Restoring purpose: applying Biesta’s three functions to the Melbourne Declaration

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Curriculum Perspectives, 2019, 39 (2), pp. 125 - 134
Issue Date:
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© 2019, The Author(s). In December 2018, the Australian Federal Minister for Education announced an impending revision of the Melbourne Declaration, the document which sets out the aims of goals of education in this nation. This is significant, given that in the current age, questions about the purposes of education appear to be continuously contested or ignored (Biesta, 2017, 2013a, 2010, 2009; Ozoliņš, 2017; Webster, 2017; Schofield, 1999; Winch, 1996; Young, 2013). Controversies including performance in standardised testing; funding; teacher quality; and pre-service teacher education dominate headlines, diverting attention from the key question which is: what are the main purposes of education? To refocus our attention, Biesta’s (2009, p. 33) three purposes - ‘qualification’, ‘socialisation’ and ‘subjectification’ – are utilised as an interpretive framework to identify the functions as embedded in the key Australian educational document: the Melbourne Declaration. As a result of this analysis, this paper advocates the use of Biesta’s three purposes as an interpretive lens for the next iteration of the Melbourne Declaration to ensure attention is afforded to all three purposes, particularly subjectification.
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