Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Below is part of a book review written in Marxist educational jargon which actually seems to come to surprisingly humble conclusions -- recognizing the value of traditional approaches and questioning the arrogance of theorists etc. I have inserted a few translations into plain English

Carlson and Apple are the editors of a collection of essays on democratic [Leftist] themes in education. According to the editors, these themes are "emergent, contested, and consequently always in the process of being constructed and reconstructed as a historical production" (p. 1). The book explores these themes, which concern democratic [Leftist] renewal of culture and education, by construing them as various types of [modified Marxist] critical theory. Ultimately, the aim of the book is to relate these theories to policy and practice. This theoretical discourse, which is positioned historically to address a transformational time of crisis in education and society, is part of The Edge: Critical Studies in Educational Theory. The series examines progressive educational theory by offering a variety of discussions about theory and practice during an era of perceived radical paradigm shifts in education.

Carlson and Apple introduce their text as a discussion partially of the stress that exists within and among neo- Marxist/neo-Gramscian and postmodern/poststructural theories. The authors believe that the discussion must be set in the cultural and historical context of present day conflicts between neo-liberals desiring privatization of public education and neo-conservatives desiring more traditional curricula that ignore multicultural issues. Carlson and Apple view this frame as appropriate since two of the major crises of the time are the neo-liberal call for privatization of public education resulting ostensibly from the failure of urban schools to serve inner-city children and the attempt by neo-conservatives to wage a "cultural war" against multicultural and student-centered approaches to education (p. 2).

A new approach to research on educational issues is vetted as well. The recognition that qualitative research narratives are partial at best and may be contradicted by other and subsequent narratives [the facts] is presented as a reason why researchers ought to adopt a modest stance, which acknowledges the democratic culture in education.

Interestingly, Carlson and Apple state that it is important to blur the lines between modern and post-modern theory. This blurring of the lines allows the theoretical discussion to revisit older practices in light of new theories. Carlson and Apple believe that post-modern theory dismisses "older practices" too quickly because many of the post-modern concepts are derived from existing culture and are therefore linked to existing practices. Further Carlson and Apple believe the language of postmodernism needs to become more inclusive and tied to the real world structures of every day life.

Another concern of the authors is the behavior of some "post-" theorists who appear to negate the possibility that more traditional approaches have value. The arrogance implied by such theorists' self-presentation of having the "right answers" to educational crises worries Carlson and Apple.

More here

Staff 'surplus to requirements' at corrupt Australian public university

I always thought that the people in charge were a pretty slimy lot when I taught at the University of NSW but I think they have got worse since. Note this previous case involving the same university

Further allegations are emerging ahead of a report due soon from the NSW Ombudsman's office into the handling of internal complaints by a top university. Senior management at the University of NSW hired a former doctor, who had been deregistered for having sex with his patient, for a sensitive and important education post, running the university's Educational Testing Centre, which contracts out services to schools, governments and business, according to complainants. The man, Alan Bowen-James, was previously found to have lied to the Medical Tribunal and the NSW Supreme Court.

But some university staff who questioned the wisdom of the appointment have run into trouble. The outspoken former ETC services manager, Peter Curtin, was found to be "surplus to requirements" after a review of the agency's structure and is now working in a country town. A staff representative on the governing university council, medical academic John Carmody, who also questioned Bowen-James's appointment, faced disciplinary charges for being disrespectful to another senior staff member over the affair. The internal charge was not proceeded with and Carmody has retired from UNSW.

The ETC, which runs the lucrative skills-based tests for primary schools throughout Australia and, increasingly, many international clients, has had a troubled recent history. After complaints from staff, in 2001 the NSW Audit Office found the ETC was poorly administered and was characterised by "cronyism and nepotism" under then director James Tognolini, who later left. The NSW Ombudsman's office found that about 25 per cent of the ITC staff were related to other staff. The woman who made these early allegations, under the Protected Disclosures Act, also lost her position, a trend that was soon to be established.

After this controversy the ETC, which was sliced from the mainstream university to a UNSW company called NewSouth Global (but whose officers were all appointed by the university), advertised for a new general manager and Bowen-James was appointed on a temporary basis. However, after he took over, some ETC staff who checked on him learned of his background. Bowen-James, a GP who was trained in psychotherapy by psychiatrist Wynne Childs (herself deregistered for having sex with her patients), was found guilty of sexual misconduct by the NSW Medical Tribunal in 1991. He admitted to the tribunal that many of the therapy sessions he had with a woman patient, identified under the pseudonym of M, were conducted at restaurants and coffee bars rather than in his waiting rooms.

Patient M said Bowen-James then invited her to his home (while his wife was overseas) and they had sex on a number of occasions. Bowen-James denied this, claiming M was suffering from borderline personality disorder and "was fantasising" about him. But in the majority decision, tribunal members believed M's version of events over Bowen-James's, after they determined that Bowen-James had made false statements in various job applications and to investigators during the Health Complaints Unit investigation. Bowen-James appealed the decision, which had been made on the tribunal chairman's deciding vote, to the NSW Supreme Court in July 1992. The Supreme Court upheld the tribunal's decision that he be deregistered and, in its judgment on reviewing the case, also found that Bowen-James had lied.

However, the decision did not stop Bowen-James from acting as a counsellor and he advised people such as Brendan Moran, the son of healthcare tycoon Doug Moran, who later committed suicide. After this background came out at UNSW, it was suggested to the then university vice-chancellor, Rory Hume, and his deputy John Ingleson by Curtin and Carmody that the university should not confirm Bowen-James's appointment. Curtin says: "I did not think it was appropriate that a deregistered doctor and someone who had perjured themselves should be appointed to such an important post at the university and I let my superiors know." A UNSW spokeswoman yesterday declined to comment.

Others at the ETC also questioned Bowen-James's curriculum vitae, which boasted 14 university degrees from a plethora of institutions, including degrees in law as well as medicine, business administration (masters), education, philosophy and information technology. But the university went ahead with Bowen-James's appointment anyway. However, Curtin says he soon had other reasons for concerns after some staff began complaining to him about alleged misconduct by Bowen-James.

Bowen-James, whose recent employment history had been in information technology, soon expanded the ETC's information technology section, hiring new staff, upgrading equipment and introducing new software systems, including one that was finally abandoned last year as a complete failure. It cost the university millions of dollars. In September 2003, Curtin wrote a letter "in confidence" to the NSG board and the university council expressing his disquiet. Eventually, after concerns were also raised at the council, especially by Carmody, the ETC let Bowen-James go. But after a review of the ETC in November 2003, Bowen-James's main accuser, Curtin, was made "surplus to requirements".

The Ombudsman's Office will also report on the treatment of complainants in the Bruce Hall case involving alleged research misconduct.


UK: New plan sounds reasonable: "Ministers yesterday set out plans to encourage more teenagers to stay on at school or college after the age of 16 by introducing a range of new vocational qualifications. The government wants Britain's national staying-on rate of 70%, one of the lowest in OECD countries, to rise to 90% by 2015 as part of a 10-year timetable during which 14 new diplomas, covering vocational subjects such as engineering, plumbing and healthcare, will be phased in. The established A-level qualification, which ministers have pledged to retain, will be strengthened from 2008 , starting with trials next year of a harder paper and an "extended project" to stretch the brightest pupils. Announcing the implementation plan for new qualifications for the 14-19 age group, schools minister Jacqui Smith rejected criticism by Ofsted that secondary schools were failing to do enough to help pupils starting secondary school with below-average maths and English results."


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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