23 SES 11 D, Standardising Education Policy and Practice
At the time when governments in many countries across the world are preoccupied with the continuous improvement of their education systems, the pressure on schools to deliver reform is greater than ever. Government discourses of the ‘knowledge economy’ typically focus education reforms on the instrumental goals of maximizing economic gains and producing human capital to ensure the competitiveness of the national economy in the global context (Rizvi and Lingard 2010). In some countries, a discourse of national ‘panic’ (Alexander 2012) has ensued about the competitiveness of the nation’s workforce, following a decline of the country’s position in international comparisons such as PISA. These cyclical episodes of national anxiety often lead to a proliferation of new policies which seek standardized solutions to the perceived problems and include centrally administered regulations, incentives-sanctions and school inspections. The framing of school improvement as an economic problem has also led to policies that posit economic solutions such as making education (and other public services) cost effective by outsourcing provision to private providers. This symposium focuses on cases of education reforms in England, China and South Korea that exhibit tendencies towards standardization and the logics of the ‘knowledge economy’ paradigm.
Paper 1 presents the 'English case' of new policy approaches to character education. Here the origins and contribution of Seligman's (1991, 2002) 'positive psychology' are examined to shed light on how ideas for reforming education travel across geographical spaces and are iterated over time. The government model of character education is underpinned by the ‘therapeutic discourse’ (Illouz 2008) which can be traced back to the psychoanalytic therapies that travelled with Sigmund Freud from Germany to America, before being put to use in American corporations. ‘Positive psychology’ represents the latest iteration of the therapeutic discourse and, in the English model of character education, promotes standardized understandings of what it means to be ‘successful’, ‘resilient’ and ‘happy’ – in order to realize the economic goal of increased productivity.
Paper 2 examines the enactment of a Chinese policy of outsourcing of the core curriculum delivery (Efficiency Unit 2009). Although state-funded outsourcing of education provision to private providers has been on the increase in Europe and beyond (Ball 2012), its effects often remain unchallenged or hidden behind commercial confidentiality laws (White 2016). The paper discusses relevant regulations and their territory-wide implementation, drawing on a study of school-generated reports collected in a sample of 138 secondary schools in Hong Kong. The outsourcing of English language education was ostensibly introduced to improve the quality of education, but the data on school-level implementation revealed problems with the quality of the outsourced programmes, as well as issues of equity.
Based on interview data with primary and secondary teachers in South Korea, Paper 3 explores the 'dark side' of legalized policies aimed at reducing the incidence of bullying in Korean schools (MOE 2002, 2005). Recent anti-bullying policies included installing high-tech surveillance cameras in schools, expanding security personnel to patrol schools and increased punishment for the perpetrators. As such, they have been evaluated as security-centric, punitive and legalistic rather than educational (Bax 2016). Although designed to guarantee the sustainability of reform, they have also led to the colonization of teachers’ ‘Lebenswelt’ by legalistic procedures and systems (Habermas 1987). The teachers participating in the study referred to role conflicts arising from the take-over of their role as educators by the functional system for ‘policing’ schools and administering ‘justice’.
By presenting the three cases of education reforms ‘on the move’, this symposium will invite the audience to consider the advantages and potential pitfalls of attempting to standardize education policy at both the global and national levels.
Alexander, R. 2012. Moral Panic, Miracle Cures and Educational Policy: what can we really learn from international comparison?, Scottish Educational Review 44 (1): 4-21. Ball, S.J. 2012. Global Education Inc. New Policy Networks and the Neoliberal Imaginary. London: Routledge. Bax, T.M. 2016. A Contemporary History of Bullying and Violence in South Korean Schools, Asian Culture and History 8(2): 91-106. Efficiency Unit. 2009. Joined-up government. Hong Kong: Efficiency Unit. Habermas, J. 1987. The Theory of Communicative Action, Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason. Boston: BeaconPress. Illouz, E. 2008. Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, emotions, and the culture of self-help. Berkeley: University of California Press. MOE (Ministry of Education and Human Resources). 2002. A guideline to counter violence at school. Seoul: MOE. MOE. 2005. 5 Year basic plan for preventing violence in school from 2005 to 2009. Rizvi, F. and Lingard, B. 2010. Globalizing Education Policy. Abingdon: Routledge. Seligman, M.E.P. 1991. Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New York: Pocket Books. Seligman, M.E.P. 2002. Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press. White, A. 2016. Shadow State: Inside the Secret Companies that Run Britain. London: Oneworld.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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