University of Tasmania

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Ideological constraints on Australian education, 1945-1975

posted on 2023-05-26, 20:48 authored by Johnston, G L(Gerald Louis), 1937-
Four major Australian educational policies adopted between 1945 and 1975 have fallen short of the objectives set for them. This study is intended to describe those policies and to account for their shortfall. The central theme is that the four policies, 'selective', 'comprehensive', 'open', and 'community' education can be seen as manifestations of broader 'ideologies': 'elitism', 'egalitarianism', 'individualism', and 'collectivism' respectively. It is argued that this ideological source of educational ‚Äö prescription has been a constraint in the pursuit of policy objectives. A characteristic of 'ideology' as defined for this study is that some of the central beliefs of the system of values and beliefs of which it is constituted are uncorroborated or in error. It is shown that at the time at which these four policies were adopted by Australian education authorities the beliefs which they were based upon had not been the subject of any rigorous investigation and thus reflected ideological commitments rather than the application of tested educational knowledge. The uncorroborated methodological beliefs in the four prescriptions can be seen as distinguished by either 'rationalist' or 'romanticist' characteristics, that is, as derived from either the exercise of untested reason or, alternatively, from faith in emotional response as means to valued objectives. Several other influential educational prescriptions adopted or advocated since 1945 can be categorised under one or other of these two social methodologies. The concept of the 'dialectic' in social theory is briefly examined as a means of accounting for the frequent changes in recent Australian educational policy and for the light it might throw upon the disappointing achievement associated with this instability. To conclude, a general outline is given of an approach to educational innovation which emphasises an 'applied' science perspective. Translated into administrative terms this is seen to imply the advisability of a flexible application of 'action research' for increased effectiveness of future educational prescriptions.


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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1979. Bibliography: 1. 422-438

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