From technical education to workplace training: emergence of the Australian National Training Package
KeywordsAustralian National Training Authority
curriculum based assessment in Australia
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AbstractDeposited with permission of the author. ?? 2006 Helen Smith.
Using methods of empirical ontology this thesis tells of the emergence, over the last decade of the twentieth century, of the Australian National Training Package, and shows how this device, with agency in contemporary Australian workplaces and educational institutions, has displaced curriculum as the means through which nationally recognised vocational education and training in Australia is organised and regulated. The Training Package emerged out of a twofold shift in the locus of control of vocational knowledge, and of training policy and practice in Australia: from the Australian states and territories to the Commonwealth Government; and from training and further education (TAFE) institutions and authorities to Australian industry. The proposition on which the thesis rests is that both curriculum and the Training Package generate a generalising logic, and that the different routines and rituals of performance in each give rise to distinct modes of ordering in vocational education and training. By exploring the historicity of curriculum as a regulatory artifact, whose origins can be traced to changes in teaching practices in European universities at the end of the sixteenth century, I show that curriculum, while enacted as different modalities over time, and under different pedagogical regimes, can nevertheless be described as a singular mode of ordering, bound up in classroom routines and rituals, and a foundationist framing of knowledge. I classify this as a one/many mode of doing the relation unity/plurality: a definitive cadastral accounting for people and things as subjects and objects (learners and knowledge) whose relationalities are given: fixed in advance of particular enactments through universal laws, or through the 'universalising' of previous social practices. As a mode of ordering in education and training, curriculum is associated with the power relations of the school and the formation of the citizen as modern learner. In moving beyond the classroom and into the realms of Australian training policy, the definitive generalising of curriculum is revealed as constitutionally unable to sustain governance beyond the spatio/temporal relations of classroom practice and the political relations of institutional learning. In pursuing the emergence of the Training Package as a mode of ordering of workplace learning, I describe the mode of generalising that emerged with the Training Package as performative and partial; strategically vague and negotiable; classifying it as a whole/part mode of doing the relation unity/plurality. Work knowledge is codified in Training Packages as an abstraction of the performances from which it is derived; and the codification process is reiterated in line with changes in work practice. The Training Package is shown to work as a technology effecting trustworthy transactions in multiple sites - workplaces, schools and other organisational spaces - by keeping its rules and processes available for scrutiny. Operating as a framework of standards and rules, the Training Package is able to account for different performances enacted under different conditions: representing sameness as a common currency and thereby sustaining governance of multiple work-related learning realities in a manner that curriculum-as-policy was unable to do. I conclude that, as a mode of ordering, the Training Package is implicated in a larger ontological break in modernity, and an emerging episteme that has to do with new ways of managing complexity and securing contingent coherence under constantly changing conditions. This ontic/epistemic shift can be witnessed in the withdrawal of governments from totalizing modern projects based on the authority of singular institutions, and the increasing adoption of audit technologies - such as the Training Package - to enable governance at a distance.
Smith, H. (2006). From technical education to workplace training: emergence of the Australian National Training Package. PhD thesis, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, The University of Melbourne.