Many scholars have examined the relationship between dehumanization and violence. For example, Susan Benesch has described dehumanizing language as a hallmark of dangerous speech, because it can make violence seem acceptable, and Herbert Kelman has posited that dehumanization can reduce the strength of restraining forces against violence.
My study found two main ways that she managed to resist the more performative influences of school improvement policies. Firstly, the school had a collaboratively-developed school vision that focused on valuing individual students and valuing the aspects of education that can’t be easily measured. The power of the vision was that it served as a filter for all policy enactment decisions made at the school. If it didn’t align with their vision, it didn’t happen. There was also agreement in this vision from the staff, students, and community members, who kept that vision at the forefront of their work with the school.
The second key aspect was that Anne had developed a strong ‘track record’ with her supervisors, and this engendered trust in her judgment as a leader. She was given more autonomy to make her policy enactment decisions as a result, because of this sense of trust. It was developed over a long time in the same school and in the same region before that. To develop her track record, Anne worked hard to comply with departmental requirements (deadlines, paperwork, and other basic compliance requirements).
How principals implement, or carry out, policy in their schools.
An example of this is the focus on growth, testing and NAPLAN results. She highlights two methods used to refocus things. Firstly, have a clear school vision and secondly, build trust with her system supervisors.
This continues some of the discussions had in the collect National Testing in Schools.
The Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools discusses a model that gives children personalised teaching based on their ability and achievements, rather than grouping children together according to their age.
On Focus, Nadia sets out to find out exactly what personalised learning is, how it works and what its benefits – or shortcomings – might be.
She speaks to Professor Geoff Masters, CEO of the Australian Council for Educational Research, who outlines the shortcomings in our current system and the alarming decline in the performance of 15-year-olds compared to students in other countries.
Dr Glenn Savage, senior lecturer in Public Policy and Sociology of Education at the University of Western Australia agrees that while there is a definite decline in the achievement of Australian students compared to their international peers, he is more sceptical about the recommendations made in Gonski 2.0.
He says there are better things to be spending our education dollars on than another big overhaul of the Australian education system.
He also believes several changes over the past few years have not helped stem the decline and we still have not tackled the issues of inequitable access to education funding that were identified by the first Gonski report.
- Does the new report addresses the question of inequality?
- Is ‘personalised teaching’ worth the money and investment?
- Is the educational sector exhausted by continual reform agendas?
- Do the recommendations really address what is happening in the classroom?
Glenn Savage also summarised his thoughts in a post on The Conversation. While Geoff Masters (and Ray Adams) published a post in the ACER Newsletter addressing the question of ‘inequality’ arguing that recent findings have found that equity and fairness are often more important.
In an ‘equitable’ school system, students’ special needs and unequal socioeconomic backgrounds are recognised and resources (for example, teaching expertise) are distributed unequally in an attempt to redress disadvantage due to personal and social circumstances. Here again, ‘equity’ is achieved by prioritising fairness over equality.source
Standards may seem invisible, but they matter—they are consequential to how the world is organized, how people and their behaviour are regulated, and how processes and objects are defined and measured. Those who control standards therefore hold great power to coordinate and organize social, economic, cultural, ethical and political life. Standards constitute societies.
In the tangible world, standards define almost everything. There are standards for the dimensions of kitchen goods and furniture, standard measures, standard fonts and paper sizes, standard economic models, standards for food products, standard business practices, standard forms to fill in, standard formats for cataloguing and indexing, governmental standards, standard classifications of illness and healthiness, standards for ensuring software can operate on computer hardware and that data are interoperable across systems, and much more.
People are standardized too. Standard measures of personality or citizenship, standards of dress and behaviour, standards for credit-scoring and social media profiling, and standards that define social class, socio-economic status, gender, nationality and ethnicity all affect people’s everyday lives. Standard linguistic definitions help us make sense of ourselves and the world we inhabit.
ISO identifies a number of benefits in their press release:
a) better alignment of educational mission, vision, objectives and action plans
b) inclusive and equitable quality education for all
c) promotion of self-learning and lifelong learning opportunities
d) more personalized learning and effective response to special educational needs
e) consistent processes and evaluation tools to demonstrate and increase effectiveness and efficiency
f) increased credibility of the educational organization
g) recognized means to enable organizations to demonstrate commitment to education management practices in the most effective manner
h) a model for improvement
i) harmonization of national standards within an international framework
j) widened participation of interested parties
k) stimulation of excellence and innovation
The problem with this list is that there are so many biases built in and that become a guide for the global operating system.
My broad argument is that no, students are not disengaged because schools are stuck in the past, but because schools are caught in the present strong current of policies that constantly re-shape and re-design schools – and life more broadly – to civically and politically disengage youth. To wage a war on them.
Peterson is an example of what I have in mind when I talk about the ‘war on youth’, a phrase which comes from Henry Giroux. In the neoconservative attack, youth are triply marginalised because it is claimed:
- they don’t know anything
they are ‘fragile snowflakes’ and ‘play victim’
they are dangerous to free speech (read: dangerous to the identity politics of wealthy white men)
These attacks are always racist and sexist, directed against people who are poor and the most marginalised and vulnerable.
Doxtdator also wonders where the hope is:
It’s difficult to see radical possibilities of hope for youth in either of the main reform movements: the neoconservatives see youth as dangerous, but the neoliberal ‘future proof’ movement also tells a story about the value of youth that too often “forecloses hope” (Henry Giroux).
This is the story that is not told when we talk about students being ‘entrepreneurs’ and creating the future.