23 SES 13 B, Theorising and Using Crises in Education
Symposium, Part 1
Sovereign debt and banking crises across Europe are being used as warrants for the radical reconfiguration of educational institutions, funding and purpose. The dominance of economic austerity discourses brings demands to reduce costs and to significantly rethink the role and value of public education. At the same time, many educators working in schools and universities are finding themselves asked to confront and adapt to the dehumanising consequences of both economic and environmental crisis, and are attempting to mitigate the impact of these upon their students and communities.
This double symposium seeks to interrogate the relationship between crisis and education in contemporary Europe, and to examine whether the material experiences and discursive practices of crisis offer an opportunity or a threat to education, freedom and development for all. It seeks to understand the nature of these crises and to understand the way in which such crises are being used in education by both policy makers and practitioners. It is concerned to understand crisis as both discursive resource and as material experience.
The symposium maps some of the implications of European discourses of crisis, in particular, the ways in which ‘crisis’ is leading to new forms of educational regulation and policy-making, new sorts of educational institutions, and changing rights and entitlements for European populations. Theoretically, the symposium brings together researchers working in policy analysis, psychoanalysis, philosophy, sociology of education and discourse analysis to interrogate the discursive and material construction of ‘crisis’ in education. Practically, the symposium takes an engaged position towards the contemporary European situation by critically examining emerging grass-roots responses to crisis and examining the new discourses – of resilience, of alternative and co-operative education, of democratic education movements – that are beginning to offer a counter-movement to the politics of austerity and debt. In so doing, the symposium seeks to follow Neary’s (20011) call to move analysis of education in the crisis beyond the disempowered railing of academic concern and towards an engaged critical account of contemporary conditions that can act as a basis for action in, against and beyond contemporary education institutions.
The first symposium addresses the challenge of theorising the crisis. It asks how adequate contemporary theoretical frames are to understanding the ideological and psychological constructions of crisis at national and institutional level through papers that examine the relationship between Greek education and policy sectors, and the lived experience of responses to crisis in French schools and the influence of crisis on UK and Greek policy-making.
The second symposium focuses on responses to the crisis. It critiques the use of crisis in educational discourse and offers a new role for researcehers in addressing this discourse. It critically examines the public-private relationships that are emerging in France and the new discourses of ‘resilience’ that are proliferating across Europe. It then moves on to examine community and school-based responses to crisis in the form of new educational initiatives in the UK and Spain.
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