The recent TAFE:Doing Business in the C21 possibly highlights the contradictions in our approach to education. The paper espouses the need for a competitive environment- students are referred to as clients and the title of the doc says it all- not about education but doing business. Teachers are now becoming ‘providers of educational services’ teaching less what might be worthwhile for students but concentrating on ‘strategic optimisation’ of levels of customer satisfaction. VET is necessarily becoming more business oriented -but what of the other education sectors? This creeping change goes beyond jargon-for TAFE organisations do compete for business with each other , private industry and RTOs. On the one hand we are wanting to embrace social networking – at the heart of which is the notion of collaboration and sharing. But on the other, Institutes are reluctant to provide free access to resources, seeking some ‘competitive advantage’ by selling them or restricting access. So old world. While the best of the net is out there providing open access, the education ‘industry is busily incorporating commercial transactions into its business model.
No wonder we are scratching our heads as to why teachers don’t have a culture of sharing – the benefits towards learning seem to be subordinated to some unrealistic business benefits.