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Transforming education policy

Transforming education policy: Shaping a democratic future

Philip A. Woods
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  • Book Info
    Transforming education policy
    Book Description:

    Education is in a state of continual change and schools ever more diverse. People want more participation and meaning in their lives; organisations want more creativity and flexibility. Building on these trends, this timely book argues that a new paradigm is emerging in education, sowing the seeds of a self-organising system that values holistic democracy. It is an essential read for anyone (academics, policy-makers, practitioners, students, parents, school sponsors and partners) who is interested in how education can broaden its horizons.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-737-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. ONE New openings
    (pp. 1-14)

    Sometimes we need to know when to catch the momentum of change: or, to be more exact, to distinguish normal and repetitive waves of newness from shifts of greater substance. After all, change is ubiquitous in modern society. Marx’s famous observation captures that: society dominated by capitalist relations ‘cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production’ and is characterised by ‘everlasting uncertainty and agitation’: ‘[a]ll fixed, fast-frozen relations … are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air …’ (Marx and Engels, 1967, p 83). Where can we detect,...

  2. TWO Driving democracy
    (pp. 15-30)

    The traditional organisational model is changing. There is a groundswell favouring more participative and meaningful organisational environments. An OECD study of governance concluded that a trend could be identified over a long period: ‘… a clear reduction in the absolute or unconstrained power of those in positions of power … both at the macro-political level … and at the micro level, where firms and families have experienced important changes in the exercise of authority’ (Michalski et al, 2001, p 9). In his major examination of democracy, John Keane suggests that its nature is changing. He argues that we are moving...

  3. THREE Radicalising entrepreneurialism
    (pp. 31-44)

    Entrepreneurialism and entrepreneurial leadership have come to be viewed as essential to improving the capability of organisations to innovate and improve performance in the face of 21st-century demands and turbulent times. Innovation is typically seen as ‘the core capability for organizational success’ (Gratton, 2007, p 5). As one educational analyst puts it, entrepreneurialism is advocated as ‘a bet on human ingenuity’, its ‘secret’ of success being ‘to summon the best within us’ (Hess, 2010, p 151). Governments, pulled by the promise of entrepreneurialism as an invigorator of organisational success and by perceived pressures of global economic competition, put a high...

  4. FOUR The rise of plural control
    (pp. 45-56)

    The 1988 Education Reform Act (ERA) in England was a turning point in educational policy. To put it in summary terms: before that, the system was conceived as a tripartite partnership model between central government, local education authorities and schools and the teaching profession, providing governance through the ‘assumptions of professional expertise reinforced by the orderly controls of rational bureaucracy’ (Ranson, 2008, p 205)²; from that point, central government took a much more active role through steering and direct intervention. Governments since then – Conservative, Labour and Coalition (the latter taking office in 2010, involving the Conservative and Liberal Democratic...

  5. FIVE A different view: organic meta-governance
    (pp. 57-76)

    A progressive response to the structural changes in the education system requires a transformation in the way we relate to and conceive the system. The creation of more sponsored and quasi-independent schools brings dangers of fragmentation and subjection of education to private interests. These remain, nevertheless, within the socialised sphere of relationships, i.e. within a sphere that remains in public ownership and/or funded collectively by state finance. The system being created is not a monolithic vehicle for business values, but an arena where contending influences and ideals are being played out.¹ The policy developments we are in the midst of...

  6. SIX The concept of adaptive strategies
    (pp. 77-88)

    There are two easy (well, relatively easy) options for the policy analyst. One is to take the critique-laden road which encourages pessimism, even cynicism, and endless critical questioning. The products of this road are the despair of policy makers who want answers so they can enact change and reform. They charge that this path brings questions but no solutions. This is the cry of the school effectiveness and improvement movement, for example. For this road, we need only assent to the socio-political critiques outlined in the previous chapter. The other road is the solutions-rich road in which answers are plentiful...

  7. SEVEN Embodying change
    (pp. 89-106)

    Who are the change-agents for this progressive adaptation? They are embodied actors, a concept which contrasts with the idea of the ‘empty self’ that is generated by consumerism and filled up with the consumer products and the shallow, passing ephemera of externalised identities². This chapter gives attention to the nature of this embodiment. Conceptions of the person and holism are part of the paradigm shift that this book looks towards. Underpinning organic meta-governance is the nurturing and strengthening of democratic consciousness. This involves critical, analytical engagement as well as strengthening, on the basis of the reaction against centralisation, a renewed...

  8. EIGHT Degrees of democracy
    (pp. 107-130)
    Philip A. Woods and Glenys J. Woods

    Achieving democracy – still more so holistic democracy – is a highly ambitious aim. Democracy, as others have argued before, is best seen as a journey rather than a point of arrival. This chapter puts forward a framework for analysing the idea of ‘degrees of democracy’, using data from three different kinds of school in England to illustrate and illuminate the framework.

    The question of degrees of democracy was brought to the fore in analysis of data from a study of an inner city Academy in England (one of the three schools featured in this chapter). At the time of...

  9. NINE Practice in the making
    (pp. 131-154)

    In this chapter, examples of practice are featured, drawn mainly from the state sector in England, concluding with insights into examples and perspectives in Latin America, New Zealand, Hawaii and Canada. These illustrate adaptive strategies and amplification, and are characterised to varying extents by aspects of holistic democracy – namely, the expressive elements (holistic meaning and well-being) and the participative elements (power sharing and transforming dialogue). Both elements feature to some degree in all the examples. They are organised within this chapter, in a loose fashion, from those in which the participative elements features more prominently, moving to instances in...

  10. TEN Energies for change
    (pp. 155-164)

    Karl Mannheim’s proposition about militant democracy (the second of the quotes above), although written during the Second World War, still has meaning for today. Democracy is not an accomplished fact of our way of life. Nor is it free from dangers. It is under immense pressure – from inequalities of power immersed in and spread across the economic system, and cascading through to education; from political threats that restrict freedoms in response to conflicts and perceived threats to security; and from the low standing often accorded to elected politicians and the system that they are at the heart of. If...