Metaphors in the Educational Narratives Since 1945 With Particular Reference to the Conservative Party

McAllister, John J (1999) Metaphors in the Educational Narratives Since 1945 With Particular Reference to the Conservative Party. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The study seeks to provide both a methodology and an application of that methodology in its account, partly historical, partly philosophical, of the metaphors in the educational narratives since 1945. It considers, in particular, selected texts of the Conservative Party and focusses on the paradigm shifts m the educational narratives in 1945 and again in 1979. The study deconstructs these narratives, teasing out their constitutive metaphors: their characteristic representations of educational identities, realities and relationships. The ideological subtexts of these representations are described, as is the process by which they came to represent the "common sense' of education as the metaphors which constituted them became literalised. The thesis, as a consequence, is intimately concerned with the politics of education and, in particular, the rhetoric used to 'spin' the desired educational story. The first chapter contains much of the justification of the methodology followed in the study. In effect what this thesis does is to offer a narrative itself, or rather a meta-narrative. It does not offer, however, the kind of narrative that the Conservative Party, or indeed the Labour Party, has offered. They, the study will argue, offered dramas of self realisation, of life as a trial, leading to a final resolution in which the hero finds either salvation or some compromise in which there is contentment; a kind of hermeneutic epiphany in which the hero finds a way of interpreting the dominant, cultural narratives in order to find identity and some sense to life. As a consequence, the recurrent motif in the Conservative narratives described is the distinction between appearance and reality linked to an epic theme of personal salvation which is essentially individual, imperialist and moralistic. Dickens's Great Expectations is, in many ways, their paradigm text. There are, however, other kinds of narrative, particularly in the continental tradition of Foucault and Baudrillard, and the American pragmatist tradition of Rorty. Though these philosophers would disagree on just about everything, yet they share something of a common narrative approach. The purpose of their narratives is their analysis of the conflicts and tensions between the reader and the text, a dramatic interplay not seeking resolution in self realisation but rather a kind of reflexive, consciously ironic re-description of the self as the object, not the subject, of the text. The texts considered in this thesis, are what Jean-Francois Lyotard calls the 'legitimation narratives' of education: the masked ideologies and the 'common sense' literalised metaphors which have fixed educational identities and relationships and formed educational desires in accordance with particular hegemonic cultural configurations. It is this kind of narrative the present study offers, not the closed position of what Henri Bergson called 'the illusions of retrospective determinism' but rather the open, essentially tentative, ironic and inconclusive narrative of philosophy. It is a narrative which offers a different and, it is hoped, valuable perception, analysis and critique of recent educational history and educational theory rather than having, in itself, a closed theoretical position. The thesis considers the Butler consensus on education in some detail, deconstructing from it its ideological subtexts and the way these subtexts were masked. It describes how in his narrative, metaphors of nature, ability and types of child became the common sense of education and educationalists, fixing educational identities and relations into a particular overall cultural hegemony. The iconography of the grammar school and its status as the 'preferred' education in the Butler narrative is discussed and the subsequent tensions in the Conservative narrative analysed as the incipient egalitarianism of the 1960s began to create a desire for greater democratisation. The paternalistic Conservative ideologies, and in particular the Butler educational narrative which was an important reason for their continuing hegemony, was eventually to succumb to this desire and a period of narrative chaos was to occur. The traditional aspiration of the Conservative Party to act as the keepers of British Culture, as representing the 'host' narratives, came under great stress. The Butler consensus was eventually broken and the thesis describes the dynamics of the paradigm shift The narrative breakdown, what Jurgen Habermas called a 'legitimation crisis is described, beginning with the effect of the metaphorical redescription of education by the egalitarian counter-narrative of the Labour Party, though, it is argued. Labour's commitment to comprehensivisation was always ambiguous at best. However, the egalitarian narrative's threat to their continued hegemony was to create in the rhetoric of the Conservatives the virulent propagation of a sense of crisis in education. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Walter Humes
Keywords: Education history, Educational philosophy, Education policy, Educational administration
Date of Award: 1999
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1999-75388
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 20:19
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 20:19
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/75388

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