That’s what happened to me when I read this book, which stems from what appears to be a global education movement against neoliberalism.
The Flip the System organisation holds that the neoliberal shift in reform has “led, in a more postmodern sense, to the death of the teacher”. That hooked me.
The editors of the Australian Flip the System offer the voices of more than 35 local contributors. They seek to ‘flip the system’ from the perspective of teacher, collaboration, social justice, professional learning or leadership.
There’s even a chapter about teachers ‘flipping their lids’ due to the all-too-familiar low pay, shrinking status, school-vs-school competition and standardised testing.
“[The book] is a platform for reclaiming education for the teaching profession in ways that focus on the multiplicities, complexities and humanity of education, as well as the role of research and data,” the editors say.
I like that the book features writers familiar to me and I hear not just news grabs, snatch a retort on my Twitter feed from them, but a wider context about their stance. There are several academics, teachers and school leaders I read in this book who I plan to ‘stalk’ on social media to learn more.
Contributors Anna Hogan and Bob Lingard wrote about an Australian Education Union survey into commercialisation in public schooling.
It resonated with me how teachers voices had indeed been 'absent' from global edu-businesses partnering with schools such as through network governance and setting policy. Despite this, more than 40 per cent of those the AEU surveyed were concerned commercialism was impacting their work and lives.
It’s easy as a teacher to plug away, head down and not think too much about the ramifications of what’s happening around us nor the bigger picture.
Meanwhile, Gert Biesta’s provocation – who ‘owns’ education and where are teachers in this – made me think that I’d never really considered this deeply. Am I in this profession because it offers me security – society will always need teachers?
Echoes of the frog in slowly boiling water came to mind when I read his words that micro-management of teaching practice “minimizes opportunities for professional judgment and professional agency”.
I see this, I feel this.
Yet, sometimes perhaps I’m cherry picking theories of practice my superiors have ‘suggested’ – does that make me a mouthpiece for the latest trend?
Do I, like Hattie, blame students’ individual characters and dispositions for their academic failure rather than “wider systems of injustice”, according to Benjamin Doxtdator?
If you want a book that ruffles your professional feathers and gets you thinking well beyond your classroom, this one’s for you.