ARGENTINE EDUCATIONAL REFORM: TENSIONS BETWEEN DEMOCRATIC AND NEOLIBERAL DISCOURSES. 

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ARGENTINE EDUCATIONAL REFORM: TENSIONS BETWEEN DEMOCRATIC AND NEOLIBERAL DISCOURSES. 

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, selfactualization, 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.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF FIGURES ………………………………………………………………………………………..x

LIST OF TABLES………………………………………………………………………………………….xi

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS……………………………………………………………………………..xii

Chapter 1  Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………1

School and politics.…………………………………………………………………………………..4

Competing subjectivities. ………………………………………………………………………….5 The external becomes internal……………………………………………………………………9

Design of the study…………………………………………………………………………………..11 Summary…………………………………………………………………………………………………14

Structure of this dissertation………………………………………………………………………15

Chapter 2  Concepts and method………………………………………………………………………16

Concepts. ………………………………………………………………………………………………..16

Method……………………………………………………………………………………………………20 Levels of analysis………………………………………………………………………………20 Method: Kinds of analysis…………………………………………………………………..23

Description of methods employed………………………………………………………..26 Critical Policy Analysis………………………………………………………………..26 Critical discourse analysis…………………………………………………………….27 Character analysis. ………………………………………………………………………35

Analysis of images. ……………………………………………………………………..36

Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………………………..43 Chapter 3……………………………………………………………………………………………………….46

The historical and political context in Argentina: some background……………………..46

Education in Colonial Argentina (mid- 1500 to 1810)…………………………………..47 Context and ideas: ……………………………………………………………………………..47 Schooling:…………………………………………………………………………………………48 Inclusions and exclusions:…………………………………………………………………..50 Government rationality:………………………………………………………………………51

Subjectivities:……………………………………………………………………………………51

From Independence (1810-1816) to 1916. …………………………………………………..52

Context and ideas: ……………………………………………………………………………..52 Schooling:…………………………………………………………………………………………53 Inclusions and exclusions:…………………………………………………………………..55 Government rationality:………………………………………………………………………56 Subjectivity:………………………………………………………………………………………56

Democratic rule (1916-1930). ……………………………………………………………………57 Context and ideas: ……………………………………………………………………………..57 Schooling:…………………………………………………………………………………………58 Inclusions and exclusions:…………………………………………………………………..58 Government rationality:………………………………………………………………………59

Subjectivities:……………………………………………………………………………………59

Return to conservative rule (1930-1943)……………………………………………………..59 Context and ideas: ……………………………………………………………………………..59 Schooling:…………………………………………………………………………………………60 Inclusions and exclusions:…………………………………………………………………..60 Government Rationality:…………………………………………………………………….61

Subjectivity:………………………………………………………………………………………61

The Peronist era (1940-1955)…………………………………………………………………….62 Context and ideas: ……………………………………………………………………………..62 Schooling:…………………………………………………………………………………………62 Inclusions and exclusions:…………………………………………………………………..63 Government rationality:………………………………………………………………………64

Subjectivity:………………………………………………………………………………………64

Developmentalism and education (1955-1973)…………………………………………….65 Context and ideas: ……………………………………………………………………………..65 Government rationality:………………………………………………………………………66

Subjectivity:………………………………………………………………………………………67

Dictatorship (1976-1982). …………………………………………………………………………67 Context and ideas ………………………………………………………………………………67 Schooling:…………………………………………………………………………………………68 Inclusions and exclusions:…………………………………………………………………..70 Subjectivity:………………………………………………………………………………………70

Government rationality:………………………………………………………………………71

A democratic government: Alfonsin (1982-1989). ……………………………………….71 Context and ideas: ……………………………………………………………………………..71 Schooling:…………………………………………………………………………………………72 Inclusions and exclusions:…………………………………………………………………..72

Government rationality:………………………………………………………………………73

Second democratic government: Menen (1989-1999.) ………………………………….73

Context and ideas: ……………………………………………………………………………..74 Schooling:…………………………………………………………………………………………78

Government rationality:………………………………………………………………………83

Subjectivities in the Argentinean educational reform: the law and the official

discourse…………………………………………………………………………………………………84

Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………….84

The law of education: What subjectivities does the system foster? …………………86 The official discourse: What values are emphasized?……………………………………88 Quality……………………………………………………………………………………………..91 Equity and equality…………………………………………………………………………….93 Efficiency …………………………………………………………………………………………94 Economy…………………………………………………………………………………………..96

Participation of the community……………………………………………………………98

Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………………………..102

Chapter 5   Subjectivities in the Basic and Common Contents. …………………………….107

What are the Basic Common Contents (BCC)? ……………………………………………107 Analysis of the Basic and Common Contents for Ethics and Citizenship

Education………………………………………………………………………………………….110

Analysis of the explanatory summary for block 1, “Person.”…………………..110 Analysis of expectations for block 2, “Values.” …………………………………….119

Analysis of the relationships between blocks of the curriculum of Ethics and Citizenship Education Curriculum and those of other subject

matters……………………………………………………………………………………….125 Analysis of list of contents or standards………………………………………………..125 Analysis of standards for BGE 1. Block two. ………………………………………..126 Analysis of standards for BGE 2. Block one, “the person.”……………………..128

Analysis of standards for BGE 3. Block three, on Social norms. ……………..133

Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………………………..138 The text of the curriculum and the intertextual context. ………………………….141 The text of the curriculum and the context…………………………………………….143

The subject and the curriculum ……………………………………………………………149

Chapter 6  Subjectivities in textbooks ……………………………………………………………….154

Overview…………………………………………………………………………………………………154 Sample. …………………………………………………………………………………………………..156 Analysis. …………………………………………………………………………………………………158

Textbook 1: Third cycle. …………………………………………………………………………..159

Analysis……………………………………………………………………………………………159

Vocabulary. ………………………………………………………………………………..162 Vignette……………………………………………………………………………….163

Reading. ………………………………………………………………………………163 Grammar…………………………………………………………………………………….166 Structure…………………………………………………………………………………….170 Illustrations…………………………………………………………………………………171

Characters…………………………………………………………………………………..175

Interpretation of the analysis of pages 76 and 77……………………………………176 Summary…………………………………………………………………………………………………186

Textbook 2: Second cycle………………………………………………………………………….187

Analysis……………………………………………………………………………………………192

Vocabulary …………………………………………………………………………………192 Grammar…………………………………………………………………………………….194 Structure…………………………………………………………………………………….195 Illustrations…………………………………………………………………………………196

Characters…………………………………………………………………………………..198

Interpretation of the analysis of this two page reading. …………………………..198

Textbook three: first cycle…………………………………………………………………………211

Analysis of pages 24 and 25………………………………………………………………..211 Vocabulary. ………………………………………………………………………………..214 Grammar…………………………………………………………………………………….214 Structure…………………………………………………………………………………….214 Illustrations…………………………………………………………………………………215

Characters…………………………………………………………………………………..216

Interpretation of the analysis of pages 24 and 25……………………………………216

Analysis of pages 114 and 115………………………………………………………218

Analysis……………………………………………………………………………………………222 Vocabulary. ………………………………………………………………………………..222 Grammar…………………………………………………………………………………….223 Structure…………………………………………………………………………………….223 Illustrations…………………………………………………………………………………224

Characters…………………………………………………………………………………..226 Interpretation of the analysis of pages 114 and 115………………………………..226

Summary…………………………………………………………………………………………..232

Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………………………..234

Chapter 7  Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………………244

Subjectivities in the curriculum: from Ministry to classroom…………………………246

Values: from Ministry to classroom. Same words, different meanings. …………..249

Isolated values? …………………………………………………………………………………249 Values that overlap on two levels of the curriculum……………………………….250

Values that appear on all three levels of the curriculum………………………….253

Subjectivities and values in context: curriculum, the global market, and

neoliberal discourses. …………………………………………………………………………257

Argentine education reform: when the banker tells educators what to

do in education……………………………………………………………………..257 The discourse of the market goes to school. ……………………………………259

When the discourse of the market goes to school, where does

democracy go? ……………………………………………………………………..262

Reinserting the democratic subjects in school, in spite of the texts…………………267

Young citizens challenging texts………………………………………………………….269 Questions about the characters in the text:………………………………………271

Questions about the ideas in the text:……………………………………………..272 Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………………………………….274

Chapter 1

 

Introduction

This study focuses on the subject positions made available within the Argentinean National Education Reform launched in 1993.  My main question is:  What subjectivities can be identified in the curriculum of the Argentinean education reform and what are their political consequences?   Because subjectivities are related to the context, I explore the dominant political rationalities during the period when the reform program was launched, linking the national and global context to the reform program and its consequences.  Toward this end, I examine three sets of documents:  The National Law of Education (1993), the national curriculum of Ethics and Citizen Education, and various social studies textbooks.  These texts construct apparently natural ways of being an ethical citizen in Argentina and position students accordingly.  My work attempts to identify “the ways in which texts construct meaning and subject positions for the reader, the contradictions inherent in this process, and its political implications”  (Weedon, 1999,

  1. 182). My goal in writing this study is to contribute to the current dialogue about the future of schooling in Argentina, and its relation to the development of Argentine democracy.

In this chapter, I use my personal experiences to introduce and illustrate key concepts used in this work:  “subjectivity”, “pedagogy”, and “rationalities”.  Toward the end of the chapter, I provide an overview of the text and the methodology of the study.

I attended high school during the last years of the period of military dictatorship in Argentina. Among other things, I learned at school how to behave and how  not to behave as a student. Even though I do not remember having read any explicit rules, I learned that I could obtain good grades and teachers’ approval when I obeyed, consented, memorized and agreed. By being reprimanded and punished, I learned that I should not think differently from my teachers, question my teachers’ ideas, respect people as equal regarding hierarchy, or try to change things. Being obedient and passive were the keys to doing well.

I am sure every day lived at school taught me that, but I only remember a few “memorable situations” from which I learned “how to be.”  One afternoon, during art class, while everybody was busy drawing, the Assistant Principal came in to our classroom and said “good afternoon”.   Instead of doing what we were supposed to do – stopping our work, standing up and saying “good afternoon Mrs. Collazzo,” _we just said it while continuing to draw our pictures. Mrs. Collazzo loudly yelled “Do you think you can say hello to me in the same way you say it to the janitor?”  Just then we heard a voice that said, in a very natural, relaxed way, “Of course. Everybody deserves the same respect.” It was not until the silence that followed that I realized it was my own voice. It in turn was followed by an even louder shout  “Get out of class! You deserve to be expelled!”

Outside the classroom, the argument continued when Mrs. Collazzo let me know that if I were her daughter she would be very disappointed and ashamed. In those few seconds I learned that sharing your thoughts is not always a good idea, so I did not say that I was delighted not to be her daughter. Instead, when she announced that she would call my parents to tell them what I had done, I said that they would agree with me and that I had learned my idea about respect from them. Maybe sharing my parent’s values was not such a smart thing to do either, because as a consequence of my comment, Mrs. Collazzo said that she would ask for my expulsion from school.

My good grades, and the principal’s idea that I still was a “good girl” protected me from being expelled, so I managed to complete school, and I had the opportunity to learn other important lessons from other teachers as well as from Mrs. Collazzo. While the civic instruction teacher taught us the curriculum by making us memorize and recite statements such as “the family is the indissoluble cell of society,” Mrs. Collazzo taught us, by example, to be uncritical, and to accept authority at any price, even when the authorities engaged in what I considered to be psychological torture. For example, during the war between Argentina and England over the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, Mrs. Collazzo once gave a speech in praise of the generals and the kids –  only one year older than my classmates and I  –  who where patriotically freezing in the south defending “us”.

Not only did she uncritically accept the rightness a suicidal military action orchestrated by a dictatorship that would do anything to hold on to power, but she also blamed the generals’ irresponsibility on us, her students. Sharing my thoughts with her, the whole school faculty and the students who were standing by the flag that afternoon was not a good idea, it seemed to me so I just left, hiding my thoughts, pain, and anger, and risking a sanction for leaving early. But I had learned my lesson: leaving school early might have been dangerous, but thinking for yourself and sharing your thoughts was even worse.

These “memorable moments” illustrate some ways in which my teachers taught the values that took part of the curriculum during the dictatorship. Because curricula are intended to teach students how to act or be, they position subjects within certain ways of being; in this way curricula create certain subjectivities. Subjectivity is defined, according to Weedon (1999), as “the conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions of the individual, her sense of herself and her ways of understanding her relation to the world” (p.32).  These ways of understanding our relation to the world are socially constructed. People create their image of themselves, their ways of being, and acting, by identifying themselves with available ways of thinking, acting and being. Curricula make available certain ways of thinking, acting and being, and ask that students identify with them.  The center of interest of my work is the subjectivities that the curriculum of the national educational reform launched in 1993 makes available for the students to identify with.

School and politics.

When I finished high school and started college, I thought I had not learned much at school. Now, while remembering those “memorable moments” in high school, I realized that I learned much more than I imagined. On the one hand, the contents of my classes did not give me tools, for example, for relating facts or history to current politics. They taught me to think in an uncritical way. On the other hand, teachers who did not teach our classes, such as Mrs. Collazzo, taught us powerful lessons about ourselves, our teachers, and authority. Everyday life in contact with these kinds of teachers and administrators impregnated our minds with ideas that molded our behaviors and thoughts. What we were supposed to do, think, and say, and more importantly, what we were not supposed to do, think, and say, were the rules that nobody ever read on the blackboard, but that every student learned, in one way or another.  Our relationships with the teachers and with the contents we memorized were partially constructing our subjectivities as students, and as teenagers raised under a dictatorship. Schooling was not isolated from the dictatorship that dominated the country. School, during that period of time, was a means of forming subjects who fit well with a dictatorship. Students were expected to be obedient, silent, respectful of authority, and uncritical  –  soldiers with different uniforms.  The school, within the context of the dictatorship, was molding our thoughts, emotions, and ways of being – constructing our subjectivities.

Competing subjectivities.

Although our subjectivity was not only in the hands on the school, the school had goals regarding how to raise and shape us: schooling is never completely independent from the regime of which it is a part.

In 1984, I became an undergraduate student – during the first year of democracy after six years of dictatorship. I studied at the Universidad de Luján, one of the universities that the dictatorship had closed, and that had been re-opened by the democratic government.[1] Studying to be a teacher meant, in that context, discussing the democratic values that teachers should teach and the ways in which students should be encouraged to become active democratic citizens. Our experience with the dictatorship had taught us that education is not value free, so we wanted to be aware of the values we should teach. Many hours of my classes were spent in these kinds of analysis and reflection. Discussion about democracy was so important, that my university had a class on human rights for the students in all majors. We were conscious of the importance of schooling and the education of democratic citizens. If we wanted to live in an incipient young democracy and contribute to its growth, first, we had to unlearn the authoritarianism that the dictatorship had imposed on us. Second, we had to learn democracy, to live democratically in the schools, and to teach democracy to our students. The subjectivity teachers wanted to offer their students was very different from the one we had learned from our teachers.

These ideas were not only popular in my college. The whole country was involved in a discussion about democratic education. This took a form of a National Pedagogic Congress which took place between 1985 and 1988. Local and provincial meetings were organized to discuss the major questions related to education, and then during February and March of 1988, a national meeting was held.[2]

In 1991, when I finally became a school principal, the need for educating democratic citizens was an important concern for me at work. The elementary school connected with the school in which I was working was 40 years old, but my team of teachers and I were the founders of the high school. Since it was a new school, we built the project, including some innovations at that time, such as the inclusion of motor disabled students, and a student run governed disciplinary system, to create civic responsibility among the students. These characteristics of the project were in part an expression of the democratic principles that were in the back of my mind.  But in 1993, although my democratic worries were intact, in the front (of my mind, my classroom and my school) something more urgent distracted me: I suddenly had to deal with an educational reform program that imposed so many changes that I hardly had time or energy to think about democracy or the school’s role in creating citizens. [3]

In my personal experience with the educational reform, I felt that I had to reform myself (or at least my teaching) in order to survive.  I was compelled to take classes, and to teach new curricular contents, to contribute to the construction of the school project, and to use new pedagogical methods. Since everybody was using the new “language of reform” I also felt compelled to incorporate a new professional vocabulary. The reform movements required teachers to convert our selves and to prove our conversion through accumulated credits.

The courses through which teachers were supposed to “reform themselves,” were offered by the provincial Ministry of Education, the national Ministry of Education, and local private and public institutions and professors. According to them, teachers should not teach the curricular contents they used to[4] . We had to adopt the provincial curriculum, use it to create a school curricular project, and teach the curricular contents listed in the project. To my mind the reform program was “all these things we now have to do.”

In 1995, after having worked in the creation of the new high school, I received an offer to work in a program that reported the innovations that schools were implementing, for the National Ministry of Education. This job was an opportunity for me to see other schools, to learn about school projects and innovations, and to examine on a macro level, on what I had being doing on a micro level: the creation of new school projects. Upon exchanging experiences with my colleagues, I discovered that many school principals and teachers shared my feelings regarding the reform program. We saw it as “all the things that we have to change, ” and some knew that we, the teachers, were part of the “things that we had to change.” While some teachers tried to resist, by criticizing the reform program, and opposing it, others quickly incorporated the “new language of the reform.” This was a way of showing that you were updated. Terms that were rarely heard before, became part of teachers’ everyday vocabulary:

“school management”, “institutional projects”, “quality”, “efficiency”, “procedures”,

etc. By using the new vocabulary, teachers showed that they were adopting the reform program, that they were reforming themselves.

The external becomes internal.

According to Popkewitz (2000), reforms can be considered as governing practices because “governing is concerned with linking political rationalities to subjectivities, that is, the governing principles through which people think, talk, speak, and act as self-responsible individuals.”[5] The new vocabulary that teachers were using showed that the reform was changing them, that the reform program was having some effect on teachers’ subjectivity. The reform program, which was perceived by some teachers as “all the things we have to do”, told teachers that their old ways were not good enough for the “new system,” that they had to change, to re-form themselves.

By the time of the period of educational reform, new political rationalities were in place in Argentina: while the first democratic government after the dictatorship focused on democratizing social and political institutions, the second government focused on the modernization of the country, its participation in the global economy, the reform and reduction of the state, and privatization. The government followed a conservative agenda, and adopted a neoliberal discourse.

Simultaneously, within this context, new subjectivities were being promoted through the educational system. Reforms – intended to change systems and people – are

related to political processes, which are linked to political and economic contexts. In other words, educational reforms are not politically neutral, and the subjectivities they promote are related to the governing rationality that initiated the reform program.   This does not mean that the construction of subjectivities is done by the governments through force. As Rose (1998) states, “Modern citizens are (…) not incessantly dominated, repressed, or colonized by power (although, of course, domination and repression play their part in particular practices and sectors) but subjectified, educated, and solicited into a loose and flexible alliance between personal interpretations and ambitions and institutionally or socially valued ways of living” (p.79). While during my adolescence (that is, during the period of dictatorship in Argentina) repression was strong and obvious, during democratic times, subjectivities are linked to governing rationalities in more subtle ways. The process is not one of a forced imposition, but more one of cooption and encouragement of identification with new ideas and subjectivities. It is not about repressing or destroying subjectivities, but about constructing and promoting new subjectivities.

This process is not, however, guaranteed to be effective. The fact that the government rationality promotes, for example, democratic discourse – such as the democratic discourse that circulated during the period of democratization when the National Pedagogic Congress was held- does not mean that people’s habits and acts will automatically change in the direction of a more democratic form of education.   Competing discourses – old and new, democratic and authoritarian, for example – all strive to guide people’s actions.

During the period of the reform program, for example, while some Argentinean teachers felt the power with which the reform program was imposed on them, others felt they were active participants of the reform program. They took the required classes, and adopted the language of the reform program as part of their everyday vocabulary. They were reforming themselves, they were adopting a new subjectivity, or at least, a new discourse. If the National Pedagogic Congress had produced the feeling of open possibilities, the national educational reform was for some teachers, proof of their feasibility. Many teachers incorporated the discourse of the reform in an effort to reform themselves, to adapt their subjectivities as teachers. Changes in the teaching practices were not –however – so easy. (Fernández Lamarra, 2002)

Design of the study.

While teachers – and their subjectivities – play an important part in educational reform, the main goals of this reform program have to do with the students. My concern in this study is the subject positions made available to students within the framework of the National Education Reform Act and the potential consequences of these subject positions.[6] By examining the structures and contents of three levels of educational text (national law, national curriculum, and social science textbooks), I identify those subject positions made available by and for politicians, policy makers, administrators, teachers, and students. Moreover, the three levels of analysis enable me to address the points of articulation and disconnections between and among the levels. These points close and open the possible interpretations and actions of all involved.

Since intended subjectivities are related to their historical context, I also explore the dominant political rationalities during the period when the reform program was launched, and the ways in which subjectivities and rationalities are related to the global political and economic context.

The main legislation at the basis of the educational reform was the National Law of Education, (24195), passed in 1993. This new education law required changes in the rules of school organization, curriculum, and assessment, thus opening opportunities, at least rhetorically, for greater participation from teachers and community members in school.  The explicit intent of the law was to foster democratic ideas and habits among the citizenry.  The National Law of Education is thus a good resource for exploring the subjectivities engaged by the reform program.

Argentine schools have “national curriculum”: a set of “basic and common contents” (BCC). The analysis of these curricular contents constitutes the second level of analysis of my dissertation. The creation of the BCC had two interesting immediate consequences. One is what Narodowski (1996) describes as the conversion of bcc – a set of directions on what should be taught into The BCC. This means that although according to the Law of Education the bcc created by the National Ministry of Education is a list of contents that would be a basis for the provinces to create their own provincial curricula, the national list of contents (bcc) became a kind of official and unique curriculum.  This happened, according to Narodowski (1996), when the national programs of teacher training – implemented before the provincial curricula were published – adopted the bcc as their curricular reference. Thus these contents, instead of providing a basis guiding the formation of provincial curricula, became more common to all the provinces than basic (p.102)[7] . For this reason, the analysis of the BCC for Ethics and Citizens Education can provide us with an idea of the kind of subjectivities the curriculum – the national curriculum – promotes.

According to Narodowski (1996), “publishers adapted their offerings in order to compete in the textbook market, by basing their books on the BCC. This means that the adoption of the new contents was made by the staff of the publishing companies instead of the administrators of the provincial ministries of education.” (p102) Since 1995 the pressure on teachers to “implement the reform program” was so strong, that they made sure that the textbooks they chose[8] were adapted to the curricular reform program. At that point, this meant that they included the BCC. Regarding the use of textbooks, Greenberg (1997) states that “textbook use constitutes 60 percent of class time in Argentina, and the weight of the textbook as a mediator between the curriculum and the teacher has magnified since 1995, when the BCC were printed but the provincial curriculums were not available yet.” (p.75)

Developers of the Argentine curriculum do not assume that schooling is value free. Instead they are explicit about the values that should be taught. The contents of the

BCC are organized into the three categories of  “concepts,” “procedures,” and “attitudes.”

The category of attitudes provides a set of values that students are supposed to learn. The

Social Science textbooks attempt to realize these values by encoding them within the topics, words, images, and charts which comprise the text. Because policy makers, curriculum developers, and textbook authors and editors must use language to complete their work they can make themselves completely explicit, and because the new subjectivities compete with older and other subjectivities within their thoughts and actions, they are not always consistent or complete. Using critical policy analysis, critical discourse analysis, and critical analysis of image, I track subject positions made available to students through the educational reform.

Summary.

Textbooks, curricula, laws, and educational systems are not politically neutral. They offer values, and they promote the formation of certain subjectivities, while discouraging the formation of others. This does not mean that the subjectivities the systems promote are automatically adopted by everyone concerned. Curricula have intentions however. In the same way as I can “read” the intentions my teachers had by analyzing some “memorable moments” from high-school, the intentions of the reform period systems, can be “read” in terms of the subjectivities they intent to create, by analyzing some of the texts central to the educational system. The analysis of these subjectivities allows us to be aware of them, and to teach, adopt, or resist these subjectivities intentionally.

Educational systems play an important role in the promotion of certain subjectivities. These subjectivities are usually related to the kind of citizenship that is considered necessary, that best “fit” the government rationalities of a given time. During the Argentine dictatorship the form of subjectivity promoted was related to obedience, silence, acceptance – as I learned from my every day life at school. What subjectivities were promoted in the educational reform of the early 1990’s?

Structure of this dissertation.

In order to answer my question raised above, I develop my dissertation in the following fashion. Chapter two elaborates on the concepts and methods that give shape to the dissertation. In chapter three I depict the social, economic, and political context in which the Argentinean education reform was launched.  Chapter four consists of the analysis of the subjectivities and values inherent in the National Law of Education 24195. Chapter five explores the subjectivities promoted by educational reform in the standards for Ethics and Citizen Education that every province has to follow, according to the BCC. In chapter six I analyze the subjectivities promoted in three textbooks. Chapter seven intertwines the results of the other chapters, and draws some conclusions about the subjectivities of the reform program period in relation to the context of the political and economic crisis experienced by in Argentina, in the late 1990s.

[1] According to Lamarra (2002), during the first democratic government, the universities were normalized and democratized. Professors who had been fired by the dictatorship were re-hired, the curricula were updated, and administrators were democratically chosen.  The universities regained their autonomy.

[2] According to Lamarra (2002), the National Pedagogic Congress served as a starting point for the National Law of Education, approved in 1993, since this law incorporates the main principles and goals approved by the National Pedagogic Congress (p. 28).

 

[3] The law of education launched in 1993 mandate the following changes: a gradual reorganization of the structure of the school system, the creation of basic common contents for the different levels and cycles of education, the creation of a system for teachers education, the creation of compensatory programs, and the creation of a national system of evaluation.

[4] During the 1980s, after the dictatorship, under the first democratic government, curricular changes tending toward the democratization and updating of school contents were produced for all education levels, for the schools under the governance of the National Ministry of Education and those governed by the Ministries of Education of the provinces. Lamarra, (2002). P. 52.

[5] This governing is what Foucault (1979) calls governmentality, (p. 33) the mentality of governing.

[6] This does not mean to deny the agency of the individuals. The choice to limit the analysis to only one of “the ends” of the interaction responds to the need to make this project feasible. To analyze how the real individuals react to the subjectivities promoted by the education reform is an interesting task that goes beyond the scope of this work.

[7] My translation and paraphrase.

[8] In Argentina usually teachers choose the text they want their students to use, and students buy those texts.

ARGENTINE EDUCATIONAL REFORM: TENSIONS BETWEEN DEMOCRATIC AND NEOLIBERAL DISCOURSES. 

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