23 SES 07 B, Research Politics and the Knowledge-Policy Relationship II
Despite the contested nature of debates related to education in ‘knowledge societies’ and postmodernity and the denouncement of their complicity with neoliberal practices (see for example: Bauman 2001; Roberts 2002; Peters & Besley 2006) this emergent literature has started to shape educational reform world-wide (see, for example revised National Curricula of New Zealand, Ireland and England).
These arguments emphasise the need for a re-conceptualisation of knowledge and learning in educational policies and practices in contemporary ‘21st century’ societies (Richard and Usher 1994; Cope & Kalantzis 2000; OECD 2000; Gee 2003; Hargreaves 2003; Lankshear & Knobel 2003; UNESCO 2005; Gilbert 2005; Claxton 2008; Andreotti & Souza 2008; Spring 2008).
This paper draws on data from a research project funded by the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative of the New Zealand Ministry of Education which focuses on shifts in educator’s conceptualisations of knowledge and learning in the implementation of the new New Zealand Curriculum in initial and inservice teacher education contexts. The theoretical framework of this project was informed by poststructural and postcolonial theories which interrogate the uncritical celebration of ‘21st century’ education discourses, while strategically supporting the call for epistemological pluralism (Andreotti, in press), and more nuanced and theoretically informed understandings of multiple subjectivities in contemporary times.
The wider research project addresses three research questions:
1.How are the shifts in conceptualisation of knowledge and learning interpreted within the different knowledge domains of the practitioners (teacher educators) in this research? How do these shifts affect the way the New Zealand Curriculum document is interpreted and implemented?
2.What are the characteristics of effective initiatives for shifting student teachers’ and teachers’ conceptualisations of knowledge and learning?
3.How do shifts in the conceptualisation of knowledge and learning affect student teachers’ and teachers’ interpretations of the New Zealand Curriculum document?
In this paper we focus specifically on the enactment of theory within particular contexts.
As researchers and mentors in this project, we reflect in this paper on the possibilities and challenges that have emerged in our attempts to put poststructural and postcolonial theory ‘to work’ in this project. We focus particularly on the ways in which contexts and subjectivities influenced and shaped the possibilities for enacting theory. In the first part of the paper we outline strategies we used in the project to facilitate practitioner engagement with concepts informed by poststructural and post-colonial theories. We draw on data from the project participants to reflect on the ways in which practitioners applied theory in their professional context, and in accounting for shifts in their understandings of their own learning processes and practices. In the second part we offer a reflection of our own shifting understandings as researchers to consider the ways in which the research context shaped understandings and enactments of theory in practice. In particular we consider ways in which the enactment of poststructural and postcolonial theory as ‘tools for thinking’(Taylor and Robinson, 2009) enhanced our analysis of the data and the evolving methodology of the project.
References: Andreotti, V, & Souza, L. (2008). Global Education: four tools for discussion. Journal of Development Education Research and Global Education, 31: 7-12. Bauman, Z. (2001) The Individualized Society. Cambridge: Polity Claxton, G. (2008). What's the Point of School?: Rediscovering the Heart of Education. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. Cope, B. & Kalantzis, M. (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy and Learning and the Design of Social Futures. London: Routledge. Gee, P. (2003). What Video Games have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy? New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Gilbert, J. (2005). Catching the Knowledge Wave?:The Knowledge Society and the future of education. Wellington: NZCER. Hargreaves, A. (2003). Teaching in the Knowledge Society. New York: Teachers College Press. Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2003). New Literacies: Changing Knowledge and Classroom Learning. Buckingham: Open University Press. Peters, M. with Besley, T. (2006). Building Knowledge Cultures: Education and Development in the Age of Knowledge Capitalism. Lanham & Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield. Richard, E. & Usher, R. (1994). Postmodernity and Education. London: Routledge. Roberts, P. (2002) Postmodernity, Tertiary Education and the New Knowledge Discourses. Critical Perspectives on Communication, Cultural and Policy Studies, .21(1):53-60. Stronach, I. M., & MacLure, M. (1997). Educational research undone: The postmodern embrace. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press. Taylor, C. and Robinson, C. (2009). Student voice: theorising power and participation. Pedagogy, Culture & Society,17(2):161-175. UNESCO (2005). UNESCO World Report: Towards Knowledge Societies. Paris: UNESCO. (229)
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