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The New right educational reforms : watershed or smokescreen


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Branson, Chris.(Christopher Michael) 1996 , 'The New right educational reforms : watershed or smokescreen', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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When I first became interested in those reforms and initiatives which had been labeled
as "New Right" phenomena, it seemed to me that teachers and educators needed to
confront, understand and evaluate these tendencies. This was especially so in those
areas of educational reform which seemed to be driven by "new right" thinking.
Moreover, it seemed to me that we were dealing with a powerful force emanating from
overseas countries, and having a specific intellectual history, and that its influence was
already being reflected in educational reforms being initiated in Australia.
I decided to select, as an example, those changes made to the Educational system by the
Victorian Liberal Government in 1992. By choosing this example, I hoped in the first
two chapters to (1) clarify the notion of the "New Right" and (2) demonstrate how new
right tendencies were having their effect on the Australian educational scene. I would
then proceed in the following four chapters to inquire into the historical basis of new
right tendencies, review some of the literature which discusses "new right" ideology,
and examine the impact of "new right" thinking in Britain and the United States of
America. Then, in chapter seven I would, using as a basis a comparative review of the
British and United States' initiatives, give my own evaluation of the "new right"
By and large, the structure of my thesis is still as originally intended. However, it
became apparent to me, on investigating the Victorian initiatives, that it is not always
obvious when educational reforms are to be appropriately labeled as "new right"
phenomena. For one thing, the label of "new right" may sometimes be disavowed by
those who are promoting the reforms, the promoters of the reforms claiming that the
restructuring taking place is a response to economic contingencies which have nothing
to do with "new right" thinking but are simply matters of commonsense expediency.
Moreover, such apparently "new right" concepts, such as "school-based-self-
management", can be seen as having a long history of support by both Liberal and
Labour government supporters and by educational theorists of both the left and right. In
other words, educational reforms may conform to "new right" principles without their
actually being driven by "new right" thinking. Any claim that the Victorian initiatives
exemplify "new right" thinking therefore has to be argued for.
In the first two chapters I argue that the literature justifying such initiatives does show
that the reforms are at least in part driven by "new right" thinking, and this becomes
evident when we consider the motives for the reforms and not just the reforms
themselves. I suggest that while the ideology of "new right" thinking appeals to
concepts such as freedom, self-management and autonomy (concepts which educators
of many persuasions would find congenial), in fact, these concepts and principles are
not valued for educational reasons but for reasons to do with economic rationalism. I
return to this topic in chapter seven where I consider, in detail, the claim that "new
right" thinking demonstrates a respect for freedom and autonomy. My argument is that,
while the "new right" philosophy may contain concepts and principles which sound
attractive to many educators, these concepts are a smokescreen for what is, in reality, a
free market ideology which does not have education as one of its central or over-riding

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Branson, Chris.(Christopher Michael)
Keywords: Educational change, Education, Education, Education, Conservatism, Education and state
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1996 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Ed.St.)--University of Tasmania, 1996. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 108-112)

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