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Caring and educating : government discourse, care and learning

Adams, Paul (2014) Caring and educating : government discourse, care and learning. In: Social and Moral Fabric of the School: 8th International Conference, 2014-08-28 - 2014-08-30, The Lairgate Hotel. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Within the primary school context, care is something that has great currency. Such positions are not only UK in orientation but are considered to be important across the globe. This said, the ways in which governments have organised and oriented education, particularly in the western world, present sharp challenges for care. The diet of efficiency and cost effectiveness, driven by a desire for justice, often orient education in ways inimical to caring for children. They present ways of construing the educational project which seemingly act in opposition to ideas about care that are anything more than care about exams or performance. Some countries, such as the England and Wales, have attempted to marry the care and education agenda together through government policy. However, such policies are often party political and thus do not survive changes in administration. Whatever the response it is important to ask questions about the place and form for care in contemporary education. This paper, attempts to do this. The paper takes as its underpinning theory the idea of the position call. Originating in social constructionist positioning theory, the position call is a heuristic device which permits one to both examine the ways in which Discourse offers certain spaces and positions for individuals and groups to occupy, and examine discursive moments for the ways they give form and structure to conversational moments. This paper will examine the first of these two aspects. Specifically, once positioning theory has been defined, the paper will identify the various position calls made by the current UK government concerning care in education. Whilst such calls are not necessarily explicit, the paper will examine how wider governmental Discourse drives certain conceptions of care in education. In particular, it will pay attention to calls to re-examine classroom processes and how these position both teacher and pupil. The paper will then outline two challenges to be faced when trying to marry the requirements of the current educational system and the care agenda. The first challenge concerns the ways in which children and young people conceptualise themselves through the auspices of the educational venture and associated societal issues. In this regard the ways in which they might align themselves with current educational policy will be explored. Secondly, the paper will outline the nature of professional work and the challenges teachers now face in a globalised, digital world, in particular how they might be forced to work so that they might meet the challenges presented by care for the 21st century.