Informit article: What is education?

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At the very moment we were writing the present essay, ‘Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australia’, dated March 2018, was released, on 30 April 2018. Gonski 2.0 is named after its eponymous patron, lawyer, banker, businessman, philanthropist and Point Piper resident David Gonski AC, whose previous report, commissioned by ex-prime minister Julia Gillard in 2010, had, with the simultaneous mix of banality and controversy that invariably saturates almost all public proposals today, called for a dramatic increase in school funding. This latest report, allegedly occasioned by what it itself nominates ‘a fine educational heritage, but declining performance’, outlined a number of desiderata all too familiar to anybody with the most passing acquaintance with twenty-first-century governmental-managerial discourses on education. In accordance with the dot-point thinking and take-home messaging that characterise the era of social media, data surveillance and neoliberal economism, we find such headings as ‘Improving education outcomes is critical to future economic and social opportunity’ and ‘Raising and achieving ambitions through innovation and continuous improvement’. Key strategies are outlined on the basis of a ‘focus on the effective and efficient use of funding to improve student outcomes and Australia’s national performance, as measured by national and international assessments of student achievement’. There is also talk of ‘incentivising’ teachers by improving wages and conditions, not only with the goal of improving pedagogic performance but also to make teaching a more attractive employment option.

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