ARGENTINE EDUCATIONAL REFORM: TENSIONS BETWEEN DEMOCRATIC AND NEOLIBERAL DISCOURSES.

Open Access
Author:
Mendez, Gabriela
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
February 10, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Patrick Willard Shannon, Committee Chair
  • Jacqueline Edmondson, Committee Member
  • Marnina K Gonick, Committee Member
  • Meredith Christine Doran, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • EDUCATIONAL REFORM
  • ARGENTINA
  • DISCOURSE
  • NEOLIBERALISM.
Abstract:
In 1993 the National Law of Education number 24195 was passed in Argentina, setting the legal basis for a national educational reform that affects the whole educational system. The educational reform comprises changes in the structure of the educational system, the period of mandatory education (extended to 10 years), the renewal of curricular contents, the assessment of the educational system, and teacher education and teacher training. The implementation and results of the educational reform have already been analyzed in many studies. The focus of this study is on a different aspect of the reform: the values and subjectivities that the educational reform promotes. To address this question, the study analyzes texts that comprise three levels of the curriculum: the National Law of Education, the Basic Common Contents (BCC) standards for Ethics and Citizen Education in compulsory education, and textbooks for the general and basic (mandatory) education. This study uses an integrative method that includes critical policy analysis, critical discourse analysis, critical analysis of characters, and analysis of the formal elements of illustrations. The results highlight three main points: 1) although the different levels of the curriculum share some values, the meanings of these values change in the different texts. Some values are emphasized by the National Law of Education, but lose strength, disappear, or acquire opposite meanings in the other levels of the curriculum analyzed in this work. Examples are the idea of the subject as agent of change and the concepts of discrimination and inclusion, 2) the National Law of Education depicts the individual or person as an enterprise self - an individual searching for happiness, self-esteem, self-actualization, and self-fulfillment, an individual who constructs her own project and her own life. I define this emphasis on the self-made individual as a way in which the market discourse enters the arena of education, a process of marketization of the curriculum. The BCC include the enterprise self, but take the construction of subjectivity to the arena of psychology, by emphasizing the individual as a psychological self. I define this emphasis on psychology within the curriculum as the process of psychologization of the curriculum. By the combination of the processes of marketization and psychologization of the curriculum, the subjectivity of the entrepreneur self emerges as the superseding subjectivity of the three levels of the curriculum, and 3) the entrepreneur self, as a form of neoliberal individualism, presents serious tensions with the idea of education of democratic citizens and the strengthening of democracy. Finally, the study drafts brief guidelines for teachers to analyze teaching material in ways that allow them to work against the neoliberal individualistic discourse, include the solidarity within and among groups, and reinsert the democratic individual that the National Law of Education names but fails to develop.