Signing the School in Neoliberal Times: The Public Pedagogy of being Pedagogically Public

By Jon Austin and Andrew Hickey.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

One of the most significant features of the Western school in the contemporary, neoliberal, era has been its re-formation as an economic enterprise. Previously, the school was represented as a site of communal learning and coherence, linked into broader national systems, networks, agendas and projects. Today, however, schools in the West operate increasingly as individual units, frequently focused around economic imperatives that drive concerns to shore up student numbers. This focus has been accompanied by redoubled efforts to differentiate one school from another, at least in the minds of the “market”, to the extent that even schools in national or State systems actively look to the advertising industry to connect with their market. This paper reports on the application of visual ethnographic techniques to capture and analyse the types of messages schools in an Australian city present to their community in pursuit of the aim of establishing and marketing individual school identities. Underpinned by the work of Henry Giroux on the concept of public pedagogy (2005) , the project has utilized digital photography to develop repositories of images and messages broadcast by schools in the project community. The particular methodology and techniques utilized are the subject of the first part of the paper. The second part of the paper discusses the preliminary analysis of themes of public pedagogical import from school advertising boards.

Keywords: Visual Ethnography, Public Pedagogy, Schools, Identity, Neoliberalism

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp.193-202. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.157MB).

Jon Austin

Asociate Professor & Deputy Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland, TOOWOOMBA, Australia

Jon Austin is an Associate Professor and currently Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Education at the University of Southern Queensland. His current academic and research interests reside broadly within the areas of cultural studies and critical pedagogy: identity & difference; postcolonial and decolonial praxis; and transformative pedagogies. He is the editor and co-author of three books (Culture & Identity 2005, Re-Presenting Education 2006, and Educating for Healthy Communities 2007) and is currently working on a book on new ethnographies jointly with Andrew Hickey. His doctoral work was in the area of whiteness and white identity.

Dr. Andrew Hickey

Lecturer (Social Theory and Cultural Studies), Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia


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