University Of Tasmania
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The New right educational reforms : watershed or smokescreen

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posted on 2023-05-27, 07:16 authored by Branson, Chris.(Christopher Michael)
When I first became interested in those reforms and initiatives which had been labeled as \New Right\" phenomena it seemed to me that teachers and educators needed to confront understand and evaluate these tendencies. This was especially so in those areas of educational reform which seemed to be driven by \"new right\" thinking. Moreover it seemed to me that we were dealing with a powerful force emanating from overseas countries and having a specific intellectual history and that its influence was already being reflected in educational reforms being initiated in Australia. I decided to select as an example those changes made to the Educational system by the Victorian Liberal Government in 1992. By choosing this example I hoped in the first two chapters to (1) clarify the notion of the \"New Right\" and (2) demonstrate how new right tendencies were having their effect on the Australian educational scene. I would then proceed in the following four chapters to inquire into the historical basis of new right tendencies review some of the literature which discusses \"new right\" ideology and examine the impact of \"new right\" thinking in Britain and the United States of America. Then in chapter seven I would using as a basis a comparative review of the British and United States' initiatives give my own evaluation of the \"new right\" ideology. By and large the structure of my thesis is still as originally intended. However it became apparent to me on investigating the Victorian initiatives that it is not always obvious when educational reforms are to be appropriately labeled as \"new right\" phenomena. For one thing the label of \"new right\" may sometimes be disavowed by those who are promoting the reforms the promoters of the reforms claiming that the restructuring taking place is a response to economic contingencies which have nothing to do with \"new right\" thinking but are simply matters of commonsense expediency. Moreover such apparently \"new right\" concepts such as \"school-based-self- management\" can be seen as having a long history of support by both Liberal and Labour government supporters and by educational theorists of both the left and right. In other words educational reforms may conform to \"new right\" principles without their actually being driven by \"new right\" thinking. Any claim that the Victorian initiatives exemplify \"new right\" thinking therefore has to be argued for. In the first two chapters I argue that the literature justifying such initiatives does show that the reforms are at least in part driven by \"new right\" thinking and this becomes evident when we consider the motives for the reforms and not just the reforms themselves. I suggest that while the ideology of \"new right\" thinking appeals to concepts such as freedom self-management and autonomy (concepts which educators of many persuasions would find congenial) in fact these concepts and principles are not valued for educational reasons but for reasons to do with economic rationalism. I return to this topic in chapter seven where I consider in detail the claim that \"new right\" thinking demonstrates a respect for freedom and autonomy. My argument is that while the \"new right\" philosophy may contain concepts and principles which sound attractive to many educators these concepts are a smokescreen for what is in reality a free market ideology which does not have education as one of its central or over-riding values."


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Copyright 1996 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.Ed.St.)--University of Tasmania, 1996. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 108-112)

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