Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses
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ItemSecondary education in the Australian social order, 1788-1898: a study in the evolution of the theory and the curriculum of secondary education, and the methods of teaching, in the changing Australian social orderFrench, E. L ( 1958)In spite of all the hard words said about educational histories there should be no need to justify the historical study of education. The school, like the Church or the Theatre, is a social institution: if we may write the history of one, we may write the history of the others. As to the peculiar value of the enterprise, there will be differences of opinion; the distinctive values of the study of history are again in question. Suffice to say that it is the writer's suspicion that the debate on the content and method of secondary education, which has been conducted with considerable vigour in Australia in the past twenty years or so, would have been more fruitful if, to the various capacities brought to it, there had been added the capacity to see the problems of secondary education in the perspective of their development. It is surely not unimportant that the architects of educational policy should he enabled to see their problem in depth.
ItemThe theory of educational inequality in Australia, 1900-1950McCallum, David ( 1985)This thesis investigates the terms in which the problem of educational differences was posed by Australian intellectuals during the first half of the twentieth century. The investigation seeks to understand the social and historical limits of research into social differences in education, and makes problematic the degree of relative autonomy of this inquiry from the prevailing social and political arrangements which it sought to address. It attempts to demonstrate how the historically evolved. social norms of a particular class, in respect of participation in school and the acquisition of a positive disposition to school, became enshrined in official and scientific discourses on education as the natural and normal attributes of childhood and youth. The thesis examines the texts of leading figures in education and others who became interested in educational problems in their role as social commentators and critics. As a rule, these intellectuals advocated more schooling for greater national productivity and a more informed citizenry, adjustments to the curriculum in accordance with the 'needs' and expected life trajectories of different social groups of children, and finally, a more efficient alignment of school selection and ability. Along these lines, education was to play a major role in achieving the 'democratic ideal'. While there were arguments about the methods and criteria for achieving these goals, there existed in parallel an almost complete unanimity and consensus among these writers as to the questions to be raised. Whether as academics, educational researchers, bureaucrats,. politicians or scientists, they believed Australia had been inadequately served by its education system and that substantial reassessment and adjustment was required, in anticipation of a 'new order' to come. At the same time as the resources of the State were being mobilized to create a system of schools based on this vision, a science of education was emerging which permitted the school population to be ranked and allocated, along apparently scientific lines. Psychology became concerned with the problem of individual differences in the State school population, and developed in such a way that State schooling, and the posing of the problem of school differences, played a mutually ratifying role. The system of private grammar schools largely remained immune to psychological inquiry. Psychological reasoning pre-figured a solution to social differences in virtue of its overall affirmation of the particular form of State schooling offered (specific practices of school organization in line with 'normal' performance, divisions of knowledge into yearly packages), but also by the material and cultural demand to regulate the length and type of schooling in the post-primary stages. The science of natural differences among individual pupils served the administrative problem of selection into a differentiated school system, and ultimately permitted the social distribution of participation and achievement to be represented as the product of individual differences.