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The banality of education policy: Discipline as extensive evil in the neoliberal era

Clarke, Matthew ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4693-248X, Haines Lyon, Charlotte ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8341-744X, Walker, Emma ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4494-8093, Walz, Linda, Collet, Jordi and Pritchard, Kate (2021) The banality of education policy: Discipline as extensive evil in the neoliberal era. Power and Education.

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Abstract

Education, at least in dominant media and political discourse , is often assumed to be a force for good, inextricably associated with hope and intimately linked to optimism about the prospects for better individual and social futures (Halpin, 2003; Tiainen et al., 2019). This assumption lies behind current anxieties about children’s ‘lost time’ as a result of school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic. By contrast, in this paper, our contention is that a strong case can be made that education and education policy in the neoliberal era, far from being a pure force for good, is implicated in nefarious effects at multiple levels (Ball, 2020). These effects can be seen in the growing alienation of significant numbers of teachers and students from education at various levels (Hascher & Hadjar, 2018; Oleksiyenko, 2018; Tsang, 2018); they can be seen in the accusations that schools, in a range of global contexts, have been reduced to exam ‘factories’ (Coffield & Williamson, 2011; Hutchings, 2016; Kulz, 2017); and they can be seen in the growth of authoritarian models of schooling, involving ‘zero-tolerance’, ‘no-excuses’ disciplinary approaches. All these developments have undermined the presumption that education is an unquestionable force for good.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/17577438211041468
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5453

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