Please Note: Only COVID-19 vaccinated adults and children over 5 can attend the Clinic.

The Politics of Education

Fundamental social change from the 1980’s to the present day has altered the boundaries of responsibility and authority in education, producing confusion in schools and in teachers. The once clear line between school, family, and community changed. This is especially manifest in the management of complex student and family matters.

The teacher had legitimate State and parental authority to deliver on a defined education responsibility that students were required to respect (through the threat of repercussions by parents). The family was responsible for parenting and had the congruent authority to raise children. The teacher and school had a responsibility for learning but did not have a wider responsibility for the child; they did not have the authority to interfere in parenting and family matters aside from the extremities of incest and major criminal matters. Child protection laws were very basic with no mandatory child abuse obligations.

Shifting Boundaries and Responsibilities

With the introduction of Social and Emotional Learning (Goleman et al, 1994) within schools, teachers became increasingly responsible for the student’s wellbeing, altering the school – family boundary over the raising of children. When the political decision was made to close mental health, disability, and child/youth correctional institutions schools had to adjust to accommodate complex needs that they had never been responsible for previously, creating more blurring of the boundary lines between teachers, families and the wider support systems.

Responsibility and authority are out of alignment at every level of the system

The 2023 institution of education is more inclusive of difference, diversity, and disability. The boundaries are not as constrained and defined, now more negotiable. The teacher is responsible for inclusion and the education of all, not some. This takes in mental health, child protection, domestic violence, social relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, disability, health, family relationships, and family law.

Complexity, Knowledge, and Collaboration

Complex problems come with multi-symptoms, comorbidities, and multi-system supports. Teachers now share the responsibility of student wellbeing and academic success with parents, health practitioners, and wider system supports. Teachers’ expert knowledge in curriculum gives them authority to deliver on their educational responsibilities. Mental health and allied health practitioners have expert knowledge in wellbeing and health giving them authority to deliver on those responsibilities. Teachers have common knowledge regarding complex physical, emotional and psychological needs of students, making the authority to deliver on their wellbeing and educational needs difficult, yet they still carry the responsibility. When responsibility and authority are out of alignment, the system goes awry, confusion appears, and the system and the individuals within the system become symptomatic. The individual here is the teacher. If teachers and schools are responsible for inclusion, they must be equipped in the practice and pragmatics of inclusion, not just its ideology and theory.

Responsibility without congruent authority produces impotence in teachers and they become stuck and frustrated. Gaining the necessary alignment of authority and responsibility to get the task of education and wellbeing achieved is imperative. This can only be accomplished with successful collaboration with all parts of the system and between the systems. This has become a political dilemma that schools do not yet know how to navigate.

Our fundamental intervention at bower(schools) is to align responsibility and authority, so that the teacher/school is an equal party to boundary definition, not an unequal party.

Book now for our workshop “Teaching At The Edge” (Oct 12th 11am).

Free weekly
director’s notes
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

By subscribing you agree to receive marketing communications from Bower Place. You can unsubscribe at any time or contact us to have your details deleted from our database.