School Improvement as Violence
Quite a few eyebrows have raised at the title of Chapter 3 of the book - Positive Peace in Schools. It was intriguing and enlightening to research and write about the tyrannical orthodoxy of school improvement and tease out the many ways in which this notion has come to be a force for violence on schools.
I include here an excerpt from this chapter:
"The impression is created that school improvement relates primarily to raising standards of educational performance, and that this is quantifiable, measurable and comparable in the same way that other products and outputs of markets are. David Reynolds, for example, celebrates the new "'technological' orientation" of education, which "is simply concerned to deliver 'more' education to more children": and thus "eschews the values debate about goals" (1997: 99). The Dutch education philosopher Gert Biesta gives short shrift to such a position: "The means we use in education are not neutral with regard to the ends we wish to achieve. It is not the case that in education we can simply use any means as long as they are 'effective'. . . education is at heart a moral practice more than a technological enterprise" (2007: 10).
We would agree, arguing that a position that attempts to mask ideology thorough the 'common sense' of the market place or through manipulation of performance markers and test scores is a position of structural and cultural violence. The positioning of school improvement as a technological exercise directed towards increasing productivity and efficiency has real and harmful effects on students and teachers."