23 SES 02 C, Curriculum Policy
Parallel Paper Session
Reflecting on the theme of the conference, we note that “sustainable development” has progressively become an empty signifier (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985) in discourses that work to link education with global competition for economic advantage. The ubiquity of the term and its ambiguous meanings has attracted some attention in education research, as for example in Clegg’s (2009) analysis of “academic development practices”; though its emergence and deployment would require serious genealogical work. But in view of the old argument about the death of metanarratives of legitimation (Lyotard, 1984), “sustainable development” may be seen as a key-link in the language and the discourse of “learning and teaching”, the topic of our research.
Our paper reports on a study aiming to explore the direction of changes in teaching and learning practices implemented in the Greek higher education and to trace links to the on-going Global and Regional policy discourse on education for sustainabledevelopment. OECD (2011) states that “we have to learn how to leave sustainably”, and assesses “what it takes to create the right learning environments”. In the same line, European Council (2010: 1) “highlights the key role of education as a prerequisite for promoting the behavioral changes and providing all citizens with the key competences needed to achieve sustainable development”. Thus the language of “development”, linked to the language of “competencies” (Moore, 2007) is disseminated through complex processes, deploying specific strategies and methodologies that create a very thick and multilayered regulatory grid for distributing power and exercising control on institutions and people, worldwide.We accept that supranational dominant discourse “functions as a regulatory ideal influencing the educational policies” of the national states and education systems (Nóvoa, 2000: 47), but also that engagement with global policy creates new regimes of practice, important to analyze in the local contexts of practice and governance. Our approach is to trace the language of “development” and “competencies”, or the imperative to construct “agile” individual and collective “bodies” (Gillies, 2011), in the transformations of the pedagogic discourse in higher education institutions. Focusing on the Greek context, where the issue of “teaching and learning” in higher education is marginal in the public debate, in the institutional practices and in education research, we seek to identify responses to this discourse, asking questions about the modes of social regulation in place and the legitimate forms of knowledge and identity. We use Bernstein’s (2000) analysis of pedagogic discourse, operationalizing his distinction between competence and performance models of knowledge organization and between Official and Pedagogic Recontexualizing Fields; also, utilizing the relationship that he describes between these concepts and the parameters of autonomy and control. Our argument is that the reconfiguration of the relationships in the broad Recontexualizing Field and the shift of knowledge construction to new professional modalities (Beck & Young, 2005) operate to change the balance between autonomy and control within the educational filed (Beck, 1999). Literature on Governmentality in education ( Peters et al., 2009) has also potential for illuminating our thesis.
Beck, J. (1999). Makeover Or Takeover? The strange death of educational autonomy in neo-liberal England. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20 (2): 223-238. Beck, J. & Young, M. (2005). The assault on the professions and the restructuring of academic and professional identities: a Bernsteinian analysis. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 26(2), 183-197. Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Theory, research, critique. Revised edition. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Clegg, S. (2009). Histories and institutional change: understanding academic development practices in the global ‘north’ and ‘south’. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 19 (1), 53–65. European Council (2010). Council conclusions of 19 November 2010 on education for sustainable development. Official Journal of the European Union, 2010/C 327/05. Gillies, D. (2011). Agile bodies: a new imperative in neoliberal governance. Journal of Education Policy, 26 (2), 207–223. Laclau E. and Mouffe Ch.(1985). Hegemony and socialist strategy. Towards a radical democratic politics. London:Verso Lyotard, J-F (1984). The Postmodern condition: A report on knowledge. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Moore, R. (2007). Sociology of knowledge and education. London: Contimuum. Nóvoa, A. (2000). The Restructuring of the European Educational Space. Changing Relationships among States, Citizens, and Educational Communities. In Th. Popkewitz (ed.), Educational knowledge, changing relationship between the state, civil society and the educational community (pp. 31-57). New York: State University of New Press. Peters, M., Besley, A., Olssen, M., Maurer, S. & Weber, S. (2009). Governmentality Studies in Education, Rotterrdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers Sarakinioti, A., Tsatsaroni, A. & Stamelos, G. (2011). Changing knowledge in higher education. In G. Ivinson, B. Davies and J. Fitz (eds), Knolwedge and identity. Concepts and applications in Bernstein’s sociology. London: Routledge. OECD (2011). OECD work on sustainable development. www.oecd.org/sustainabledevelopment (Accessed: 25/1/2011).
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