From Exam Factories to Communities of Discovery passionately calls for educators to challenge the dominant market-led model of education and instead build a more democratic one, better able to face threats such as environmental damage; intensified global competition; corrosive social inequalities in and between nations in the world; and the need for a new, just and sustainable ecomic model. The book documents how education policy has led to schools and universities becoming exam factories and further education colleges becoming skills factories. The authors analyse neo-conservative agendas and conclude that solutions pursued in this way will only strengthen social inequalities and corrode the security and professionalism of educators. They then set out an educational balance sheet that captures the strengths and weaknesses of the present 'system' of education, drawn from England and from education debates across the developed world. They use this evidence to propose an alternative future for education, which builds 'communities of discovery' by realising the collective creativity of students and educators through democracy. They explain how this alternative is better suited to current times and refer to organisations that have embraced this approach to solve problems such as how to re-engage disaffected youth. The authors conclude by asking 'Can we do it?' and warn us of what we may face if we don't act. This book is written as a 'call to action' for all educators working in a wide variety of settings - in schools, colleges and universities, in work-based learning and within communities - and for those interested in education policy.
Frank Coffield is Emeritus Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London, having previously worked in the Universities of Newcastle, Durham and Keele. Earlier he taught in a comprehensive school, an approved school and Jordanhill College of Education in Scotland. He was Director of the ESRC's research programme into The Learning Society from 1994 to 2000, and edited 4 reports and 2 volumes of findings from the programme. Bill Williamson is Emeritus Professor of Continuing Education at Durham University.