Educational Philosophy and Theory 51 (14):1454-1464 (2019)

Derek Sankey
University of Sydney
Chris Duncan
Staffordshire University
Over the past two decades, two heavily funded initiatives of the Federal government of Australia have been founded on two very different and seemingly conflicting visions of education. The first, the Australian Values Education Program enshrines what may be called an ‘embedded values’ vision of education; the second, the National Assessments Program-Literacy and Numeracy enshrines a ‘performative’ vision. The purpose of this article is to unpack these two seemingly conflicting visions and to argue instead for their possible consilience, bringing together apparently incompatible phenomena to coalesce into a single, more expansive vision of schooling. Against the historical context that gave rise to AVEP and NAPLAN in Australia, the article argues that the visions of education rendered in these abrupt policy shifts are vestiges of a history of dichotomous and dualistic thinking in western educational philosophy. Underpinning this dualism is a fundamental schism between cognition and emotion and a Cartesian separation of mind from body that can no longer be sustained. Our increased understanding of the neural substrates of cognition, the ‘intertwined’ nature of cognition and emotion, combined with a philosophy of mind that does not dissociate propositional knowledge from the disposition of the learner, points to an alternative vision of education. A vision that is thoroughly values embedded, concerned with the educational wellbeing of each child, while also giving value to and prioritising educational performance and achievement, and the intellectual liberation these can offer each and every child.
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DOI 10.1080/00131857.2018.1557044
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