Changing Australian Education: How Policy Is Taking Us Backwards and What Can Be Done about It

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ALLEN & UNWIN, 2020 - Education - 352 pages
Public education in Australia faces challenges as never before. While politicians and media pundits agonise over the latest NAPLAN results, lamenting falling standards, teachers are leaving the profession in record numbers, disillusioned with the pressures of their working environment and the lack of trust in their work by policy makers. What is the answer? How should Australian education change to better meet the needs of students, teachers and our complex, rapidly changing society?

In this important new book Emeritus Professor Alan Reid argues that it is time for a new narrative in Australian education policy and practice. He states that for too long education has been dominated by a standardisation discourse with its origins in neoliberalism and an emphasis on education as a private commodity rather than as a public good. He presents detailed research to show that the standardisation approach, particularly its market-oriented emphasis on high stakes testing, competition between schools and uniformity has, over the past thirty years of its dominance of the policy agenda, made the work of schools more difficult and failed to address the challenges of the future. The book offers instead a new vision of education that is futures-focused and prizes flexibility, adaptability, collaboration and agility. Its policy features include student-centred teaching approaches, integrated and project-based learning, inquiry, formative assessment and teacher autonomy. The book uses a case study of the fourth industrial revolution to model the features of this approach, including new directions for curriculum, pedagogy, and school and system cultures. Importantly it shows how educators must be brought back to centre stage in educational policy making.

This ground-breaking work offers a positive vision for the future based on a recognition of the value of education as a builder of strong and adaptable communities.

'At the heart of the book is a penetrating critique of neoliberalism and the damaging effects it is having on education and society. It draws on historical insight, sociological curiosity and case studies to illuminate the shortcomings of existing policy settings ... It should be essential reading for policy makers, educators, parents, and anyone interested in the current state of Australian education.'
Professor Barry Down, School of Education, Murdoch University.

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About the author (2020)

Alan Reid is Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of South Australia. Professor Reid's research interests include educational policy, social justice and education, and the history and politics of public education. He has published widely in these areas and gives many talks and papers to professional groups, nationally and internationally.

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