22 SES 02 B, Policy, Management and Governance in Higher Education
In 2012 the Danish government asked a private company to evaluate the education of pedagogues (at bachelor level) with the explicit aim of gaining knowledge that could precede and inform a new reform focusing on quality. In 2014 a new regulation of the education begins. In the meantime an expert group has interpreted and presented the evaluation, a reform has been accepted in the parliament and new competency-goals are elaborated with the help of stake-holders. A rational and knowledge based process is going on, it seems.
Educational reforms of our time are often presented as rational processes, based on knowledge and evaluations and therefore necessarily leading to better quality. Following the reform of the education for pedagogues as a case, we argue that reform processes are also about creating unattentiveness, not only legitimizing the reform, but also actively leaving out central tensions and discussions about values . Educational quality is problematized in specific ways, leaving very little room for discussions about pedagogy as theory and practice based on values as well as knowledge. Inspired by a foucauldian notion of governmentality we carefully examine how education and pedagogy is being produced in ways that are reflecting the specificity of education and pedagogy in very narrow and – as we argue – poor ways.
In our analysis we go back to the critique on the same education that was formulated in the first evaluation in 2002. At that time the education –and hence also the profession it educated for- was criticized for not being explicit, as it seemed to be based on a cultural understated understanding of pedagogy. It was evaluated as a lack of order. Twelve years after we can see that the education and the educational processes are problematized and organized in another order, installing a very different vocabulary of understated understanding. We see a shift from' relativism' to 'objectivism'.
The reform is embedded in a transnational discourse about learning, quality and competences that implies an understanding of knowledge and norms as universal, objective and neutral, now slightly adapted as a constructivist conception of learning and reflection. With learning and reflection as educational aims, a logic of “knowledge as evolutional” is produced, creating a notion of the latest knowledge as a neutral solution to professional challenges. This discourse subjectivates learners in a specific way: they get tamed and are at the same time produced as professionals valuing closure, certainty, control and mastery, adapting them to the educational settings they are educated for.
This discourse is unattentive to the human-science tradition that emphasizes education as an open process, the educator as a person of judgment, the child/student as a subject and the emergence of something new in the course of human interaction. While dealing with plurality and the discussion of values and purposes is built in this tradition, the educational discourse of the reform does not stimulate this openness. As there is a strong tradition for education as participation and subjectivation in our country, specially in the field of early childhood education (kindergarten), the discourse of the reform and discourses rooted in those traditions are merged in the implementation of the reform. We will carefully examine the traces of the different understandings/discourses in the implementation of the reform at a specific University College, where previously also carried out a research project.
We evaluate the specific case in the light of what we see as a challenge of moving beyond objectivism and relativism. Can the term "competencies" at once be preserved as an adequate reference to the intentions of the reform and open up for an educational practice that goes beyond it?
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