17 SES 05, Theory & Methodology (Part 1)
Paper Session to be continued in 17 SES 06
Just like in other European countries, Belgium has undergone the influence of neoliberalism since the 1970s. And just like in lots of other European countries, this has led to a steady stream of criticism and commentaries, inspired by governmentality, biopolitics and critical theory. This critique notwithstanding, the class practice has been remarkably stable over that time frame. The question, then, is how this neoliberal discourse has changed education.
Instead of focusing on a big narrative (the discourse of neoliberalism in general), which tends to be rather vague and non-specific, I will focus on one single concept, namely creativity. This has the advantage that it enables me to show more concretely how neoliberalism has crept into the educational sphere, and how educationalists – from researchers to teachers over policy makers – have dealt with this. Creativity entered the Belgian educational discourse in the 1960s, but I will focus on a later period, from 1975 till 2010. It is during this period that the concept undergoes a transformation, and becomes increasingly associated with notions like entrepreneurship that were not there in the 1960s or even early 1970s. Entrepreneurship is one of the notions that are pushed hard by neoliberalism, so much so that the current notion of the self can be called an entrepreneurial self (Nikolas Rose). As creativity has become an important and even essential educational concept, it forms a very good case to see how prevalent neoliberal discourse has become. In order to do this, I will use three distinct educational journals (see methodology) to track the evolution of creativity and the rising influence of neoliberal ideas and principles in the Belgian educational discourse. For the last decade, I will use “newer” sources as well, like web presentations. The famous Ted-talk of Ken Robinson on creativity and schools will serve as a starting point. As such, I will try to give more concrete picture of the influence of neoliberalism on educational discourse, instead of just a general description. I will focus on Belgium, but similar processes are at work in other European countries, so the results can be extrapolated towards other countries.
Within education, and especially among researchers, neoliberalism has been a sort of “hot topic” for the last decade or so. From warnings over scathing critiques to “neutral” observations, neoliberalism has been a prominent feature in discussions between educationalists. By using the same journals again, I want to try to see in how far educationalists have lead or followed in the discussion around neoliberalism in the last 40 years. In how far do they react to evolutions, or take the lead in the discussion? Most educationalists, including researchers, seem to be critical about the influence of neoliberalism on education, but this has not stopped its spread. I will frame this in the context of the process of educationalization, as described by Marc Depaepe and others. Once again, I will use creativity as a more concrete example. Creativity is double interesting here, as it is taken up in both neoliberal and educational discourse, and it was appropriated from other fields by educationalists.
Bronwyn Davies and Peter Bansel, “Neoliberalism and Education,” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 20, no. 3 (May 2007): 247–259. Anna Craft, Creativity in Schools. Tensions and Dilemmas (Abingdon: Taylor & Francis, 2005). Larry Cuban, Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice: Change Without Reform in American Education (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Education Press, 2013). Tom De Coster, Marc Depaepe, and Frank Simon, “Emancipating a Neo-Liberal Society? Initial Thoughts on the Progressive Pedagogical Heritage in Flanders since the 1960s,” Education Research and Perspectives 31, no. 2 (2004): 156–175. Tom De Coster, Frank Simon, and Marc Depaepe, “‘Alternative’ Education in Flanders, 1960–2000: Transformation of Knowledge in a Neoliberal Context,” Paedagogica Historica 45, no. 4–5 (August 2009): 645–671. Marc Depaepe, Between Educationalization and Appropriation: Selected Writings on the History of Modern Educational Systems (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2012). Pascal Gielen, Repressief Liberalisme: Opstellen over Creatieve Arbeid, Politiek En Kunst (Utrecht: Samenwerkende Uitgevers VOF, 2013). David Henry Feldman, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Howard Gardner, Changing the World: A Framework for the Study of Creativity (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1994). James C Kaufman and Robert J Sternberg, The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity, Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Camilla Nelson, “The Invention of Creativity The Emergence of a Discourse,” Cultural Studies Review 16, no. 2 (2010): 49–74. Mark Olssen, “Understanding the Mechanisms of Neoliberal Control: Lifelong Learning, Flexibility and Knowledge Capitalism” 25, no. 3 (2006): 213–230. Michael A. Peters, Subjectivity & Truth: Foucault, Education, and the Culture of Self (New York: Peter Lang, 2007). Michael A. Peters, “Foucault, Biopolitics and the Birth of Neoliberalism,” Critical Studies in Education 48, no. 2 (September 2007): 165–178. Ken Robinson, “How Schools Kill Creativity,” TED-Talks, 2006, http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html. Nikolas Rose, Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought (Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999). Jan Masschelein et al., eds., The Learning Society from the Perspective of Governmentality (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2007). Stephen Vassallo, “Critical Pedagogy and Neoliberalism: Concerns with Teaching Self-Regulated Learning,” Studies in Philosophy and Education 32, no. 6 (November 20, 2012): 563–580. Bart Vranckx, “Creativity as a History of the Present in Belgian Education: From ‘New and Appropriate’ to ‘Entrepreneurship,’” Knowledge Cultures 2, no. 3 (2014): 25–49. Andrew Wilkins, “The Spectre of Neoliberalism : Pedagogy , Gender and the Construction of Learner Identities,” Critical Studies in Education 53:2, no. February 2013 (2012): 197–210.
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