Episode 3: in which I blather on about failing, not-failing and liberal democracy as a circle

In this podcast I decided to try not to use the words interesting and important too often. Instead, I got a little vexed by listening to Sam Gyimah and Michael Barber at the recent WonkHE event, with their standard focus upon normalising the relationship between education and economic growth, competition, value for money, the imposition of methodological control through things like trust-based governance, and situating this inside a specific, positivist narrative of liberal democracy.

So I probably bang on a little bit too much about the circle of liberal democracy. My apologies if this seems a little snarky. But, you know, I wonder if this is the same liberal democracy that has bought us inequality, poverty of philosophy, food banks, debt-fuelled and consumption-driven economic growth, a disconnect between economic production and the planet’s health, geopolitics focused upon the petro-dollar, Hillsborough, Orgreave, Grenfell, UN reports criticising austerity as social engineering, and on and on and on.

In other news, this podcast is mainly focused upon answering a question from one of my first year students, Kate, who asked me:

Is politics and austerity an excuse for the alleged failings of the British education system? Is the British education system really failing the young people we have? Do we look at the positives of teaching? Best of all: is there a revolution brewing? [Whooooooa! #revolution #klaxon! NOTE: in the podcast there is also a #Marx #klaxon]

So I try to address that, and I mainly do this by not addressing it. I mainly raise lots of caveats, lots of problems and a few more questions.

However, I do try to connect this to my solidarity with my friends over in Brazil, struggling to make sense of the election of Bolsonaro, and to generate responses that make sense in this new environment. In particular, one of my friends told me:

At the moment, I attend carefully to important little things, moving even as I wait to see how it pans out.

So, I am trying to think about how we attend carefully to important little things, and how we do this cooperatively and collectively and with love and courage and faith and solidarity. And how do we do this in such a way that we widen our space for panning things out differently?

Finally, and quite importantly, my good friend and comrade Rob Weale has taken pity on me after my pathetic pleading in the last podcast for some music, so the bits and bobs you hear on this one are all provided by him. You can check him out over at his portfolio place.

I have also ripped the title track from Rae Elbow and the Magic Beans’ album the human species. This is available on SoundCloud.

Remember to love yourself so that you can love others. Peace out.


Special Issue CfP: Impacts of neoliberal policy on the lived experiences of primary school communities

With Mark Pulsford, I have a Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Power and Education, looking for contributions that ground neoliberal policies and logics in the everyday routines and practices within Primary school communities.

The details of the call can be downloaded from here.

The first-stage is for fully-referenced abstracts to be received by 1st December 2017, and the planned publication date is November 2018.


PhD Bursary: A critical evaluation of the impact of neoliberal policy on the lived experience of school communities in UK primary education

I have a full bursary PhD Scholarship at De Montfort University, starting in October 2017, with the title:

A critical evaluation of the impact of neoliberal policy on the lived experience of school communities in UK primary education

The second supervisor is Mercè Cortina, an early career academic fellow based in DMU’s Centre for Urban Research on Austerity.

Project Outline

This project will analyse current education policy and policy changes in the context of UK primary school communities. It will situate the development of UK education policy against theories of neoliberalism, and the ways in which resulting discourses have become concretised in Primary Sector practices. The project will investigate the relationships between the claims made for education and social mobility, attainment and human capital theory, in order to model the impact of educational policy on primary school communities. An analysis of power in such communities that include pupils, parents, teachers and governors, lies at the heart of the project. As a result, its methodological framework will be negotiated, for instance to focus on ethnographic research, grounded theory or critical discourse analysis.

Notes

For a more detailed description of the scholarship, the subject area at DMU and an application pack please visit http://www.dmu.ac.uk/research/graduate-school/phd-scholarships.aspx.

Please direct academic queries to Professor Richard Hall on +44 (0)116 207 8254 or email rhall1@dmu.ac.uk

For administrative queries contact the Graduate School office email: researchstudents@dmu.ac.uk, tel : 0116 250-6309.

Completed applications should be returned together with two supporting references and an academic transcript.

Applications are invited from UK or EU students with a Master’s degree or good first degree in a relevant subject (First, 2:1 or equivalent).

Doctoral scholarships are available for up to three years full-time study commencing in October 2017 consisting of a bursary of £14,296 per annum in addition to waiver of tuition fees.

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