It's high summer and the usual combinations of bushfires,
blowflies,too much Christmas fare and a house full of young people
who have just finished school and think that seeing as TEE was
such a strain that they need lots of leisure and LOUD music have
once again reminded me that this is the silly season!
Writing a State Report under these circumstances is not an
easy job! However it made me realise that there is much silliness
abroad and not just in my head.What I am referring to is silliness
in the sense of lack of judgement. In particular I am concerned
about policy and policy making in education.How we are to make
sane and workable educational policy is not a new question.The
research on education policy and reform is vast but much of it
remains at the margins of the Black Box in which the pot of policy
is stirred and created.
Key policy 'heavies' often find the equivocal findings of
research too 'messy' to legitimate and justify politically driven
policy agendas. In addition, in this postmodern age we have to
ackowledge that academic research, though sometimes revealing,
is not the font of all wisdom. This means that we have to exercise
our individual critical and reflective capacities when making
judgements about policies.
Therin lies the rub! As a policy analyst I have been exhausted
by proliferation of policy in the last decade. It is, in fact,
akin to a 'policy plague'. Education systems and universities
spin around in this onslaught. Just as the other plague of this
part of the 20th century, AIDS, attacks the body's defences,
so the policy plague may reduce our ability to make wise educational
Both the Education Department of Western Australia and Edith
Cowan university have had massive shakeups in the last year and
Edith Cowan's own is far from over. There will be more about
these in a future edition of Education Australia.
I'm not arguing that these changes are undesirable. On the
contrary, there is much to be positive about in the Curriculum
Framework, for example. And Edith Cowan University's new Vice-Chancellor,
Millicent Poole, is doing some highly needed 'spring cleaning'.
However, what I am concerned about is the ability of people at
a grassroots level - teachers, kids, parents, lecturers, tutors,
and general staff - to respond to and engage with these changes
in a critical but possibilitarian way; to take these changes
and MAKE them meaningful to their lives and careers.
Here's to 'struggling for small decencies'.
Happy New Year.
Janina Trotman, Department of Education Policy and Administrative
Studies, Edith Cowan University