Managing and Monitoring Literacy for a ‘Knowledge Society’: The Textual Processes of Inequality in Adult Education Policy, Pedagogy and Practice

Title: Managing and Monitoring Literacy for a ‘Knowledge Society’: The Textual Processes of Inequality in Adult Education Policy, Pedagogy and Practice
Authors: Pinsent-Johnson, Christine
Date: 2014
Abstract: This thesis explicates how an international literacy testing (ILT) initiative, overseen by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), is put to use to coordinate teaching and learning in adult literacy education programs in Canada, and in Ontario in particular. The testing initiative was conceived to manage and monitor global literacy resources, and promote their development for economic productivity and competitive advantage. Guided by institutional ethnography, the analysis reveals how certain operational and support devices of the testing initiative have been transposed into the context of adult education and training, carrying with them the ideological concerns of the economistic testing project and some of its methodological procedures. Various devices and technologies of the ILT are reformulated as individual assessments for adult learners, and are also incorporated— as is and with extensions— into a national occupational skills framework, a provincial curriculum reform, and a series of policy persuasion projects. Educators, program coordinators and curriculum developers, concerned with the development of literacy that is responsive to learners and their aspirations, recognize the limitations of the curricular frameworks and assessments. They devote inordinate amounts of time and effort reformulating, translating, force-fitting, and supplementing them. At the same time, a narrowly conceived locating information pedagogy—distinct from both academic literacy needed to access formal education systems and a responsive and situated literacy needed to actively participate in social practices—is developed and widely promoted. Policy entrepreneurs have incorporated the devices into their policy persuasion projects, including a project that profiles adults according to their literacy proficiency, their value in the labour market and whether or not they are ‘economically efficient’ to educate. Persuasion tactics are aimed at policy-makers and adult educators in order to convince them to shift educational support away from those who already experience limited access to educational opportunities (adults with secondary education or less) to those closest to reaching what is deemed to be an acceptable literacy level (adults with post-secondary education). Attempts to limit and privilege the purpose of adult education and training, in combination with the development of curricula and assessments that do the same, obstruct and contradict efforts to support equitable literacy learning opportunities for Canadian adults.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -