This book is a call to educators everywhere to recognize and resist the global forces which are driving educational policy deeper and deeper into narrow discourses of performance, accountability and ‘certainties’ about what works. It explores government control over educational practice and research in the US and the UK, and examines the impact of this control on teachers and learners.
Ian Stronach and Patti Lather open with searing critiques of the effects of current government policy on educational research – and by implication educational practice - in the UK and the US, while Mike Newby focuses specifically on the struggle over the control of initial teacher education in the UK over the last decade. The second section offers four case studies of the effects of this control. Three chapters explore the undermining of professional autonomy: Sue Clegg and Peter Ashworth consider the narrowing effects of the language of ‘learning outcomes’; James Avis critiques the punitive inspection régimes currently operating in education; Valerie Reardon compares these régimes to the sanitization of the female body; and Pat Sikes and John Clark examine autonomy and control in a school for students with ‘emotional and behavioral disorders’, and seek ethical ways of representing the experience of both the teachers and the learners.
The final section of the book reviews issues arising from current widening participation policies in the UK. Kathryn Ecclestone writes about the effect of ‘therapeutic education’ on the self esteem of adult learners; Sandra Sinfield, Tom Burns and Debbie Holley consider how the policing and control of student experience undermines the trust between tutor and student; and Julie Evans and Wendy Martin, focusing on the narratives of mature students, ask in whose interest the widening participation agenda is being pursued. Finally, Roger Harrison and Tamsin Haggis examine the metaphors of learning employed by adult learners and by the policymakers whose decisions shape their experience.
This is a book for educational researchers, policymakers and practitioners especially those working with adult learners – who want to see beyond the apparent inevitability of current ways of conducting education. It will be of value to students in education, policy studies and professional training, and of particular benefit to those delivering, undertaking or researching education and training in post-compulsory education at all levels.