Critical Politics of Teachers' Work: An Australian Perspective

Critical Politics of Teachers' Work: An Australian Perspective

Critical Politics of Teachers' Work: An Australian Perspective

Critical Politics of Teachers' Work: An Australian Perspective

Synopsis

This book is about the damage that has been systematically inflicted upon teachers' work globally over the past two or more decades. It chronicles and traces the major policy maneuvers in what can only be described as "difficult times". The effects are not hard to see in the language of the new technologies of power: competencies, vocationalization of the curriculum, appraisal, testing, accountability, restructuring, enterprise culture, and self-management, as well as through the cooption of progressive categories like collegiality, teacher development, and other reflective approaches to teaching. While these discourses mark out the oppressive contours of teaching there still exists considerable space to imagine and live out alternative discourses and practices. The way out of the miasma, it is argued, is to robustly confront and vigorously supplant dominant managerialist discourses with agenda and practices that are more democratic, educative, and socially just.

Excerpt

It is an honor to publish in the Counterpoints Series a collection of essays by Australia's leading scholar in critical pedagogy, John Smyth. This collection in many ways serves to tie together an international brotherhood and sisterhood of those education scholars devoted to issues of social justice, egalitarianism, and democracy. John Smyth represents the best of that breed: a rigorous scholar, fiercely independent, racially egalitarian, pragmatic, and dedicated to the good cause. We are proud to know him and his partner Solveiga (the living treasure), and call them our friends.

As a member of the amazing Deakin Mafia (Deakin University) that provided innovative and unprecedented critical scholarship on education for a few short years, John was a part of prodigious articulation of pedagogical brilliance. That insight permeates the essays collected here, as John's acumen, power literacy, and dedication to the well-being of teaching and teachers comes through to readers. The parallel between the Australian and North American educational situations are fascinating and instructive in both their similarities and disjunctions. Indeed, this is a book that US and Canadian educators need to read in pursuit of an understanding of the international nature of contemporary challenges to good teaching.

Indeed, neo-liberalism in the voice of globalization is “reeducating” us about the role of schooling in society. Smyth is the expert on this insidious process, as he documents the emergence of new and improved forms of educational regulation. Schools, he shows us in detail, are expected to gently “adjust” students (and teachers) to an acceptance of this neo-hegemony and neo-functionalism. To be successful the adjustment must take place without overt notice. Smyth, like those of us in North America, studies the socioeconomic and political context of education, and is a persona non grata to those pushing the regulatory agenda. Smyth's work . . .

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