Friday, April 09, 2010

missing voice?

Duna Sabri has a fascinating paper in the latest edition of the Journal of Education Policy, which probes the role of (or, rather, lack thereof) academics in the developing policy discourse in higher education in England. In particular, the paper demonstrates (on the basis of interviews and document analysis) that there has been a move towards 'genericism' whereby academics are conceived of as 'practitioners' and who require training in their role in delivering teaching in order to provide a high quality 'student learning experience'. The notion of the 'academic' as a role is undermined.

"The effect is to deny any special features of being an academic, an expert in a discipline or cross-disciplinary field, a researcher and a teacher."

Combined with the increasing assumption that students are either consumers or 'technical learners,' policy is being developed in the absence of a voice for academics and there is little sympathy for the historical notion of 'professing' one's subject (in the sense of making 'explicit one's beliefs and to leave it to others to critique them').

The author though also raises a question about some other studies of academics' sense of identity that are based on interview which may often read as ' attempts to perpetuate a sense of affinity and shared values within an imagined community.' So, plenty of food for thought and topics for discussion in the context (perhaps) of our Symposium.


Duna Sabri* , "Absence of the academic from higher education policy", Journal of Education Policy, Vol. 25, No. 2, March 2010, 191–205

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