The New Public Management of Higher Education: Teaching and Learning

The New Public Management of Higher Education: Teaching and Learning

Heather Brunskell-Evans (University of Greenwich, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-495-6.ch021
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This chapter explores the possibilities of Michel Foucault’s philosophical-political writings for practicing a “pedagogy of discomfort” in Higher Education (HE). Foucault’s method of genealogy and his concept of governmentality are used to reflect upon the dynamics of power underlying the government of HE in the United Kingdom, in particular the new modes of teaching and learning. The chapter has three inextricably entwined aims: it presents a genealogical history of the changing face of HE under the auspices of New Public Management (NPM) as a form of neo-liberal governmental disciplinary control; it describes the new modes of teaching and learning as examples of that control; and it argues that inherent in genealogical modes of analysis are possibilities and opportunities for educationists concerned with politically framed progressive action to develop pedagogical practices that disrupt or challenge the government of teaching and learning.
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Higher Education As The Object Of Governmental Control

In contrast to the proposition that despite the rapidly altering context of technologies of communication since the 1980s current teachers working across a range of educational institutions still perpetuate conservative and outmoded models of teaching and learning, I argue, taking HE as an example, that university lecturers actively embrace emerging demands to develop new models of teaching and learning. However, rather than viewing the transformative changes in teaching and learning as redesigning future progressive possibilities for individual learning, I argue that the new pedagogical models, in adapting to the world of the future, are themselves instrumental in conveying and mobilizing conservative norms whilst replacing old ones. I suggest that Foucault’s anti-humanist theoretical analysis of the liberal government of institutions provides a fruitful way to understand the politics of teaching and learning in the contemporary university. I propose that the new pedagogical practices be situated under the umbrella of New Public Management (NPM) of HE which, since the 1980s, can be seen as comprised of a number of technologies or strategies of governmentalization.

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