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Education policy in the media: Public discourses on education

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Product Description

By Sue Thomas

Published: 2006
ISBN: 978-1-876682-82-8
Pages: 385
Imprint: Post Pressed


Sue Thomas provides a meticulously detailed account of the relation between media representations of education policy, and the process through which policy is developed. Focusing upon a major review of the Queensland school curriculum, known as the Wiltshire review after its chair, Professor Ken Wiltshire, Sue Thomas provides us with an analysis not only of the process and outcomes of the review-itself an important contribution-but she also presents a detailed analysis of the mass mediated context in which it took place and therefore the issues and public pressures with which it was required to deal...

What Sue Thomas's book does is open up a whole area of investigation - the media discourses used to represent education-as fundamental to an accurate and informed sense of the context within which the actual work of education goes on. The links between public perception and policy formation are explicit and dramatic, in this account, substantiating Sue Thomas's conviction that educationists would be well served by better understanding, and perhaps directly intervening in, the media representation of education issues and policy.

This is brave and eminently useful research. Brave, because it works across several disciplinary fields where there has been a failure to accept the importance of the issues it raises. Taking on several disciplines at once to remind each of them of the gaps in their understanding is certainly an important task, but it takes courage and endurance to complete. Useful, because while the project has a highly political provenance, it is not a work of polemic: it is detailed, thorough, and socially engaged research.

The evidence presented here will enable further study and carries potential to expand the range of information available to the disciplines concerned.... this is a most valuable piece of work that deserves publication and dissemination amongst all those interested in the public debate about Australian education.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Graeme Turner

Part one:

Investigating Public Discourses on Education

Chapter 1: Questioning Public Representations of Schooling

  • Policies for Teacher Quality  
  • Media Coverage of Educational Issues  
  • Investigating Education Policy in the Media

Chapter 2: Media Discourses and Education Policy 

  • Research on Media Representations of Education  
  • Institutional Practices and Positive Media Images
  • Analyses of Textual Content
  • Building Consensus through Ideological Closure
  • Defining the Situation through Consensual Circles
  • Ideological Closure through Hegemonic Struggle
  • The Culturalist Paradigm
  • Media Debates and Education Policies
  • Media Discourses and the Ideological Dimension of Policy-making
  • The Unseen Hand
  • Media Mythologies.
  • Volleys in a Game of Subjectivity
  • Public Discourses: Media Items and Educational Policies  
  • Discourse: more than language
  • Conceptualising Media and Policy as Discourse
  • Public Discourses
  • Reconfiguring the Public Sphere as Discursive Space
  • The Interrelationships between Media and Policy Discourses

Chapter 3: On Discourse and Idology

  • Textually Mediated Discourses
  • Ideologies, Discourses and Power 
  • Ideologies, Discourses and Relations of Power and Domination
  • The Denial of Contradictions
  • The Legitimation of Sectional Interests
  • Reification and Ideological Circles
  • Ideologies as Terrains of Hegemonic Struggle
  • Ideologies, Discourses and Subjectivities
  • Positioning subjects, Reading positions
  • Ideologies, discourses, ideologies, discourses
  • Investigating the Nexus between Discourse and Ideology

Chapter 4: Critical Discourse Analysis

  • Definitions of Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Methods of Analysis
  • Dimensions of Discourse
  • Textual Features
  • Semantic macrostructures
  • Textual superstructures
  • Style
  • Classification schemes
  • Meaning relations within the text
  • Grammatical structures
  • Deictic categories
  • Speech acts
  • Modality
  • Cohesion
  • Temporal order of the text
  • Contrast structures
  • Presupposition
  • CDA: a tool for investigating discourses and power

Chapter 5:Mapping Media Discourses on Wiltshire

  • A Contextualised Interdisciplinary Study
  • Collecting the Data: policy documents
  • Collecting the Data: media items
  • Collecting the Data: the Interviews
  • The Participants
  • The Nature of the Interviews
  • Shaping the Interview Process: the researcher
  • The Interview Process.
  • Interpreting the Stories, Constructing Accounts
  • Shaping the Interview Process: the participants
  • Access.
  • Disclosures and Recollections.
  • "Doing the Investigation"

Part Two:

The Wiltshire Story

Chapter 6: Establishment

  • Origins and Motivations
  • The Print Media on "Standards"
  • The Professor's Angst
  • The Importance of Rules
  • Students, English Teaching and Falling Literacy
  • Negotiating the Parameters of the Review
  • Competing Political Discourses
  • The Hughes Legacy
  • The Terms of Reference for the Wiltshire Review
  • The Nature of the Task
  • Panel Selection
  • The Press Announcement
  • Announcing the Review
  • Interest Groups
  • The Editorial
  • Reporting the Announcement
  • The Failure of Schools
  • Wiltshire: the First Stage

Chapter 7: First Impressions

  • Getting Started
  • The Panel's Preferred Discourse
  • The Seven Principles
  • Distant Relations
  • Discursive Links
  • The Interim Report
  • Front-Page News
  • Probing Education
  • The Question of Values
  • The Sunday Mail Survey
  • The Trouble with Our Schools
  • Returning to the Old Ways
  • Competing Discourses: Preferences, Alternatives and Contradictions
  • Wiltshire: the Second Stage

Chapter 8: Together we can Shape the Future

  • Three Volumes and an Overview!
  • Reporting Wiltshire
  • The Front Page Again
  • Schoolspeak and Plain Speech
  • A New Deal for Queensland
  • The Teaching of Values
  • The Press Coverage of the Release of the Wiltshire Report
  • Tracing Discourses in Shaping the Future
  • ... on the Queensland school curriculum
  • ... on Literacy, Numeracy & Testing
  • ... on Teachers, Partnerships and the Community
  • The Panel's Preferred Discourse
  • Wiltshire: the Third Stage

Chapter 9: Aftermath

  • Back to Basics?
  • Reading through the Basics
  • The Need for a Curriculum Review
  • The Proposed Changes
  • Directions and Responsibilities
  • The Reassertion of Government Authority
  • Responses, Negotiations and Deliberations
  • A Cabinet-in-Confidence Committee
  • Lobbying for Change
  • The Sports Lobby's Preferred Discourse
  • Sport, Physical Education and Healthy Living
  • Junction Park: a case study.
  • The Authority of Sports Stars
  • Achievements and Consequences
  • The Final Recommendations
  • Responding to Community Concerns
  • What Should Be Taught in Schools
  • Curriculum Decision-Makers: Taking Teachers Out of the Equation..
  • Processes of Curriculum Development
  • The Government's Preferred Discourse
  • Reporting the Changes
  • The Curriculum Overhaul
  • Focussing on the 'Three Rs'
  • Core Subjects and Curriculum Responsibilities
  • The Authoritative Voice on the Curriculum
  • You Can't Beat the Three Rs
  • Real Problems and Alternative Solutions
  • A Preferred Media Discourse?
  • Wiltshire: The Fourth Stage

Part Three:


Chapter 10: Discourses in Education in the Public Sphere

  • Mapping the Wiltshire Discursive Field
  • Sites of Discursive Practice: the Wiltshire Review
  • Sites of Discursive Practice: government
  • Sites of Discursive Practice: the print media
  • Elements of a Shared Discourse
  • Alternative Discourses
  • Revisiting the Research Questions
  • Lessons from Wiltshire
  • The Nature of Public Discourses
  • Authoritative Voices in Public Discourses on Education
  • Claiming the Authoritative Public Voice on Education
  • The Marginalisation of Teachers' Voices
  • Placing the Media in the Educational Policy Process



Appendix: newspaper clippings cited in text

Tables of Figures

  • Figure 1: Preferred Reading Path of the Back to Basics? Advertisement
  • Table 1: Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Figure 2: The Conceptual Framework
  • Figure 3: Tells Us What You Think
  • Figure 4: Models for Managing the Curriculum
  • Figure 5: Opposing Discourses in the Wiltshire Discursive Field

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