Questionner l’évaluation des étudiants

Et si l’évaluation des étudiants, qui semble si naturelle, était ce qui détruit leur potentiel et leur créativité ? Et si y trouver des alternatives était une manière de saper les fondements de la marchandisation de l’enseignement ?

Une analyse par un professeur canadien.

Intervention – Where’s our agency? The role of grading in the neoliberalization of public universities

Over the last several years I have been involved in numerous discussions and academic panels that lament the reduction in public funding and simultaneous encroachment of private moneyed interests into the sphere of public higher education.  This process is often termed the “neoliberalization” of higher education by its critics and has resulted in universities taking on the feel and function of large for-profit corporations complete with highly-paid senior administrators who demand economic rather than humanistic justification for the actions of faculty.  It has also brought about the relentless pursuit of worker productivity through technology, precarious labor, and the standardization of administrative and classroom practices.  As insightful as these critics of the neoliberal academy have been in pointing out many of the causes and negative effects of the neoliberalization of higher education, they are virtually silent about the role the academic laborer has in fostering the process (Aronowitz, 2000; Giroux, 1983; Giroux and Giroux, 2004; McLaren, 2005).  This blind spot inhibits them from developing a coherent strategy for resisting the intensification of harmful neoliberal practices.

Critics of the neoliberalization of public universities often view the encroachment of a free-market ethos into higher education as being exogenously imposed on the university by capitalist forces seeking to better control academia, and students’ minds for their own gain.  In addition, these critics often see themselves as individuals trying to hold back the rising tide of neoliberal oppression that is turning their workplace from an institution of scholarly pursuits to an assembly line churning out “knowledge” and “knowledge workers” for the “knowledge economy”.  So far, their best strategy for resisting the privatization of public education has been to create awareness through the publication of research and analysis in journals, books, and conference presentations that shows the detrimental effects this is having on the academy and society (Saunders, 2010).  Since these critics assume that they are not complicit in this process, they believe that they have little or no options to resist or reverse it, outside of analyzing its impacts and lamenting its inevitability.  I disagree.  I believe that academic staff (professors, lecturers, and teaching assistants) are not objects within the neoliberal university.  Instead, they are an integral part of the neoliberalization of public education through the practice of grading, and as such can use grading, or more specifically not grading, as an enormously powerful tool to resist the further imposition of neoliberal practices on public higher education.


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