Theatre of fast knowledge pp

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Theatre of fast knowledge pp

  1. 1. 1 The Theatre of Fast Knowledge: Performative Epistemologies in Higher Education Tina Besley & Michael A. Peters Faculty of Education University of Glasgow
  2. 2. 2 Contents of the paper  In this paper, we ‘play’ with several ideas:  ‘Fast knowledge’ (epistemology) in the higher education context  ‘performance’  Introduction to current economic thinking on ‘fast-food’ and McDonaldization  We consider what this means for higher education
  3. 3. 3 Structure of the paper  1st section: Introduction: The New Economy and “Fast” Capitalism  2nd section: Fast Capitalism, Fast Knowledge and the ‘McDonaldization’ of Education  3rd section: Managing Fast Knowledge Performance  Conclusion
  4. 4. 4 Introduction: The New Economy and “Fast” Capitalism  We choose meanings of ‘fast’, associated with speed, to theorise “fast knowledge” as part of “fast capitalism” in the new economy. See the journal - Fast Capitalism – Editor, Ben Agger.  ‘Fast capitalism’: an emergent new generic form of capitalism based increasingly on forms of symbolic capital associated with the rise of global finance and associated with new information and communication technologies.
  5. 5. 5 Introduction cont’d  ‘knowledge capitalism’: the digitalization of knowledge production processes and the way in which all phases of knowledge production —its creation or generation, its storage and retrieval, its formal and informal acquisition and transmission, and its distribution or circulation— have been speeded up, with significant consequences not only for knowledge production but also, for learning, education, and culture.
  6. 6. 6 Fast Capitalism, Fast Knowledge and the ‘McDonaldization’ of Education  George Ritzer - The McDonaldization of Society – critiques the ‘irrationality of rationality’  4 principles of McDonaldization as applied to education:  1. efficiency  2. calculability  3. predictability  4. control through technology
  7. 7. 7 McDonaldization cont’d  1. Efficiency - streamlining the process, simplifying the product and putting customers (students) to work e.g. through use of technologies - machine- graded, multi-choice examinations; customized textbooks; manuals /texts /sets of questions; e-publishing of courses Critique: homogeneity, ‘dumbing-down’; de- skilling & anti-professionalisation because teachers have limited opportunities to adapt a courses (the McUniversity; academic ‘factory’; digitized diploma mill)
  8. 8. 8 McDonaldization cont’d  2. Calculability - emphasis on quantity rather than the quality - an illusion that quantity=quality and a process that reduces production and service to numbers. e.g. standardization of grades, scores, ratings, rankings; league tables; teaching assessment exercise; “credentialization”; student evaluations i.e. intrusion of quantitative measures not only in teaching but also research e.g. RAE publications counted, journals ranked & citation analysis has become a new methodology for plotting academic reputation.
  9. 9. 9 McDonaldization cont’d  3. Predictability - creating predictable settings, employee behavior, creating predictable products and processes; scripting interaction with customers e.g. “cookie-cutter textbooks”; McMovieworld
  10. 10. 10 McDonaldization cont’d  4. Control - of employees and customers, as well as the process and the product e.g.academics are controlled through various management techniques - appraisal systems, workload assessments, student and peer evaluations etc.
  11. 11. 11 Managing Fast Knowledge Performance  McKenzie theorizes performance as a formation of power and knowledge, and so warns us of the growing objectification and alienation of human labor  Performance needs an audience i.e. a presentation, lesson, lecture, tutorial, seminar, conference paper etc, where the performer must consider skills and styles (dress, oratory, visual style, multi- media tools depending on the context) that involve both the professional and the personal aspects of oneself.
  12. 12. 12 Managing Fast Knowledge Performance cont’d  PM - measurement systems first developed by the performance indicator movement and later under New Public Management that drew on principal-agency theory and transactional cost analysis.
  13. 13. 13 Managing Fast Knowledge Performance cont’d  economic, technical and cultural types of performative power intersect in HE, especially when framed by knowledge economy policies i.e. a sign economy no longer based on raw materials but rather on the transformation of ideas and symbolic resources by means of intellectual, human and social capital.
  14. 14. 14 Managing Fast Knowledge Performance cont’d  the knowledge manager aims to extract knowledge from people’s heads (often tacit knowledge that is difficult to codify) and to embed it in intellectual systems or processes - intellectual property as copyright, patent or international trade law and putting it into commercial service to make a profit.
  15. 15. 15 Managing Fast Knowledge Performance cont’d  PM utilizes – ‘soft’ psychotherapeutic technologies alongside traditional peer review mechanisms and collegial exchange, and in combination with simple counts, computer and/or accounting methodologies (including the weighting and the arithmeticization of soft variables like “reputation”) to produce departmental, faculty, and institutional performance “profiles”, institutional, national & international league tables.
  16. 16. 16 Conclusion/questions  As “performative epistemologies” we specifically draw out the aspect of “the theatre of fast knowledge” by focusing on the management of “performance” and the relation of performance management to “fast knowledge”.  performance has become the dominant model of social evaluation in knowledge capitalism, where fast capitalism demands us to “perform or else”!
  17. 17. 17 Conclusion/questions  Questions for education: (1) identify the ways in which education has become a consumption good, the ways in which students, parents and (even) teachers and employees have become consumers; (2) analyze the ways in which the institutional and structures of education have revolutionized the structures and institutions of educational consumption.
  18. 18. 18 Conclusion/questions (3) Is fast knowledge just a further rationalization of industrial educational processes or something fundamentally new, perhaps even a generically new form of capitalism?

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