Education and its Critics: Principles and Programmes in Australian Education Policy
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This thesis is concerned with the relationship between the education system and its critics - with the terms in which programmes of educational reform are viewed by critical intellectuals, and with the claims and limitations of a particular mode of 'principled' critique. It explores this concern in relation to a number of recent developments in Australian education policy, describing the debates that they have engendered and identifying the political ambiguities that attend them. Three case studies are developed. The first is drawn from reactions to the recent bureaucratic reorganisation of higher education, especially those responses concentrated on the defence of the humanities. The second concerns developments in post-compulsory education, especially the construction of the new national credentialling system based on the assessment of 'Key Competencies'. The third addresses the endemic problem of educational assessment and equity. While each of these case studies is discussed in its own right, the three areas of discussion supplement one another within an overall argument concerning the relationship between the education system and a particular mode of 'principledt critique. In exploring this relationship, the thesis puts the case that we require a more historically-informed understanding of current problems in Australian education and a more pragmatic appreciation of the achievements of the existing education system. The issues raised are timely ones. Matters of educational policy have become particularly pressing over the past decade, as Australian education has undergone significant changes. In recent years, we have seen the effects of the drive towards a national education system, of the reorganisation of higher education, of the development of schemes for national credentialling and of the reconstruction of links between schooling, training and industry. These reforms have been driven by some pressing imperatives: to produce a trained and flexible workforce; to monitor levels of literacy and numeracy at a national level; and to satisfy the 'unmet demand' for increased educational places, while managing a limited educational budget.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
Australian education policy