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Neo-fordism and teacher professionalism

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This paper explores teacher professionalism in the English context. It juxtaposes two dimensions in the current discourse. The first is the rhetoric of post-Fordism, which claims that people are the most important resource in any organisation and it is only through their development that learning organisations can survive. Teacher professionalism would seem to sit very well within this rhetoric, which advocates empowering core workers and giving them responsibility for their own professional development. Yet current government policies for the management and improvement of education are dominated by technical rationalism, which treats teachers as technicians to be controlled. This technicism is reinforced by competition and funding mechanisms where inputs and outputs are counted and rewarded (or penalised). Education in England currently resembles neo-Fordism, a potentially malign combination of the two, where technicism dominates but is legitimated by a rhetoric of post-Fordism. To improve educational quality we need to break out of the neo-Fordist discourse. In so doing, professionalism reappears as a central concern for teacher development.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom

Publication date: March 1, 1997

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