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Contested Sites in Education

The Quest for the Public Intellectual, Identity and Service


Edited By Karen Ragoonaden

Emerging from the contested site of a new university campus, educators reflect upon the transformative process of reconceptualising and rebuilding a faculty of education in the twenty-first century. Contested Sites in Education seeks to improve an understanding of and conversations about the nature, meaning and significance of higher education’s public service within the scope of a democratic society. This volume offers educators and students a praxis-oriented, hope-infused, contemplative approach to conceiving, developing and in some cases, returning to public service and public identity in the twenty-first century. Contested Sites in Education will prepare future leaders who thoroughly understand, consciously apply and intentionally use democracy, selfknowledge, cultural knowledge, habits of mind, reflective learning communities and advocacy in their professional lives.
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Chapter Three: Ideology, Performativity, and the University


← 32 | 33 → CHAPTER THREE

Ideology, Performativity, and the University


Within contemporary discourses, the concept of neoliberalism is an ideology that influences working conditions in a number of institutions like Faculties of Education through policy, budgets, employment terms, and institutional aims. Emerging from business, neoliberalism is grounded in economic rationalism. It aims to maximize business profits through control of employee and industrial productivity using performance, sales, or production targets. This neoliberal rhetoric values market-driven actions, consumer satisfaction and choice, and economic profit, and it applies business practices to the regulation of other social institutions. In schools, its techniques include accountability, choice, standardized testing, and public rankings.

A number of writers including Ball (1999, 2003, 2006) and Apple (2006) describe these as having negative results on teachers and students in both the UK and the United States. Apple states, for example, that rather than focusing on student learning, schools aim to improve their school’s ranking by attempting to attract “good” students and directing resources away from special-needs students. Teachers teach to standardized, fact-based tests and do not focus on developing important abilities such as critical thinking, which are not considered in their performative assessment criteria. Creative and innovative teaching practice decline as these are also not assessed. Further, as students have varying amounts of capital with which to negotiate the system and parents with more social, economic, and ← 33 | 34 → cultural capital can move their children at will within the system, inequalities...

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