The Promise of Education Revolution

Lee, Alison & McWilliam, Erica L. (2007) The Promise of Education Revolution. In AARE 2007 Focus Conference Canberra, 13-14 June 2007, Canberra Australia. (Unpublished)


In the context of the recent announcement of educational revolution as the promise of national Labor policy, we re-interrogate the promises that have been made by educational insiders (teachers and academics) and outsiders (eg politicians) about how social and economic problems can and should be solved through educational reform. For Rudd, the promise is very much rooted in the idea that education is for building human capital, which is in turn the fundamental building block of economic productivity.

The promises that are made about education - and by implication about educational research - often come back to haunt politicians and academics alike. Rather than either lauding Labor for the promise of reform or damning Labor as collapsing educational rationales into economic ones, we seek to interrogate the practice of making promises for education.

We argue that these practices are produced through twin fantasies about education: a widespread redemptive fantasy about the possibility and the imperative for education to solve problems of social and economic disadvantage; and an insider fantasy that educators can do this by themselves with the right resources. Through an examination of the 'de-sciencing' of education in the past decade or so, and its recent 're-sciencing', we conclude that, with all the promises that might be identified that pertain to educational research and to faculties of education, and with all the methodologies we have worked so hard to build and disseminate, we might have overlooked opportunities to engage in a broader conversation. Put simply, we are well practised in critique and less so in strategic public conversation.

We take the current moral panic about obesity as just one instance of a challenge that needs to be overcome if we are in Rudd's terms to 'get... the best out of Australia's social infrastructure'. We seek to demonstrate how such an issue might be usefully interrogated so that we avoid the fantasy of redemption of the obese child through 'better education' and at the same time equip ourselves for engaging in strategic public conversation about obesity as a human capital issue.

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ID Code: 8094
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the conference’s website (see link) or contact the author. Author contact details:
Additional URLs:
Keywords: educational policy, educational research, social capital, human capital
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Educational Administration Management and Leadership (130304)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 AARE & (The authors)
Deposited On: 31 Aug 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2009 07:35

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