From Exam Factories to Communities of Discovery: The Democratic Route

Front Cover
Institute of Education, University of London, 2011 - Education - 89 pages
From Exam Factories to Communities of Discoverypassionately calls for educators to challenge the dominant market-led model of education and instead build a more democratic one, better able to face threats such as environmental damage; intensified global competition; corrosive social inequalities in and between nations in the world; and the need for a new, just and sustainable economic model.

The book documents how education policy has led to schools and universities becoming exam factories and further education colleges becoming skills factories. The authors analyze neo-conservative agendas and conclude that solutions pursued in this way will only strengthen social inequalities and corrode the security and professionalism of educators. They then set out an educational balance sheet that captures the strengths and weaknesses of the present "system" of education, drawn from England and from education debates across the developed world. They use this evidence to propose an alternative future for education, which builds "communities of discovery" by realising the collective creativity of students and educators through democracy. They explain how this alternative is better suited to current times and refer to organizations that have embraced this approach to solve problems such as how to re-engage disaffected youth.

The authors conclude by asking "Can we do it?" and warn us of what we may face if we don't act. This book is written as a call to action for all educators working in a wide variety of settings - in schools, colleges and universities, in work-based learning and within communities - and for those interested in education policy.

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About the author (2011)

Frank Coffield retired in 2007 after 42 years in education, first as a teacher in a comprehensive and then in a boys' approved school in Scotland. He was also a lecturer in education at Jordanhill College of Education in Glasgow and Keele University in Staffordshire, and Professor of Education at the Universities of Durham, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and the Institute of Education, University of London.

Bill Williamson is Emeritus Professor of Continuing Education at Durham University.

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