claims
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about media representations of education. The knowledge claims that can be laid out off the back of such analysis are necessarily contained and tentative, reflecting the narrowness of the search, both temporally and geographically. Furthermore, the treatment of the data here has been necessarily limited: this discussion has aimed to provide a broad snapshot of the data in lexical terms, focusing on the differences and similarities between the sub-corpora. Further analysis could focus on semantic patterns emerging from the data, take a critical discourse analysis approach to a subset of the texts, compare the corpus as a whole with an established corpus such as the BNC, and so on. There are, however, a number of implications of this analysis that might contribute to our understanding of the discursive construction of educational reform and improvement in the print media. The first is that media representations, even when explored via large data sets such as this one, must always be read in context. The post-election discussion of the incoming nominee for Secretary of Education in the US texts, for example, heralded a focus on choice, charter schools and school vouchers in the US that might not have been so strongly linked to reform and improvement at a different time. Likewise, the retirement of the chief OfSTED Inspector in December 2016 may have given OfSTED a place within the UK texts that it might not have otherwise assumed. Some longitudinal analysis of keywords such as these might highlight different patterns. The second is that educational reform and improvement, as represented in the print media, is deeply political. In each of the three sub-corpora, frequent reference to the Minister for Education, Education Secretary, Government Departments of Education and to individuals holding politically influential roles in relation to education locate reform and improvement as the province of government. While schools, teachers and teaching are often named as potential sites for improvement across the three groups of texts, the locus of agency to affect improvement lies, in this lexical analysis, with governments and government officials. Finally, the concept of competition and marketisation emerges from this analysis as a key factor in contemporary mediated understandings of educational reform and improvement. This is evident across the three sub-corpora, although competition plays out in different ways in the three national contexts. The prevalence of TIMSS- and PISA-associated reporting in the Australian texts is one manifestation of this, along with the continued focus on mathematics and science, pointing to an anxiety that Australia will be left behind on international comparisons. While temporally the release of PISA and TIMSS results during the period of data collection has in all likelihood increased the focus on these in the Australian texts, as we shall see in the next chapter, a focus on performance on international standardised tests has been deeply embedded in education policy moves in Australia for at least the past decade, so much so that a desire to be in the ‘Top 5 by 2025’ has been immortalised in legislation (Mockler, 2014). The marketisation of education in the UK represented by the operations of OfSTED over a long period of time and the more recent expansion of Academies and establishment of Free Schools (Ball, 2012b) is well represented in the UK texts.
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In the US texts, the prevalence of discussions of school choice, through a focus on both charter schools and school vouchers, long established tools of marketisation (Lubienski, 2006; Verger et al., 2016), is evident. This analysis of both the UK and US texts suggests that marketisation and competition are closely related to notions of reform and improvement in education. While the Australian texts suggest a different type of competition at work, the key difference is in terms of scale rather than approach.
Conclusion Having explored here in some detail an example of the representation of reform and improvement in the print media, and argued that their discursive construction relies at least in part on governments, markets and competition proffering a remedy to the problems of education in needs of reform and improvement, we are reminded of the language of reform and improvement in education policy, discussed in earlier chapters. We have identified a range of significant policy texts drawn from both Anglophone countries and international education organisations, to highlight, to paraphrase Carol Bacchi (2009), what the problem is represented to be, and how the identification of the problem changes over temporal and geographical space. In our concluding chapter to this book, we draw on the many arguments and related cases that we have evoked to focus attention on some of the perils of nostalgia that earmarks a craving for a ‘golden age’ – a time that could be seen as undoubtedly illusory, but nonetheless held features of a language about educational practices that was accessible and contestable. The chapter disputes the recourse to simple solutions, elixirs and silver bullets to be employed to address education’s intractable problems.
Notes 1 Top ten newspapers by circulation as at June 2016. Source: Roy Morgan Research www.roymorgan.com/industries/media/readership/newspaper-readership. Accessed 18 August 2016. 2 Top ten newspapers by circulation as at January 2017. Source: Press Gazette www. pressgazette.co.uk/national-newspaper-print-abcs-for-jan-2017-observer-upyear-on-year-the-sun-is-fastest-riser-month-on-month/ Accessed 20 April 2017. 3 Top ten newspapers by circulation as at May 2016. Source: Cision www.cision. com/us/2014/06/top-10-us-daily-newspapers/ Accessed 18 August 2016. 4 Grammatical terms have been removed from these lists for purposes of comparison of the substantive content. 5 In other words, grammatical words were excluded from the list of collocates. 6 The Grattan Institute is a Melbourne-based neoliberal think tank.
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Having laid out in the preceding chapters the issues, as we see them, with current manifestations of the language of reform and improvement in education across a variety of dimensions, in this concluding chapter we turn to ‘reclaiming meaning’, and the means by which we might do so. While we have highlighted the problematics of contemporary education practice that flow from discourses of reform and improvement, this book is not a manifesto of nostalgia – we do not hold the position that in the past education traditions were always generous, gentle and inclusive: indeed and manifestly they were not. We do, however, hold that educational practice was in the past less varnished by ‘weasel words’ and conclude here by arguing that it was possible and remains possible to generate a more democratic public space by reclaiming meaning, pushing back against the orthodoxies of our day to reconstitute generative education practices before they sink into the morass of ‘newspeak’. Stephen Kemmis and colleagues have written of the purpose of education being to ‘form people so they can live well in a world worth living in’ (Kemmis and Edwards-Groves, 2017, p. 7, emphasis in original). They continue: No matter what you think ‘a world worth living in’ means, a society worth living in cannot be had without the efforts of people of goodwill to create and secure such a society. (p. 14) They argue that the complexity of contemporary society, the very complexity, we posit, that has made western democracies vulnerable to the hegemony of neoliberal ideas, has played a significant role in breaking down robust understandings of what education is for, and making it necessary at this time to restore a strong sense of education’s sense of purpose. For us, in the light of the observations we have made about language in this book, a critical part of this restoration is reclaiming meaning, particularly on the part of the education community, for the benefit of the community more broadly. To this end, in this chapter we aim to ‘look back to remember the future’ (Burke, 2014), before invoking a series of ‘virtues’ which, we suggest, might help us to get there. We have expressed a concern throughout the book about the over-abstraction, over-simplification and over-generalisation that has governed policy making, well
knowing that these terms themselves compete with each other and contradict one another, further obscuring what we mean by ‘improvement and reform’. We have drawn attention to the impoverishment of educational discourse and its consequences. However, it is conceivable that in identifying those problematic aspects of neoliberal education discourse, with its view of society as a universal market place in which all goods and services, including education, are earmarked as commodities (Metcalf, 2017), we could be charged with a pessimistic nostalgia for a hitherto ‘golden age’. This was seemingly an age when life was simpler and the achievement of ends not compromised by market forces and crumbling social bonds. Lowenthal (1989, p. 21) wrote of the current condition as “a perpetual staple of nostalgic yearning in the search for a simple, ‘stable’ past as a refuge from the turbulent and chaotic present”. Representing what has happened in the past does not necessarily mean that we can recognise how it actually was, the pain, the contradictions, the uncertainties. Nevertheless, it is through the lens of the past and the present that we can look to the future. It was not so long ago when school classrooms were overcrowded, desks fixed to the floor, the cane or strap was employed to ‘tame’ recalcitrant children, discrimination based on race, class and gender denied access to learning, and much was joyless, repetitive and designed to reproduce social conditions that kept students ‘in their place’. Paul Willis’s book, Learning to Labour: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs (1977) was a salutary reminder of a hidden and complicit agreement between teachers and resistant youth to settle for less; and ‘less’ was often the reward for many young people, for example, post-war secondary education in England and Wales used a public examination, known at the 11+, to sort children into a tripartite system of grammar, secondary modern and technical schools, with the first of these receiving a disproportionate allocation of funding and resources. Few questioned that this was either fair or equitable. All the same, Giroux (2011) has argued that for the past three decades what he calls ‘casino capitalism’ has usurped a more democratic polity. Others such as Chomsky (1994) have looked specifically at the provision of education being utilised as a means of creating an obedient and subordinate citizenry rather than one that nurtures freedom and democracy. He argues that working people are “not tools [to be] rented by employers” (p. 35) and considers the great increase in business speak incorporated into educational practices is a form of business propaganda. Nowhere is this to be better found than in the vast global publishing industry of which we have written in a number of chapters. However, when we turn to earlier times such as the literature of the late 19th century, it is not hard to find examples of gross and crass corruption in a world increasingly dominated by business and global interests, such as exemplified in Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, originally published in 1870. Both satire and social commentary, the novel reminds us of the ways in which bigotry and self-interest can infuse and distort a society in ways that remain familiar today. As McCrum (2015) wrote in The Guardian: Melmotte, based on some scandalous financiers of the 1870s, is a figure we have come to know only too well: arrogant, ruthless, corrupt and so
unfeasibly rich he believes he can buy anything, including political influence. In painting this character, Trollope’s satirical fury is at full stretch. Melmotte is a “horrid, big, rich scoundrel . . . a bloated swindler . . . a vile city ruffian”. How often, in the 1980s and 90s – Robert Maxwell comes to mind – have we not seen such characters in contemporary English life? Our emphasis, throughout this book has been to consider the provision of decent schooling conditions as a form of ‘social insurance’, enabling those who participate in it as not only a human right to education, but also one that carries with it a sense of dignity, allowing a full engagement in our human world. Using a social insurance metaphor can act as an alternative approach to the predominant market metaphor in educational policies and practices that characterise students as consumers and the provision of education as a commodity for developing human capital (Nordensvard, 2010). Such insurance is not philanthropy, but rather a recognition of the merit of essential humanism where the norms of reciprocity and mutual respect infuse relationships. It is clear to us that while the language of improvement and reform has been appropriated by neoliberal discourses, now is the time to push back. Allowing neoliberalism to create the conditions under which we speak and write of the curriculum, of teachers’ work, of school effectiveness, and the ways in which the purposes of schooling have been characterised as exclusively the development of human capital has blinded us to the longer term consequences of such limitations. The neoliberal discourse with its limiting pragmatism seeks to shape our beliefs about challenges and problems, but pays little attention to ameliorating them at their roots, that is, the conditions through which they arise, instead creating perceived crises and moral panics rather than a rational and thoroughgoing social analysis. It might also be said that a feature of our present world that is inescapable, aside from the very real concerns attached to neoliberalism, is the speed and rapidity of change fed by technology and ever burgeoning policy adaptation. Bourdieu (1998) is attributed to coining the phrase ‘le fast thinker’ to refer to the ways our society encourages us to think fast, but not think hard. He quoted Plato in suggesting that you cannot think when you are in a hurry, the inevitable consequence of thinking fast is to end up thinking in clichés. We ask where is the place in contemporary education for the unhurried child? Is it now opportune to think about a ‘slow school movement’ (Holt, 2002) changing the pacing of schooling itself (Wood, 2002)? Is it also opportune to consider the consequences of limiting the curriculum to utilitarian outcomes with the ever-increasing domination of what have become known as the STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths? On retiring as Chair of the Arts Council in the UK, Liz Forgan criticised the then education secretary, Michael Gove, arguing that just as the narrowing of the curriculum has robbed English children of the capacity to cook so there has been a serious interruption to the transmission of the nation’s cultural language. The chief arts writer for The Guardian, Higgins (2013) reported that in her speech Forgan expressed alarm at the absence of arts subjects from the new qualification
Ebacc, awarded to students who gained A-C in five subject areas: mathematics, English, two sciences, languages and humanities, and used as a school performance measure, saying: “By excluding subjects such as art, design, music, dance and drama from the Ebacc, a big red signal is hoisted saying with total clarity, ‘We don’t care’ with very real and tangible consequences”. A report from the Education Policy Institute confirmed that, four years on from Forgan’s speech, the number of young people taking arts and music has fallen consistently; furthermore, there has been a reduction in arts teaching hours and fewer arts teachers are being employed. These outcomes can be seen to be trending across the globe. This is but one of many current concerns regarding the direction taken by education today in the name of improvement and reform. In this book we believe we have indeed ‘troubled’ the language surrounding policies and practices, particularly by those who espouse them but so often do not have the responsibility for enacting them. We have developed a number of important questions about the ways in which schooling is being judged as effective through, for example, the administration of standards in relation to both teachers’ and their students’ work. In short, we have developed a platform for the principles and practices of education to be liberated from narrow instrumental interests and be enabled to move into a future that is fair and just. We have argued for education to be progressive, but not permissive, recognising global interdependence, but not being smothered and suffocated by dull uniformity. In naming this chapter ‘beyond nostalgia’, it was our intention to suggest a condition that will provide alternative ways to think about and act upon education in its many manifestations. It is not sufficient to reflect upon the manner in which we believe that the language of improvement and reform has been hijacked by contemporary political and economic discourses. We are concerned, rather, to re-imagine the work of the ‘activist professional’ so passionately argued for by Judyth Sachs (2003). In their introduction to her book, Andy Hargreaves and Ivor Goodson wrote: The time has rarely been more opportune or more pressing to think more deeply about what professional learning, professional knowledge and professional status should look like for the new generation of teachers who will shape the next three decades of public education. (p. ix) Fifteen years on, we believe the circumstances are now even more pressing. Sachs herself has recently argued for the urgent creation of “discursive spaces whereby a more collaborative or research-engaged teaching profession could develop and thrive” (2016, p. 424). But what might it take to get there? Sachs goes on to note that this might begin with “the development of a common shared vocabulary about practice and how to improve that practice” (p. 424). We echo Sachs’s call for a discursive shift, particularly in the way we think and talk about reform and improvement in education, but such a shift will not take place by happenstance.
Rather, we propose attention to the cultivation of a set of virtues, or moral behaviours that, we believe, will help: respectfulness; steadfastness; grace; courage; generosity; gratitude; and a concern for social justice. We have specifically focussed upon those virtues that defy showy utilitarianism, and instead embody what we might call a quiet, purposeful form of living well. There is a vast literature in relation to virtue ethics (for example, Nussbaum, 1999; Murdoch, 2001; MacIntyre, 2007 and more radical writers such as McCloskey, 2010), and while each takes a different perspective, all agree that our understanding of virtues is tempered by the ethos of the day. By invoking the virtues that we have cited, we do not expressly judge those who would stifle a more creative, humane and morally purposeful education as discussed throughout this book. Instead, we take a positive path, outlining a series of convictions that may guide us to transcend mere utilitarianism towards a more deliberative, critical stance. Schools often promote the notion of ‘respectfulness’, but what does it mean? Taking one of hundreds of examples published in prospectuses – The Canberra College in the Australian Capital Territory – we find that it advocates: We all have the right to be treated with fairness and dignity. We all have the right to learn and work in a safe, respectful and supportive school environment that values diversity – an environment free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence. (Canberra College, n.d.) Here are some seeds of what we might mean by ‘respectfulness’, that is the condition of mutuality whereby we treat others with consideration as they would treat us. It dignifies those who employ it and is nourished by expressions of regard. It is an antidote to indifference and hostility. But too often the term is invoked in a context of admiration rather than as a specification that enables us to avoid engaging in confrontational, abusive and humiliating behaviour. Importantly, the exercise of respectfulness enables the emergence of a range of points of view that may be argued for and defended, and also the possibility of constructive resistance. At its heart, respectfulness involves the right to be heard. To insist on being heard is not always easy. Indeed, often being heard requires resistance that in turn takes great courage. Elsewhere, we have provided a remarkable example of professional courage, in the resistance of Norwegian teachers to the fascist ‘Minister-President’, Vidkun Quisling who, during the Second World War, had sought to establish a corporative state akin to Mussolini’s model, identifying teachers as the tools whereby he could enact an Aryan curriculum. The underground called on the teachers to resist. Between 8,000 to 10,000 of the country’s 12,000 teachers wrote letters to Quisling’s Church and Education Department. All signed their names and addresses to the wording. Each teacher said he or she could neither assist in promoting fascist education of the children nor accept membership in the new teacher’s
Beyond nostalgia organization. The government threatened them with dismissal and closed all schools for a month. Many were arrested. Teachers held classes in private homes. Despite censorship, news of the resistance spread. Tens of thousands of letters of protest from parents poured into the government office. On cattle car trains and overcrowded steamers, the arrested teachers were shipped to the far north. They were kept at Kirkeness in miserable conditions, doing dangerous work. However, their suffering strengthened morale on the home front and posed problems for Quisling’s regime. As Quisling once raged at the teachers in a school near Oslo: ‘You teachers have destroyed everything for me!’ Fearful of alienating Norwegians still further, Quisling finally ordered the teachers’ release. Eight months after the arrests, the last teachers returned home to triumphal receptions. They had restored hope in a regime of fear and loathing. (Groundwater-Smith & Mockler, 2009, p. 36)
There can be no question that the courage of the Norwegian teachers required a generosity of spirit as they placed themselves in the path of very real danger in the interests of their community – their colleagues, their students and the parents of those students. These were admirable acts of munificence, but practical generosity can be expressed in more modest ways such as donating time to assist struggling colleagues or students, not as a requirement within a contract, but as an act of kindness and concern. Indeed, we might be grateful for these small but significant acts. So what of gratitude? In his astonishing celebration of a life well-lived Oliver Sachs (2015) wrote movingly of what he believed he could be thankful for. Following a diagnosis of the recurrence of a particularly virulent cancer he penned a series of short essays, part grieving and part remembrance, but overall a celebratory meditation on life itself. The act of asking ourselves ‘for what should we be grateful in today’s world of education?’, might be a means of fostering reflective practice and professional judgement, a mechanism for returning to what really matters in our work as educators. Speaking back is not for the fickle. It requires steadfastness, that is, being tenacious, unwavering and constant, actively committed to core beliefs regarding that which is fair and honourable. This does not mean, of course, failing to think deeply about matters, that is, being in Arendt’s words, “sleepwalkers” (Arendt, 1978) but rather being “fully awake”; forever on the alert to the ways that the new word, the new phrase can be conjured up to seduce us. Take the word ‘deliverology’, cited in Chapter 1, a word that reduces education to the packaging and marketing of desired reforms. Being steadfast means being prepared to defy and resist such confections. This in turn requires both grace and courage. Finally, a lived commitment on the part of the teaching profession to social justice, to the integrity of the democratic project of education, and to the pursuit of equity through education, will help us to get there. On a local level, this means working to create classrooms and school communities within which all children and young people can learn effectively, build their capabilities, and develop knowledge of themselves and their world. On a structural level, this
means working individually and collaboratively to critically interrogate education policies and practices, working to get structural obstacles to equity out of the way, and in doing so contribute to the creation of the “world worth living in” of which Kemmis and Edwards-Groves (2017) write. The language of reform and improvement, in the way it is currently deployed, risks contributing to education systems that attend to compliance rather than aspiration, prosecuting an impoverished vision of education and what it could and should be. As we have noted throughout this book, it is difficult to argue against concepts such as quality, standards, improvement and accountability, but there is a difference between arguing against the substance of these concepts and their common contemporary uses. Through attending to the discursive construction of these and other key concepts, along with their global resonances and local nuances, we have aimed to highlight their hollowness. It is our assessment that meaning could indeed be reclaimed, although not without continuing interrogation and an explicit and diligent commitment on the part of those who understand and value the transformative and democratic potential of education.
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McCloskey, D. (2010). The bourgeois virtues: Ethics for an age of commerce. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. McCrum, R. (2015, September 4). The 100 best novels. The Guardian. Retrieved from www.theguardian.com/books/series/the-100-best-novels Metcalf, S. (2017, August 18). Neoliberalism: The idea that swallowed the world. The Guardian. Retrieved from www.theguardian.com/news/2017/aug/18/neo liberalism-the-idea-that-changed-the-world Murdoch, I. (2001). Sovereignty of good over other concepts. London: Routledge Classics (first published 1970, Routledge and Kegan Paul). Nordensvard, J. (2010). The consumer metaphor versus the citizen metaphor: Different sets of roles for students. In M. Molesworth, R. Scullion, & E. Nixon (Eds.), The marketization of higher education and the student as consumer (pp. 157–169). Abingdon: Routledge. Nussbaum, M. (1999). Virtue ethics: A misleading category. The Journal of Ethics, 3(3), 163–201. Sachs, J. (2003). The activist teaching profession. Buckingham: Open University Press. Sachs, J. (2016). Teacher professionalism: Why are we still talking about it? Teachers and Teaching, 22(4), 413–425. doi:10.1080/13540602.2015.1082732 Sachs, O. (2015). Gratitude. New York: Knopf Publishing Group. Willis, P. E. (1977). Learning to labor: How working class kids get working class jobs. New York: Columbia University Press. Wood, C. (2002). Changing the pace of school: Slowing down the day to improve the quality of learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(7), 545–550.
Page numbers in italic indicate a figure and page numbers in bold indicate a table 21st Century Learning 9–10, 26; ‘Partnership for 21st Century Learning’ 56 aboutness 126–127, 127 ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) 98–99 accountability: Intelligent Accountability in Education 75; through transparency 26 Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers report 44 action research 53 advocacy, NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 81 AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) 114 Alexander, R. 4, 10 American schools, myth of crisis in 19 analysis of representations of educational reform and improvement in print media 140–142 AntConc 3.4 119–120 Apple, Michael 93 Arendt, Hannah 13, 150 Aristotle 109 assessment: Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank 34n2; growth of ‘audit culture’ 23–24; high-stakes accountability 22–23; NAPLAN 60–61; National Assessment Program 23; ‘Partnership for 21st Century Learning’ 56; PISA 21, 93–94; regulation, compliance with 54–56; resisting regulatory compliance, Steiner/Waldorf Schools case study 61; standardisation 21
ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) 26 ‘audit culture’: growth of 23–24 Australia: Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers report 44; Building the Education Revolution 54; development of ‘human capital’ in 25; home schooling regulation, case study 61–63; Institute of Public Administration report 54; NAPLAN 60–61; national curriculum 99; New South Wales Education Standards Authority 113; pedagogic governance 99–100; policy borrowing 57–58; pre-service teachers in 84n1; Productivity Commission 34n1; professional standards 73; progression points 115; Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes (2016) 24–27; RCTs, proposed adoption of 46–48; regulation 55; study of history in 97–99; see also representations of educational reform and improvement in print media Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority 23 Australian Professional Standards for Teachers 77–79 Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth 100–101 Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank 34n2 Bacchi, Carol 16–17 Ball, Stephen 5, 16–17, 19–20, 71 Bantock, G. 8 Barber, Michael 64 Bates, A. 2–3
behavior management 76 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 24 ‘black armband view of history’ 98 Blainey, Geoffrey 98 “blue skies” research 40–41 A Blueprint for Reform (2010) 27–29 Boomer, Garth 9 Bourdieu, Pierre 147 Building Evidence into Education (Goldacre, 2013) 46–47 Building the Education Revolution 54 bureaucracies 12–13 Burt, Cyril 8 Bush, George W. 18 Callaghan, Raymond 19 Capitalism and Freedom (Friedman, 1982) 17 ‘casino capitalism’ 146 catastrophe as catalyst for reform 20 change see reform ‘child centred’ educational practice 10 Chomsky, Noam 146 citizenship 7 cleverness 111 Cochran-Smith, Marilyn 67–68 codifying wise practice 112–116 Cohen, Stanley 18 College of Teachers 61 Collingwood, R. G. 96–97 collocated words in sub-corpora 128–140, 129, 130, 132, 133, 134, 136, 137, 138 commodification of education 146 complexity of teaching in contemporary times 67–70; social media 69; ubiquity of information, impact on 68–69 compliance: to professional teaching standards 83; with regulations 54–56; resistance to, Steiner/Waldorf Schools case study 59–61 Connell, Raewyn 39, 69, 84 constructivist approaches to education 21 contemporary education reform 20–21 context 95 core qualities of practical wisdom 109 core subjects 21, 33 corporate management models in schools 22 corporate stakeholders in educational policy 56–57, 58 corpus linguistic tools 119–120; keywords 126–128, 127; ‘lexical bundles’ 124–126, 124, 125; word
lists and frequencies 121–126, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125 courage, cultivating 149–150 crisis: catastrophe as catalyst for reform 20; Hurricane Katrina 18–19; moral panic 18; and public policy 17–19; role of in shaping education policy 15, 19–20 ‘crisis narrative’ 18 criticism of scholarship in EER 39 cultivating virtues: courage 149–150; gratitude 150; respectfulness 149; steadfastness 150 ‘cultural capital’ 92 culture 7 curriculum: complexity of 95; context 95; decision making 103; defining 89–90; development of national curriculum plans 94; ‘hidden curriculum’ 101–102; hidden messages in 92–93; knowledge, nature of 91; knowledge of, NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 80; and pedagogic governance 99–100; pretext 95; regulation, compliance with 54–56; ‘student voice’ in 11–12; texts 95; see also curriculum reform curriculum reform: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority 23; core subjects 21, 33; National Curriculum 31–32; ‘Partnership for 21st Century Learning’ 56; pedagogic governance 95–96; prescribed curriculum 22, 33; standardisation 21; structure and sequence, importance of in assisting learning 90–91; ‘student voice’ in 96 Dede, C. 9 defining: curriculum 89–90; policy 15–16; teaching standards 114 “Deliverology” 64 development of national curriculum plans 93–94 Dewey, Evelyn 6–8 Dewey, John 6–8 differentiation 76 discernment 107 discourse, policy as 16 ‘discourse of teacher centrality’ 32–33 discovery learning 8 diversity, respect for 80 Does Money Buy Strong Performance in PISA? (OECD, 2012) 25
Index ‘edu-businesses’ 56–57 education: as commodity 146; constructivist approaches to 21; evidence-based practice, ascendancy of 42; GEI 110; Global Education Reform Movement 15; ‘golden age’ of 6; human dimension of 69–70; ‘issue visibility’ 119; neoliberalism impact on 5; ‘open education’ 8; privatisation of 20; progressivism in 6, 7–8, 8; RCTs 46–48; research literacy, building 44; role in a wise society 111; ‘social capitalism’ in 24; ‘what works’ agenda 45–48; ‘wicked’ problems 37; see also education policy; education reform education policy 15; A Blueprint for Reform (2010) 27–29; corporate stakeholders 56–58; crisis and 19–20; DfE Strategy 2015–2020: World Class Education and Care 29–32; Every Child Matters 54; “global policy borrowing and lending” 23; language of reform in 10–11; policy, defining 15–16; policy borrowing 57–58; Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes (2016) 24–27; ‘regimes of truth’ 33; resisting regulatory compliance, Steiner/Waldorf Schools case study 59–61 education reform: contemporary education reform 20–21; mediation of 12; “raising the bar” on educational standards 30; standardisation 21; sustaining the GERM 23–24; trends in 21; see also GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) Education Sciences Reform Act 48 educational practice: as ‘child centred’ 10; vocabulary of 10; see also evidence-based practice Educational Testing Center poll 68 ‘edu-preneurs’ 15 EER (educational effectiveness research) 38–39; critiques of scholarship in 39; teacher engagement with 43 effectiveness 11, 37; critiques of scholarship in 39; EER 38–39; evidence-based practice 41–45; recasting for contemporary times 49; of schools 38–40; of teachers 28; ‘what works’ 45–48 Elementary and Secondary Education Act 48
engaging in practical wisdom 107, 109 England: DfE Strategy 2015– 2020: World Class Education and Care 29–32; education reform in 2–3; Excellence and Enjoyment strategy for primary schools in 4; MATs 31; National Curriculum 31–32; OfSTED 23; Teachers’ Standards (Department for Education UK, 2012) 74–77, 83 equality for students, creating 28–29 Every Child Matters 54 evidence-based practice 37, 38, 40–45; Hammersley on 42; RCTs 46–48 excellence, “raising the bar” on educational standards 30 Excellence and Enjoyment strategy for primary schools in England 4 Eysenck, Hans 8 fields of knowledge 91 The Fight for Education (Cox and Dyson, 1969) 8 focus areas, Australian Professional Standards for Teachers 77–79 Forgan, Liz 147 Foucault, Michel 33, 37; ‘regimes of truth’ 46 Friedman, Milton 17 Fullan, Michael 42–43, 54 funding: educational research funding 40–41; ‘Gonski Review’ 26–27; for high- and low-poverty schools, balancing 28–29 ‘funds of knowledge’ 91–92 GEI (Global Education Industry) 110 GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) 20–21; A Blueprint for Reform (2010) 27–29; core subjects 21, 33; high-stakes accountability 22–23; prescribed curriculum 22, 33; Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes (2016) 24–27; regulation, compliance with 54–56; sustaining 23–24 Glass, Gene 109–110 Global Education Reform Movement see GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) “global policy borrowing and lending” 23 globalisation 5, 7 ‘globaloney’ 110 “gold standard qualifications” 31–32 ‘golden age’ of education 6
‘Gonski Review’ 26–27 ‘good’ schools 39 Goodson, Ivor 148 Goos, Merrilyn 44 Gove, Michael 147 governance of schools, Steiner/Waldorf Schools case study 61 graduate teachers 78 gratitude, cultivating 150 Greening, Justine 34n4 Grek, Sotiria 21 growth of information, impact on learned skill sets 9 Hammersley, M.: on evidence-based practice 42 Hargreaves, Andy 42–43, 148 Hargreaves, David 40–41, 45–46 ‘hidden curriculum’ 92–93, 101–102 Highly Accomplished teachers 78 high-stakes accountability 22–23 Hirst, Paul 91 history: ‘black armband view of history’ 98; purpose of 96–97; study of in Australia 97–99 home schooling regulation, case study 61–63 Howard, John 98 ‘human capital’ in Australia 25 human dimension of education 69–70 Hurricane Katrina 18–19 The Idea of History (Collingwood, 1946) 96–97 ideology 3; neoliberalism 4–5; progressivism 6, 8 improvement: ‘discourse of teacher centrality’ 32–33; intersubjectivity 108; mediation of 12, 118–119; political nature of 141; rhetoric of 1–2; “self-improving system” of schools 31; ‘student voice’ in 11–12; ‘what works’ agenda 3; see also effectiveness; practice architectures; representations of educational reform and improvement in print media information: growth of, impact on learned skill sets 9; ubiquity of 68–69 Institute of Education Science 48 Institute of Public Administration Australia report 54 instructional decision making 80–81 Intelligent Accountability in Education 75
International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement 21 intersubjectivity 108 ‘issue visibility’ 119 Journal of Teacher Education 67–68 Keating, Paul 2 Kemmis, Stephen 70, 145 keywords 126–128, 127; collocated words in sub-corpora 128–140, 129, 130, 132, 133, 134, 136, 137, 138 knowledge: and cleverness 111; commodification of 10; of curriculum, NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 80; forms of 96; nature of 91; phronesis 109; powerful 92; and practical wisdom 12; quality of 6; of students, NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 80; Teachers’ Standards, requirements for 75–76; value of 93 language: corpus linguistic tools 119–120; “Deliverology” 64; home education versus home schooling 62–63; ‘lexical bundles’ 124–126, 124, 125; ‘local vernaculars’ 118; ‘newspeak’ 2; of reform in education policy 10–11; of schooling 4; systems language 3; ‘weasel words’ 2, 12, 145; see also representations of educational reform and improvement in print media Larsen, Marianne 32–33 Lead teachers 78 learning: 21st Century Learning 9–10; curriculum, defining 89–90; discovery learning 8; establishing an environment for, NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 80; growth of information, impact on learned skill sets 9; ‘open education’ 8; ‘Partnership for 21st Century Learning’ 56; quantification of professional learning 74; structure and sequence, importance of in assisting 90–91; ubiquity of information, impact on 68–69 Learning to Labour: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs (Willis, 1977) 146
Index Leigh, Andrew 48 ‘lexical bundles’ 124–126, 124, 125 Life in Classrooms (Jackson, 1968) 92–93 Lipman, Pauline 19 literacy: boosting performance of in STEM 26; PIRLS 21; research literacy 43–44 MacMurray, John 111 The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America’s Public Schools (Berliner & Biddle, 1995) 19 market economies: impact on education 5; see also neoliberalism marketisation of schooling 22, 141 mathematics, TIMSS 21 MATs (Multi-Academy Trusts) 31 Mayes, Eve 103n1 ‘McDonaldisation’ of schools 110 mediation of reform and improvement 12, 118–119 medicine, practice architectures 43 meso-level policies 57 Mills, Martin 44 Mitchell, Jane 49 moral knowledge 109 moral panic 18 Morgan, Nicky 29 Morrell, Ernest 28 Morris, Estelle 3 NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) 60–61 A Nation at Risk (Gardner, 1983) 19 A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century 72 National Assessment Program 23 National Board certification 73 National Curriculum 31–32 national curriculum, development of 94 National Educational Research Forum 40 national standards 73 NBPTS (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards) 72; Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 79–82; standards 83–84; teaching standards, defining 114 neoliberalism 4–5; appropriation of the language of improvement and reform 147; Friedman, Milton 17 network capital 56
New South Wales Education Standards Authority 113 newspapers see representations of educational reform and improvement in print media ‘newspeak’ 12–13, 145 niches 70–71 No Child Left Behind Act 54 not-for-profit organisations: ‘social capitalism’ 24 OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) 21, 55; Does Money Buy Strong Performance in PISA? (OECD, 2012) 25; PISA 21 OfSTED 23, 139 O’Neill, Onora 75 ‘open education’ 8 opportunity for students, creating 28–29 ‘organised uncertainty’ of teaching 68 Orlich, Donald 19 participation rights for students 88, 96–97 ‘Partnership for 21st Century Learning’ 56 pedagogic governance 95–96; and curriculum development 99–100 performance pay 25–26 philanthropy, ‘social capitalism’ 24 phronesis 109 PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) 21 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) 21, 93–94; Does Money Buy Strong Performance in PISA? (OECD, 2012) 25 Plowden Report (Plowden, 1967) 7–8, 10 policy: Building the Education Revolution 54; curriculum, defining 89–90; defining 15–16; as discourse 16; education policy, language of reform in 10–11; “global policy borrowing and lending” 23; ‘issue visibility’ 119; participation rights for young people 88; as problem 16–17; regulation, compliance with 54–56; WPR approach 17; see also crisis; education policy; policy borrowing; public policy; regulation policy borrowing 57–58, 94 ‘political economy’ of truth 46
political nature of educational reform 141 poverty, balancing funding for high- and low-poverty schools 28–29 power, understanding curriculum through 93 ‘powerful knowledge’ 92 practical wisdom 12, 107, 108; and cleverness 111; codifying wise practice 112–116; core qualities of 109; phronesis 109 practice see educational practice; practice architectures practice architectures 4, 11, 70–74; language of reform and improvement, contribution to 71–72; of medicine 43; niches 70–71; practice landscapes 70–71; professional judgement, relationship to data 45; teaching, relationship between research and practice in 43–44; teaching standards, contribution to practice architectures of teaching 72–74 practice landscapes 70–71 prescribed curriculum 22, 33 pre-service teachers: Australian professional standards 78, 84n1 pretext 95 preventive regulation 55 print media: ‘issue visibility’ 119; see also representations of educational reform and improvement in print media private schools, school vouchers 18–19 privatisation of education 20 problem, policy as 16–17 Productivity Commission 34n1 professional judgement: relationship to data 45; Teachers’ Standards, requirements for 76–77 professional standards 69; arguments in favor of 83; in Australia 73, 77–79; compliance 83; NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 79–82; in United Kingdom 72; in the US 72 proficient teachers 78 progression point examples 115–116 progression points 115 progressivism 6; discovery learning 8; Plowden Report (Plowden, 1967) 7–8 psychology, Huxley on 1–2 public policy: and crisis 17–19; ‘issue visibility’ 119; network capital 56 purpose of history 96–97
QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) 72 qualitative research 47 quality: of knowledge 6; of teachers 30–31, 32–33, 68 Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes (2016) 24–27 quantification of professional learning 74 Race to the Top program 29 “raising the bar” on educational standards 30, 32 RCTs (randomized control trials) 46–48 reflective practice 82 reform: A Blueprint for Reform (2010) 27–29; catastrophe as catalyst for 20; contemporary education reform 20–21; curriculum reform 11–12; in the English education system 2–3; Global Education Reform Movement 15; intersubjectivity 108; language of 13; mediation of 118–119; political nature of educational reform 141; rhetoric of 1–2; trends in education reform 21; see also practice architectures; representations of educational reform and improvement in print media ‘regimes of truth’ 33, 37, 46; ‘what works’ 45–48 regulation: compliance with 54–56; home schooling case study 61–63; resisting regulatory compliance, Steiner/Waldorf Schools case study 59–61; vs. standards 55; voices informing 56–57; and wisdom 109 representations of educational reform and improvement in print media 119; analysis of 140–142; collocation in the three sub-corpora 128–140, 129, 130, 132, 133, 134, 136, 137, 138; corpus linguistic tools 119–120; corpus-assisted analysis 120–121, 120; ‘issue visibility’ 119; keywords 126–128, 127; ‘lexical bundles’ 124–126, 124, 125; origin of articles in corpus 120; word lists and frequencies 121–126, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125 research: action research 53; “blue skies” research 40–41; educational research funding 40–41; EER 38–39; qualitative 47; RCTs 46–48 research literacy 43–44
Index resisting regulatory compliance, Steiner/Waldorf Schools case study 59–61 respect for diversity, NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 80 respectfulness, cultivating 149 responsiveness to change, NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 81–82 rhetoric of reform 1–2 role of education in a wise society 111 ‘The role of government in education’ (Friedman, 1955) 18 Sachs, Judyth 73–74, 148 Sachs, Oliver 150 Sahlberg, P. 20–21, 22, 33 Satyarthi, Kailash 110–111 Schatzki, Theodore 70 scholarship in EER, criticism of 39 school vouchers 18–19 Schooling the Rustbelt Kids (Thomson, 2002) 92 schools: commodification of 10; corporate management models 22; effectiveness of 11, 38–40; funding for high- and low-poverty schools, balancing 28–29; funding in Australia 26–27; governance, Steiner/Waldorf Schools case study 61; marketisation of 22; MATs 31; ‘McDonaldisation’ of 110; myth of crisis in American schools 19; regulation, compliance with 54–56; “self-improving system” of 31; social insurance metaphor 147; “supported autonomy” 30; technical orientation of 109; see also effectiveness Schools of Tomorrow (Dewey & Dewey, 1915) 6–8 science, TIMSS 21 “self-improving system” of schools 31 sequence, importance of in assisting learning 90–91 skills, growth of information impact on 9 Slee, R. 4 ‘social capitalism’ 24 social context of teaching 68–69 social media, impact on teaching 69 Sparrow, M. K. 55 stakeholders informing regulation 56 standardisation 21; Australian Professional Standards for Teachers 77–79; national standards 73;
NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 79–82; ‘Partnership for 21st Century Learning’ 56; progression points 115; QTS 72; “raising the bar” on educational standards 30; vs. regulation 55; Taylorisation 112; Teachers’ Standards (Department for Education UK, 2012) 74–77; teaching standards, contribution to practice architectures of teaching 72–74 steadfastness, cultivating 150 Steiner, Rudolf 59 Steiner/Waldorf Schools case study 59–61 Stenhouse, Lawrence 44–45 structure, importance of in assisting learning 90–91 students: equality and opportunity for, creating 28–29; knowledge of, NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 80; participation rights 88, 96–97, 97, 102; voice in curriculum development 11–12; see also learners study of history 96–97; in Australia 97–99 sustaining the GERM 23–24 systems language 3 Taubman, Peter 74 Taylor, Frederick 116n1 Taylorisation 112 teachers: attitude towards educational research 41, 43; Australian Professional Standards for Teachers 77–79; complexity of teaching in contemporary times 67–70; ‘discourse of teacher centrality’ 32–33; effectiveness of, improving 28; Highly Accomplished 78; A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century 72; National Board certification 73; NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 79–82; performance pay 25–26; pre-service teachers, professional standards for in Australia 78; professional judgement, relationship to data 45; professional standards 69, 72–74; quality of 30–31, 32–33, 68; regulation, compliance with 54–56; research literacy 43–44; social media impact on 69; Taylorisation of 112; What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do 72; see also practice architectures
Teachers’ Standards 112–113 Teachers’ Standards (Department for Education UK, 2012) 72, 74–77, 83 technical orientation of schools 109 Test, Learn, Adapt: Developing Public Policy with Randomised Controlled Trials (Haynes, Service, Goldacre & Torgerson, 2012) 46 testing: growth of ‘audit culture’ 23–24; high-stakes accountability 22–23; NAPLAN 60–61 texts 95; aboutness 126–127, 127 theorising curriculum 89–90; ‘funds of knowledge’ 91–92 thoughtless society 107–108 Tienken, Christopher 19 TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) 21, 94 transparency, accountability through 26 trends in education reform 21; corporate management models in schools 22; high-stakes accountability 22–23; prescribed curriculum 22; standardisation 21 Trollope, Anthony 146 truth, political economy of 46 TTA (Teacher Training Academy) lecture 40–41 Tyler, Ralph 90 The UK Government’s Approach to Public Service Reform (PSR, 2006) 3 United Kingdom: DfE Strategy 2015– 2020: World Class Education and Care 29–32; Excellence and Enjoyment strategy for primary schools in England 4; National Curriculum 31–32; OfSTED 23; policy borrowing 57–58; professional standards 72; teacher competences 72; Teachers’ Standards 112–113; Teachers’ Standards (Department for Education UK, 2012) 72, 74–77, 83; see also
representations of educational reform and improvement in print media United States: development of national curriculum plans 94; NBPTS Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 79–82; see also representations of educational reform and improvement in print media US Department of Education: A Blueprint for Reform (2010) 27–29; Institute of Education Science 48 value of knowledge 93 virtues, cultivating: courage 149–150; gratitude 150; respectfulness 149; steadfastness 150 voices informing regulation 56–57; participation rights for young people 88 Watson, Don 2 The Way We Live Now (Trollope, 1870) 146 ‘weasel words’ 2, 12–13, 145 What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do 72 ‘what works’ agenda 21, 38–39, 40, 45–48; arguments against 46; seduction of 49; What Works Clearinghouse 48 What Works Clearinghouse 48 ‘wicked’ problems 37 William, Dylan 47 Willis, Paul 146 wisdom 107, 108; and cleverness 111; codifying wise practice 112–116; and regulations 108 wise societies, role of education in 111 Worst Words: A Compendium of Contemporary Cant, Gibberish and Jargon (Watson, 2015) 2 WPR (‘What’s the problem represented to be?) strategy 17 Yong, Zhao 19, 60