Re-Making Teaching: Ideology, Policy, and Practice

Re-Making Teaching: Ideology, Policy, and Practice

Re-Making Teaching: Ideology, Policy, and Practice

Re-Making Teaching: Ideology, Policy, and Practice

Synopsis

Educational reform has nowhere been more concerned with "putting education to work" than in Australia, where national policies seek to measure educational systems in terms of international competitiveness, labor market flexibility, productivity and skills formation, to name a few. This "economic rationalist" experiment, evidenced increasingly worldwide, has developed largely from policy-making and budget-management initiatives, with little or no involvement among teachers themselves. The authors of this volume present the testimony of practicing teachers, who speak for them selves about the difficulty of translating management directives into classroom programs.

Excerpt

The Hopi Indians inhabit the mesa or plateaued mountains of Arizona. They have a centuries-old ritual of rising before dawn and 'praying the sun up'.

Some American anthropologists came along and suggested that just for one morning they might sleep in and miss their prayers and see what happened.

Incredulously the Hopi replied: 'What, and plunge the whole world into darkness for the sake of your stupid experiment?'

Over the past decade we have undergone a cultural experiment at the suggestion of economic scientists. Simply stated, they proposed that an increasingly competitive global economy required the floating of our dollar, the deregulation of our financial system and the reduction and removal of tariffs.

Public employment and public spending had to be cut drastically and much sharper inequalities of income or salaries embraced.

Higher levels of national unemployment were necessary for low inflation and a growing economy, and, in private enterprise, contractual, insecure employment had to be accepted.

In short, competition had to replace protection and cooperation as the prime public ethic.

Those who queried this path were denounced as irrational, naive and as foolish as the Hopi.

Tim Costello, The Melbourne Age, 16 Jan. 1997

Those of us committed to teaching in public schools are coming to the belated realisation that in respect of school reforms we should have been more like the Hopi Indians and remained true to our instincts and educative ideals. Somehow we lost our nerve and moral fibre at precisely the time when it counted the most. Instead of being indignant and vociferously denouncing recent changes to schools and teaching deriving from an illfounded economic experiment, we mistakenly believed that if we ignored it for long enough then it would eventually go away. We were tragically wrong, and the consequence has been that our schools and other social

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