Reflexive professionals or technicians? The political economy of the university

Crowley-Cyr, Lynda (2008) Reflexive professionals or technicians? The political economy of the university. In: Abstracts from the 2008 Australasian Law Teachers Association Conference. pp. 163-164. From: 2008 Australasian Law Teachers Association Conference: the law, the environment, Indigenous peoples: climate for change?, 6-9 July 2008, Cairns, QLD, Australia.

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This paper examines the contest between two ideologies that underpin 21st century tertiary education. The currently hegemonic ideology reflects neo-liberal construct of the university as a market place where students are consumers. The process of learning stresses ease of assimilation of the 'product'. The role of academics must be to be customer focused service providers. A counter hegemonic ideology reflects the presumption that students are reflexive citizens. Such learners are engaged in the reflexive project of the self. They seek self-determination and empowerment to actualise their own potential and lecturers guide, facilitate and evaluate. These two ideologies exist simultaneously in Australian universities creating contradictory and conflicting expectations on the part of both learners and teachers.

The paper offers a case study of a trial in a professional legal ethics subject to use assessment as a vehicle for student empowerment in order to enhance and promote reflexive professionalism. What the teaching Ilearning experience disclosed was the hegemonic place of the passive consumer model amongst a group of final year law students and hence their disempowerment. The paper argues that the former federal government's underfunding of legal education and the correlated underdevelopment of students' reflexive capacities is the present order of the day, at least in regional schools.

Casualised black letter law teaching and examination based assessment are the chief processes whereby this outcome has arisen. Far from producing the clever people to manage late modernity, the neo-liberal university is dulling and narrowing student self-constructs and has become an assembly line for unreflexive technicians.

Item ID: 27909
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
Keywords: legal education
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Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2014 05:40
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development @ 100%
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