Desperately seeking something to solve: Education researchers and problem creation

Year: 2016

Author: Maxwell, Jacinta, Lowe, Kevin, Salter, Peta

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

A solution-focused approach to education research can dissuade sufficient interrogation of representations of ‘problems’ in education policy. These problems include socio-economic disadvantage, underachievement by particular groups of students, and an increasingly competitive global marketplace. When such problems are represented via curriculum, multifaceted phenomena are minimised and causality simplified. Consequently, researchers working in this space can avoid interrogation of, and responses to, systemic concerns in favour of protracted, peripheral solutions.The authors of this paper discuss the creation and representation of education problems via curriculum as policy, the available solutions contained within those problematisations, and how education researchers have responded to both. In conjunction with critical race and whiteness theories of education, Bacchi’s approach to policy analysis has been applied to Australian curricula and preceding policy to produce a revealing analysis of problem representations contained therein. Situated alongside contemporary education research, this analysis illuminates the need for further interrogation of these policy problems which, in turn, calls proposed solutions into question. The authors propose three key areas of education research that must be critically engaged with before transformation of the field should take place.