Trends Shaping Education and Innovative Learning Environments: A Discourse Analysis of OECD CERI Projects
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was created in 1960 to advance economic expansion and world trade. Although it lacks a specific mandate for education, it has shaped national educational policy through the dissemination of ideas and transnational research. The Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI), a branch of the OECD, was created in 1968. Its potential influence on the educational policy of nation states suggests a need to investigate its vision for K-12 education. The purpose of this research was to critically analyse two major projects undertaken by CERI: Trends Shaping Education and Innovative Learning Environments, with respect to the nature of their embedded political discourse, as well as their constructions of K-12 schooling, teachers, and learners. Additionally, it critically explored how the discourse of innovation, accountability, and governance shapes education in particular ways. Drawing from Fairclough’s methods of critical discourse analysis (CDA), as adapted by Grewal, it examined the ideological and discursive nature of the CERI projects. Texts were interpreted through a liberal theoretical framework. Findings suggest the CERI Projects frame a neoliberal vision for K-12 education focussed primarily on economic ends. Although the social dimension of education is recognized with respect to its need to foster equity, equality and social cohesion, its discourse is best characterized as a form of flanking and roll-out neoliberalism. Both Projects embrace a human capital approach to education and advance a neoliberal subjectivity in which learners are defined by their economic utility and are framed as future workers who are flexible, adaptable, resilient, responsible, innovative, entrepreneurial, and good problem solvers. The ILE Project’s promotion of networks and partnerships with other sectors and business reflects a transition away from government to governance as promoted by New Public Governance, which also reflects a neoliberal orientation. In both Projects, innovation, accountability, and governance are nominalizations that reinforce a neoliberal policy perspective of education.