10 SES 16 E, Policy Making and School Reform
The proposed paper offers an account of the construction of new value-systems that guide, and force, change in Teacher Education within Higher Education in the Russian Federation. It considers particularly the imaginaries and values that underpin official policy documents related to teacher education within the broader field of education policy between 2000 and 2017. The central focus is on the construction of a certain discursive context for change, consolidated through the case of the Project of Modernisation of Teacher Education (TMTE) officially launched by the Ministry of Education and Science in 2014.
The account is part of a doctoral study which aims to map and illuminate in a critical diachronic way the emergence, development and enactment of a Russian variant on globalised, neoliberal change in teacher education. For this, it develops and adopts a framework based on a contextual theory of institutional change, and considers the change experienced by teacher education in the Federation not as simple nor as isolated, but the one that connects with global processes. This attends to national and international forces, and their interpretation locally in Russia, and places the present research in the global context in search for the connections between the globalised and localised discourses.
The rational for the present study lies in the argument that values are what place a person in relation to the world by forming attitudes and purposes that guide action. In the 19th century, John Henry Newman defended the intrinsic value of education, where knowledge is “worth possessing for what it is, and not merely for what it does”. In contemporary times, this understanding of education as value has been challenged and replaced by an exclusive promotion of the economic role of higher education globally (Ball, 2012, Furlong, 2013, Lynch, 2016), and in Russia (Smolentseva, 2017). This realignes teacher education within the university as much as any other disciplinary area. Preparing ‘right-thinking’ teachers has become of essential concerns for almost every national educational system globally that wants “to come out on top” (Barber & Mourshed, 2007).
The study underpinning this paper draws on Critical Discourse Studies in two ways: First, a Discourse Historical Analysis (Weiss, 2002, Krzyzanowski, 2010, Reisigl & Wodak, 2017) provides this study with such key discourse-interpretive categories as ‘discursive strategies’ (Reisigl & Wodak, 2001) and ‘discursive dimensions’ (Weiss, 2001). The latter designates extra-discursive framing of analysed discourses around teacher education. Importantly for the present study, these encompass three types of legitimation: through idea, organisation/procedure and by means of standards and values (Weiss, 2002). Second, it draws on a Critical Discourse Studies based social-semiotic approach to provide insights into discourse as a site for the recontextualisation of practice (van Leeuwan, 2008). In this analysis discourses can be, and are, used as resources for representing social practices, as seen as context-specific frameworks of making sense of things (van Leeuwan, 2017). The particular focus of the analysis for the present paper is on the legitimation level of change (which includes change in value-orientation and purposes of teacher education), and on the discursive legitimation strategies applied in the official discourse in regards to change in Higher Teacher Education. It addresses how these applications find their way into actions at the level of individual teacher educators. An analysis of the documents related to its mass media coverage and interviews with the participants in PMTE on their experience in the Project provides valuable understandings of the constitutive and transformative role of this official discourse for practice, and focuses on what makes certain actions seen as legitimate.
The paper discusses the key strategies deployed in the need, and even obligation, for "modernisation" of teacher education as an institution. It is argued that these are deeply embedded in comparison with "developed" countries, and an argumentation, characterisation and perspectivisation from an economic instrumental and pragmatic imperative. Briefly, the realisation of these strategies implies referring to and legitimising actions by means of professional standards of/for teachers. These are ‘conceptualised’ as ‘liberating’ and ‘developmental’ solutions, however arguably with a highly managerial force and of highly prescriptive character. Thus, the paper first discusses the embedded contradictions in the imaginaries for teacher education in Russia in detail, and describes two emerging discourses: a discourse of control and a discourse of development. Importantly, through the case of the PMTE it is argued in the paper that certain policy-making models are being operationalised in the field of Teacher Education within Higher Education which aim to transform the traditional institution, and the value-system on which it operates. The paper closes with a consideration of how certain models originating with the World Bank have driven forward new approaches to financing, governance and regulation, all oriented towards outcomes which can be measured in their relevance to economy and knowledge society. The paper proposes that agency and capacity for transformative institutional change can counterintuitively be constrained as much as catalysed by such policy-making models. The true challenge, we suggest is to understand more fully how change at scale proposed can be entrapped by the values and imaginaries imposed by the pre-legitimated context of economic instrumental imperative.
Ball, S. J. (2012). Global education inc. London: Routledge. Barber, M., & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world’s best-performing school systems come out on top. New York: McKinsey & Company. Furlong, J. (2013). Globalisation, Neoliberalism, and the Reform of Teacher Education in England, The Educational Forum, 77(1), 28-50. Krzyżanowski, M. (2010). The Discursive Construction of European Identities. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Lynch, K. (2006). Neo-liberalism and Marketisation: the implications for higher education. European Educational Research Journal, 5(1), 1-17. Newman, J. H. (1996). The Idea of a University. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Ministry (2012). Gosudarstvennaya programma RF "Razvitie obrazovaniya" na 2013 - 2020 gody. State Programme of the Russian Federation “Development of Education” for 2013-2020. Reisigl, M., & Wodak R. (2001). Discourse and Discrimination. London: Routledge. Reisigl, M,, & Wodak, R. (2017). The Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA). In Methods of Critical Discourse Studies (3ed.), edited by Ruth Wodak and Michael Meyer, pp. 23-62. London: Sage. Weiss, G. (2002). Searching for Europe: The Problem of Legitimisation and Representation in Recent Political Speeches on Europe. Journal of Language and Politics, 1 (1): 59–83. poi:10.1075/jlp.1.1.06wei van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse as Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. van Leeuwen, T. (2017). Discourse as the Reconceptualization of Social Practice. In Methods of Critical Discourse Studies (3ed.), edited by Ruth Wodak and Michael Meyer, pp. 138-53. London: Sage.
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