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Competence as "good management practice" : a study of curriculum reform in the community college Jackson, Nancy S. 1988

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COMPETENCE AS "GOOD MANAGEMENT PRACTICE": A STUDY OF CURRICULUM REFORM IN THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE By NANCY S. JACKSON B.A. University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1974 M.A. University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1977 THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES FACULTY OF EDUCATION (DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STUDIES) We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August 1988 © . Nancy S. Jackson, 1988 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department The University of British Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 DE-6(3/81) ABSTRACT In the l a s t decade, the concept of competence has become a powerful i d e o l o g i c a l force as a component of public p o l i c y i n the post-compulsory sector of vocational/technical education i n Canada. I t has served as a device for a r t i c u l a t i n g vocational p o l i c y and pr a c t i c e to the changing conditions for c a p i t a l accumulation i n the context of economic and s o c i a l restructuring. This process of a r t i c u l a t i o n i s most r e a d i l y v i s i b l e at the l e v e l of broad public p o l i c y statements and p o l i t i c a l r h e t o r i c c a l l i n g f o r reform of the r e l a t i o n between education and work. Less c l e a r i s how competency measures give p r a c t i c a l expression to these broad p o l i c y objectives at the l e v e l of routine c u r r i c u l a r and i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements. These issues form the central empirical focus of the thesis, through an in v e s t i g a t i o n of the work process of teachers and administrators involved i n implementing competency measures i n the college s e t t i n g . The central argument i s that competency measures e f f e c t a fundamental transformation i n the organization of curriculum decision making i n the college s e t t i n g . They accomplish the suppression of broad, long-term educational goals i n favour of narrow, short-term ones, as a means to increase " f l e x i b i l i t y " i n labour supply. They l i m i t the use of educational theory as the basis of curriculum decisions and replace i t with a set of i d e o l o g i c a l procedures for co n s t i t u t i n g "needs" and "requirements" r e l a t e d t o job performance. These changes are brought about i n p a r t through the i m p o s i t i o n of f o r m a l , documentary i n f o r m a t i o n systems t o r e p l a c e the d i s c r e t i o n a r y judgment and i n t e r p r e t i v e p r a c t i c e s of i n s t r u c t o r s , making the i n s t r u c t i o n a l p r o c e s s accountable w i t h i n a c e n t r a l l y determined p o l i c y p r o c e s s . Through t h i s r e - o r g a n i z a t i o n of e d u c a t i o n a l d ecision-making, l e a r n i n g i s d i s p l a c e d by managing as the form of p r a x i s which g i v e s shape t o c u r r i c u l a r o r g a n i z a t i o n . The form of competence t h a t i s brought i n t o b e i n g i s not a f e a t u r e of the performance a b i l i t y of i n d i v i d u a l s but an a s p e c t of "good management p r a c t i c e " i n e d u c a t i o n a l s e t t i n g s . i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract i i Acknowledgements v i Introduction 1 Competence: Finding the Phenomenon 3 Summary of the Argument 5 Generality and Limitations of the Argument 8 An Approach to C r i t i c a l S o c i a l Investigation 9 Overview of Chapters 13 1. Competency-based Education: A "Long and Unsuccessful History 18 Some Background to the Competency Movement 19 Panacea or Pandora's Box? 3 0 Toward A P o l i t i c a l Economy 40 2. I f Competency Is The Answer, What i s the Question? 46 Public P o l i c y and Ideological Discourse 48 The V o c a t i o n a l i s t Discourse Reconsidered 52 A Framework for Action 63 Conclusion 73 3. The S o c i a l Organization of Knowledge: An Approach to Inquiry 80 The S o c i a l Organization of Knowledge 81 Textually-Mediated Action 83 S o c i a l Relations: The Problematic of the Everyday World 88 Toward A C r i t i c a l Practice i n S o c i a l Science 99 Investigation i n Action 102 The Research Setting: West Coast College 104 The Research Process 106 4. Competence and "Educational Sense": The Standpoint of Instructors 109 The C o l l e g i a l Environment 110 The Competency Environment 113 "Very Real Reservations" 115 Impact on the Instructional Process 12 0 Changing the I n s t i t u t i o n a l Climate 122 C r i t i c i s m s of Task Analysis 125 Conclusion 129 i v 5. Task Analysis: The Science of 'Needs' 132 Empiricism and Vocational Learning 133 DACUM: A Framework for Education of Disadvantaged Adults 137 DACUM As a Tool of General Vocational Education 139 Planning for Success 141 Managing a Successful Outcome 145 • Needs' and 'Industry': An Assumed Relation 149 Conclusion 152 6. Task Analysis: The P o l i t i c s of 'Sufficiency* 157 The Workshop i n Action 159 Conclusion 179 7. "These Things Just Happen": The New Relations of Curriculum 183 Instructors as Subjects 187 Revision Meetings i n Action 193 Conclusion 209 8. Competence as "Good Management Practice" 212 The Problem of "Curriculum Creep" 213 The Problem of " I n s t i t u t i o n a l Pressure" 218 Competence as Objective Organization 225 Reform at an Arm's Length 232 Conclusion 238 9. Conclusion: Competence as A Soc i a l Relation 242 Educational C r i s i s , Ideology and Reform 24 6 Competence and Textual Mediation 247 P o l i t i c a l Economy and Micro-Analysis 250 Implications: Questions Neither Asked Nor Answered 253 Bibliography 260 v ACKNOWLE DGEMENTS A the s i s too, i s the product of p a r t i c u l a r s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of production, which t y p i c a l l y are obscured i n the f i n a l product. For the i n t e l l e c t u a l and material conditions of the work presented here I am greatly indebted to Jane Gaskell and Dorothy Smith, and f o r t h e i r encouragement and support over many years. To many friends, colleagues and comrades who have sustained me -mind, soul and body - i n the struggle to l i v e and work as an academic, an a c t i v i s t , a mother, and an honest human being, I owe a debt that I w i l l continue to s t r i v e to repay i n kind. They include Pramela Agrawal, Marie Campbell, Marguerite Cassin, Rita Chudnovsky, Richard D a r v i l l e , Kari Dehli, A l i c e DeWolf, Peter Grahame, B i l l Maciejko, L i n z i Manicom, Judith Marshall, Judith M i l l e n , Jake Muller, Roxana Ng, Matthew Sanger, George Smith, Loma Weir, and others who p a r t i c i p a t e d i n the ad hoc S o c i a l Organization of Knowledge seminars at the Ontario I n s t i t u t e for Studies i n Education. I want to acknowledge anonymously the many college educators and administrators i n B r i t i s h Columbia - at West Coast College, i n the (then) B.C. Ministry of Education, Post-Secondary Divi s i o n , and at the College-Institute Educators Association of B.C. - who generously shared t h e i r time and knowledge with me. I thank the S o c i a l Sciences and Humanities Research Council for a Doctoral Fellowship without which t h i s project would not have been possible, and f o r f i n a n c i a l support as a research assistant under Research Grant #410-85-0356. I am indebted to members of the Department of S o c i a l and Educational Studies at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia who have encouraged and supported my work, and to the Sociology Department, Ontario I n s t i t u t e for Studies i n Education, where I enjoyed v i s i t i n g status f o r two years while writing. For t h e i r s k i l l and endurance i n t r a n s c r i p t i o n I thank Kaari Fraser and Susan Kunanec. F i n a l l y , f o r her u n f a i l i n g good humour, f a i t h , and encouragement I want to thank my daughter Amanda. v i INTRODUCTION T h i s t h e s i s examines the a p p l i c a t i o n of the concept of competence and i t s a s s o c i a t e d c u r r i c u l u m p r a c t i c e s i n the p o s t -compulsory s e c t o r of v o c a t i o n a l / t e c h n i c a l e d u c a t i o n i n Canada i n the l a s t decade. In t h i s s e c t o r , the competency paradigm has ac h i e v e d major s i g n i f i c a n c e as a d e v i c e f o r a r t i c u l a t i n g e d u c a t i o n a l p o l i c y and p r a c t i c e t o the r e l a t i o n s o f c a p i t a l i n the c u r r e n t c l i m a t e of economic and s o c i a l r e s t r u c t u r i n g . T h i s c o n n e c t i o n i s most r e a d i l y v i s i b l e a t the l e v e l o f broad p u b l i c p o l i c y statements and p o l i t i c a l r h e t o r i c c a l l i n g f o r major reforms i n the r e l a t i o n between e d u c a t i o n and work. Less c l e a r , however, i s how competency measures g i v e p r a c t i c a l e x p r e s s i o n t o such p o l i c y o b j e c t i v e s a t the l e v e l o f r o u t i n e c u r r i c u l a r and i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements. These i s s u e s form the c e n t r a l focus of the t h e s i s , through an i n v e s t i g a t i o n of the work p r o c e s s of t e a c h e r s and a d m i n i s t r a t o r s i n v o l v e d i n implementing competency measures i n the c o l l e g e s e t t i n g . The competency paradigm has a l o n g h i s t o r y i n the p u b l i c s c h o o l systems of the U n i t e d S t a t e s where i t has been v a r i o u s l y b i l l e d as a means f o r making e d u c a t i o n a l g o a l s more e x p l i c i t , i n s t r u c t i o n a l methods more e f f e c t i v e , and s c h o o l systems more 1 accountable. In recent years the approach has been adapted for use at the post-compulsory l e v e l of education and t r a i n i n g i n Great B r i t a i n , A u s t r a l i a , the United States and Canada, as part of wide-spread p o l i c y i n i t i a t i v e s aimed at making vocational education more " e f f i c i e n t " , more "responsive" to the "needs" of industry, and better able to meet demands for increased " f l e x i b i l i t y " i n labour supply. However, underneath these claims and promises rages a great deal of controversy about the character and impact of competency measures. C r i t i c s charge that the approach i s " i r r a t i o n a l " , "dysfunctional", even "dangerous", and that i t i s "a mistake" which p e r s i s t s only as a "triumph of f a i t h over experience" (Holt 1987; Short 1984; Guthrie 1976; Arnstine 1975; Smith 1975; Ruth 1972). I t s more benign c r i t i c s r e f e r to the movement as "The Great American Educational Fad" (Spady 1977) or a "grand hoax": In our most pessimistic mood, my colleagues and I fear the [competency] movement could degenerate into a grand hoax, a perpetuation of an i l l u s i o n that students are more competent when a l l that has been done i s to r e s h u f f l e the old deck, while mumbling some new jargon. The semblance of reform and i t s substance are very d i f f e r e n t things (Grant 1979:15). The t h e s i s w i l l address these controversies and apparent contradictions surrounding the competency movement and attempt to sit u a t e them within the framework of a p o l i t i c a l economy of education. 2 C O M P E T E N C E : F INDING T H E PHENOMENON The terms "competence" and "competency-based" have come to be used i n a great many ways, and applied to a considerable range of educational practices. As a r e s u l t , many observers have pointed out that the meaning of the terms themselves i s no longer clear, that they are " r i f e with conceptual confusions" (Smith 1975:1). However, for the purposes of t h i s t h esis, such "confusion" provides f e r t i l e i n v e s t i g a t i v e ground, and I s h a l l be r e l a t i v e l y unconcerned with the problem of d e f i n i t i o n , per se. This i s not simply because both proponents and c r i t i c s of the competency method a t t e s t to the d i f f i c u l t y , i f not f u t i l i t y , of e f f o r t s to fi n d a stable meaning for the terms "competence" or "competency-based" t 1 ] . I t i s also because a d e f i n i t i o n a l approach to the phenomenon of competence runs counter to the fundamental l o g i c of the inquiry undertaken here. That i s , my intention i s to seek an understanding of these concepts as the product of the inquiry, not as i t s s t a r t i n g place. Such an in v e s t i g a t i v e stance has been described as getting "the f e e l " f o r the "presence of the subject matter". At the outset of an investigation, i t i s not so much the i n t e l l e c t u a l f a c u l t y for making formulas and d e f i n i t i o n s that leads the way, but rather i t i s the eyes and hands attempting to get the f e e l of the actual presence of the subject matter (Volosinov 1973:45). Following t h i s approach, the analysis w i l l focus not on what the terms "competence" and "competency-based" mean, but on how they have been used. [ 2] In p a r t i c u l a r , I w i l l explore how these 3 terms have been u t i l i z e d i n a p o l i c y context - the demands, claims, and promises with which they have come to be associated. Having said t h i s , there are a number of ways that the concepts "competence" and "competency-based" have been used which I have not pursued with the "eyes and hands" of my research, and i t may be useful to make t h i s c l e a r from the outset. In p a r t i c u l a r , many educators have come to understand the competency approach pr i m a r i l y as a form of innovation i n methods of t e s t i n g and evaluation, one which has attracted the support of progressive educators with the promise of making educational assessment more objective and more democratic. The minimum competency t e s t i n g movement i n the United States public schools i s the most h i g h - p r o f i l e expression of t h i s form of the competency approach (see Jaeger and T i t t l e 1980). My inve s t i g a t i o n does not pursue t h i s path. Rather, primary attention i s given here to an equally pervasive but les s widely discussed aspect of the competency approach: i t s contribution to the s e t t i n g of educational goals and objectives and the provision of i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements through which such objectives may be made operational i n the i n s t r u c t i o n a l environment. The United States* Fund f o r the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) r e f e r s to t h i s development i n the following way: Recently, the concept of competence or competency has entered the language of educational reform to describe e f f o r t s to reformulate the structures of postsecondary education on the basis of c l e a r l y defined objectives (FIPSE, quoted i n Wise 1979:197). 4 Following t h i s l i n e of investigation, t h i s t h e s i s w i l l explore how "competence" comes into being as a s o c i a l l y organized phenomenon, i n and through a p a r t i c u l a r organization of r e l a t i o n s among ins t r u c t o r s , administrators and employers i n the process of curriculum decision-making. These r e l a t i o n s are outlined i n b r i e f below. SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT The central argument of the thesis i s that competency-based curriculum organization constitutes a highly i d e o l o g i c a l form of state mediation of the process of vocational/technical education. Through i t , the forms of s o c i a l organization which derive from the r e l a t i o n s of domination by c a p i t a l over labour are embedded in the organization of the educational process i t s e l f . This form of organization i s imported into l o c a l educational settings by means of a systematic approach to curriculum decision-making b u i l t into the routine management system of the college, a r t i c u l a t i n g the l o c a l action of educators to the public p o l i c y arena. In p r a c t i c e , t h i s transformation takes place through the routine procedures for c u r r i c u l a r design and decision-making s p e c i f i e d by the competency approach, which are subjected to det a i l e d examination i n the empirical chapters of the th e s i s . I 5 w i l l show that these procedures systematically block the use of conventional educational models for the formulation of learning objectives and i n s e r t i n t h e i r place methods which appropriate the learning process to serve conditions for p r o d u c t i v i t y i n the workplace. Using these methods, the sympathy and commitment to broad-based learning expressed by educators i s harnessed and subordinated to short-term s k i l l requirements i n the workplace. T r a d i t i o n a l concepts of educational achievement are subordinated to short term objectives of job entry and work performance. Concern for the maximization of i n d i v i d u a l p o t e n t i a l through education and t r a i n i n g opportunities i s displaced by the long-term i n t e r e s t s of c a p i t a l i n r e t a i n i n g control over the work process. A l l of these transformative processes w i l l be examined here, not i n the abstract, but i n t h e i r everyday p r a c t i c e i n the college s e t t i n g . Competency measures also ensure that t r a d i t i o n a l educational methods and concerns which "disrupt" and "hamper" t h i s designated c u r r i c u l a r focus are excluded from the framework of i n s t i t u t i o n a l action. Instructors are removed as the primary authority for curriculum, and reassigned to act as the implementers of the educational decisions of others. Procedures for ensuring adherence to t h i s form of the c u r r i c u l a r process are embedded i n the routine arrangements for i n d i v i d u a l , program and i n s t i t u t i o n a l accountability within the college system. Individual actions are thus rendered routinely administerable within the terms of public p o l i c y objectives. 6 This transformation i n i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements i s accomplished i n part by the imposition of formal, documentary information systems to replace the discretionary judgment and in t e r p r e t i v e practices of teachers i n curriculum decision-making. In the documentary mode, the presence of students and instructors as a c t i v e subjects of the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process i s obscured. In t h e i r place appears an o b j e c t i f i e d accounting system designed to make the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process reportable/accountable within i n s t i t u t i o n a l goals and objectives. In t h i s context, competency measures become an aspect of "good management p r a c t i c e " i n educational settings. F i n a l l y , the analysis undertakes to demonstrate that the use of competency measures to constitute educational objectives involves a transformation i n the inte r e s t s and methods of knowing that drive educational decision-making. In p a r t i c u l a r , the standpoint of the curriculum undergoes a r a d i c a l s h i f t from a focus on the learning process to the problem of s a t i s f y i n g the imperatives of a managerial process within the state. As such, the curriculum process i t s e l f grows increasingly unresponsive to "needs" as conceptualized from an educational perspective, or from the standpoint of the inte r e s t s of in d i v i d u a l s as learners. This arrangement of accountability for action makes the competency paradigm increasingly impervious to the kinds of c r i t i c i s m s to which i t i s subjected from educators, both theoreticians and p r a c t i t i o n e r s a l i k e , contributing to i t s 7 d u r a b i l i t y or i t s tendency t o c o n t i n u a l l y re-appear i n "new t r a p p i n g s " (Goodlad 1975:10). GENERALITY AND LIMITATIONS OF THE ARGUMENT The a n a l y s i s I have undertaken i n t h i s t h e s i s i s based on, and i s meant t o speak f o r developments i n the v o c a t i o n a l / t e c h n i c a l s e c t o r ( i . e . " a p p l i e d programs") i n the Canadian C o l l e g e system. V a r i o u s Canadian s t u d i e s c i t e d here i n d i c a t e t h a t the competency measures I have examined are w i d e l y i n use a c r o s s the Canadian p r o v i n c e s . [ 3] O u t s i d e of Canada, e x i s t i n g s t u d i e s suggest t h a t s i m i l a r approaches t o i n s t r u c t i o n a l management are b e i n g adapted f o r use i n n o n - v o c a t i o n a l s e t t i n g s as w e l l , such as f o u r - y e a r l i b e r a l a r t s programs i n the U n i t e d S t a t e s (see Grant e t a l 1979). To the e x t e n t t h a t t h i s i s t r u e , i t may be u s e f u l t o t r e a t some a s p e c t s of the e x p e r i e n c e of competency-based reforms i n the a p p l i e d programs s e c t o r as an i n d i c a t i o n o f what c o u l d o c c u r i n o t h e r areas of post-compulsory e d u c a t i o n as w e l l . I a l s o want t o p o i n t out the s i m i l a r i t i e s between the developments r e p o r t e d here i n the c o l l e g e s e c t o r and many of the i s s u e s w i t h which p u b l i c s c h o o l t e a c h e r s have been s t r u g g l i n g i n r e c e n t y e a r s i n Canada, Great B r i t a i n , and the U n i t e d S t a t e s . I n p a r t i c u l a r , I am t h i n k i n g o f the growing concern about the impact of e d u c a t i o n a l reforms i n the e i g h t i e s on the o r g a n i z a t i o n of the t e a c h i n g p r o f e s s i o n , i n c l u d i n g l o s s of autonomy, e x c l u s i o n from 8 the processes of curriculum design, increased accountability for and monitoring of i n s t r u c t i o n a l a c t i v i t y , new teacher assessment schemes, new management structures for schools, etc.; the l i s t of reforms i s long. According to Walker and Barton (1987:xi) the impact of such p o l i c i e s , " i s a "fundamental s h i f t i n where and how the educational system i s controlled and managed". [ 4] The relevance of the present study of the college system to these developments i n the public school sector i s not i d i o s y n c r a t i c or accidental. They are related to one another as the r e s u l t of an increasingly hegemonic management discourse [ 5] which i s being applied across national boundaries and geographic l o c a l i t i e s and across f i e l d s of endeavor, as part of a process of contemporary s o c i a l transformation i n the context of c a p i t a l i s t c r i s i s . In t h i s context, the relevance of the developments studied here could be said to resonate not only beyond the vocational/technical sector, and indeed beyond the education sector i n general, but to the question of how of the r e l a t i o n s of c a p i t a l i s t domination are organized i n and through the routine work processes of contemporary i n s t i t u t i o n a l l i f e . This study takes some tentative steps i n the d i r e c t i o n of such an understanding. AN APPROACH TO CRITICAL SOCIAL INVESTIGATION The in v e s t i g a t i o n undertaken here i s situated within the study of the s o c i a l organization of knowledge, an area of 9 s o c i o l o g y concerned w i t h the e x p l o r a t i o n of i d e o l o g i c a l modes of s o c i a l a c t i o n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of contemporary c o r p o r a t e s o c i e t y . T h i s framework i n t r o d u c e s some t h e o r e t i c a l , m e t h o d o l o g i c a l , and p o l i t i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s t h a t are p a r t of an agenda f o r c r i t i c a l p r a c t i c e i n the s o c i a l s c i e n c e s . S i n c e the t h e s i s addresses i t s e l f , both d i r e c t l y and i n d i r e c t l y , t o some of t h e s e i s s u e s , I w i l l commment b r i e f l y on how they r e l a t e t o the e m p i r i c a l i n q u i r y undertaken here. In b roadest t h e o r e t i c a l terms, the n o t i o n of ' c u r r i c u l u m ' i s approached here from a n o n - p o s i t i v i s t p e r s p e c t i v e . I t i s seen as an a c t i v e s o c i a l p r o c e s s , c o n s t i t u t e d i n and through a s p e c i f i c o r g a n i z a t i o n o f r e l a t i o n s among p a r t i e s w i t h v a r y i n g i n t e r e s t s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s v i s - a - v i s the i n s t r u c t i o n a l p r o c e s s . In t h i s view, c u r r i c u l u m r e p r e s e n t s not a f i x e d e n t i t y but an ongoing s o c i a l r e l a t i o n , and a nerve c e n t e r o f the s o c i a l / p o l i t i c a l / h i s t o r i c a l l i f e o f e d u c a t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . I want t o argue t h a t t h i s approach t o c u r r i c u l a r p r o c e s s e s i s c e n t r a l t o the p o s s i b i l i t y of a p o l i t i c i a l economy o f e d u c a t i o n , a l t h o u g h i t i s a type of a n a l y s i s which i s not f r e q u e n t l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a p o l i t i c a l economy p e r s p e c t i v e . A b r i e f example here w i l l be i l l u m i n a t i n g . I have found v e r y i n f o r m a t i v e , and have r e l i e d upon i n my work, a r e c e n t a n a l y s i s of the use of competency measures i n p r i v a t e s e c t o r t r a i n i n g i n i t i a t i v e s which i l l u s t r a t e s a l e v e l of a n a l y s i s more r e a d i l y i d e n t i f i a b l e w i t h p o l i t i c a l economy. T h i s a n a l y s i s f o c u s s e s b r o a d l y on p r o c e s s e s 1 0 of labour market management which i t i d e n t i f i e s as the work of "coordinating the stock of labour ... within the comprehensively managed r e l a t i o n s of hegemony of c a p i t a l " (Smith and Smith 1987). While I see my own investi g a t i o n as ultimately concerned with t h i s same problem of "comprehensive management" and the "hegemony of c a p i t a l " i t i s focussed at a very d i f f e r e n t l e v e l of generality. That i s , my investi g a t i o n begins within the college system, with a population of college i n s t r u c t o r s who do not see t h e i r d a i l y work routines as having anything whatsoever to do with the "comprehensive management of the hegemony of c a p i t a l . " Were I to propose t h i s framework to them, they would say, indeed did say to me i n various ways, "Forget i t , that's nonsense. I t doesn't matter what the curriculum says. I've been teaching for f i f t e e n years, and I j u s t close my door and teach what I please." My own loc a t i o n i n the o v e r a l l enterprise of a p o l i t i c a l economy of education i s oriented to responding to t h i s i n s t r u c t o r . I want to demonstrate how her own everyday experience, the mundane work i n which she i s engaged such as defining and teaching "telephone answering s k i l l s " , i s part of a transformation that may be understood as the comprehensive management of the hegemony of c a p i t a l . I would argue that t h i s l e v e l of micro-analysis i s ultimately c e n t r a l to the r e a l i z a t i o n of a f u l l y developed and m a t e r i a l i s t p o l i t i c a l economy. Next, I am concerned with the problem of t h e o r e t i c a l adequacy of the c r i t i c a l stances which dominate educational thinking. In the case of competency-based education, c r i t i c a l research has 11 been undertaken f o r over a decade, documenting the f a i l u r e s , paradoxes and contradictions of competency measures i n practi c e . As a product of t h i s research, the dominant mode of understanding among educators who oppose these measures, both i n the l i t e r a t u r e and i n my own research findings, i s that they are " i r r a t i o n a l " and "dysfunctional". In the words of one college i n s t r u c t o r interviewed f o r my research, the competency approach looks l i k e "the b r a i n c h i l d of somebody with a small brain." On the other side of the controversy, among administrators who advocate competency approaches, the resistance of fa c u l t y i s interpreted as "symptomatic of laziness, ignorance, s e l f - i n t e r e s t or general incompetence" (Macdonald-Ross 1975:355). Again, t h i s view of fac u l t y resistance dominates both the l i t e r a t u r e and my own research findings. Neither stance i s adequate f o r the purposes of a c r i t i c a l s o c i a l science. By contrast, I want to propose a c r i t i c a l framework which accounts for the persistence of competency measures by displaying both how and for whom competency measures may be seen as both i n t e l l i g e n t and r a t i o n a l , and which displays the grounds for opposition to competency as other than the "recalcitrance of l o c a l professionals" (Johnson 1984:41) or the "love of incompetence" (Macdonald-Ross 1975:380). Most important i n t h i s line-up of background issues, i t should be c l e a r from the foregoing that I am concerned i n various ways with mending the r i f t between so-called 'micro' and 'macro' l e v e l s of s o c i a l analysis. The s i g n i f i c a n c e of t h i s problem cuts across a l l other considerations of theory and method and brings 12 us face to face with the p o l i t i c s of s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c knowledge. The methodological stance employed here i s concerned to make possible the exploration of broad questions of s o c i a l 'theory 1, ( i . e . "How i s domination organized i n education?"), from a lo c a t i o n within the messy world of ordinary experience and consciousness, the dilemmas of everyday l i f e . Only i n t h i s mode does s o c i a l science o f f e r the promise of i n t e r s e c t i n g with p o l i t i c a l action by contributing to the development of the "t h e o r e t i c a l basis f o r an oppositional knowledge" (Donald 1979:17). Only here l i e s the p o t e n t i a l , as Marx enjoined, not only to know the world, but to change i t . F i n a l l y , one point of c l a r i f i c a t i o n . I want to be cl e a r from the outset that the inv e s t i g a t i o n undertaken here includes no examination of actual classroom i n s t r u c t i o n . This i s not an oversight. Curriculum decision-making, not teaching practice, i s the focus of inquiry. Explored here are the changing s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s within which i n s t r u c t i o n a l a c t i v i t i e s are conceived and governed under the competency paradigm. This i s an active s o c i a l process of which in s t r u c t o r s are an i n t e g r a l part, which form the terms and conditions under which teaching takes place, whether the classroom doors are open or closed. OVERVIEW OF CHAPTERS Chapter One examines the competency paradigm [ 6 ] , i t s promises and i t s contradictions. I t surveys the popularity of 13 the approach i n the American public schools, i t s recent adoption i n the post-compulsory sector, and i t s legacy of controversy for bringing "profound and unanticipated consequences" to the educational settings where i t has been implemented. Chapter Two situates discussion of competency i n a broad c r i t i c a l perspective on educational p o l i c y discourse i n the context of the current economic c r i s i s . I t argues that the competency paradigm i s part of an o v e r a l l s h i f t i n the o r i e n t a t i o n of public education and t r a i n i n g p o l i c y from the standpoint of i n d i v i d u a l needs to the standpoint of the employer. The power of competency-based curriculum rests i n i t s capacity to t r a n s l a t e t h i s p o l i c y o r i e n t a t i o n into practice i n the l o c a l college s e t t i n g . Chapter Three explores the d e t a i l e d problems of method encountered i n undertaking empirical inquiry i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge. I t discusses the t h e o r e t i c a l and methdological premises for the use of both textual and v e r b a l / i n t e r a c t i v e data as a resource for i n v e s t i g a t i o n . F i n a l l y , the chapter introduces the reader to the research s e t t i n g and provides a b r i e f description of the process of data c o l l e c t i o n . Chapter Four begins the exploration of competency measures in p r a c t i c e through the eyes of inst r u c t o r s i n the college s e t t i n g . I t searches out t h e i r understandings, intentions and expectations concerning the previously e x i s t i n g i n s t r u c t i o n a l process and 14 about competency based reforms, and t h e i r most recent experiences during the introduction of competency measures i n t h e i r department. The analysis interrogates t h e i r sense of c o n f l i c t and contradiction about the impact of these measures as a source of d i r e c t i o n f o r further i n v e s t i g a t i o n . Chapters Five and Six examine the central t o o l of competency reforms being undertaken i n t h i s college s e t t i n g , the use of a task analysis workshop to e s t a b l i s h current parameters and objectives f o r i n s t r u c t i o n i n selected programs. The analysis focusses on the process of s o c i a l construction through which the ce n t r a l concepts of 'needs' and ' s u f f i c i e n c y ' are brought to bear on the determination of educational objectives. I t stresses the i d e o l o g i c a l character of the basic tools of the competency approach. Chapter Seven explicates the process of "realignment" within the curriculum decision-making process which i s at the heart of the "effectiveness" of competency procedures. I t h i g h l i g h t s the impact which these new i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements have on i n s t r u c t o r s , s h i f t i n g the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process farther from t h e i r control and imposing new parameters and c r i t e r i a for the sense of professionalism to which instruc t o r s c o l l e c t i v e l y lay claim. I t displays the mediating e f f e c t of textual processes of i n s t i t i t u t i o n a l communication and action on the i n t e r a c t i o n among ins t r u c t o r s and administrators. 15 Chapter Eight demonstrates how these reorganized r e l a t i o n s within the d a i l y work process are a r t i c u l a t e d to the administrative practices of the college and the state. I t argues that the documents of the curriculum process make an "accounting" not of student learning but of administrative and i n s t i t u t i o n a l performance i n the context of a dominant discourse i n public p o l i c y . 16 ENDNOTES (INTRODUCTION) 1. The following d e f i n i t i o n s are widely quoted. The f i r s t i s from the U.S. Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE): "Competence i s the state or q u a l i t y of being capable of adequate performance. Individuals are described as competent i f they can meet or surpass the p r e v a i l i n g standard of adequacy f o r a p a r t i c u l a r a c t i v i t y (quoted i n Wise, 1979:197). The second i s from William Spady, a leading proponent of the competency approach: "[Competency Based Education i s ] a data-based, adaptive, performance-oriented set of integrated processes that f a c i l i t a t e , measure, record and c e r t i f y within the context of f l e x i b l e time parameters the demonstration of known, e x p l i c i t l y stated, and agreed upon learning outcomes that r e f l e c t successful functioning i n l i f e r o l e s . " (Spady 1977:10) 2. See Chapter Three for a more extensive discussion of the methodological implications of t h i s stance. 3. See Muller (1987, forthcoming), Hart (1987), Fox and Boone (1979), Prokopec (1978) (Sinnett) 1975). 4. See also Apple (1986), Kliebard (1986) Apple and Weiss (1983), Wolpe and Donald (1983), Kogan (1986), Wise (1979). 5. For an analysis of contemporary management discourse, see Cassin (forthcoming). 6. The concept of "paradigm" i s used here to represent an i d e n t i f i a b l e framework for thinking which holds sway for a period of time i n a given f i e l d of endeavor. Of course, as Kuhn (1962) reminds us, such frameworks are never s t a t i c , but occur i n a dynamic h i s t o r i c a l process, i n which t h e i r transformation i s ongoing. A recognition of t h i s dynamic q u a l i t y i s intended i n my use of the term. 17 CHAPTER ONE COMPETENCY-BASED EDUCATION: A "LONG AND UNSUCESSFUL" HISTORY C 1] The story of competency-based education poses a dilemma which i s a l l too f a m i l i a r to c r i t i c s of educational p o l i c y . That i s , there e x i s t s at l e a s t a decade of scholarship, t h e o r e t i c a l c r i t i q u e and empirical research o r i g i n a t i n g i n philosophy, psychology, l i n g u i s t i c and learning theory, and sociology, [ 2] which argues i n various ways that the competency paradigm has not and probably w i l l not "improve learning" (Wise 1979; H a l l and Jones 1976) i n many of the educational contexts where i t has been applied. To borrow words from Henry Giroux [ 3 ] , the competency approach appears to "begin with the wrong problems, ... misrepresent the problems i t endorses and ... advocate the wrong solutions" (1984:188). Yet the paradigm p e r s i s t s , indeed p r o l i f e r a t e s as "new generations" of the competency model are introduced, a l l claiming to benefit from the "mistakes of the past" ( C o l l i n s 1987; Gamson 1979). This chapter w i l l review the controversial career of competency-based education, recounting both the promises made for i t and the charges l e v e l l e d against i t . In the end, I w i l l argue that these perspectives, taken s i n g l y or together, do not add up to an adequate account of the power and the persistence of the competency paradigm, although each makes an important 18 contribution i n t h i s d i r e c t i o n . The remedy fo r these shortcomings w i l l be explored i n Chapter Two. SOME BACKGOUND TO THE COMPETENCY MOVEMENT The competency movement has recently been described as "the l a t e s t term for a long-standing b e l i e f i n the p o s s i b i l i t y of fool-proof, all-powerful technique i n education" (Johnson 1984:41; see also Wise 1979; McDermott 1976). The "long-standing b e l i e f " to which Johnson r e f e r s i s traceable to the s c i e n t i f i c management movement i n education at the turn of the century i n North America. Indeed, according to Herbert Kleibard, the competency movement represents the "triumph" of s c i e n t i f i c management: ... [ I ] t should be c l e a r to anyone f a m i l i a r with the current state of the art i n the curriculum world that the s c i e n t i f i c curriculum movement, with few adaptations and modifications, has been triumphant (Kliebard 1975:34). This view of the s i g n i f i c a n t roots of competency methods departs, at l e a s t i n emphasis, from the popular wisdom which locates the relevant antecedents of competency i n behavioural psychology and i n i t s attendant hopes for more e f f e c t i v e as well as more democratic forms of i n s t r u c t i o n and assessment. While the importance of t h i s heritage i s not to be underestimated, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n securing support f o r competency measures from many progressive-minded educators, i t i s nevertheless not the focus of i n v e s t i g a t i o n i n t h i s t h e s i s . The j u s t i f i c a t i o n for 19 t h i s choice of emphasis w i l l , I hope, be self-evident as the th e s i s unfolds. The educational reforms of the heyday of s c i e n t i f i c manangement l a i d the groundwork for the competency movement of today not only by i n s t a l l i n g i n the educational community a generalized acceptance of science as the model fo r progressive reform of education, but also by developing some of the s p e c i f i c techniques which remain to t h i s day as prominant features of the competency approach. These include the d e t a i l e d , e m p i r i c a l l y -oriented s p e c i f i c a t i o n of learning objectives, i n s t r u c t i o n a l procedures and methods of evaluation (see Bobbitt 1918, 1913; Charters 1923) as well as the use of documentary accounting procedures to represent the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process i n terms that make i t amenable to decision-making based on administrative considerations (see Spaulding 1913; Ayres 1915, 1909; Strayer and Thorndike 1913; Cubberley 1919, 1916). A reading of these h i s t o r i c a l documents makes the p o l i c y discussion of the 1980's f e e l l i k e deia vu. We f i n d outlined i n them the major elements of the 1980's approach to both basic s k i l l s and accountability, including those factors which are s t i l l at the center of controversy: The c e n t r a l theory i s simple. Human l i f e , however varied, consists i n the performance of s p e c i f i c a c t i v i t i e s . Education that prepares for l i f e i s one that prepares d e f i n i t e l y and adequately for these s p e c i f i c a c t i v i t i e s . However numerous and diverse they may be f o r any s o c i a l c l a s s , they can be discovered. This requires only that one go out into the world of a f f a i r s and discover the 20 p a r t i c u l a r s of which these a f f a i r s consist. These w i l l show the a b i l i t i e s , attitudes, habits, appreciations, and forms of knowledge that men need. These w i l l be the objectives of the curriculum. They w i l l be numerous, d e f i n i t e and p a r t i c u l a r i z e d . The curriculum w i l l then be that se r i e s of experiences which children and youth must have by way of at t a i n i n g those objectives (Bobbitt 1918:42). The impact of such " s c i e n t i f i c s p e c i f i c a t i o n " , according to Bobbitt, i s far-reaching. I t a l t e r s the student's approach to learning, the teacher's approach to teaching, and the capacity of the superintendent to oversee the educational process. Systematic r e l i a n c e on objective standards and scales allows "the pup i l [to] know d e f i n i t e l y what i s expected of him", each teacher to "know at a l l times whether she i s accomplishing the things expected of her", the p r i n c i p a l to "judge ... whether ... the course of t r a i n i n g given by a l l h i s teachers [ i s ] ... weak or strong", and "so on throughout the entir e supervisory l i n e " . The superintendent, by glancing over h i s tables and graphs, "can locate i n s t a n t l y the strong, the mediocre, and the weak" among a l l h i s subordinates (Bobbitt 1918:16-39). Furthermore, advocates of the s c i e n t i f i c approach stress i t s importance not only as a means of maintaining i n t e r n a l control, but also of f a c i l i t a t i n g e f f e c t i v e communication between educators and school boards and the communities on which they depend. With methods for s c i e n t i f i c s p e c i f i c a t i o n of standards and achievement, Bobbitt argues that the school superintendent "can t a l k a language that can be understood by the community", and thus can "bring the board to see the nature of the problem". "Facts" and " s c i e n t i f i c evidence" provide 21 ... unanswerable arguments on the basis of which to urge improvement i n the q u a l i t y of teachers, i n the q u a l i t y of books, i n the q u a l i t y of buildings, i n the s i z e of classes, i n methods employed by the teachers, and every other thing that makes for increased e f f i c i e n c y (Bobbitt 1913:31-32). These early documents amply display the h i s t o r i c a l ancestry of contemporary approaches to improvement i n the s p e c i f i c i t y , e f f i c i e n c y and accountability of education. But the refinement of these methods did not stop with the f i r s t wave of s c i e n t i f i c management. In the intervening years, the development of systems thought as the basis of management theory has brought new strength to the s c i e n t i f i c approach to education, including a "broader i n t e l l e c t u a l undergirding and l o g i c a l s o p h i s t i c a t i o n " than that of i t s ancestors at the turn of the century (James 1969:20; Wise 1979; Kleibard 1975). These developments led to a "new c u l t of e f f i c i e n c y " (James 1969; Callahan 1962) known as the "accountability movement" from which the contemporary version of competency measures emerged. The f i r s t widespread ap p l i c a t i o n of so-called accountability measures came i n the Unites States under the umbrella of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, T i t l e I. This was a compensatory program for disadvantaged childr e n which mandated on an unprecedented scale a systematic approach to educational program design, evaluation and reporting. Proponents of the scheme argued that i t would take the guesswork out of education by providing systematic information about what worked and what didn't and at what cost. The r e s u l t would be to reform 22 the l o c a l p r a c t i c e and governance of education f o r poor children and to make federal decision-making more e f f i c i e n t (McLaughlin, 1975). The T i t l e I framework led to the adoption of "accountability l e g i s l a t i o n " i n over 30 states by the mid 1970's, marking the beginning of what came to be c a l l e d the competency "bandwagon" (Spady 1977; Wise 1979). T i t l e I l e g i s l a t i o n i n education was part of a broader reform movement within the United States federal government which focussed on the adoption of a new management system known as PPBS - Planning-Programming-Budgeting System - throughout the federal bureaucracy. The PPB System had i t s o r i g i n s i n the United States Department of Defense where i t had been h a i l e d as a means to develop "program goals that could be stated, measured and evaluated i n cost benefit terms" and thus "to improve the e f f i c i e n c y with which public resources are used" (McLaughlin 1975:6; House 1978:389). In the summer of 1965, when T i t l e I was announced, changes were already underway to implement PPBS i n the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Under the terms of T i t l e I l e g i s l a t i o n , reporting systems u t i l i z i n g the PPBS approach to accountability spread l i k e w i l d f i r e throughout the public school systems of the United States. While the design and app l i c a t i o n of the approach varied considerably from j u r i s d i c t i o n to j u r i s d i c t i o n , these systems had in common the adaptation of various techniques of management science to focus on the "output" of the educational system. In 23 an excellent study of these developments e n t i t l e d Legislated  Learning. Wise (1979) refe r s to the wide range of such measures i n education as the "accountability lexicon", i n which he includes "at l e a s t the following": competency-based education, performance-based education, learner v e r i f i c a t i o n , behavioral objectives, master learning, criterion-referenced t e s t i n g , performance contracting, planning/programming/budgeting systems (PPBS), management-by-objectives (MBO), systems analysis, program evaluation and review technique (PERT), management information systems (MIS), cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, systems engineering, and zero-based budgeting" (Wise, 1979:12-13). The movement which spawned these measures was marked by a strong r h e t o r i c a l appeal to "common sense", well i l l u s t r a t e d i n the work of A l i c e R i v l i n , who was one of the major proponents of PPBS i n Washington, and one of those hired to i n s t a l l i t i n the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. PPBS seems to me simply a commonsense approach to decision making. Anyone faced with the problem of running a government program, or indeed, any large organization, would want to take these steps to assure a good job.... Hardly anyone e x p l i c i t l y favors a return to muddling through ( R i v l i n 1971:1). The common sense q u a l i t y of PPBS-style measures depends upon a set of systematic procedures for decision making and action i n i n s t i t u t i o n a l settings. This systematic character i s evident i n the main features of the competency approach, summarized i n the statement "outcome goals are made e x p l i c i t and agreed upon i n advance" (Spady 1980:467). Each of these main features i s explored b r i e f l y below. 24 The importance assigned to es t a b l i s h i n g goals i s highlighted by Dale P a r n e l l , a leading proponent of competency-based education who argued i n the mid-1970 1s that "there i s nothing b a s i c a l l y wrong with the American education system except fuzzy goals. . . . Every organization or system requires c l e a r goals or targets. When the goals are fuzzy or out of focus, everything i n the organization takes on the same complexion (Parnell 1978:19). For P a r n e l l , the solut i o n was obvious: some "clear outcomes si g n a l s " to rescue the school system from being a "non-system". ...[T]he schooling experience i s chaotic unless a p o l i c y demand i s made upon the school system and c l e a r outcomes signals are given. The system i s not r e a l l y a system; i t i s a non-system ... a cottage industry [where] ... each person does h i s or her own thing (Parnell 1978:19). Previous strategies for goal s e t t i n g i n North American education, according to Wise (1979), have favoured the s t a t i n g of goals e i t h e r at a high l e v e l of abstraction or i n "exhaustive l i s t s " i n order to minimize the p o s s i b i l i t y of objections and disagreement. The problem has been that both strategies are a poor guide to p o l i c y - i n - p r a c t i c e . Competency-based approaches, by contrast, tend to emphasize goals which are "minimum, agreed-upon, measurable, [and] instrumental" as a means to greater c l a r i t y of purpose and cert a i n t y of r e s u l t s (Wise 1979:107). Goal s e t t i n g i n the competency approach begins with the idea that schools e x i s t to prepare students to enter society, to 25 s a t i s f y elementary expectations i n adult l i f e r o l e s . Thus "basic s k i l l s " and "basic education" are emphasized. Basic education and basic s k i l l s , ... r e f e r to minima, ... they are measurable, and they are instrumental. "Basic" can be construed as a synonym fo r minimum; basic i s basic; basic i s not advanced; basic i s without f r i l l s , without extra's (Wise 1979:110). The 'basic' approach i s said to "generate consensus": No one can be opposed to basic education; some may want more, but no one can object to providing at l e a s t the minimum. Basic does not generate dissent, at l e a s t not u n t i l the s p e c i f i c a t i o n of i t s contents goes beyond the mere l i s t i n g of l i t e r a c y and computational s k i l l s ... (Wise 1979:110). The next step i s to ensure that basic educational goals are stated i n terms of educational "outcomes". This i s increasingly being seen as the s i n g l e most important feature of the competency approach. Indeed, i n recent years the term "outcomes-based education" (OBE) i s coming into use as a generic term superceding "competency-based education" (CBE) (Spady 1982). In general terms i t means to "treat the framing and attainment of outcomes as the primary base of school operations" (Spady 1980:463). At i t s root, competency-based education i s an emphasis on r e s u l t s . I t c a l l s for agreed-upon performance indicators that r e f l e c t successful functioning i n l i f e r oles ... [and] focus[es] on r e s u l t s or outcomes rather than intentions or "inputs", that i s , on what the student can be shown to have achieved rather than what i n s t r u c t i o n was given (Parnell 1978:18). The process of e s t a b l i s h i n g " e x p l i c i t outcome goals" for the competency approach includes a "systematic procedure f o r agreement i n advance about the goals of the i n s t r u c t i o n a l 26 process" (Parnell 1978:19). This i s referred to as a system of "open communication" which i s said to render the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process s o c i a l , "... overcom[ing] the privacy of the i n d i v i d u a l classroom" (Gamson 1979:226). ... [E]ducators and the commmunities they serve w i l l together re-examine what i s to be taught ... [which] ... j u s t may r e s u l t i n a greater degree of congruence between the expectations of the students, the public, and the educators. Everyone w i l l have a c l e a r e r picture of what the schools are to accomplish (Parnell 1978:19). Part of the a t t r a c t i o n of such a process of "open communication" i s the aura of n e u t r a l i t y that i t c a r r i e s . I t i s said to produce a form of education which i s "devoid of i d e o l o g i c a l bias": In l o g i c a l terms, CBE i s devoid of i d e o l o g i c a l bias; presumably i t can accommodate any goals for education. Indeed, i t s acceptance i n the f i r s t instance may r e s u l t from t h i s i d e o l o g i c a l n e u t r a l i t y . The adoption of CBE requires a commitment only to a process, although, as we s h a l l see, that process shapes the goals of education (Wise 1979:107). Thus, the o v e r a l l appeal of the concept of competency i s said to l i e " i n i t s seductive suggestion of s i m p l i c i t y " (van Manen 1984:141). I t promotes the view that i n d i v i d u a l s , and not only young ones, are " i n s u f f i c i e n t l y competent f o r the widely evident tasks of society ..." (Reisman 1979:18-19) and that t h i s problem can be remedied through performance-based learning. Furthermore, "everyone" can have a c l e a r picture of the goals, and the r e s u l t s can be c l e a r l y demonstrated. This common sense message i s said to account for much of the appeal of competence as an educational slogan and to contribute to i t s " w i l d f i r e spread" (Fagan 1984:6) as an approach to administrative reform. 27 ... the s i m p l i s t i c nature of competency, i t s binary modality, i t s bonds with accountability, i t s v i s i b l e goals, i t s p l a titudes about the d o l l a r "buying a d o l l a r ' s worth of teaching" - these v i r t u e s comprising the nature of competency i n a f i s c a l l y r e t r e a t i n g economy - became a boon to l e g i s l a t o r s and to the media.... Competency, i t s supporters f e l t , would be as close to a panacea for educational i l l s as one might f i n d for the decade of the e i g h t i e s . Or at l e a s t that i s the r h e t o r i c supporting i t s adoption (Fagan 1984:8). In the post-compulsory sector i n p a r t i c u l a r , the promises associated with the competency approach have taken on a somewhat broader scope. Competency measures have come to be h a i l e d as the means to reform educational i n s t i t u t i o n s i n the context of technological change and socio-economic c r i s i s . In t h e i r various manifestations, competence-based reformers have attempted to subordinate the t r a d i t i o n a l d i s c i p l i n e s to some conception of competence, to be responsive to the concern f o r greater e f f i c i e n c y and cost effectiveness, to seek a c l o s e r f i t between an ever more c o s t l y system of higher education and the needs of a technological society for highly s k i l l e d workers ... (Elbow 1979:10-11). In t h i s context, the United States Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) has c a l l e d f o r the adoption of competency measures as a means to "re-examine" and "reformulate" the objectives of postsecondary education: Given the changes i n the technological and s o c i a l context that have taken place over the past two decades, the evidence that many graduates are i l l - p r e p a r e d for t h e i r vocational and professions, and the changing labour market, a c a r e f u l re-examination of i n s t i t u t i o n a l objectives seems not only appropriate but necessary (quoted i n Wise 1979:197). S i m i l a r l y the Economic Council of Canada (1987b:30) has declared that the education system "faces a profound challenge" i n 28 responding to the "accelerating pace of change" i n a "high-technology world". I t c a l l s for p o l i c i e s that w i l l "tighten" the l i n k s between business and education, introduce greater accou n t a b i l i t y f o r " e f f i c i e n c y " of educational i n s t i t u t i o n s , and make educational and t r a i n i n g programs more "responsive" to the "needs of industry" by producing " s p e c i f i c a l l y trained, but nevertheless f l e x i b l e , labour market p a r t i c i p a n t s " (Economic Council of Canada 1987b:35). Competency-based education i s said to "encapsulate[] the instrumental view of the process of education" c a l l e d for by these agencies (Wise 1979). I t promises that the "relevant elements of education" can be made to p r e v a i l i n educational programming, and toward t h i s end i t "appears to provide a means to a l l o c a t e i n s t r u c t i o n a l tasks, to specify expectations for performance, to circumscribe authority and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and to specify the aims of o f f i c i a l action" (Wise 1979:107). Thus, competency-based learning i s said to be "ready-made" f o r the educational concerns of our time (Gamson 1979), and to o f f e r "better dividends ... [to] ... the stockholders i n education" (Harris and Grede 1977:253). In the shadow of such sweeping promises, the competency paradigm has been adopted and adapted i n the post compulsory sector across the English speaking i n d u s t r i a l i z e d world. In Great B r i t a i n , the competency approach i s used i n courses offered under both the Technician Education Council and the Business 29 Education Council (see Cantor and Roberts 1986) as well as i n the massive t r a i n i n g empire of the Manpower Services Commission. In A u s t r a l i a , competency measures are widely i n use i n vocational programs at the Further Education and Post-Secondary l e v e l s (Harris et a l 1985; Harris 1982). In the United States, they are used i n two-year and even four-year post-secondary i n s t i t u t i o n s , including some l i b e r a l arts programs (see Grant 1979). In Canada, competency measures have been introduced by p r o v i n c i a l m i n i s t r i e s across the country at the technical and applied programs l e v e l i n colleges and vocational/technical i n s t i t u t e s (Muller 1987 and forthcoming; Hart 1987; Fox and Boone 1979; Prokopec 1978; Sinnett 1975). PANACEA OR PANDORA'S BOX? In s p i t e of i t s common sense appeal and the promise of id e o l o g i c a l n e u t r a l i t y , the upshot of over two decades of experience with various competency-based educational innovations i s a fury of controversy and contradictions. Not only have these measures f a i l e d to achieve t h e i r intended r e s u l t s , but also they have come to be seen as the cause of "profound, unanticipated, and unexamined changes i n the conception and operation of education" (Wise 1979:ix). In the public schools sector, c r i t i c s of competency have long ago come to the conclusion that the approach " f a i l s to do 30 j u s t i c e to the complexity of the educational enterprise (Smith 1975:1). On the contrary, the competency approach i s variously sa i d to be "dysfunctional" (Guthrie 1976) even "dangerous" (Holt 1987; Ruth 1972) and to "show no better promise fo r c o n t r o l l i n g the dark uncertainties that l i e i n our future than witchcraft, or even, perhaps, prayer" (James 1969:30). The disappointing outcomes of competency i n i t i a t i v e s are described by Goodlad (1979, 1975), who points out simply that "things are not getting better" under the new a c c o u n t a b i l i t y model, and by McLaughlin (1975), who, on the basis of a painstakingly d e t a i l e d analysis of the American T i t l e I i n i t i a t i v e , concludes that: [T]he r e s u l t , a f t e r 7 years, more than $52 m i l l i o n , and a number of a l t e r n a t i v e evaluation paradigms, has been evaluation that has f a i l e d to meet the expectations of reformers, or even to serve the s e l f i n t e r e s t of federal program managers (McLaughlin 1 9 7 5 : v i i i ) . In the post-compulsory sector, competency-based approaches are s i m i l a r l y coming to be associated with disenchantment and disruption. The growing ranks of c r i t i c s charge that the approach rests "on a foundation of high sounding r h e t o r i c and pious promises" (Kliebard 1975:36) but, i n p r a c t i c e , w i l l "only achieve something that, at the end of the day, w i l l not be worth having" (Grosch 1987:161). I n i t i a t i n g and maintaining a competency system i s said to put a heavy burden on i n s t r u c t o r s , creating a d d i t i o n a l f a c u l t y duties which are l a r g e l y unanalyzed and unrewarded by the administration (CIEA 1988; Gamson 1979). [ 4] 31 Many ins t r u c t o r s are said to lack experience with the p r i n c i p l e s and mechanics of the competency format and with what some c a l l i t s "unspeakable jargon", making curriculum preparation arduous and time consuming, and producing "ragged and exhausted" f a c u l t y (Gamson 1979; Grant et a l 1979). The programs are said to require a high degree of cooperation and coordination among ind i v i d u a l s and i n s t i t u t i o n s that i s not always forthcoming, making the systems sluggish and burdensome. An enormous volume of paperwork i s generated, putting a s t r a i n on support services. In the United States, a l l these problems i n implementation are blamed f o r mass resignations of faculty, a high a t t r i t i o n rate among students, and a high program mortality rate (see Grant et a l 1979). In the remainder of t h i s chapter, I w i l l explore more systematically the most common c r i t i c a l approaches to the d i f f i c u l t i e s associated with competency measures which have prevailed among educators over the l a s t decade. For c l a r i t y and convenience, I have grouped them roughly under two headings, although these groupings are not mutually exclusive. F i r s t i s the c r i t i c i s m that competency measures are irremediably re d u c t i o n i s t i n nature by v i r t u e of t h e i r behaviourist foundations. In t h i s view, the concept of competency i s said "to explain complex phenomena by discrete, standardized concepts" ( C o l l i n s 1983:174), r e s u l t i n g i n a focus on narrow, even t r i v i a l educational goals. The second common l i n e of c r i t i c i s m focusses on the problems of "scientism" and "hyper-rationalization". 32 These c r i t i c s charge that the r a t i o n a l s c i e n t i f i c model of education attempts to " r a t i o n a l i z e beyond the bounds of knowledge", leading to the imposition of "means which do not r e s u l t i n attainment of ends" (Wise:1979:65). The importance of these c r i t i c a l frameworks i s t h e i r contribution to revealing the systematic impact of competency measures. They d i s p e l the myth that simple educational solutions can be found through systematic science, and indicate that attempts to do so have been fraught with contradictions. However, I w i l l argue that these c r i t i c a l frameworks do not take us f a r enough i n displaying the transformative power of competency measures or t h e i r remarkable capacity to p e r s i s t i n the face of opposition. In search of such a broader c r i t i c a l perspective, I w i l l look b r i e f l y at previous e f f o r t s i n the sociology of education to examine these same developments from a p o l i t i c a l economy perspective, p r i m a r i l y through the work of Michael Apple. This work w i l l provide a point of departure for discussion of the approach to i n v e s t i g a t i o n I have used for the present study, which i s discussed i n Chapters Two and Three. A. Behaviourism/Reductionism Behavioural objectives are seen, by both proponents and c r i t i c s , as the centerpiece of the competency approach. [ 5] 33 Although a comprehensive c r i t i q u e of the behavioural paradigm i s outside the scope and focus of t h i s t h esis, I w i l l review some of the main objections to the use of behaviourial objectives expressed by educators as the basis f o r a widespread but somewhat vague prejudice against competency measures. [ 6] The use of the behavioural approach i n the s e l e c t i o n of educational objectives i s said by i t s c r i t i c s to lend an apparently " t e c h n i c a l " or "operational" face to decisions which involve important elements of value judgment and s o c i a l choice. This i s said to be true even i n i n d u s t r i a l settings where the problem of amibiguity of objectives remains "irremediable" (Macdonald Ross 1975). Subsequently, i n the t r a n s l a t i o n of objectives into i n s t r u c t i o n a l design, a behavioural focus i s said to eliminate the f l e x i b i l i t y associated with exploratory and innovative aspects of both teaching and learning, imposing an impoverished version of i n s t r u c t i o n a l i n t e r a c t i o n (Short 1984;Nunan 1983). In the context of vocational learning, c r i t i c s charge that undue emphasis on behavioural objectives leads to a "prefabricated and encyclopaedic notion of knowledge", to "procedures which are shallow, quick and easy to put into e f f e c t " , and to emphasis on the learning of "routine, unimportant, even t r i v i a l material" (Cantor and Roberts 1979:63-79). In a more p h i l s o p h i c a l vein, competency methods have been charged with "excessive reductionism" for t h e i r f a i l u r e to account for e i t h e r "intention and meaning" or the "motivational aspects of purposeful action" ( C o l l i n s , 1983:177, 1987). In the 34 vocational context, they are said to i n h i b i t the learning process by "block[ing] the development of elaborated knowledge or the formation of a coherent p o l i t i c a l consciousness" (Moore 1983:30). A second kind of argument about the problem of reductionism builds upon these philosophical and pedagogical t r a i t s of the competency approach, but focusses on organizational process. In t h i s view, reductionism occurs through a "goal displacement process" i n which " [ e ] f f o r t s to accomplish those goals that are measurable w i l l shove aside those that do not lend themselves to q u a n t i f i c a t i o n " (Guthrie 1976:272). The cycle of goal reduction begins with the c a l l f or increased e f f i c i e n c y and ce r t a i n t y of r e s u l t s . To succeed, the i n s t i t u t i o n can aff o r d to promise only what can be pursued without r i s k of f a i l u r e , to set as goals only what can be agreed upon, to define as objectives only what can be s p e c i f i e d i n measurable terms. The imperatives of ce n t r a l i z e d education policymaking lead to a s u b s t a n t i a l l y narrower view of the purposes of education. As p o l i c i e s are more and more c e n t r a l l y determined, abstract and salutary goals are reduced and t r i v i a l i z e d , and only those goals which can be measured are implemented (Wise 1979:58). And the following: The more CBE programs seek high q u a l i t y evidence as a basis fo r c e r t i f i c a t i o n of competency, the more the goals w i l l have to be narrowed and s i m p l i f i e d ..." (Spady and M i t c h e l l 1977:12). These same c r i t i c s also acknowledge that the narrow, reductive goals of education which appear as the product of t h i s 35 kind of p o l i c y process may stand i n sharp contrast to the personal views of the policymakers themselves regarding the purposes of education. Supporters of the competency approach commonly understand that they are subscribing not to a p a r t i c u l a r educational product, but to a process which w i l l a s s i s t them i n a r r i v i n g at a s a t i s f a c t o r y statement of educational goals. Missing from t h i s view, however, i s a sense of how the process i t s e l f has a determining e f f e c t on the product. The exigencies of the policymaking process, together with the l i m i t e d technology for making p o l i c i e s , causes policymakers to adopt a narrow view. Their personal goals ... [may include] ... to i n s t i l l the desire to learn and to develop the p o t e n t i a l of the c h i l d ... to develop t h e i r c r i t i c a l c a pacities and to c u l t i v a t e various i n t e r e s t s ... to preserve, create, and transmit our c u l t u r a l and s c i e n t i f i c heritage.... In the r e a l world of policymaking, however, these larger goals are not i n t e g r a l to the process (Wise 1979:61). Thus, even where educators are given to understand that broad goals, such as the pursuit of education " i n i t s own r i g h t " , are a v a i l a b l e as a " l o c a l option", they routinely f i n d that such "options" do not receive the same p r i o r i t y as those goals which are s p e c i f i e d i n the p o l i c y process (Wise 1979:106). In t h i s case, the actual educational outcomes may be a surprise and a disappointment. B. Scientism and Hyper-rationalization A second prominent perspective on the f a i l u r e of the competency model, and of the whole r a t i o n a l / s c i e n t i f i c model of 36 education on which i t i s based, i s the view that s c i e n t i f i c knowledge i n the f i e l d of education suffers from "underdevelopment". This view holds that s c i e n t i f i c knowledge about education i s "inadequate", "premature", "unstable", "indeterminate" or "misapplied" (Wise 1979; Guthrie 1976; McDermott 1976; McLaughlin 1975), leaving a "vast s c i e n t i f i c vacuum regarding educational processes" (Guthrie 1976:253). According to these c r i t i c s , the " a n a l y t i c a l state of the a r t " of educational science remains at "a very low state of technological development" (Guthrie 1976:259). The solu t i o n they await i s for the s o c i a l sciences "to mature" (Wise, i n McDermott 1976:xv) i n order to meet "the conditions of s c i e n t i f i c r a t i o n a l i t y " (Wise 1979:75). In the absence of a "mature" s c i e n t i f i c r a t i o n a l i t y , the charge of "scientism" arises as ... f i n a n c i a l l y pressured public o f f i c i a l s , well intentioned laymen, and misguided professional educators continue to t r y to implement an accountability system premised on a non-existent educational science (Guthrie 1976:274). Experience with T i t l e I i l l u s t r a t e s the problem. While the actual r e s u l t s of t h i s attempt to employ s c i e n t i f i c measurement and reporting raised "both methodological and functional questions about the wisdom of a continuing pursuit of s c i e n t i f i c r a t i o n a l i t y " (McLaughlin 1975:119), nevertheless, as many observers have noted, " f a i t h i n the science of systems analysis remain[ed] undiminished at the higher echelons of the federal government (McLaughlin 1975:71). [ 7] According to McLaughlin, 37 these experiences with T i t l e I are not peculiar, but rather r e f l e c t "a general pattern of information use" (1975:69) i n the public p o l i c y system. That i s , "... information gathering has become a necessary a c t i v i t y (qua a c t i v i t y ) i n the p o l i c y system" and such exercises have become a "permanent p o l i c y f i x t u r e " (1975:71). This practice i s interpreted as an apparently unshakable f a i t h i n the s c i e n t i f i c use of information. There i s an apparent growing b e l i e f by these central a u t h o r i t i e s that rules and regulations can make schools and colleges not only more equitable but also more e f f i c i e n t and e f f e c t i v e . These central a u t h o r i t i e s require the measurement of learning, apparently b e l i e v i n g that measurement w i l l improve learning (Wise 1979:xvi). The greatest irony of the T i t l e I experience came with the recognition that i t had f a i l e d as an attempt at "educational science", yet the f a u l t was said to l i e not i n the s c i e n t i f i c model i t s e l f , but with i t s l e v e l s of implementation. That i s , the l e v e l of organization of the educational process was seen as perpetually inadequate to s a t i s f y the conditions for s c i e n t i f i c evaluation. So, as House points out: Within a few years, an i n c r e d i b l e turnabout had taken place. Whereas evaluation had o r g i n a l l y begun i n order to insure the success of the service programs, programs were now to be designed to insure the success of the evaluations (House 1978:392). Although the post-compulsory sector of education i n the United States has l a r g e l y escaped the l e g i s l a t i v e approach to accountability, there i s plenty of evidence that scientism, reductionism and hyper-rationalization are at work i n these i n s t i t u t i o n s as well. Wise (1979) c i t e s evidence of protest 38 from presidents of American colleges and u n i v e r s i t i e s , both public and private, about the creeping influence of federal and state policymakers over the sphere of higher education. They r e f e r to measures which " l i m i t [ ] the d i s c r e t i o n of un i v e r s i t y personnel" and "involve t r a n s f e r of authority ... to public o f f i c i a l s " which "diminish i n t i a t i v e and experimentation" and "impinge on the d i v e r s i t y of the system" (Wise 1979:188-89). When the p o l i c y objective i s to promote effectiveness, goals are prescribed by such techniques as competency-based education. When the p o l i c y objective i s to promote e f f i c i e n c y , s c i e n t i f i c management procedures such as PPBS are prescribed. Although the objectives are usually salutary, the p o l i c i e s frequently do not have t h e i r intended e f f e c t s and sometimes have unintended e f f e c t s . They often represent the misapplication of l e g a l , s c i e n t i f i c and managerial r a t i o n a l i t y to education. And they often introduce a pernicious concern f o r quasi-legal procedure, a r b i t r a r y rules, measurable outcomes, and pseudoscientific processes (Wise 1979:192). Where such r a t i o n a l i z e d rules and regulations have been introduced, these same administrators report that "[n]o provable case can thus f a r be made that higher education i s i n any way better ..." (quoted i n Wise 1979:191). On the contrary, ... [t]he governance processes are worse. They are more costly, more cumbersome, more time-consuming, more f r u s t r a t i n g , and place more power i n the hands of those who are the furthest removed and who know the l e a s t (quoted i n Wise 1979:191). Both of the l i n e s of c r i t i c i s m reviewed here make s a l i e n t observations about the sources of f r u s t r a t i o n and disappointment which have come to be associated with the competency paradigm. And, both leave us with the same conclusion: such measures p e r s i s t out of the mistaken, even " i r r a t i o n a l " b e l i e f that they 39 can be made to improve education. However, t h i s conclusion that the understanding and action of educational actors i s " i r r a t i o n a l " i s a patently d i s s a t i s f y i n g stance f o r a c r i t i c a l s o c i a l science, and as such, i t compels a search for a broader framework of analysis. TOWARD A POLITICAL ECONOMY The search for a broader perspective on these developments takes us i n the d i r e c t i o n of a p o l i t i c a l economy of education, and among North American s o c i o l o g i s t s of education, the work of Michael Apple and his followers i s by far the most promising i n t h i s vein. Apple examines recent developments i n behaviourism and systems management by analyzing them i n l i g h t of economic, p o l i t i c a l , and " c u l t u r a l / i d e o l o g i c a l " r e l a t i o n s of power (1986, 1982). He situates such an exploration i n the context of the contemporary c r i s i s of capitalism, and the changing "functions" of "state intervention", i n the service of "production ... accumulation ... and ... legitimation" (1982:52-58). Thus hi s approach f a l l s well within the t e r r i t o r y of a conventional p o l i t i c a l economy perspective. At the same time, Apple addresses some important methodological issues related to the study of education from a p o l i t i c a l economy perspective. He i s concerned to overcome the common problem of "abstractness" i n analyses which have a broad, 40 p o l i t i c a l perspective, and therefore recommends combining what he c a l l s " s t r u c t u r a l i s t i n t e r e s t s " with a " c u l t u r a l i s t perspective that places human agency and concrete experience at the center" of analysis (1986:23). In t h i s vein, Apple argues that research should attend to "the concreta of day to day l i f e " as an important focus for analysis (1982:31), and that researchers must "get inside i n s t i t u t i o n s and illuminate what a c t u a l l y happens, how people act (often i n contradictory ways) within the conditions set by the i n s t i t u t i o n and the larger society" (1986:23-4). These recommendations point i n very promising research d i r e c t i o n s . Apple's early work on behaviourism and systematic management in education made a seminal contribution to c r i t i c a l analysis of contemporary educational technologies (1972, 1979, 1980). In that work he points out that what education has borrowed i n systems thought i s "not from the s c i e n t i f i c branch of systems l o g i c " but rather "from the models of operation of the business community" where "systems management was created o r i g i n a l l y to enhance the a b i l i t y of owners to control labour more e f f e c t i v e l y , thereby increasing p r o f i t s and weakening the burgeoning union movements early i n t h i s century" (Apple 1979:114). He argues that through t h i s heritage, "the l o g i c of c a p i t a l " embodied i n "technical administrative knowledge" has come to penetrate the educational apparatus through a " l o g i c of technical c o n t r o l " (Apple 1982, 1980). [ 8] 41 In s e t t i n g out these research paramenters some years ago, Apple i d e n t i f i e d much of the c r i t i c a l t e r r i t o r y that i s s t i l l on the agenda of the sociology of education today, p a r t i c u l a r for the c r i t i c a l study of curriculum (e.g. Apple and Weiss 1985). In fact, the research undertaken i n t h i s thesis also follows a number of the d i r e c t i o n s i n which he pointed ten years ago, although i t does so along a very d i f f e r e n t methodological path than that pursued by Apple himself i n the intervening years. [ 9] In Chapters Two and Three, I w i l l begin to describe systematically the approach I have taken to the study of •competence1 as a t o o l of curriculum reform and systematic management i n education. Many of the issues that have been raised i n t h i s chapter remain relevant to the analysis, but they are approached from somewhat d i f f e r e n t vantage point. The s i g n i f i c a n c e of these differences has to do with the ongoing search for a method of s o c i a l analysis which adequately "illuminates the r e l a t i o n s h i p " of everyday p r a c t i c e to the "surrounding socio-economic order" (Apple 1979). 42 ENDNOTES (CHAPTER ONE) 1. Johnson, H.C. J r . "Teacher Competence: An H i s t o r i c a l Analysis" i n E.C. Short (1984). 2. See f o r example C o l l i n s (1987), Short (1984), Grant et a l (1979), Smith (1975), MacDonald-Ross (1975, 1972), Travers (1973), Ruth (1972). 3. This c r y p t i c comment by Henry Giroux (1984) was o r i g i n a l l y aimed more broadly at what he c a l l s the "new public philosophy" of education i n the United States. 4. In B r i t i s h Columbia, the College and I n s t i t u t e Educators Association Newletter, (Vol. 4, no. 3, March 1988) contained an a r t i c l e e n t i t l e d "'Hidden Workload' Discovered". The a r t i c l e reports the finding of a task force at a B.C. college (not the one studied here), which concluded "There i s a s i g n i f i c a n t hidden workload f o r [faculty] members that i s r a r e l y seen or measured" and that i s "not measured i n regular data gathering methods and reports". 5. For advocacy of behavioural objectives, see Popham and Baker, (1970), Gagne (1967), Mager (1961), Tyler (1949). 6. For an extensive yet accessible c r i t i q u e of behavioural objectives, see Macdonald-Ross (1975). 7. Under these circmstances, c r i t i c s point out that information i s used " . . . s e l e c t i v e l y to lend a raiment of r a t i o n a l i t y to [an] e s s e n t i a l l y p o l i t i c a l mode of decisionmaking" (McLaughlin 1975:118). This problem i s i d e n t i f i e d by McLaughlin as a routine one, involving a p a r t i c u l a r "appetite for information" on the part of the federal p o l i t i c a l process i n the United States. His analysis of T i t l e I i l l u s t r a t e s the point. Public support for T i t l e I was mustered on the basis of a public f a i t h i n the r a t i o n a l use of information i n a democratic process. For example, American Senator Wayne Morse argued that the importance of T i t l e I l e g i s l a t i o n was to "make availa b l e the f a c t s " and then to " t r u s t that t h i s democracy of ours w i l l put the democratic system to work on the basis of these f a c t s " . (Quoted i n McLaughlin 1975:5). But i n the l a s t analysis, the data were used " p o l i t i c a l l y " rather than " r a t i o n a l l y " . McLaughlin argues, "Congress doesn't r e a l l y want to hear that T i t l e I doesn't work" but they r e a l l y want to know "where the money i s going". More s p e c i f i c a l l y , they want to know on a d i s t r i c t by d i s t r i c t basis, "how much money i s going to the folks back home ... [ e t c . ] " (1975:68). In other words, t h e i r i n t e r e s t i n money i s with 43 " d i s t r i b u t i o n " and t h e i r concern i s for the p o l i t i c a l impact of public spending. 8. In t h i s regard, Apple's early work i s much more promising than h i s l a t e r writing, although even the early l i n e of analysis gets s t a l l e d on epistemological grounds which I w i l l attempt to i d e n t i f y here, however t e n t a t i v e l y . The problem, for my purposes, l i e s i n the manner i n which he t r e a t s questions of s u b j e c t i v i t y and consciousness. That i s , f o r Apple, the transformative power of s c i e n t i f i c and systems methods i s r e a l i z e d through the consciousness of i n d i v i d u a l actors. I t i s a s u b j e c t i v i s t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , one which t r e a t s s o c i a l phenomena as o r i g i n a t i n g within the mind. (For a f u l l e r c r i t i q u e see Roslyn Bolough, 1979, e s p e c i a l l y Chapter One.) System procedures are seen to be e f f e c t i v e because of the " i d e o l o g i c a l saturation of educator's consciousness" or the ways i n which " i d e o l o g i c a l p r i n c i p l e s ... [have] found t h e i r way to the very roots of the brains of educators" (1979:106). S i m i l a r l y , systems langauge i s seen to depend upon c e r t a i n " t a c i t meanings" and "latent uses" that support a " q u a s i - s c i e n t i f i c b e l i e f system" among i t s target audiences (1979:114-5). This early stance by Apple r e f l e c t s the influence of contemporary c r i t i q u e s of technocratic r a t i o n a l i t y found i n the work of Marcuse (1964), Habermas (1971, 1975) Gouldner (1976). For s p e c i f i c discussion of education and curriculum changes i n t h i s l i g h t see Misgeld (1985). See also Bowers (1977) who dovetails t h i s approach with Bernstein and a phenomenological approach to sociology, arguing that the language of technocratic ideology i s a " r e s t r i c t e d speech code" which depends upon c e r t a i n "meanings, d e f i n i t i o n s , and t y p i f i c a t i o n s " to support " r i t u a l i s t i c communication" i n a "shared symbolic universe" (Bowers 1979:33,39). A l l place the consciousness of in d i v i d u a l s at the center of analysis. In my view, Apple's early r e l i a n c e on such frameworks ultimately li m i t e d , rather than expanded, the capacity of h i s analysis to make connections to the arena of s o c i a l action. That i s , he missed the major point that systems procedures not only organize peoples' consciousness, but also d i r e c t l y organize the arena of p r a c t i c a l , s o c i a l action. The s h i f t to a more empirical focus i n h i s l a t t e r work l a r g e l y obviates t h i s c r i t i c i s m , but also takes him i n d i r e c t i o n s which are much les s f r u i t f u l for my purposes. < See footnote nine. 9. Apple himself i s so e c l e c t i c i n h i s t h e o r e t i c a l i n t e r e s t s that h i s work i s d i f f i c u l t to characterize. At the r i s k of over-generalizing, I w i l l say that Apple has been consistently interested i n the form and content of curriculum as part of the process of " c u l t u r a l domination" (1979, 1980, 1982). In t h i s l i g h t , h i s i n t e r e s t i n technical/administrative knowledge has been p r i m a r i l y as a form of " c u l t u r a l c a p i t a l " which i s produced and al l o c a t e d through schooling (1982). He argues that i n d i v i d u a l s , both teachers and students i n d i f f e r e n t ways, are a r t i c u l a t e d to such knowledge as "consumers" through a process of "commodification" (1982, 1986). For students, i n d i v i d u a l i z e d consumption of d i f f e r e n t i a l knowledges becomes the basis for s o c i a l d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n through schooling. For teachers, these 44 r e l a t i o n s are said to r e s u l t i n a process of " d e s k i l l i n g , r e s k i l l i n g , i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n , and ... external c o n t r o l " (1986:10) s i m i l a r to the transformations occuring i n other work processes under contemporary capitalism. In recent work, Apple has also rel a t e d these processes of domination i n work to the r e l a t i o n s of gender and race as well as class (1986). In t h i s formulation, the "state" appears i n c l a s s i c marxist garb: education i s seen as a " c r i t i c a l arm of ... the state" (1982:53) through which i t "intervenes" i n the economy to "legitimate" and sustain the r e l a t i o n s of accumulation. The work which I have undertaken departs from these formulations of Apple at almost every turn. Since there i s no b r i e f way to make these differences clear, and I w i l l leave the problem of c l a r i f i c a t i o n of my own approach to Chapters Two and Three. 45 CHAPTER TWO I F COMPETENCY I S THE ANSWER, WHAT I S THE QUESTION? "Disorder i s the order we are not looking f o r . " Henri Bergson (1946) f 1 ] This chapter attempts to situate the c r i t i c a l dialogue surrounding competency-based curriculum i n a broader s o c i a l perspective. I t s h i f t s the focus of in v e s t i g a t i o n away from concerns with how competency measures have f a i l e d as a "solution"-to educational i l l s . Instead, i t d i r e c t s attention to c r i t i c a l examination of "the problem" which competency measures are meant to solve. In t h i s context, i t becomes possible to see both how and for whom competency measures might serve as a thoroughly ' r a t i o n a l ' and 'functional' course of action. From t h i s perspective, opponents of competency measures may come to see both the persistence of the approach and possible strategies of resistance i n a cl e a r e r l i g h t . \ This examination w i l l reveal that behind i t s facade of s i m p l i c i t y and n e u t r a l i t y , the competency paradigm provides a sophisticated process of transformation i n both the p r i n c i p l e s and the pr a c t i c e of public p o l i c y on issues of education and t r a i n i n g . I t promises not only more c l e a r l y defined goals and more r e l i a b l e outcomes, as emphasized by i t s proponents c i t e d i n Chapter One. I t introduces as well a new organization of " i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements" which i s "attempting to restructure the educational f i e l d - i t s discourse, practices ... and p r i n c i p l e s of power [and] control ..." (Moore 1987:228). [ 2] In p a r t i c u l a r , t h i s chapter w i l l argue that the concepts of s k i l l and competence provide the " i d e o l o g i c a l currency" (Smith 1984) f o r a p o l i c y regime which aims to ensure that the interests of c a p i t a l are dominant i n the education and t r a i n i n g process, not only at the l e v e l of p o l i t i c a l r h e t o r i c but also i n d a i l y p r a c t i c e . I w i l l attempt to show that educational methods which serve these ends are gaining a "hegemonic p o s i t i o n within the educational f i e l d " , increasingly " c o n t r o l [ l i n g ] the agenda of ... educational debate" (Moore 1987:229) and dominating the working r e l a t i o n s i n educational i n s t i t u t i o n s . To begin, I w i l l introduce some basic a n a l y t i c t o o l s from studies i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge which w i l l serve as the s t a r t i n g point and guideposts fo r t h i s i n v e s t i g a t i o n . Secondly, I w i l l take a c r i t i c a l look at the p o l i c y climate which has spawned the r i s e of competency-based education and t r a i n i n g i n i t i a t i v e s i n the post-compulsory sector, c r i t i c a l l y examining some of i t s basic assertions and assumptions. F i n a l l y , I w i l l begin to explore how competency measures are i n t e g r a l to t r a n s l a t i n g t h i s p o l i c y framework into p r a c t i c e i n the college s e t t i n g , pointing toward the more det a i l e d empirical i n v e s t i g a t i o n undertaken i n the chapters which follow. 47 PUBLIC POLICY AND IDEOLOGICAL DISCOURSE: The notion of ideology i s an important, i f overworked and abused, t o o l of Marxist scholarship, so some groundrules f o r i t s use here may be h e l p f u l . Such guidelines are established here by beginning to sit u a t e my i n t e r e s t i n the public p o l i c y process with the framework of analysis i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge. The framework c a l l s for some very p a r t i c u l a r understandings of ideology and i d e o l o g i c a l modes of action as a feature of the r e l a t i o n s of dominance i n bourgeois society. The concept of ideology, as i t w i l l be used here, departs from i t s common usage i n neo-marxist l i t e r a t u r e to r e f e r to a system of ideas which "legitimate" or "reinforce" the practices of a dominant or r u l i n g c l a s s . [ 3] Rather, the concept i s used here to i d e n t i f y methods of t a l k and action which are an i n t e g r a l part of the conduct of such r u l i n g practices (Smith 1987b; Rubenstein 1981). This apparently small t h e o r e t i c a l d i s t i n c t i o n has f a r reaching implications for empirical i n v e s t i g a t i o n . That i s , i f 'ideology' i s understood as a system of j u s t i f i c a t o n for the actions of r u l e r s , then i t w i l l have i t s existence almost ex c l u s i v e l y i n the realm of ideas and understandings, and may bear an indeterminate r e l a t i o n to the practices which i t i s said to legitimate. I f , on the other hand, the concept of 'ideology' i s seen to incorporate p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s which both organize and are organized by ideas and understandings, then i t s existence, and importantly i t s power as a s o c i a l force, must also be sought i n the form of organized p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y i t s e l f . 48 Here, the term ideology w i l l be used i n the second of these two modes, to i d e n t i f y aspects of both di s c u r s i v e and p r a c t i c a l organization which coordinate and a r t i c u l a t e l o c a l understanding and action to a wider arena of s o c i a l arrangements. This use of the term i s central to studies i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge. According to Smith, ideologies are ... master frames providing the conceptual order, sometimes vocabulary, coordinating r u l i n g practices i n the multiple s i t e s of r u l i n g , both within and without the state. The concepts of the master frame govern the devising of administrative and managerial prac t i c e s ; multiple s p e c i a l i z e d s i t e s of r u l i n g are coordinated with one another through the deployment of a common conceptual structure (Smith 1987b:25). The research reported i n t h i s t h e s is, l i k e other studies i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge, [ 4] aims to show that these forms of i d e o l o g i c a l and d i s c u r s i v e coordination are pervasive and c e n t r a l to the organization of r u l i n g r e l a t i o n s . They provide the "conceptual and i n t e r p r e t i v e p r a c t i c e s " which organize the work of "administrators, consultants, professionals, and others active i n processes of r u l i n g " . Such i n t e r p r e t i v e p r a c t i c e s enable i n d i v i d u a l workers to have ordinary conversations with one another about t h e i r work, to read and use the l i t e r a t u r e and documents of t h e i r professional work processes, and most importantly, "to t r a n s l a t e [such documents] into the appropriate next forms of action" at each l e v e l of i n s t i t u t i o n a l l i f e (Smith 1987b:24). 49 The notion of discourse i s also important here to sign a l t h i s e s s e n t i a l l y coordinated and concerted character of contemporary s o c i a l l i f e . I t points to a realm of s o c i a l action which i s l a r g e l y mediated symbolically: Discourse develops the i d e o l o g i c a l currency of society, providing schemata and methods that transpose l o c a l a c t u a l i t i e s into standardized conceptual and categorical forms. Ideological practices bind the l o c a l to the dis c u r s i v e ... (Smith 1984:64-65). In the context of i n s t i t u t i o n a l work processes, such as the college system examined i n t h i s t h esis, such i d e o l o g i c a l and dis c u r s i v e mechanisms serve to coordinate the work of educators i n a wide range of l o c a l settings into a si n g l e i n s t i t u t i o n a l course of action, mediating "the r e l a t i o n of members' actual practices - t h e i r work - to the i n s t i t u t i o n a l function" (Smith 1986:8). They teach people how to "recycle the a c t u a l i t i e s of t h e i r experience into the forms i n which they are recognizable within i n s t i t u t i o n a l discourse" (Smith 1986:8). Concepts and categories of the discourse become translated into the vocabulary and a n a l y t i c procedures of an " i n s t i t u t i o n a l ideology" which provides i n d i v i d u a l s with "methods of analyzing experiences located i n the work process of the i n s t i t u t i o n " and f o r making them "observable-reportable within an i n s t i t u t i o n a l order" (Smith 1986:8). According to Smith, t h i s kind of i d e o l o g i c a l procedure i s common to academic, professional, and managerial work processes. In t h i s way, the work and p r a c t i c a l reasoning of in d i v i d u a l s and the l o c a l l y accomplished order which i s t h e i r product, becomes an expression of the non-local 50 r e l a t i o n s of the professional and bureaucratic discourse of the r u l i n g apparatus (Smith 1986:8). In other words, i t i s through i d e o l o g i c a l practices of t h i s kind that the work done by individ u a l s comes to be part of a larger undertaking, one which may be l a r g e l y out of view of the worker as she goes about her d a i l y routines. Problems occur, or a sense of dilemma often a r i s e s , when these same in d i v i d u a l s f i n d that the larger enterprise i n which t h e i r work i s embedded does not r e f l e c t , or indeed may contradict, the sense or intentions with which they approach t h e i r own work. In t h i s s i t u a t i o n , i t becomes evident that such i d e o l o g i c a l practices do t h e i r primary work not by influencing the consciousness of in d i v i d u a l s (cf. Apple 1979; Bowers 1977) but by a l t e r i n g the organization of t h e i r action. In contemporary bureaucratic settings, such arrangements commonly r e l y on the use of documentary processes (e.g. forms, charts, reports) to a r t i c u l a t e the work process of in d i v i d u a l s to the i n s t i t u t i o n a l mode of action. In t h i s thesis, the modes of understanding and action represented by the term "competency-based curriculum" are shown have the i d e o l o g i c a l and discursive character outlined here. They provide a conceptual framework, a vocabulary and set of i n s t i t u t i o n a l practices, through which l o c a l educational a c t i v i t i e s are subordinated to a r u l i n g discourse. Examined from t h i s perspective, i t w i l l be evident that the remarkable endurance, the force, of the competency paradigm i n the college system i s at t r i b u t a b l e , not to i t s state of "maturity" as an 51 educational science, nor to the educational adequacy of the i n s t r u c t i o n a l goals i t f a c i l i t a t e s , but rather to i t s "cogency" (Smith 1987b) as an i d e o l o g i c a l force, that i s , " i t s capacity to a l i g n i n f r a s t r u c t u r e " i n the education and t r a i n i n g sector "with the changed conditions of c a p i t a l accumulation" (Smith 1987b:24 emphasis i n o r i g i n a l ) . The concept of alignment i s central to the c r i t i c a l reformulation which i s undertaken throughout the t h e s i s . The process of alignment i s i t s e l f a s o c i a l a c t i v i t y , a v a i l a b l e to i n v e s t i g a t i o n through the t a l k and documents of the p o l i c y process and curriculum organization. This chapter w i l l begin to examine the process of "alignment" at work, from the l e v e l of public p o l i c y discourse to the l e v e l of p r a c t i c a l i n s t i t u t i o n a l action. In t h i s context, some of the dimensions of competency-based curriculum systems described i n the l a s t chapter as "dysfunctional" or a "mistake" from an educator's point of view w i l l be v i s i b l e i n a new l i g h t . In p a r t i c u l a r , aspects of the scientism and behaviourism of the competency approach w i l l begin to emerge as i n t e g r a l to i t s contribution to a public p o l i c y process that can be seen as both coherent and responsive to the current economic and p o l i t i c a l climate. THE VOCATIONALIST DISCOURSE RECONSIDERED Recent analysis tif "new v o c a t i o n a l i s t " p o l i c i e s i n the post-compulsory sector has been the most vigorous among B r i t i s h 52 s o c i o l o g i s t s of education. There, c r i t i c s charge that the dominant approach to t r a i n i n g p o l i c y i n western i n d u s t r i a l i z e d nations i s an i d e o l o g i c a l smokescreen, o f f e r i n g short-term p o l i t i c a l solutions to long term economic problems. The c r i t i c s say that current t r a i n i n g strategies focus attention on the q u a l i t i e s and c a p a b i l i t i e s of the e x i s t i n g workforce and on the capacity of educational systems to adjust to the changing expectations of industry (Finn 1982; Donald 1979; Dale 1985). In so doing, these p o l i c i e s draw attention away from more fundamental problems related to technological innovation and i n d u s t r i a l restructuring, including the f a i l u r e of labour market mechanisms to resolve "imbalances" i n supply and demand of labour, and the f a i l u r e of national economies to generate employment growth (Holt 1987; Cohen 1984; Bates et a l 1984; Donald 1979). Thus, according to B r i t i s h c r i t i c s , the vocational p o l i c y l i t e r a t u r e has l a i d blame for unemployment (of youth i n p a r t i c u l a r ) f i r s t l y at the feet of educational i n s t i t u t i o n s , for t h e i r f a i l u r e to transmit "basic s k i l l s " relevant to economic l i f e , and f i n a l l y at the feet of i n d i v i d u a l s themselves, who are said be unemployed because they "lack the s k i l l s " required i n the workplace (see Bates et a l 1984; Rees and Atkinson 1982). The popularity of t h i s understanding i n Great B r i t a i n was r e f l e c t e d (also promoted and exploited) i n a much-cited 1979 Tory e l e c t i o n poster which read "Educashun i s n ' t Wurking" (Finn 1982). The s i g n i f i c a n c e of t h i s formulation of the problem i s p a r t i c u l a r l y 53 c l e a r i n the B r i t i s h case where the p o l i c y response to unemployment focussed primarily on the creation of the Manpower Services Commission as a h i g h - p r o f i l e a l t e r n a t i v e to t r a d i t i o n a l educational i n s t i t u t i o n s , which were said to be " l e s s nimble" than required to meet the "speed and magnitude of required change" (Finn 1982:47). In Canada and the United States, the same terms of debate have prevailed, also leading to succession of education and t r a i n i n g i n i t i a t i v e s as the major p o l i c y response to unemployment. While these i n i t i a t i v e s have not included the creation of a wholesale a l t e r n a t i v e to e x i s t i n g i n s t i t u t i o n s , as i n Great B r i t a i n , they have nevertheless involved a fundamental s h i f t or inversion of the framework for action i n e x i s t i n g educational i n s t i t u t i o n s . That i s , the e x i s t i n g educational apparatus at the post-compulsory l e v e l was b u i l t up i n the post-war years i n a climate of liberal/humanist support for education as the means for i n d i v i d u a l s to s a t i s f y t h e i r needs fo r employment, and as a means to maximize, even equalize, i n d i v i d u a l opportunity to r e a l i z e t h e i r own employment p o t e n t i a l , a l l i n the context of b u i l d i n g national prosperity. By contrast, the new v o c a t i o n a l i s t p o l i c y framework depends upon an inversion of t h i s r a t i o n a l e . Instead of orienting to the r e a l i z a t i o n of i n d i v i d u a l p o t e n t i a l , education and t r a i n i n g of i n d i v i d u a l s becomes d i r e c t l y subject to i t s perceived worth i n maximizing the economic po t e n t i a l of the economy and the nation (Finn 1987; Gleeson 1986). Thus a framework i s established f o r thinking about 54 education and employment primarily i n the terms that they a r i s e as a problem f o r c a p i t a l , i . e . labour supply. Training i n s t i t u t i o n s become a place f o r "remaking the young working cl a s s i n the employers' image" or "manpower servicedom" (Finn 1987:3-4). W i l l i s (in Finn 1987:iv) ref e r s to t h i s approach as " i n d u s t r i a l remedialism" . Among North American c r i t i c s of education, t h i s basic s h i f t i n the standpoint of public p o l i c y has met with s u r p r i s i n g l y l i t t l e reaction. Public s i l e n c e i s perhaps understandable i n the context of widespread and well-founded fears of unemployment and under-employment, i n l i g h t of which there i s considerable popular readiness to see the "needs" of industry and those of i n d i v i d u a l s as the same thing (Grosch 1987). Individual i n t e r e s t s appear to be served as a by-product of the process of meeting the needs of the employer. I t i s a kind of " t r i c k l e -down" approach to employment p o l i c y . But among educational t h e o r i s t s and c r i t i c s , such a muted response to the h i j a c k i n g of l i b e r a l educational ideals i s somewhat more s u r p r i s i n g . Humanistic ideals have been pressed into the service of crudely u t i l i t a r i a n forms of occupational preparation, and the time-honored educational d i s t i n c t i o n between what employers want and what i s good for learners seems to have been "conjured away" through an elaborate " s l e i g h t of hand" (Cohen 1984). Among B r i t i s h and European analysts of education, t h i s " s l e i g h t of hand" has drawn considerable f i r e , beginning with a 55 broad c r i t i q u e of what has been c a l l e d "a hidden agenda f o r redeploying the notion of s k i l l i t s e l f " (Cohen 1984:184). They point out that the concept of s k i l l has become the lynchpin of otherwise diverse strategies and objectives f o r change, orchestrating a broad public consensus about educational goals. It s usefulness i n t h i s regard depends upon the "loose and baggy" (Donald 1979:13) character of the concept i t s e l f . [ 5] ' S k i l l 1 has become a metaphor for the t o t a l output of a l l our i n s t i t u t i o n s of learning, and a standard by which they should be judged. ' S k i l l * i s used as the measurement of accomplishment or of readiness for entry to almost any endeavor, be i t private or public, economic or s o c i a l . The l i s t i s f a m i l i a r : basic s k i l l s , job s k i l l s , l i f e s k i l l s ... even "thinking s k i l l s " (Segal, Chipman and Glaser 1985; Beyer 1985). As a c u r r i c u l a r category, the concept of s k i l l i s p a r t i c u l a r l y useful because i t appears to be " i n d i f f e r e n t to contents ... an empty space into which a whole range of contents [can] be inserted" (Grahame 1983:5). Because the concept of s k i l l c a r r i e s with i t overtones of status representing whatever i s knowledgeable, even s c i e n t i f i c , i t lends an aura of authority to what ever f a l l s i n i t s shadow. I t also serves to indicate that the need for innovation i n education i s driven by economic circumstances, implying a common stake i n the outcome. For a l l these reasons, the concept has become i n the l a s t decade a dominant form of popular understanding about the purpose and objectives of education (CCCS 1981). A number of c r i t i c s have pointed out that the concept of s k i l l has achieved a place at the pinnacle of educational 56 r h e t o r i c by appearing to neutralize what i s at i t s root a fundamental c o n f l i c t between c a p i t a l i s t imperatives and popular needs. Lenhardt (1981) captures the sense of t h i s c r i t i q u e i n the following passage: ... [T]he concept of educational i n t e r e s t s has been replaced by the concept of s k i l l requirements, which i s seen as being determined by economic growth or technological progress. Both economic growth as well as technological progress are conceived of as having p o l i t i c a l relevance but being themselves of a rather technical, " a p o l i t i c a l " nature. I f the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of educational i n t e r e s t s and t h e i r transformation into educational p o l i c i e s i s regarded as a te c h n i c a l problem rather than a matter of mediating c o n f l i c t i n g s o c i a l i n t e r e s t s , then public democratic discourse with regard to educational matters i s rendered meaningless (Lenhardt 1981:213). Lenhardt argues that the concept of s k i l l puts the discussion of educational objectives on apparently neutral t e r r i t o r y . I t invokes a realm of abstract necessity, where s k i l l may stand i n for imperatives which are q u a l i t a t i v e l y diverse and even contradictory. Underneath t h i s abstract consensus, however, l i e s a long h i s t o r y of struggle between employers and workers fo r control over the organization of work processes and over the supply and demand for q u a l i f i e d labour. On the employers' side, the need for s k i l l s has been subject to a p a r t i c u l a r time, place and stage of economic development, but never straightforwardly determined by a technical or technological considerations. Instead the demand for s k i l l s has always been mediated by s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l considerations relevant to the control of work (Noble 1984; Gordon, Edwards and Reich 1982; Edwards 1979), i n which the 57 t e c h n i c a l factors are themselves embedded (Gorz 1976; Althusser 1971; Gleeson and Mardle 1980). Central to these p o l i t i c a l considerations has been the i n t e r e s t of employers i n minimizing t h e i r costs of labour, an i n t e r e s t which a f f e c t s the determination of "need" i n terms of the quantity and q u a l i t y of education and t r a i n i n g which are desirable from the employers point of view (Finn 1982; Blackburn and Mann 1979). Among workers and workers' organizations, the concept of s k i l l has been an organizing device i n the struggle for p o l i t i c a l , economic and s o c i a l power, and control over educational measures has proved to be an important aspect of that struggle (see Gaskell 1983; Clement 19.81; Barrett 1980; More 1980) . These longstanding p o l i t i c a l d i v i s i o n s over the management of s k i l l are the context i n which the whole enterprise of vocational/technical education i s embedded, and to which the concept of competence has brought a new degree of s o p h i s t i c a t i o n . I t has made possible a s h i f t i n attention on the part of educational planners and policymakers from the problem of "matching" demand and supply [ 6] to a concern for the way i n which occupational s k i l l s are constituted, organized, and con t r o l l e d i n the context of learning. H i s t o r i c a l forms of organization and control which invest s k i l l within the purview of the worker, for which apprenticeships are the paradigm, have come to be seen as a l i m i t a t i o n on the prerogative of employers to acquire, deploy and dispose of labour power according to t h e i r own i n t e r e s t s . Previous broad concepts of c r a f t mastery are 58 being replaced by a d i f f e r e n t l o g i c of s k i l l i n which the worker i s i n an employer-dependent r o l e i n a labour hierarchy (Blackburn and Mann 1979). The concept of competence makes a c r u c i a l contribution to t h i s new form of organization, creating a new d i s c u r s i v e e n t i t y around which the employer may organize to r e t a i n more control over the s p e c i f i c a t i o n and u t i l i z a t i o n of knowledge and s k i l l s and thus greater f l e x i b i l i t y i n the deployment of labour power. The concept of f l e x i b i l i t y has become a central i d e o l o g i c a l device i n the promotion of competency-based reforms of vocational education and t r a i n i n g i n s t i t u t i o n s . According to Cohen, such reforms f a c i l i t a t e t r a i n i n g for abstract labour, i . e . labour considered i n i t s generic commodity form as an interchangeable u n i t / f a c t o r of production. The main function of t h i s r e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s i n f a ct, to increase e l a s t i c i t i e s of s u b s t i t u t i o n between d i f f e r e n t occupational categories, and thus, i n d i r e c t l y , to undermine the residual forms of control exercised by s k i l l e d manual workers over conditions of entry and t r a i n i n g (Cohen 1984:113). In t h i s context, the whole concept of competence and the f l e x i b i l i t y which i t o f f e r s can be seen to be deeply embedded i n the employers' i n t e r e s t s i n labour power. I t s h i f t s the practice i n vocational/technical programs to more narrow, short-term, instrumental aims as an i n t e g r a l part of the promise to d e l i v e r programs that are f l e x i b l e and responsive to the "needs" of industry. This f l e x i b i l i t y i s accomplished by the replacement of lengthy and comprehensive programs and c e r t i f i c a t i o n s with l i m i t e d forms of t r a i n i n g to l e v e l s s p e c i f i e d by the employer to meet short term goals. Knowledge and s k i l l s are treated as incremental, i . e . subdividable into component parts, and 59 cumulative, so that they can be acquired over a l i f e t i m e i n a pattern of recurrent work and schooling. This organization of learning i s said to s a t i s f y the needs of the worker for early access to the workforce, and to f a c i l i t a t e easy passage back and fo r t h from work to t r a i n i n g on a recurring basis throughout adult working l i f e . Thus the inte r e s t s of a l l par t i e s appear to be addressed. Meanwhile, the process of converting a work process into a s k i l l p r o f i l e of competencies to be mastered subsumes, and depends f o r i t s sense upon, the p a r t i c u l a r s o c i a l forms i n which work i s organized i n the workplace. Although t h i s work process l i e s at the foundation of work performance, i t i s s p e c i f i c a l l y excluded as an object of i n s t r u c t i o n . This form of learning builds i n subordination of the worker to the employer, not as a matter of proper attitudes or d i s c i p l i n e , but as a feature of the d i v i s i o n of working knowledge i t s e l f . Thus, within the very terms of working knowledge i s inscribed the s o c i a l form of the d i v i s i o n of labour which t i e s together workers and employers i n the service of c a p i t a l . Through competency-based education, t h i s p a r t i c u l a r form of the organization of working knowledge i s transplanted from the workplace into the educational i n s t i t u t i o n s as that form i n which "know-how" w i l l be disseminated, made ava i l a b l e f o r learning. It i s a form of mastery i n which emphasis on the knowing subject i s replaced by an o b j e c t i f i e d form of knowing, i . e . performance, 60 subject to external controls and measurement. Such a focus of i n s t r u c t i o n l a r g e l y obscures the developmental aspects of learning and knowledge related to work, how knowledge i s modified and enhanced through practice, and how t h i s gain may serve i n d i v i d u a l or c o l l e c t i v e welfare. I t raises the prospect of a form of schooling which "contributes to depriving the i n d i v i d u a l of autonomous control over the work process and h i s [sic] l i v i n g conditions" (Lenhardt 1981:200). Training i n t h i s mode has the e f f e c t of "minimiz[ing] the bargaining power of the ' c o l l e c t i v e worker'" (Cohen 1984:113) and increasing the p o t e n t i a l to assert the i n t e r e s t s of c a p i t a l over those of workers. The concept of competence thus serves to r e f i n e and extend the fundamental s h i f t i n the standpoint of education and t r a i n i n g p o l i c y from the standpoint of the i n d i v i d u a l to the standpoint of the employer. Grosch (1987:157) c a l l s 'competence' "the f i n a l and most important concept i n the set of new mantras". I t serves as a means to tr a n s l a t e the requirements of a production process into a form i n which thev can be expressed as the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of i n d i v i d u a l s . This t r a n s l a t i o n i s c r i t i c a l l y important i n p o l i c y terms because i t situates two p o t e n t i a l l y disparate constituencies f o r state action along a sing l e continuum of " i n t e r e s t s " . That i s , "competencies" stand for p a r t i c u l a r performance a b i l i t i e s which employers want to h i r e and ind i v i d u a l s may come to possess. Individual educational and employment status comes to be measureable along t h i s continuum. The notions of s k i l l and competence provide a means to formulate 61 educational objectives not i n terms of i n d i v i d u a l choices, i n t e r e s t s or careers, but i n terms of one's a b i l i t y to service the i n t e r e s t s of employers (Grahame 1983). This s h i f t i s part of i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z i n g , making into an o b j e c t i f i e d s o c i a l practice, the separation of v o c a t i o n a l l y oriented learning from "immediate and a v a i l a b l e l i n k s with recognised areas of formal, elaborating knowledge" (Moore 1987:236). I t divorces vocational learning from i t s t i e s to a t r a d i t i o n a l l i b e r a l concept of education and removes i t from a " p o t e n t i a l l y c r i t i c a l knowledge perspective" (Moore 1987:236, emphasis i n o r i g i n a l ) . According to Moore (1987:240), the new paradigm i s " i n t r i n s i c a l l y incapable of r e f l e x i v e c r i t i c a l analysis of r e l a t i o n s h i p s of production or t h e i r i d e o l o g i c a l representations". "By e f f e c t i v e l y denying i t s own grounds, 'the new vocationalism' achieves the precise opposite of i t s declared intentions - rather than enabling young people to acquire an elaborating perspective towards the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of work i t perpetuates t h e i r m y s t i f i c a t i o n " (Moore 1987:240) I t i s e s s e n t i a l to the analysis being put forward here to stress that the u n c r i t i c a l or u n r e f l e c t i v e character of the new v o c a t i o n a l i s t paradigm i s not simply a problem of "inattention" (Moore 1987) i n competency methods. Rather i t i s a systematic property of i t s i d e o l o g i c a l character, e s s e n t i a l to i t s power to e f f e c t a transformation i n educational r e l a t i o n s while maintaining a posture of o b j e c t i v i t y and n e u t r a l i t y . This systematic, i d e o l o g i c a l character of competency methods i s the 62 object of detailed, examination throughout the empirical chapters of t h i s t h e s i s . A FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION The work of coordination and alignment of public p o l i c y which i s accomplished by the skills/competency paradigm begins i n the process, examined above, of defining or conceptualizing the educational enterprise from the standpoint of the employer. But the work of alignment doesn't end at t h i s broad l e v e l of conceptual organization. I t also involves providing an organization of p r a c t i c a l action i n the college s e t t i n g which makes the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process accountable on the same terms. This p r a c t i c a l l e v e l of organization a r t i c u l a t e s the d a i l y work process of i n s t r u c t o r s i n the l o c a l s e t t i n g to the objectives set out i n the p o l i c y discourse. Competency measures are central to t h i s undertaking. They provide a documentary framework through which what goes on i n college classrooms can be seen as part of s a t i s f y i n g the requirements of i n s t i t u t i o n a l a c c o u n t a b i l i t y to public p o l i c y . Thus they are i n t e g r a l to the r e l a t i o n s of college management. This point i s c r i t i c a l to the transformative power of the competency regime, and central to our analysis of i t s "cogency as an i d e o l o g i c a l force". 63 A. The S o c i a l Construction of "Need" The phrase "employer-driven" i s used by p o l i c y makers to describe the s a l i e n t feature of these p r a c t i c a l i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements, the main objective of which i s to make the college system "responsive" to the requirements of p r o d u c t i v i t y i n the workplace. In t h i s approach, employers are deemed to be the "end-users" of the products of education and t r a i n i n g , and as such become the primary source for determination of t r a i n i n g "needs" and program "relevance". The competency approach prescribes a formal process for defining such "needs" through a workshop c a l l e d a task analysis, i n which employers are asked to specify t h e i r requirements for entry l e v e l workers. This process i s used to e s t a b l i s h basic educational objectives for a given program, to which instruc t o r s are required to conform i n t h e i r course planning. However, we w i l l soon see that these processes of coordination and a r t i c u l a t i o n are highly i d e o l o g i c a l , and i t i s t h i s character which i s the primary object of our i n t e r e s t . Recognition of t h e i r i d e o l o g i c a l character begins with the discovery that the concepts of "production" and "need" as they are used i n t h i s system are themselves " i d e o l o g i c a l l y constructed c a t e g o r [ i e s ] " (Moore 1987:241). That i s , as c r i t i c s point out, the p r a c t i c e of asking representatives of 'business' to i d e n t i f y the •competences' i t wants or to define and v e r i f y t h e i r achievement 64 through t r a i n i n g i s "attempting the impossible" (Finn 1982) . Employers' conceptions of t h e i r needs are often not e x p l i c i t and not c l e a r l y formulated, and there are inconsistencies between what they say they want and the h i r i n g processes they a c t u a l l y use (Finn 1982). This ambiguity renders the r h e t o r i c of •relevance 1 "almost meaningless": The concept of "relevance" conveys no precise meaning or intention. Instead i t i s used as a vague term of approval, implying that d i r e c t and immediate economic applications j u s t i f y some forms of knowledge and not others (Barker 1987:7) Furthermore, t h i s approach imposes a " s i m p l i s t i c gloss" over the r e a l world of d i v e r s i t y and contrast i n the requirements of d i f f e r i n g and competing c a p i t a l s , and even representatives of the state are said to be u n l i k e l y to successfully i d e n t i f y or construct such points of consensus (Goldstein 1984; Finn 1982). These r e a l i z a t i o n s h i g h l i g h t the e s s e n t i a l f a l l a c y of the r a t i o n a l s c i e n t i f i c approach to educational goal s e t t i n g i n general, the notion that "need" i s an i n t r i n s i c , objective, measureable property of ind i v i d u a l s or organizations. Instead, i t begins to become evident that "needs" acquire an "objective f a c t i c i t y " only through an elaborate process of o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n , and that the process i t s e l f i s highly i d e o l o g i c a l . What i s required f o r the purposes of t h i s analysis, (and w i l l be undertaken i n the empirical chapters), i s not a search for the 'real t r u t h ' about employers' needs, but an interrogation of the s o c i a l l y organized practice of defining "needs". Our objective 65 i s to understand i t s "status as knowledge", i t s conditions of production, the standpoint i t incorporates, and the i n t e r e s t s i t serves (Armstrong 1982). The competency approach r e l i e s upon these s o c i a l l y organized d e f i n i t i o n s of "relevance" and "needs", however i d e o l o g i c a l , as the basis for a highly determining organization of curriculum decision-making. They become part of the i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements referred to as " i n s t r u c t i o n a l management systems", which may include the s p e c i f i c a t i o n of some or a l l of the following: learning objectives, i n s t r u c t i o n a l procedures, desired outcomes, methods and/or substance of student evaluation, and evaluation of teaching (Spady 1982). I n s t r u c t i o n a l management provides the context for re-examining the next major fact o r i n the i d e o l o g i c a l character of the competency paradigm: behaviourism. The s i g n i f i c a n c e of the behavioural framework which becomes v i s i b l e i n t h i s context l a r g e l y escapes the attention of the c r i t i c s c i t e d i n Chapter One. B. Behaviourism Reconsidered Behaviourism i s recognized by i t s proponents and c r i t i c s a l i k e as a "cornerstone" of the s c i e n t i f i c or systematic approach to education and of the competency approach i n p a r t i c u l a r (Nunan 1983; Macdonald-Ross 1972). Like the competency paradigm i t s e l f , behaviourism has survived despite "... years of philosophical, psychological and p o l i t i c a l attacks" upon i t s assumptions, and i s 66 s t i l l "... recommended and prescribed as 'knowledge that teachers should use'" (Nunan 1983:97). [ 7] Numerous commentators have pointed out that behavioural objectives and accountability systems tend to be associated, or that "competency" i s a "close r e l a t i v e " to accountability (Gander i n C o l l i n s 1987:17), although they seem not to be linked either l o g i c a l l y or necessarily. According to Ralph Smith, [a]lthough performance-based and competency-based conceptions of teaching and learning ... are not l o g i c a l l y e n t a i l e d by a PPBS approach, they are compatible with i t . . . . [IJt i s not that a PPBS approach to education requires the use of behavioural objectives ... [ i ] t i s simply, i f I am r i g h t , that these things tend to get associated and lumped together (Smith 1975:3,5, emphasis i n o r i g i n a l ) . Here I w i l l argue that Smith i s , indeed, not r i g h t . The association between these mechanisms i s more than a "tendency to get associated and lumped together" and that even the term " l o g i c a l " i s inadequate to conceptualize the r e l a t i o n between them. Rather, the r e l a t i o n i s a dynamic and compelling one, embedded i n a p a r t i c u l a r arrangement of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s on which both depend fo r t h e i r capacity to get things done. To demonstrate the i d e o l o g i c a l character of these arrangements, we need to take a few steps back and reconsider some f a m i l i a r claims about what behaviourism i s and does. The importance conventionally attached to behavioural objectives by vocational educators i s t h e i r promise to provide a c l e a r statement of what i s to be mastered. In t h i s way they are 67 thought to provide a r a t i o n a l , instrumental l i n k between the "needs" of the employer and the learning of i n d i v i d u a l s . The prescribed behaviours are treated as simple and taken-for-granted, given by the nature of tasks (Short 1984). Behavioural objectives are presumed as being i n t r i n i s i c a l l y unproblematical. They are taken and represented as given, as e s e n t i a l l y natural.... [They] are treated as simply derived from, i d e n t i c a l to, and immediately transportable back into everyday practices. They are e s s e n t i a l l y contextless - simple 'things' rather than the constructs of discourse (Moore 1987:239, emphasis i n o r g i n a l ) . However, i n practice, behavioural objectives are anything but "natural" and straight-forward, and thus the promise of continuity on the basis of t h i s assumption has not been r e a l i z e d . C r i t i c s are increasingly coming to recognize that the behavioural approach does not r e s u l t i n a "simple top-down imposition" of a new form of classroom learning, and we should not look f o r t h i s kind of outcome as sole evidence of i t s impact (Moore 1987; Gleeson 1986; Finn 1982). Rather, the power and s i g n i f i c a n c e of contemporary uses of behavioural objectives i s found i n the manner i n which they impose a new set of " i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements" (Moore 1987) which i s complex and i d e o l o g i c a l to the core. I t i s t h i s i d e o l o g i c a l character which i s key to the power of the competency approach to transform the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of educational p r a c t i c e . This i s v i s i b l e i n several ways. F i r s t l y , the s p e c i f i c i t y and c e r t a i n t y which i s promised by the behavioural approach can be shown to be an appearance, a 68 s o c i a l construction, even when scrupulously implemented. Behavioural objectives have an i d e a l , even " f i c t i o n a l " q u a l i t y , always j u s t out of reach (Short 1984; Nunan 1983; MacDonald-Ross 1972). Thus they can never be implemented i n p r a c t i c e with the p r e c i s i o n they o f f e r i n theory. Participants at a l l l e v e l s know that what goes on i n classrooms i s not always done "by the book", and that t h i s i s more than a problem of stages of implementation (Hart 1987; Nunan 1983). Secondly, the f a c t that behavioural p r e s c r i p t i o n s may not accurately describe the r e a l i t i e s of teaching and learning turns out to be r e l a t i v e l y "unimportant" Nunan (1983:57). What i s more s i g n i f i c a n t i s that the approach provides the necessary "micro-structure" (Nunan 1983:57) for the rational/systematic approach to the d e l i v e r y of education. That i s , i t produces a form of knowing and acting which i s defined and c o n t r o l l e d from outside the acting subject. This same micro-structure i s v i s i b l e i n at l e a s t two dimensions. The f i r s t i s i n the o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n of vocational knowledge i t s e l f , organized by behaviourism as a form of action from which the acting subject has been removed. This objective form of action i s represented by the notion of "performance" as the end product of i n s t r u c t i o n . When the behavioural p r i n c i p l e i s c a r r i e d through into curriculum decision making as a whole, t h i s same o b j e c t i f i e d r e l a t i o n i s produced i n a second dimension of the teaching learning process, that i s the r e l a t i o n of i n s t r u c t o r s to the educational enterprise. Teachers become implementers of process which begins and ends outside them, fo r which they are not the authors. The learning process i s conceived and originated p r i o r to the teachers• sphere of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , and orients to, intends, has as i t s object a sphere of action i n the workplace which i s beyond t h e i r j u r i s d i c t i o n . The role of the teacher becomes a support function, subordinated to i n s t i t u t i o n a l goals and objectives which are determined for them and which order and organize t h e i r p r a c t i c e . In these arrangements, the teacher becomes a "technician", rather than an "educator", s k i l l e d i n the "techniques of meeting pre-established performative c r i t e r i a " rather than being knowledgeable "about the t h e o r e t i c a l t r a d i t i o n s from which t h e i r prescribed practices are derived" (Moore 1987:236). He or she determines neither the ends nor the means of the educational process. This s i t u a t i o n correlates with changes i n both the p r i n c i p l e of the teachers 1 authority and the i n s t i t u t i o n a l mechanisms for defining, legitimating and evaluating 'educational' knowledge. No longer are these things constructed from within a r e l a t i v e l y autonomous educational f i e l d , but are the province of corporate, non-educational i n t e r e s t s (Moore 1987:236). In other words, I am arguing that behaviourism i s central to accountability measures such as competency because the two are isomorphic. They r e l y upon and bring into being the same o b j e c t i f i e d and o b j e c t i f y i n g organization of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s , which i s a necessary constituent of contemporary r e l a t i o n s of r u l i n g . [ 8 ] Through these accountability measures, successive 70 moments i n the educational enterprise are transformed into a mode i n which they are knowable from an external location, through the mediation of a documentary process. I t i s t h i s moment of abstraction, of rupture or separation i n the i n t e r n a l continuity of knowledge and action, which provides for the p o s s i b i l i t y of cont r o l . I t in s e r t s a point of authority outside the moments of teaching and learning from which these a c t i v i t i e s may be defined, measured, evaluated, as part of t h e i r a r t i c u l a t i o n to, or alignment with, a process of r u l i n g . Thus, behaviourism, even when only loosely or "weakly" practiced (MacDonald-Ross 1975) unites the micro-structure and the macro-structure of the "new vocationalism". For t h i s reason i t i s the constant companion and f a i t h f u l t o o l of the new wave of college reformers. The most p o l i t i c a l l y perceptive analysis of t h i s character of c u r r i c u l a r processes i s found i n the work of Nunan (1983). [ 1 0 ] His b r i e f but highly informative book, e n t i t l e d Countering  Educational Design, i s oriented to helping progressive teachers understand and r e s i s t the detrimental e f f e c t s of contemporary forms of curriculum organization. Nunan (1983:2) argues that when curriculum design i s transferred from classroom p r a c t i t i o n e r s to s p e c i a l i s t s "who aim to employ s c i e n t i f i c solutions to learning s i t u a t i o n s " , the in t e r e s t s which are at the center of the design enterprise also s h i f t . He reminds us: Educational design had i t s meaning within the teaching and learning s i t u a t i o n of the classroom - the t r a d i t i o n s of pra c t i c e provided ways of 'making meaning' which served to inform decisions about design (Nunan 1983:2). 71 By contrast, i n the systems approach, the educational process i s divided into separate phases of design and execution. S c i e n t i f i c knowledge and r a t i o n a l problem solving techniques are applied to the design process with the claim of maximizing effectiveness and e f f i c i e n c y i n teaching and learning. Such techniques are said to be superior to teachers' methods of decision-making, but they no longer " f i t the educational facts with which teachers l i v e and work" (Nunan 1983:5). Teachers "are assigned an implementation function", becoming consumers of educational packages which "reach the schools i n b r i g h t l y coloured boxes" leaving l i t t l e or no room for "teacher tampering" (Nunan 1983:5). Importantly, Nunan i d e n t i f i e s the s i g n i f i c a n c e of t h i s s h i f t not merely i n terms of "control" ( c f . Apple and Teittlebaum 1986; Buswell 1980), but i n terms of the standpoint that comes to be embedded i n curriculum. He h i t s the n a i l on the head when he writes: Present notions of educational design are structured from the p o s i t i o n of those who would wish to manage rather than those involved i n performing eit h e r teaching of learning (Nunan 1983:5). Nunan's analysis i s more than a romantic desire f o r teaching to remain "a creative, adaptive and v i t a l undertaking" (1983:3), although he doesn't attempt to dampen hi s commitment to t h i s p r i n c i p l e . His work i s also important t h e o r e t i c a l l y and p o l i t i c a l l y because i t points toward a fundamental transformation of the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of curriculum which i s at the root of the changing experience of teachers. These forms of organization 72 determine whose voices w i l l be heard and whose i n t e r e s t s w i l l be served i n the curriculum process. CONCLUSION My intention here has been to challenge the common sense assumption that the notion of 'competence,' as i t has been used i n the p o l i c y discourse, refers to ways to "improve learning" or to enhance i n d i v i d u a l s ' capacity to act. Instead, I have argued that i t s importance as a p o l i c y t o o l inheres i n a much more complex s o c i a l r e l a t i o n . That i s , 'competence' comes into being as a s o c i a l force only i n and through a p a r t i c u l a r organization of r e l a t i o n s among so c i a l . a c t o r s i n the spheres of education and employment. This r e l a t i o n i s one which a r t i c u l a t e s i n d i v i d u a l knowledge and performance to the process of c a p i t a l accumulation i n the workplace, and which coordinates and aligns the work of educational i n s t i t u t i o n s so that the benefits or "property r i g h t s " which are the product of educational programs can be said to accrue d i r e c t l y to c a p i t a l (Goldstein 1984; Moore 1987). What we are witnessing i n these developments i s a process of transformation i n the character of state regulatory practices which i s not confined to the sphere of education alone. Rather i t i s part of a more generalized development i n which an ever widening c i r c l e of a c t i v i t i e s , including many which have i n past constituted a sphere of state action ostensibly concerned with 73 the public welfare (e.g. s o c i a l services, health care, education), are coming to be managed according to t h e i r worth to c a p i t a l (Clarke i n Smith and Smith 1987). C 1 1 ] The competency-based curriculum measures explored here achieve t h e i r broadest s i g n i f i c a n c e i n t h i s context. These developments i n the sphere of education also have f a r -reaching implications for our understanding of the state and state processes i n contemporary c a p i t a l i s t s o c i a l formations. They challenge our assumptions about the state, not only how ' i t ' may be expected to act and whose inte r e s t s 1 i t 1 can be seen to serve [ 1 2 ] , but also about what constitutes "the state" or state action. The curriculum practices examined here help remind us that the power we c a l l 'the state' a c t u a l l y "... e x i s t s only as i t i s exercised ... i n a network of r e l a t i o n s , constantly i n tension, i n a c t i v i t y " (Donald: 1979:14). I t i s only by focussing on these forms of "state as p r a c t i c e " that we begin to understand i t s character, and p a r t i c u l a r l y the continuingly contradictory character of state regulation and reform. While the problem of theorizing these observations of "state as p r a c t i c e " remains l a r g e l y outside the scope of the present thesis, nevertheless I want to note the p o t e n t i a l for a contribution to state theory which i s i m p l i c i t i n t h i s form of empirical i n v e s t i g a t i o n . [ 1 3 ] Furthermore, the c r i t i c a l concern of Marxist c r i t i c s of education i s not simply with a form of "state as p r a c t i c e " which a r t i c u l a t e s education and industry, since t h i s could be seen as an e s s e n t i a l requirement of economic v i a b i l i t y i n a l l forms of i n d u s t r i a l i z e d s o c i e t i e s . Rather, we must be concerned with how t h i s a r t i c u l a t i o n i s accomplished i n the context of sustaining c a p i t a l i s t s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s (Donald 1979). In t h i s l i g h t , my analysis of competency measures i n pr a c t i c e begins to reveal that state mediation i n the sphere of education and t r a i n i n g serves the maintenance of c a p i t a l i s t s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s by e f f e c t i n g a r e d e f i n i t i o n of what vocational education i s and i s for, and by re s t r u c t u r i n g i t s i n s t i t u t i o n s to serve these new objectives (Donald 1979). F i n a l l y , t h i s study of the curriculum r e l a t i o n s under the competency framework reminds us that the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s through which the i n t e r e s t s of c a p i t a l come to dominate the s o c i a l process i n our midst are never r i g i d l y deterministic. Rather, they continue to involve a process of struggle among opposing forces. In t h i s context, curriculum decision-making w i l l continue to be an arena of c o n f l i c t , inasmuch as i t i s made up of competing i n t e r e s t s of ins t r u c t o r s , representatives of d i f f e r i n g c a p i t a l s , and curriculum s p e c i a l i s t s representing the state, a l l driven by d i f f e r e n t r e l a t i o n s to the question of "need". I t cannot be taken for granted whose in t e r e s t s w i l l p r e v a i l at any given stage i n t h i s ongoing h i s t o r i c a l struggle. In t h i s context, the importance of competency measures i s the s o p h i s t i c a t i o n which they bring to the p r a c t i c e of state regulation i n t h i s arena, and the way they are employed as part of a broad state strategy to give a larger voice to c a p i t a l i n the determination of the goals of public vocational education. 75 However, t h e c u r r i c u l u m p r o c e s s i t s e l f remains c o n t r a d i c t o r y and i d e o l o g i c a l , even i n the ways t h a t i t attempts t o r e p r e s e n t the i n t e r e s t s o f c a p i t a l ( G o l d s t e i n 1984). For i n s t a n c e , i t i s not a t a l l c l e a r the i n t e r e s t s of c a p i t a l are b e t t e r s e r v e d by competency arrangements which impose on employers a s h o r t - t e r m c o n c e p t i o n of s k i l l requirements on the j o b . [ 1 4 ] Indeed, t h i s t h e s i s argues t h a t the most immediate and c o m p e l l i n g f o r c e which s u s t a i n s and p e r p e t u a t e s t h i s p a r t i c u l a r form o f c u r r i c u l a r arrangements i s the way i t s a t i s f i e s , not the s k i l l requirements of c a p i t a l , but the i m p e r a t i v e s of managerial r e l a t i o n s w i t h i n the e n t e r p r i s e o f bourgeois s t a t e r u l e . Thus, the competency paradigm i s an important t o o l o f s t a t e a c t i o n not because i t n e c e s s a r i l y b e t t e r s e r v e s the i n t e r e s t s of c a p i t a l , but because i t becomes p a r t o f the c a p a c i t y of p u b l i c p o l i c y p r o c e s s t o make ed u c a t i o n r e p o r t a b l e / a c c o u n t a b l e as s e r v i n g these i n t e r e s t s . In t h i s c o n t e x t , I w i l l argue i n l a t e r c h a p t e r s t h a t the competency paradigm becomes an a s p e c t of "good management p r a c t i c e " i n the c o l l e g e environment. 76 ENDNOTES (CHAPTER TWO) 1. Bergson, H. The Creative Mind: An Introduction to  Metaphysics. Quoted i n David Schuman (1982). 2. I have found the work of Robert Moore extremely i n t e r e s t i n g and suggestive, and have made considerable use of i t throughout the t h e s i s . However, there are considerable differences between h i s a n a l y t i c project and my own which require comment. Moore writes from a background of experience as a s o c i a l education teacher i n a comprehensive school and i n non-advanced further education as an i n s t r u c t o r and program evaluatator. As a r e s u l t , h i s work r e f l e c t s a strong grasp of the r e l a t i o n s of practice, which i s i t s strength. As a s o c i o l o g i s t , however, he gravitates toward rather abstract t h e o r e t i c a l and conceptual t o o l s , which ultimately l i m i t the value of h i s work for my purposes. According to h i s own report (1987:228), Moore's "underlying t h e o r e t i c a l approach" derives from Bernstein, from whom he adopts constructs such as "transmission codes" and "boundary r e l a t i o n s h i p s " to explore the r e l a t i o n between pedagogy and production (1987, 1983). In the process, h i s attention i s diverted away from the ground of experience and p r a c t i c a l s o c i a l organization and into the world of abstract l o g i c and conceptual organization. Thus, I have found i t useful to follow Moore's suggestive formulations i n the d i r e c t i o n they point empirically rather than t h e o r e t i c a l l y . 3. This use of the term ideology i s too pervasive to attempt to catalogue. For ready examples i n a relevant l i t e r a t u r e , see Apple (1982), Weiss (1985) and Livingstone (1985). 4. See G.W. Smith (1988, 1987), Ng (1988), Campbell (1988, 1984), G r i f f i t h (1984), Reimer (1987), Cassin (forthcoming). 5. For much of t h i s discussion I am endebted to the Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS, 1981), and to Peter Grahame (1983). 6. See G.W. Smith (1987, and forthcoming) f o r a d e t a i l e d analysis of labour market management practices from a s o c i a l organization of knowledge perspective. 7. See Nunan's (1983:53-57) excellent discussion of the "union of behaviourism and systems [thought]". 8. G.W. Smith (forthcoming) uses the concept of " r e c u r s i v i t y " to explore t h i s phenomenon. 9. Macdonald-Ross (1975) posits two approaches to the behavioural/systematic approach: hard and s o f t . The " s o f t - l i n e " 77 approach i d e n t i f i e s those who are s a t i s f i e d with "weak ru l e s " for deriving objectives ... "better than nothing but not leading to powerful p r e s c r i p t i o n s " . Macdonald-Ross points out that the "weak r u l e s " p o s i t i o n i s inconsistent with many of the "ambitious and demanding schemes" derived from behavioural premises i n recent years, such as "payment by r e s u l t s or mastery learning" (1975:3 61) and furthermore objects that i t i s not c l e a r that "weak" procedures can "d e l i v e r the goods: that i s , whether the outcomes of education can be brought i n l i n e with the i n i t i a l aims. And that surely was the purpose of the whole enterprise" (Macdonald-Ross 1975:361). 10. Nunan's analysis, despite i t s p o l i t i c a l c l a r i t y , does not e n t i r e l y escape the problems of idealism discussed i n the l a s t chapter. The troublesome points i n Nunan's work, from my perspective, are those aspects of h i s a n a l y t i c framework which he s p e c i f i c a l l y i d e n t i f i e s as " s o c i o l o g i c a l " . For instance, he construct a dichotomy among educators between the " c o n t r o l l e r s " and the "controlled", and treats these as manifestations of opposing "value po s i t i o n s " (p. 18) and "world views"(p. 36). He says "The approach i s s o c i o l o g i c a l , and based around the notion of key or core values held by groups. Teachers should ... be able to i d e n t i f y the ways i n which they are being managed (through values) and who i s attempting to manage them (by those who hold such values)." (p. 18). This passage i s a c l a s s i c i l l u s t r a t i o n of the " i d e o l o g i c a l p r a c t i c e of sociology" (Smith 1974b). 11. See Campbell (1988, 1984) for studies of t h i s r e l a t i o n i n nursing and s o c i a l work. See Ng (1988) on management of community organizations i n t h i s context. On community college management see Muller (forthcoming, 1987). 12. For an introduction to e x i s t i n g approaches to the state i n r e l a t i o n to education, see Dale (1982, 1981). 13. Elsewhere (Jackson 1980) I have discussed problems of state theory p a r t i c u l a r l y as they r e l a t e to class character of the state under capitalism. Although these issues remain peripheral to the central project of the thesis, I want to comment b r i e f l y on how the empirical research reported here may be seen as relevant to these issues. The problem i s , as P h i l i p Corrigan wrote, even as early as 1980, there i s among Marxists a " s u r f e i t of theory" (Corrigan 1980:xvi) about the nature of the state, ( i . e . Jessop, Miliband, Offe, Poulantzas, Gramsci and t h e i r followers; f o r review, see Jessop, 1982), but there remains a r e l a t i v e d i r t h of t h e o r e t i c a l or empirical work which aims to explicate the presence of state r e l a t i o n s as a form of s o c i a l organization which i s a pervasive presence i n everyday l i f e . For examples of t h i s genre, see Cockburn (1977), London-Edinburgh Group (1980), Corrigan (ed. 1980), Corrigan and Sayer (1985), Ng (1988), Dehli (1988), Resources f o r Feminist Research (1988, 1986). Such an approach to studying the state i s informed by the epistemology of Marx, but not of most Marxists (see Corrigan, Ramsay and Sayer 1980). Since my i n t e r e s t i n "the state" f a l l s i n t h i s l a t t e r t e r r i t o r y , I have chosen for the purposes of the 78 present study not to formulate my findings i n r e l a t i o n to e x i s t i n g or proposed state theory, but rather to contribute to the growing body of empirical explorations on which an adequate, m a t e r i a l i s t , t h e o r e t i c a l formulation might be b u i l t . 14. See, f o r example, Hirschorn (1986). 79 CHAPTER THREE THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF KNOWLEDGE: AN APPROACH TO INQUIRY The r e l a t i o n between i n d i v i d u a l and organizational or i n s t i t u t i o n a l action i s at the heart of the i n v e s t i g a t i o n undertaken i n t h i s t h e s i s . In the empirical chapters which follow, competency-based curriculum measures are explored through the t a l k and action of i n s t r u c t o r s and administrators i n the college s e t t i n g and the documentary processes which organize the r e l a t i o n s among them. Our i n t e r e s t i n these a c t i v i t i e s i s the way i n which they reveal the s o c i a l organization i n which they are embedded and on which they depend fo r t h e i r sense. Here I w i l l explore some of the basic premises of analysis i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge on which such an i n v e s t i g a t i o n depends. This chapter i d e n t i f i e s the basic methodological p r i n c i p l e s of the materialism of Marx as the s t a r t i n g place for s o c i a l inquiry. From there, i t provides a more d e t a i l e d examination of the epistemological grounds for the use of language and documentary processes as the p r i n c i p l e resources f o r i n v e s t i g a t i o n . These technical discussions deal d i r e c t l y with the p r a c t i c a l underpinnings of the thesis i n both a broad and a narrow sense. They provide the t h e o r e t i c a l terms within which language and texts may be seen as constituents of s o c i a l action; t h i s r e l a t i o n underlies the e n t i r e conception of empirical 80 enterprise undertaken here. The same technical discussions also explicate the epistemological basis of the methods of data gathering and a n l y s i s employed throughout, including procedures for interviewing, observations, and attention to documentary processes. THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF KNOWLEDGE The s o c i a l organization of knowledge f 1 ] i s an approach to s o c i a l inquiry which takes as i t s broad objective the work of e x p l i c a t i n g the r e l a t i o n s of dominance and subordination i n twentieth century capitalism, through an i n v e s t i g a t i o n of the forms of knowledge, including documents and textual processes, which are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the " r u l i n g r e l a t i o n s " i n c a p i t a l i s t society. The concept of " r u l i n g " i n t h i s use extends not only to a c t i v i t i e s of government per se, but to the extended bureaucratic, p o l i t i c a l , j u r i d i c a l , economic etc. a c t i v i t i e s which characterize the organization of contemporary corporate c a p i t a l i s t s o c i e t i e s (Smith 1984, 1974a). The approach begins where i n d i v i d u a l s are located i n the everyday world of l o c a l experience and works to explicate the embeddedness of i n d i v i d u a l experience i n these extended s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of r u l i n g . I t seeks to demonstrate through t h i s r e l a t i o n of embeddedness how i t i s that i n d i v i d u a l s p a r t i c i p a t e on a routine basis i n the production of s o c i a l arrangements which seem to have power over t h e i r l i v e s but which in d i v i d u a l s experience as independent of, often contradictory to, t h e i r intentions to act. 81 The problem i s a c l a s s i c one i n Marxist thought, posed by Marx and Engels i n The German Ideology (1970). There, they wrote about the problem of "... the consolidation of what we ourselves produce into an objective power above us, growing out of our control, thwarting our expectations, bringing to naught our cal c u l a t i o n s ..." (1970:53-4). In The German Ideology, a c r i t i c a l method for investi g a t i o n of t h i s human dilemma was formulated i n opposition to the t r a d i t i o n s of German philosophical idealism. Over time, t h i s a n a l y t i c stance became the cornerstone of the m a t e r i a l i s t method which was the basis for Marx's developing c r i t i q u e of p o l i t i c a l economy. Marx and Engels define t h e i r s t a r t i n g place from the observation that a l l of human hi s t o r y depends upon "the existence of l i v i n g human beings" and that "the wri t i n g of h i s t o r y must always set out from these natural bases and t h e i r modification i n the course of h i s t o r y through the action of men [ s i c ] " (1970:42). Thus they i n s i s t on attention to "material l i f e " as the ground of inve s t i g a t i o n : The premises from which we begin are not a r b i t r a r y ones, not dogmas but r e a l premises from which abstraction can only be made i n the imagination. They are the r e a l i n d i v i d u a l s , t h e i r a c t i v i t y and the material conditions under which they l i v e , both those which they f i n d already e x i s t i n g and those produced by t h e i r a c t i v i t y (Marx and Engels 1970:42). Their exploration of material l i f e focusses on the contradiction i n inte r e s t s between in d i v i d u a l s which inheres i n the h i s t o r i c a l d i v i s i o n of labour, and to the " d e f i n i t e s o c i a l 82 and p o l i t i c a l r e l a t i o n s " i n which these contradictions are both expressed and obscured. The s o c i a l power, i . e . the m u l t i p l i e d productive force, which a r i s e s through the co-operation of d i f f e r e n t i n d i v i d u a l s as i t i s determined by a d i v i s i o n of labour, appears to these i n d i v i d u a l s , since t h e i r cooperation i s not voluntary ... not as t h e i r own united power, but as an a l i e n force e x i s t i n g outside them, the o r i g i n and goal of which they are ignorant, which they thus cannot control ... (1970:54). Work i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge extends and elaborates both the problematic and the methodological premises set out by Marx i n ways that are attentive to the circumstances of l a t e 20th century capitalism and to the enterprise of sociology. [ 2] In t h i s context, i t d i r e c t s p a r t i c u l a r attention to the t e x t u a l l y mediated character of contemporary s o c i a l organization. TEXTUALLY-MEDIATED ACTION Studies i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge are pri m a r i l y concerned to explore i d e o l o g i c a l modes of s o c i a l action. Smith characterizes the i d e o l o g i c a l mode as one which depends upon "a formalized, abstracted, impersonalized mode of knowing a r t i c u l a t e d to an apparatus of r u l i n g " (Smith 1983:3). The dominant mode of action i n t h i s sphere does not depend upon the consciousness of i n d i v i d u a l actors, but upon documentary and textual forms of "communication, action and s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s " 83 (Smith 1984:59) i n which i n d i v i d u a l s are the actors but are no longer the subjects of t h e i r own action. Such documentary forms of organization are c e n t r a l to the i n s t i t u t i o n a l processes through which contemporary s o c i e t i e s are governed. They involve the displacement of the i n t e r p r e t i v e a c t i v i t y of i n d i v i d u a l actors as the basis for decision making and action. In i t s place i s inserted a system of documentary information gathering which provides the basis for decision-making that takes place outside the l o c a l s e t t i n g , vesting authority for action i n those who are not d i r e c t l y charged with i t s conduct. Analyses i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge show that such practices "externalize" the consciousness of i n d i v i d u a l actors and reconstruct what they know as " o b j e c t i f i e d knowledge" or organizational consciousness, which then becomes a "property of formal organization", a v a i l a b l e to "appropriation by a textual discourse," and the basis for " r a t i o n a l action" (Smith 1984:60). Smith describes t h i s as: ...expressing knowledge i n a documentary mode and transposing what were formerly i n d i v i d u a l judgements, hunches, guesses and so on into formulae f o r analysing data or making assessments. Such practices render organizational judgement, feedback, information or coordination into o b j e c t i f i e d documentary rather than subjective processes (Smith 1984:62). Key to the power of such documentary forms of communication i s the way i n which they "exclude the active and v i s i b l e presence of the subject who i s knower ..." thus " t r a n s l a t i n g what i s known ... into an o b j e c t i f i e d form" (Smith 1987b:5). [ 3] In t h i s mode, 84 a world of s o c i a l action i s produced which may appear to "remain uniform across separate and diverse l o c a l s e t t i n g s " by " c r y s t a l l i z [ i n g ] and preserv[ing] a d e f i n i t e form of words detached from t h e i r l o c a l h i s t o r i c i t y " (Smith 1984:60). According to Smith, the importance of such o b j e c t i f i e d textual modes of communication i s t h e i r capacity to contribute to the r e l a t i o n s of r u l i n g . They provide a means by which a c t i v i t i e s which take place i n one time and place may be known i n another, not necessarily i n every d e t a i l , but i n ways that t i d y them up a b i t , reducing t h e i r ambiguity for administrative purposes. The curriculum processes examined here have p r e c i s e l y t h i s character, i n a form that applies to the problem of managing vocational learning. The documents of a competency-based curriculum process provide a form of knowledge about work which i s abstracted and o b j e c t i f i e d , emptied of the p a r t i c u l a r s of time, place, and subject. The documents serve as an intermediary between the world of work and various stages of action i n the world of learning. They do so by providing a d e f i n i t i o n of "competencies" which i s treated as constant between settings, thus providing for continuity i n understanding and action. [ 4] This analysis of textual process has important implications f o r how documents are to be read, understood and used. Conventional approaches to texts teach us to t r e a t them as a "surface from which we rake o f f meaning" or simply as "sources of information about something else, something i n the f i e l d or some 85 background knowledge ..." (Smith 1987b:3). By contrast, the account of textual practices being developed i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge requires that texts not be treated i n i s o l a t i o n , but rather as moments i n a discourse, as something " i n t e g r a l to the concerting and coordination of organization processes" of s o c i a l and i n s t i t u t i o n a l l i f e . (Smith 1987b:3) In t h i s vein, Smith (1984:72) reminds us that documents and documentary processes are "not i d i o s y n c r a t i c " and do not "appear from nowhere". Rather, they are embedded i n and a r t i c u l a t e d with those of the "extended s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of the r u l i n g apparatus" (Smith 1984:67). As such they are part of an i d e o l o g i c a l and dis c u r s i v e apparatus: Textually-mediated discourse i s a d i s t i n c t i v e feature of contemporary society e x i s t i n g as s o c i a l l y organized communicative and i n t e r p r e t i v e practices i n t e r s e c t i n g with and s t r u c t u r i n g people's everyday worlds and contributing thereby to the organization of the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of the economy and of the p o l i t i c a l process (1987b:5). In times of change such as the present decade, these i d e o l o g i c a l and dis c u r s i v e forms of organization are central to the capacity of the r u l i n g apparatus to generate coordinated change. Smith r e f e r s to t h i s as a process of " i d e o l o g i c a l r e t o o l i n g " which serves as a kind of "currency" i n r e l a t i o n s among the " d i f f u s e l y coordinated" s i t e s of the r e l a t i o n s of r u l i n g : Ideological 'retooling* plays a s i g n i f i c a n t part i n redrawing p o l i c y and i n coordinating p o l i c y changes i n multiple s i t e s and at d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of the r e l a t i o n s of r u l i n g , p a r t i c u l a r l y ... state organization.... The 86 r e t o o l i n g of state p o l i c i e s i s , of course, central for the state as the primary agent i n coordinating a l o c a l economy within the global r e l a t i o n s of c a p i t a l and for providing the appropriate i n f r a s t r u c t u r a l conditions for the accumulation of c a p i t a l ... (Smith 1987:23,25). The process described here as 'retooling' provides a valuable conceptualization of the transformations i n education and t r a i n i n g p o l i c y explored i n Chapter Two. The forms of thought and action provided by the competency paradigm provide, as we s h a l l see, new methods of planning, decision-making, coordinating and taking action which make possible a form of state p o l i c y which i s said to be "responsive" to changing requirements for the expansion of c a p i t a l , referred to as "economic growth". They involve the use of o b j e c t i f i e d forms of knowledge about job s k i l l s , c r y s t a l l i z e d i n documentary form for use i n systems of r a t i o n a l decision making and coordinated i n s t i t u t i o n a l action. They f a c i l i t a t e the alignment of everyday p r a c t i c e i n educational settings with state p o l i c y discourse i n the arena of education and t r a i n i n g f o r work. What remains i s to make these processes of transformation and alignment v i s i b l e as an empirical matter. Smith (1984:60-61) points out that while "... [s]uch o b j e c t i f i e d and o b j e c t i f y i n g forms of r e l a t i o n s are e s s e n t i a l l y t e x t u a l " they are nevertheless themselves a s o c i a l product, "accomplished by persons i n everyday l o c a l settings, who thereby enter into and p a r t i c i p a t e i n o b j e c t i f i e d forms c o n s t i t u t i n g organizational and discursive r e l a t i o n s beyond themselves". Investigation of these s o c i a l processes involves a method of attending to the "i n t e r - t e x u a l " character of coordinated s o c i a l 87 action i n the research s i t e (Smith 1987b:3). This requires some s p e c i f i c ways of organizing attention i n the f i e l d work s i t u a t i o n , which are explored below. SOCIAL RELATIONS: THE PROBLEMATIC OF THE EVERYDAY WORLD The concept of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s , borrowed from Marx, i d e n t i f i e s and expresses the most fundamental organizing p r i n c i p l e of studies i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge. That i s the premise that i n d i v i d u a l experience i s not i s o l a t e d and i d i o s y n c r a t i c , but rather i s embedded in a complex web of i n t e r - r e l a t e d s o c i a l action within which a l l experience arises and derives i t s sense. Such s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s are posited not as s t r u c t u r a l givens, abstract and remote from d a i l y l i f e , but as the ongoing production of the a c t i v i t i e s of i n d i v i d u a l s , present and past, i n a time and place which may be l a i d open to inquiry. Thus, as s o c i a l investigators, we are always dealing i n a dynamic universe of phenomena that are constantly i n the processes of production, reproduction, and transformation, always occurring i n the midst of circumstances which we i n h e r i t from actions of those before us and thus, as Marx reminds us, are not of our own choosing. Use of the concept of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s serves "as a guide, from the moment of observation to a method of analysis which dis c l o s e s how the phenomena a r i s e as a s o c i a l product ..." (Smith 88 1983:18). The importance of the term i s as part of an e f f o r t to not " o b j e c t i f y the a c t i v i t y of in d i v i d u a l s as something separate from themselves" but rather to see o b j e c t i f i e d s o c i a l forms as a r i s i n g , having t h e i r existence only i n "the s o c i a l a r t i c u l a t i o n of i n d i v i d u a l s ' a c t u a l practices". Using t h i s i n v e s t i g a t i v e process resolves the problem of 'agency' because i n d i v i d u a l subjects are i n t e g r a l to the process of c o n s t i t u t i n g the phenomenon under invest i g a t i o n (Smith 1981a). Although these s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s which organize d a i l y l i f e i n contemporary capitalism are i n our midst, they are nevertheless commonly obscured from our view and understanding by a v a r i e t y of i d e o l o g i c a l processes. Indeed, the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s i n which in d i v i d u a l experience has i t s determinations routinely extend beyond the scope of experience of in d i v i d u a l s i n any given l o c a l i t y , contributing to the sense of s o c i a l forces that are somehow " a l i e n " . But these same s o c i a l forces have t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r manifestations i n the midst of everyday l i f e , i n what i s taken as common sense. They appear i n the taken-for-granted ways i n which people orient to and organize t h e i r d a i l y l i f e and work. As such, they are i n t e g r a l to the understanding which in d i v i d u a l s have of t h e i r own experience and i n t e g r a l to the ways they organize t h e i r action. Studies i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge focus on t h i s r e l a t i o n between underlying s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s and everyday understanding and action and e x p l o i t i t as the e s s e n t i a l resource for investigating the s o c i a l world. 89 Smith (1987a) i d e n t i f i e s t h i s i n v e s t i g a t i v e stance as the problematic of the everyday world. This o r i e n t a t i o n to the everyday world i s intended "not to make i t an object i n and of i t s e l f , but a s i t e from within which we explore the extended r e l a t i o n s determining the l o c a l organization" (Smith 1987b:13). In t h i s approach, i n d i v i d u a l research s i t e s "cannot be treated as i f they were self-contained and analyzable independently of the r e l a t i o n s and organization with which they are coordinated" (Smith 1987b:13). Instead, the process i s one of i n v e s t i g a t i o n and disclosure of r e l a t i o n s which burst the boundaries of the immediate datum of i n d i v i d u a l experience. This thesis examines the concept of competence as a s o c i a l r e l a t i o n i n the sense outlined here. I t argues that, i n p r a c t i c e , competence stands for a p a r t i c u l a r organization of r e l a t i o n s among s o c i a l actors i n d i f f e r e n t spheres of state p o l i c y r e l a t e d to vocational education. Examination of these r e l a t i o n s focusses on the work processes of i n s t r u c t o r s , administrators, employers and state bureaucrats, through whose actions the r e l a t i o n s of competence come into being. The method of e x p l i c a t i n g these extended s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s , i s c a l l e d by Smith (1986) " i n s t i t u t i o n a l ethnography". I t i s distinguished by i t s insistence on exploring two common forms of communication and action as e s s e n t i a l constituents of s o c i a l action and organization: t a l k and textual processes. Each forms an e s s e n t i a l resource f o r s o c i a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n i n ways that are d e t a i l e d below. 90 A. Talk and So c i a l Relations: What Smith c a l l s the "point of entry" for an i n s t i t u t i o n a l ethnography are p a r t i c u l a r moments i n the language or t a l k of the subjects of study. The primary focus of i n t e r e s t i s not the f a c t i c i t y of what the speaker has to say (a p o s i t i v i s t stance), nor the s u b j e c t i v i t y of the i n d i v i d u a l (a phenomenological stance) nor even the intersubjective accomplishment of meaning (an ethnomethological stance). Rather, the in v e s t i g a t i v e focus i s on aspects of the taken for granted understanding, situated knowledge and/or p r a c t i c a l reasoning of actors which help to reveal features of the s o c i a l organization within which i n d i v i d u a l action has i t s sense. These forms of p r a c t i c a l reasoning are part of what the speaker r e l i e s upon i n various ways fo r her understanding and action, but often does not mention d i r e c t l y i n describing her experience. She does not f i l l i n the d e t a i l s , though she c l e a r l y r e l i e s on them to make sense of her own utterance, as well as to guide her choice of action. This feature of i n d i v i d u a l experience i s c r i t i c a l from the point of view of the researcher, inasmuch as the same s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s which organize the t a l k and action of in d i v i d u a l s also organize t h e i r accounts when they t e l l of t h e i r experience. Thus, i f the researcher i s to comprehend, as a l i s t e n e r , the sense which the speaker intends, she must enter into the same 91 organization of p r a c t i c a l reasoning on which the speaker's account depends. That i s , both the research subject and the researcher (and ultimately her findings) are dependent f o r t h e i r s e n s i b i l i t y on some aspects of the s o c i a l organization which i s a feature of the s e t t i n g i t s e l f (Jackson 1977; Smith 1981b). This observation has important implications for our work as researchers. I t means that i n our attempts to "understand" or p a r t i c i p a t e i n the sense which a given experience has for the subjects of our research, we are bound by, or dependent upon, some aspects of the same s o c i a l organization on which t h e i r experience arose i n the f i r s t place. Thus we are obliged to eit h e r possess, or to acquire a knowledge of the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s which are i n t e g r a l to i t s sense. Otherwise, we are at l i b e r t y to construct an in t e r p r e t a t i o n or "explanation" of events or experiences which may bear an indeterminate r e l a t i o n to the forces on which they depend (Jackson 1984, 1977). The use of language described here represents a considerable departure from the dominant mode of language use found i n the educational discourse. This point can be amply i l l u s t r a t e d from within the contemporary l i t e r a t u r e on competence. For example, i n the work of Edmund Short (1984a, 1984b) and Michael C o l l i n s (1987, 1983) we can see a mode of language use which educational t h e o r i s t s i n h e r i t from a p h i l o s p h i c a l t r a d i t i o n . Short (1984b:202) i s concerned to inquire into "the meaning and ac q u i s i t i o n of competence" so that educational p o l i c i e s and 92 p r a c t i c e s can be "reconceived" to serve an enriched educational p r a c t i c e . S i m i l a r l y , C o l l i n s (1987, 1983) i s concerned to reconstruct the notion of 'relevance', to rescue i t from i t s red u c t i o n i s t tendencies i n order to serve a broader v i s i o n of adult education. In these frameworks, language serves as an i d e a l , a guide, a normative conception of the educational enterprise. In a somewhat d i f f e r e n t but also prominent mode, Spady (1977, 1980) i s concerned to use the term 'competence' to set boundaries around pract i c e . He wants to t i d y up the concept, banish the ambiguity and contradictions with which i t has come to be associated, a r r i v i n g at a constant d e f i n i t i o n which i d e n t i f i e s a d i s t i n c t i v e set of educational practices. I t i s a l e g i s l a t i v e , and taxonomic, approach to language use. The methods of language use employed i n t h i s t h e s i s are interested neither i n restoration nor l e g i s l a t i o n of meaning. Rather, t h e i r objective i s to investigate how language has meaning as a constituent of s o c i a l action (Smith 1981b; Rubenstein 1981; Bolough 1979; Wittgenstein 1967). This approach to language i s central to the work of both Marx and Wittgenstein. Both f i n d f a u l t with t r a d i t i o n a l philosophy for undertaking the search for meaning by separating ideas from t h e i r p r a c t i c a l context. According to Wittgenstein, meaning constructed outside of the context of everyday use amounts to "language ... on holiday" or "philosophers*s nonsense" (quoted i n Rubenstein 1981:130). By contrast, Marx and Wittgenstein both argue that the meaning of a word can only be established by 93 i n v e s t i g a t i o n of i t s use, i t s embeddedness i n s o c i a l l i f e , where language has meaning as part of purposive a c t i v i t y or as an element i n a system of s o c i a l practices (Rubenstein 1981). Wittgenstein r e f e r s to these s o c i a l processes as the "language game[s] 1 1 i n which meaning a r i s e s . This r e l a t i o n can be seen, according to Wittgenstein, i n the way that c h i l d r e n r o u t i n e l y learn the meaning of words, that i s not by d e f i n i t i o n but by a kind of p r a c t i c a l t r a i n i n g i n which understanding of the meaning of a word amounts to mastery of i t s r o l e i n s o c i a l l i f e (Wittgenstein 1967; Rubenstein 1981). For Marx, t h i s feature of language reveals the e s s e n t i a l l y s o c i a l and h i s t o r i c a l character of meaning, and t i e s the problem of analysis of ideas to a process of h i s t o r i c a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n . This r e l a t i o n l i e s at the center of h i s c r i t i q u e of the standard concepts of c l a s s i c a l economic thought - value, commodities, money. His analysis reveals that these apparently ordinary s o c i a l objects are an expression of an underlying organization of r e l a t i o n s among in d i v i d u a l s - the s o c i a l forms of the production process. In t h i s vein, Marx argues that the "commodity-ness" of an object does not inhere i n the thing i t s e l f , contrary to i t s appearance as such, but i n the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n which the thing expresses and through which i t s character as a commodity i s r e a l i z e d . So, an apple picked o f f a tree f o r a "snack" i n the hands of the hungry picker, becomes a "commodity" i n the hands of a picker who takes i t to market and s e l l s i t for someone else's snack. Its character as a commodity i s r e a l i z e d only i n t h i s s o c i a l r e l a t i o n (Marx 1954). 94 Furthermore, the apple i n t h i s scenario serves not merely as an instrument, i n a functional sense, of coordination v i s - a - v i s r e l a t i o n s among ind i v i d u a l s , but as an active constituent of s o c i a l action. That i s , i t i s only through the intermediacy of the apple i t s e l f that the apple grower/picker and the apple buyer/eater are entered into commodity r e l a t i o n s . Thus the apple i s an active constituent of the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n being investigated (Rubin 1973; Marx 1954). The analysis of the concept of competence undertaken here i s characterized by a c e r t a i n isomorphism with these analyses of Marx. That i s , although 'competence' has been made to appear as a state or q u a l i t y of i n d i v i d u a l s ' capacity to act, one which can be produced and measured l i k e goods for market, my enterprise i s intended to show that "competence-ness" inheres i n a much more complex s o c i a l r e l a t i o n . I t comes into being only i n a p a r t i c u l a r organization of r e l a t i o n s among s o c i a l actors i n the spheres of employment and education/training. In p a r t i c u l a r , the r e l a t i o n i d e n t i f i e d as "competence" i s a p a r t i c u l a r form of such organization which expresses, puts i n place, r e l a t i o n s which a r t i c u l a t e i n d i v i d u a l knowing and action to the process of c a p i t a l accumulation. 95 B. Texts and So c i a l Relations The second major i n v e s t i g a t i v e resource f o r an i n s t i t u t i o n a l ethnography i s textual or documentary processes. Here I want to specify the i n t e r e s t s i n t e x t u a l i t y which are explored i n t h i s work, and those that are not. The 'nots' come f i r s t . F i r s t of a l l , my a n a l y t i c i n t e r e s t i n textual processes i s not so much concerned with the text i t s e l f as with the s o c i a l processes which are mediated by texts. In t h i s case, my primary i n v e s t i g a t i v e focus i s on the a c t i v i t y of i n d i v i d u a l s ; no textual analysis w i l l be undertaken. Secondly, with a couple of exceptions, the analysis i s not generally oriented to displaying, or evaluating, the properties of texts or textual processes i n terms of t h e i r adequacy as administrative t o o l s . Our problematic i s not how to do administration more e f f e c t i v e l y . T h i r d l y , I am not concerned pr i m a r i l y with exploring the realm of textual discourse, or with analyzing the d e t a i l e d contribution of s p e c i f i c texts to disc u r s i v e r e l a t i o n s , although i t w i l l be c l e a r that the recognition of textual discourse i s i n t e g r a l to my analysis. In sum then, I do not claim for t h i s work a f u l l y developed character as an analysis of textual organization i n the work processes of the college s e t t i n g under in v e s t i g a t i o n . Quite the contrary, i t i s a very preliminary step i n t h i s d i r e c t i o n . Having established these l i m i t a t i o n s , l e t me specify what I do intend. My enterprise i s one of showing i n a preliminary way the capacity of texts to p a r t i c i p a t e i n organizing everyday 96 p r a c t i c a l action. I am less interested i n exploring t h i s capacity as a function of how words mean on the page, than i n discovering how i n d i v i d u a l action i s mediated by documentary forms of organization and communication i n the settings under inve s t i g a t i o n . Within the struggle and c o n f l i c t of everyday experience of l o c a l actors, such as ins t r u c t o r s and administrators i n the college s e t t i n g , there are many traces of the t e x t u a l l y organized character of s o c i a l action, though these textual presences commonly remain l a r g e l y unproblematized, unstated, even unseen by the actors themselves. Indeed, indivi d u a l s often see the "paper work" i n which they are required to engage as a nuisance, an imposition, an irrelevance, a d i s t r a c t i o n , even meaningless (Cassin, forthcoming) rather than seeing how i t implicates them i n the very r e l a t i o n s which they wish to r e s i s t . That i s , through the routine manner i n which they conduct t h e i r work, these l o c a l actors accomplish or r e a l i z e the coordinative function which the texts intend. As an example from the college s e t t i n g , teachers and administrators commonly r e s i s t i n p r i n c i p l e anything they see as fragmentation or t r i v i a l i s a t i o n of educational objectives. However, at the same time, they frequently embrace on pragmatic grounds the p r a c t i c a l routines through which such fragmented forms of educational organization are imported into the center of t h e i r p r a c t i c e - e.g. s k i l l p r o f i l e charts, task analysis workshops. The capacity of the textual processes to speak for, or speak instead of, the 97 intentions of teachers or administrators themselves i s l a r g e l y i n v i s i b l e from where they stand, although i t organizes the r e l a t i o n s among them. In these textually-mediated circumstances, we f i n d i n the i n t e r a c t i o n of l o c a l actors, evidence of how t h e i r action i s part of a s o c i a l r e l a t i o n that i s not f u l l y present i n the room. The example used by Smith (1983) i s the case of courtroom t a l k . In these settings, language i s directed toward the production of a formally warranted record of the proceeding. So we f i n d the request for each witness to state and restate information, much of which i s already known to those present i n the room, with the phrase "Would you t e l l the court ..." which has d e f i n i t e l e g a l uses. In t h i s s i t u a t i o n , t a l k i n the courtroom i s part of the accomplisment of a d e f i n i t e , textually-mediated s o c i a l r e l a t i o n . I t i s i n t e g r a l to the process of a r t i c u l a t i n g the work of i n d i v i d u a l s to an extended d i v i s i o n of labour which manages a changing h i s t o r i c a l r e a l i t y and makes i t a v a i l a b l e to a r u l i n g discourse (Smith 1987b). Such t a l k and action i n the present are oriented to the production not merely of communication i n the moment but of a formally warranted record of communication undertaken as i n s t i t u t i o n a l action. In the formal, i n s t i t u t i o n a l mode, words are removed from the s o c i a l process i n which t h e i r meaning ari s e s , and entered into "an i d e o l o g i c a l mode, availa b l e to a textual discourse of r u l i n g " (Smith 1983:7). I t i s i n t h i s mode that "motive" becomes 98 a t t r i b u t a b l e to the defendent i n a t r i a l , or that competence becomes a t t r i b u t a b l e to i n d i v i d u a l s as a property of t h e i r performance a b i l i t y . Thus, competence i s not and cannot be simply a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of work-related knowledge. I t i s rather an account of work-oriented educational process which has been produced i n an organizationally warranted manner (Smith 1983). These understandings of language use and textual process w i l l be r e f l e c t e d throughout the analysis of empirical data undertaken i n the coming chapters. The t a l k of research subjects w i l l be examined to f i n d the i n s t i t u t i o n a l course of action i n which i t i s embedded, and on which i t depends for i t sense. Local settings of decision-making among employers, i n s t r u c t o r s , and administrators w i l l be explored for the mediating presence of textual processes that serve to a r t i c u l a t e everyday p r a c t i c e i n educational settings to a r u l i n g discourse. TOWARD A CRITICAL PRACTICE IN SOCIAL SCIENCE This approach to inves t i g a t i o n s t r i v e s to make v i s i b l e the ways i n which l o c a l a c t i v i t i e s are a r t i c u l a t e d to the larger s o c i a l and h i s t o r i c a l processes. I t makes i t possible to address questions about s o c i a l processes which are larger than the experience of i n d i v i d u a l s , without abandoning t h e i r ground i n p r a c t i c a l action. 99 This feature of the s o c i a l organization of knowledge approach addresses widely held concerns about the apparent dichotomy between macro- and micro- approaches to s o c i a l analysis, that i s , the a n a l y t i c gap between the apparently stable, organizational features of contemporary society and the ordinary experience of d a i l y l i f e . This i s a problem widely addressed i n sociology over the l a s t two decade, both d i r e c t l y and i n d i r e c t l y (Corrigan and Sayer 1985; Connell et a l 1982; Knorr-Cetina and Cicourel 1981; Giddens 1979). In Marxist scholarship, t h i s problem has been evidenced, on the one hand, by an overemphasis on "structure" i n the shadow of which "human agency" disappears and becomes the object of search. On the other hand, has been the tendency to r e t r e a t into analysis of l o c a l i z e d a c t i v i t y and i n d i v i d u a l s u b j e c t i v i t y i n a way that severs a n a l y t i c connections to larger s o c i a l and economic processes.[ 5] The s o c i a l organization of knowledge approach l a r g e l y avoids t h i s dichotomy, indeed would argue that the dichotomy i t s e l f i s an a r t i f a c t of the i d e o l o g i c a l procedures used by s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s themselves. This approach takes as i t s object of i n t e r e s t the very phenomenon which these other procedures are unable to account for, i . e . the r e l a t i o n i t s e l f between l o c a l and p a r t i c u l a r a c t i v i t i e s and the larger s o c i a l organization of which they are a part. But i t r e l i e s on the material world of a c t i v i t y , not the realm of theory per se, as the resource for i t s s o l u t i o n . 100 The s o c i a l organization of knowledge approach also sheds l i g h t on another major t h e o r e t i c a l and methodological problem for s o c i a l science, and one addressed i n the education l i t e r a t u r e with increasing frequency over the l a s t decade. That i s the question of the status of i n d i v i d u a l s u b j e c t i v i t y . [ 6] Previous generations of s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c orthodoxy have been concerned to banish s u b j e c t i v i t y , or to e s t a b l i s h the grounds to c r e d i t one r e a l i t y claim over another by reference to procedures f o r o b j e c t i v i t y , etc.. By contrast, the s o c i a l organization of knowledge tr e a t s the presence of multiple s u b j e c t i v i t i e s not as a problem to be overcome but as i t s e l f a resource f o r inv e s t i g a t i o n . I t treats i n d i v i d u a l knowledge not as a d e f i c i e n t version of objective knowledge, but as a form of l o c a l or situated expertise on which both the conduct of the s o c i a l world and an understanding of i t s character depend fundamentally. I t attempts to explicate the organization of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s i n which a m u l t i p l i c i t y of subjective experiences occur and are organized v i s - a - v i s one another i n r e l a t i o n s of domination/subordination. This work of showing the r e l a t i o n between everyday experience and the s o c i a l and h i s t o r i c a l process of which i n d i v i d u a l s are a part i s c l e a r l y a central piece of the agenda f o r a c r i t i c a l s o c i a l science. I t i s part of our fundamental task as researchers to do more than simply r e f l e c t back - or d e f l e c t into the academic arena - the point of view of the subjects of 101 research, along with an elaboration of our procedures f o r doing so. I t i s part of attempting to do something other than to make "resistance" into a t o p i c within the p r i v i l e g e d discourse of sociology. Rather, t h i s approach aims to contribute to the development of an oppositional knowledge, one which permits the s o c i a l world to be known from the place of those who are ruled, rather than the place of those whose need to know i s i n order to  ru l e . Such a knowledge i s central to the p o s s i b i l i t y of p o l i t i c a l action, the p o s s i b i l i t y of those who appear as "objects" from the standpoint of r u l i n g becoming the subjects and authors of e f f e c t i v e p o l i t i c a l action on t h e i r own behalf. In t h i s way, the approach i s part of b u i l d i n g toward a p o s i t i v e a l t e r n a t i v e to the much decried crushing pessimism of a deterministic Marxism. INVESTIGATION IN ACTION Following the in v e s t i g a t i v e stance outlined here, i n d i v i d u a l knowledge of competency-based procedures w i l l serve as the point of entry f o r examination of the routine a c t i v i t i e s through which competence i s constituted as an organizational p r a c t i c e . In taking up the inv e s t i g a t i o n i n t h i s way, we are committed to exploring a number of aspects of the curriculum decision-making process: what instruc t o r s i n the college s e t t i n g say and do, what employers and curriculum s p e c i a l i s t s say and do by way of contribution to the curriculum process, how administrators 102 function i n r e l a t i o n s both i n t e r n a l and external to the college s e t t i n g . In a l l cases, we are interested i n both what i s said or done by these actors, as well as what i s taken f o r granted i n t h e i r actions and utterances, and the ways i n which t h e i r actions are part of a larger i n s t i t u t i o n a l course of action. So what does t h i s mean concretely? I t means, fo r example, that we want to be able to show the complex interactions between i n d i v i d u a l intentions and choices and the i n s t i t u t i o n a l r e l a t i o n s which give shape to i n d i v i d u a l action. So, college inst r u c t o r s f i n d that they must make choices, p a r t i c i p a t e i n decision-making on the basis of a f i n i t e range of options, based on a seri e s of requirements imposed from without, and which change from time to time. These are the terms and conditions which i n s t r u c t o r s experience as the l i m i t s of t h e i r freedom to "close the door and teach what [they] please", or to adapt curriculum to meet the needs of t h e i r students. These terms and conditions are not of t h e i r own choosing, although instru c t o r s are thoroughly implicated i n t h e i r production, as the following chapters w i l l show. A l l of the data chapters of the thesis r e l y to some extent on the use of t a l k and textual processes described here. Chapter Four searches the t a l k of instru c t o r s for evidence of the e f f e c t of the new organization of i n s t r u c t i o n a l r e l a t i o n s , discovering how i t s powerful transformative character becomes v i s i b l e as a pervasive disruption of t h e i r work and t h e i r intentions. Chapter 103 Five examines the texts of a professional discourse on competency-based curriculum-making, seeking to f i n d the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s which are embedded i n them and which they also bring into being. Chapter Six s c r u t i n i z e s the t a l k of employers to uncover i t s dependence on a v a r i e t y of forms of s o c i a l organization i n the work place. In Chapter Seven, the t a l k of ins t r u c t o r s i n r e v i s i o n meetings i s shown to be oriented to and organized by an organizational course of action which i s embedded in a documentary process. Chapter Eight explores how the te x t u a l l y organized work process of administrators shapes t h e i r t a l k and action. THE RESEARCH SETTING: WEST COAST COLLEGE The research reported here was conducted i n a two-year community college i n B r i t i s h Columbia, i n a department of Business Management and O f f i c e Administration. The department has a wide range of program offerings i n both areas, (including u n i v e r s i t y t r a n s f e r courses i n some business subjects) and a good reputation f o r educational standards and professional, up-to-date business p r a c t i c e . The present research focussed p r i m a r i l y on two o f f i c e programs, O f f i c e Administration and Records Management, which, at the time of the research were both two semesters i n length (eight months tota l ) and oriented to career entry or re-entry. The two programs employed about a dozen in s t r u c t o r s , about h a l f of whom were f u l l time f a c u l t y members 104 with the college, although several of these also maintained independent consulting businesses on the side. Instructors who were part time also had contracts for teaching and business consulting with other i n s t i t u t i o n s and businesses i n the v a c i n i t y . Both f u l l and part time instru c t o r s tended to be active i n professional associations and maintained varying l e v e l s of contact with l o c a l employers through professional, community, and co l l e g e - r e l a t e d a c t i v i t i e s . At the time of the study, t h i s department was i d e a l l y suited to a study of competency-based curriculum reform. The Business Department was undergoing a process of program review, i n i t i a t e d by the Dean of Applied Programs, as part of the implementation of a five-year planning process throughout the college system i n B r i t i s h Columbia. The stated objective of the program review was to determine the extent to which e x i s t i n g college programs were addressing i d e n t i f i a b l e labour market needs. The method of program review was chosen by the Dean, who had a long h i s t o r y of professional involvement i n the development of competency-based education. The review process chosen r e f l e c t e d standard procedures i n the competency paradigm. The method begins with a task analysis workshop i n which l o c a l employers are i n v i t e d to p a r t i c i p a t e i n a one to three day session, under the d i r e c t i o n of a professional curriculum consultant, to define the "range and depth" of s k i l l s required f o r entry l e v e l positions i n a given occupation. The 105 workshop process i s summarized i n a document c a l l e d a 1 s k i l l s p r o f i l e ' , which i s then used as the standard f o r in s t r u c t o r s to assess e x i s t i n g course and program content and to make revisions where necessary. A l l of these steps i n the review process took place during the period of f i e l d work reported here. THE RESEARCH PROCESS The f i e l d work reported here was completed within a period of f i v e months, although my period of contact with t h i s department was spread over a period of approximately two years. This i s because access f o r the thesis research was granted i n the wake of a larger study of c l e r i c a l education i n which I was also involved as a researcher. Experience i n the previous study provided me with extensive 'background knowledge' or access to the p r a c t i c a l reasoning of members of the research se t t i n g , through observations i n both classrooms and meetings and through interviews with students, instru c t o r s and administrators. I t also gave me a preliminary working knowledge of the r e l a t i o n s between the college and the Ministry of Education, Post Secondary D i v i s i o n . In addition, the previous study established my c r e d i b i l i t y and trustworthiness as a researcher, which was a valuable asset i n the p o t e n t i a l l y s e n s i t i v e climate of program review. In t h i s context, data gathering s p e c i f i c to the the s i s was able to be highly focussed. I conducted interviews with a range 106 of i n d i v i d u a l s who had d i r e c t knowledge of both the department and the curriculum methods under study, including both i n s t r u c t o r s and administrators at West Coast College and representatives of f a c u l t y organizations both l o c a l l y and p r o v i n c i a l l y . I interviewed o f f i c i a l s i n the Ministry of Education, Post Secondary Divis i o n , who were f a m i l i a r with curriculum practices i n applied (Career-Technical) programs, as well as a curriculum consultant with many years of experience i n the design and implmentation of comeptency measures, including acting as f a c i l i t a t o r for task analysis workshops. A l l interviews were open-ended and in-depth; a l l were tape recorded and s e l e c t i v e l y transcribed. In t o t a l , about 35 interviews were conducted. In addition to interviews, I observed and sometimes recorded a number of meetings including both regular f a c u l t y meetings i n the Business Department and meetings and workshops s p e c i f i c to the program review. I attended, as an observer, the task analysis workshop held for the O f f i c e Administration program, and subsequently observed the ser i e s of working meetings during which fa c u l t y assessed and revised t h e i r program and course structure i n l i g h t of the workshop r e s u l t s . Throughout the period of f i e l d work I c o l l e c t e d documents related to competency-based curriculum measures i n p a r t i c u l a r , working documents of the program review process and the f i v e year planning strategy of the p r o v i n c i a l government, and routine documents of the course and programs approvals process within the college. 107 ENDNOTES (CHAPTER THREE) 1. This area of s o c i o l o g i c a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n has been pioneered by Dorothy Smith (see e s p e c i a l l y 1987a, 1986, 1984, 1983, 1974b). Because she has done v i r t u a l l y a l l of the formative or programmatic work i n t h i s area published to date, I have c i t e d her work heavily i n t h i s chapter. 2. In so doing, i t draws on several strands of non-positivism i n sociology, i n p a r t i c u l a r the work of A l f r e d Schutz (1970, 1962) and George Herbert Mead (1964, 1934) on s u b j e c t i v i t y and i n t e r s u b j e c t i v i t y and work i n ethnomethodology by Garfinkel (1967), Heritage (1984), Garfinkel, Lynch, and Livingston (1981), including some early studies concerned with organizational process and documentary communication such as Cicourel (1968), Zimmerman (1969), Zimmerman and Pollner (1971), and E l g i n (1979). These approaches share with the materialism of Marx an i n t e r e s t i n f i n d i n g the c o n s t i t u t i o n of s o c i a l r e a l i t y i n organized human a c t i v i t y . Their a p p l i c a t i o n to analysis i n the s o c i a l organization of knowledge does not commit the enterprise to an analysis of s u b j e c t i v i t y , but rather recommends and enables an exploration of the concerted or organized character of i n d i v i d u a l action. Indeed the analysis i s s p e c i f i c a l l y oriented to e x p l i c a t i n g the a c t i v i t i e s of concerting (or determining i n the Marxist sense) themselves. 3. Such o b j e c t i f y i n g procedures are at the root of western, p o s i t i v i s t science, and supply the epistemological grounding for a l l those areas of formal knowledge which i n various ways claim science as t h e i r model, including sociology. T r a d i t i o n a l sociology i t s e l f serves as an excellent example of such an o b j e c t i f y i n g p r a c t i c e (see Smith 1974b). Conventional procedures for o b j e c t i v i t y require that the s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t "systematically separates inquiry from the presence of the inquirer, and the account of s o c i a l process from those who bring i t into being as subjects" (Smith 1981a:ll-2). These routine practices begin with "an a c t u a l i t y ... i n which i n d i v i d u a l s as conscious beings are present from the outset ..." and reconstruct i t i n ways that " e f f e c t the disappearance of i n d i v i d u a l s i n conceptual structure, r e i f y i n g forms which i n d i v i d u a l s themselves have brought into being as a s o c i a l process ... (Smith 1981a:21). Such o b j e c t i f i e d approaches to knowledge are the handmaiden of the forms of r u l i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of bourgeois s o c i e t i e s . 4. This feature of competency systems i s discussed i n Chapter One. 5. For a discussion of both tendencies i n an educational context see Connell (1983) Sharpe (1980), and W i l l i s (1977). 6. For various recent approaches, see Corrigan (1987) Steedman, Urwin, and Walkerdine (1985), Henriques et a l (1984). 108 CHAPTER FOUR COMPETENCE AND "EDUCATIONAL SENSE": THE STANDPOINT OF INSTRUCTORS The voices of instruct o r s are a r i c h resource i n the search to understand what competency systems are about and how they work. This i s so not because instructors* are somehow more knowledgable about the approach or because t h e i r opinions carry more weight than others. Rather the voices of in s t r u c t o r s are important because of t h e i r l o c a t i o n at the centre of the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s which are reorganized by the competency approach. They are at the vortex of change. Thus, a great many aspects of t h e i r work are affected by the move to a competency system, and t h e i r t a l k makes t h i s v i s i b l e as an ordinary, everyday experience. In t h i s chapter, what w i l l become v i s i b l e through the voices of ins t r u c t o r s are the ruptures which are part of the process of curriculum reform. This presents i t s e l f not only as a break between past and present i n how curriculum decision-making i s organized, but more importantly, a growing disjuncture between the problematic of administrative control and the work of organizing a learning process for students i n a classroom. One kind of t a l k which w i l l be used heavily i n t h i s chapter i s "complaints" of various kinds. We w i l l l i s t e n to instruct o r s t a l k about how the introduction of competency methods makes a differ e n c e to t h e i r work. Some of i t they l i k e ; a l o t of i t 109 they don't. They have a v a r i e t y of understandings about what i s happening to them and why. Our i n t e r e s t i n what they have to say however, i s neither to confirm nor dispute t h e i r opinions, l i k e s , d i s l i k e s or explanations. Rather, we are interested i n discovering the organizational processes that are occuring which give r i s e to t h e i r experience. How i s the college organized under competency measures such that the experience reported by ins t r u c t o r s would arise? Their reporting uncovers evidence of the s o c i a l organization from t h e i r l ocation i n i t . I t t e l l s us what i s happening to them, o f f e r i n g a window into the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of everyday l i f e . The fact that the time of which they speak i s a moment of change increases the v i s i b i l i t y of these r e l a t i o n s , because in d i v i d u a l s t a l k about the present i n terms of how things have been i n the past as well as what seems to be developing for the future. THE COLLEGIAL ENVIRONMENT One of the most s t r i k i n g things about the t a l k of instruct o r s i n the Business Department at West Coast college i s t h e i r sense of pride i n the programs i n which they teach. That can be seen c l e a r l y i n the following range of enthusiastic remarks. What we have i s a wonderfully ... the most e f f i c i e n t department i n the i n s t i t u t i o n . And i t ' s because we have integrated our programs. We have multi-purpose courses (33:35). [1] We have established a core group of courses that a l l must take, and then we allow them to s p e c i a l i z e . There are ten 110 core courses, and they were set for the very purpose of t r y i n g to ensure that students did get that broader appreciation of what's going on out there i n the world (33:36). I t ' s not a Bachelor's degree, by any means, but you do have a well-rounded, diverse grouping of courses (33:28). We are t a l k i n g about not only t r a i n i n g , but also education..[so]...The fact that they are taking something s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t or somewhat peripheral [to t h e i r specialty] ... doesn't matter. So long as they are learning how to think ... they are learning how to problem-solve ... they are learning how to apply ... they are getting a f u l l e r appreciation of the way the economy works, the way society works. I t doesn't r e a l l y matter (33:35). So the students are protected i n that sense from making a mistake i n choosing a career. I f they change t h e i r minds, and say 'Wait a moment. I'm brighter than I thought.' Well, then they don't lose quite as much as i f they had gone the other route (33:8-9). These comments i n v i t e a number of avenues of in v e s t i g a t i o n . The questions that w i l l be of use to us are not about "why" i n s t r u c t o r s are so enthusiastic, but rather about "how" the arrangements they describe are a c t u a l l y put together. What does "multi-purpose" mean i n t h e i r department, and how does i t work? How have the educational "purposes" described here come about, and how are they held together as a form of organized, i n s t i t u t i o n a l action? What do a l l these claims a c t u a l l y look l i k e i n practice? In the f i e l d work reported here, these i n t e r e s t s were pursued by asking i n s t r u c t o r s to t a l k about and describe t h e i r work process. Gradually, the following general picture emerged of the organization of decision-making i n the business department i n recent years. For more than f i v e years, f a c u l t y i n t h i s 111 department have worked i n a c o l l e a g i a l structure organized on the basis of d i s c i p l i n a r y groupings, such as accounting, marketing, bookkeeping, or wordprocessing, which have served as the basic administrative un i t within the department and as the f i r s t l i n e of decision making about curriculum. Over time, these groups have worked together to develop courses f o r each program area that s a t i s f y a l l aspects of the college mandate. This includes a r t i c u l a t i n g course content to the requirements of the u n i v e r s i t i e s i n order to serve those students who plan to tra n s f e r to the un i v e r s i t y . I t also means shaping courses to s a t i s f y the requirements of various professional l i c e n s i n g bodies i n which students continue t h e i r studies toward accreditation, such as i n accounting. And, f i n a l l y , i t means including content areas designed f o r those students who plan to enter the labour market d i r e c t l y upon graduation. In addition, f a c u l t y have juggled course content so that a single course, e.g. marketing could s a t i s f y the varying needs of students i n several program areas i n the business department. This arrangement turns out to be the meaning-in-practice of the term "multi-purpose" courses. One r e s u l t of these years of planning and coordination i s that i n s t r u c t o r s are quite happy with t h e i r department. They understand the objectives as well as the constraints that have shaped t h e i r programs. They are proud of the " e f f i c i e n c i e s " that have been achieved through t h e i r planning, as well as the entrenchment i n "program requirements" of medium and long term educational objectives, seen by instruct o r s to be i n the 112 i n t e r e s t s of the students. This s a t i s f a c t i o n i s registered i n the comments c i t e d above. Instructors also indicate that the demand for " f l e x i b i l i t y " i s well served by the e x i s t i n g course structure, because i t gives the i n s t r u c t o r room to make adjustments according the needs of a varied student c l i e n t e l e . Taking advantage of t h i s i s said to be a matter of "good sense" that most instruc t o r s take for granted as part of t h e i r work. At the present time, a l o t of course modification takes place ... on an ad hoc basis, by i n d i v i d u a l i n s t r u c t o r s who have a grouping of students that they know i s mainly marketers or mainly t h i s and mainly that Well, then, of course, as a matter of good sense ... the i n s t r u c t o r s w i l l t r y to come out with examples that w i l l r e l a t e to the students that they are teaching.... So of course that w i l l happen na t u r a l l y (33:37). THE COMPETENCY ENVIRONMENT The introduction of a competency approach i n t h i s department represents a considerable challenge to the l o g i c and orderliness of these established procedures and p r i o r i t i e s . Employers are given primary authority for curriculum decisions that were formerly lodged i n the discipline-based organization among faculty, and occupationally s p e c i f i c performance objectives are given p r i o r i t y over broadly constituted educational objectives. Predictably, the introduction of these new procedures resulted i n a sense of disruption among faculty. Most found themselves to be of two minds about the change. 113 On the one hand, instructors say that the review seems l i k e "a very v a l i d process" (20:6). I t has a ce r t a i n simple r a t i o n a l i t y to i t which most instruc t o r s r e a d i l y comprehend; they agree " i t makes absolute, perfect sense..." (33:B6). For instance, i t provides an overview of what they are doing, and helps them i d e n t i f y overlap i n t h e i r courses. The purpose of the whole review was to review our programs, to see what we were doing with our students, ... what we were doing i n each course i n terms of developing some degree of competency i n ce r t a i n areas ... so that we could r e l a t e one course to another to see whether we had a l o t of duplication, or maybe we were missing c e r t a i n aspects of s k i l l t r a i n i n g that we thought would be necessary (27:1). What we are able to do [is] to see how much overlap we have i n courses. We r e a l l y do teach our courses i n i s o l a t i o n . We don't r e a l l y know what everybody else i s doing ... we go in there and do our own l i t t l e thing (31:14). The process also appears to represent a l o g i c a l extension of the l i a s o n with employers that f a c u l t y have maintained i n the past to ensure the relevance of t h e i r courses. Employers have always been the main source of authority about what "objectives are", and in s t r u c t o r s welcome the task analysis i n t h i s l i g h t , to keep them on track: I t [the task analysis] forces you to sort of get back into l i n e , you know, with the content of your courses. To de l i b e r a t e l y compare what the objectives are to what you're doing (29:10). And you know, i t ' s quite f e a s i b l e to over a period of f i v e to ten years to sort of j u s t get o f f track a b i t . Because you've done i t so many years, you figure that what you're supposed to do anyway. So, you know, ... i t ' s a p o s i t i v e thing r e a l l y . I t ' s important to do that (29:10). 114 Some in s t r u c t o r s were op t i m i s t i c that the task analysis would help reassure them that "what we are doing i s what they r e a l l y need" (24:3): Because i n the l a s t f i v e years, things have been r e a l l y changing. We've t r i e d to keep up with i t , with input from employers. ... But you never f e e l r e a l l y comfortable making those changes, without having some anxiety.... So we're hoping that a l o t of i t [the task analysis] w i l l back up what we're doing. And we're also hoping.that i n areas where we do f e e l we need some changes, that maybe t h i s w i l l pick them up too (24:6-7). Faculty also describe the task analysis as serving an important "public r e l a t i o n function" for the department. I t brings " c r e d i b i l i t y " , and that's good for the department and good for the college. Working c l o s e l y with employers l i k e t h i s adds a l o t to the c r e d i b i l i t y of our program. I think i t ' s a very important r e l a t i o n s h i p (20:6). ... I t brings a l o t of good feedback to the department ... because we've got a l o t of c r e d i b i l i t y , not only with industry, but that gets known i n the community. I t ' s good for the college as w e l l " (20:9). "VERY REAL RESERVATIONS" On the other hand, and notwithstanding these basic sympathies with the r a t i o n a l i t y and " v a l i d i t y " of the program review process, many fac u l t y members indicate serious reservations about the process on which they are embarking. They express concern about the assumptions on which i t i s based and the impact i t w i l l have on many aspects of the educational environment. At the 115 simplest l e v e l , t h i s was expressed i n objections to the task analysis as an a f f r o n t to t h e i r professionalism: Naturally at some of our department meetings when t h i s was i n i t i a l l y brought up, faculty did voice a concern as to why bring industry in? 'Are we not professionals? Do we not know what we're doing ...?' D e f i n i t e l y that was voiced (20:27). Faculty are not lazy dogs. Faculty are sincere and committed ... to doing the very best job we can.... [But] b a s i c a l l y the Dean decided - no, no, we were out of touch ... f a c u l t y don't know what they're doing - we need a task analysis (33:15-16). Once we get past these defensive reactions, the more p r a c t i c a l bases underlying f a c u l t y "reservations" begins to emerge. For instance, f a c u l t y resistance to the task analysis and review process grew as i t became c l e a r that i t was requiring a l o t of t h e i r time, and a l o t of the work seemed redundant. " I t makes work f o r us ... a l o t of work", as one i n s t r u c t o r put i t succ i n c t l y , "repackaging ... e x i s t i n g curriculum ... [s i n c e ] . . . b a s i c a l l y the same material i s there ... as i n the e x i s t i n g course o u t l i n e s " (33:32). But, since they had no choice about the process, they would "do what has to be done, i n the time a v a i l a b l e " : And, given that we've been i n business f o r a while, we b a s i c a l l y have on the shelf a whole set of courses. The s e l e c t i o n that we'll make won't be d i f f e r e n t from the ones that they b a s i c a l l y suggested.... I t ' s l i k e , give me a piece of c l o t h and ... I ' l l cut you a s u i t of clothes that w i l l f i t that piece of c l o t h . And that's a l l we'll do. We'll do the best we can, but we can't do much (33:34-36). The sense of lack of choice and lack of control conveyed above i s made more e x p l i c i t i n the following objection. I t helps 116 to focus our attention on the central dynamics of the review process. From on high ... there comes a new view of the way the world should be, and [I have] very r e a l reservations.... I am not so sure that there has been a close enough examination of the objectives, and whether the Dean's objectives f o r the Business Management program j i b e with the f a c u l t y and the department objectives ... ( 3 3 : B 6 ) . I f we pursue these complaints about "objectives" on a p r a c t i c a l l e v e l , we f i n d that instr u c t o r s are struggling with a number of kinds of disruption that r e s u l t from the task analysis process. One i n s t r u c t o r stated t h i s broadly as: The task analysis b a s i c a l l y complicates, confuses the basic thinking, the basic discussion [of program content] that would take place ... ( 33 :34-35 ) . The charge that the task analysis complicates or "confuses" the work of in s t r u c t o r s i s an important one f o r our in v e s t i g a t i o n . I t immediately situates us i n the midst of a puzzle about the l o c a t i o n of the knower: i . e . what i s confused and for whom, i n contrast to what opposing sense of order? Again, clues to t h i s puzzle are scattered throughout the t a l k of teachers. For example, some of the changes eithe r recommended or implied by the task analysis process appeared to f a c u l t y to be oddly d i s f u n c t i o n a l . In p a r t i c u l a r , they complain that the task analysis undermines the structure of multi-purpose courses that they have worked so hard to achieve. Each task analysis workshop i s geared to a single destination i n the labour market, and 117 presumes a framework of courses s p e c i a l i z e d for t h i s purpose. Instructors argue that t h i s makes no economic sense and that, "... r e a l i s t i c a l l y , i t cannot be done" (33:35). So the task analysis ... can attempt to get us to develop s p e c i a l i z e d courses, but i t ' s b a s i c a l l y going to come up against the r e a l i t y of the economics of i t . . . . We can't as a matter of d o l l a r s and cents design a p a r t i c u l a r course for [one] program. You s t a r t up with 25 students. You end up with 13 i n the t h i r d semester.... [So] as a responsible fac u l t y , you r e a l i z e you cannot do that. Therefore, we have to have multi-purpose courses (33:35-37). In the old days we used to have some courses that could run with seven students because they needed i t to complete t h e i r programs. Well, these days a program that has only a few students i n i t has to get the axe. You have to r e s h u f f l e , move the content somewhere else and t r y and f i l l those classes. That's the l a s t word. I t ' s not a matter of i n s e n s i t i v i t y to the issues; i t ' s rather j u s t a r e a l i s t i c business management approach to handling our s i t u a t i o n i n education (33:B10). In addition to arguing that the task analysis approach to course design i s unworkable i n economic terms, i n s t r u c t o r s protested i n various ways that the approach lacks "educational sense" and that " i t comes up against the educational requirements of the programs" (33:36). I t ' s a l l nonsense ... i t ' s not cost e f f e c t i v e ... and also probably doesn't make educational sense.... I t won't happen. You know, we're ju s t paying l i p service to the task analysis process to think that we are going to do i t (33:35-37). In t h i s vein, some instruct o r s argued that the competency approach c a r r i e s the college i n the d i r e c t i o n of providing t r a i n i n g instead of education. They argue against the fragmentation of knowledge and the reconceptualization of the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process that seem to underlie the competency 118 approach. The task analysis i s seen as a f i r s t step i n t h i s d i r e c t i o n : Well, I'm very much against the mechanization of learning and of knowledge. Somebody, or a bunch of people, f e e l that they can cut learning into d i s c r e t e b i t s and somehow attach these to each other, and a whole bunch of them [make] a program - you don't have to bother with the knowledge, which i s stupid ... j u s t stupid. Learning and knowledge i s an organic process, and sometimes i t comes i n quantum leaps and sometimes i t doesn't come at a l l . I don't personally believe that's the way learning ... knowledge ... education ought to be approached (35:5). I would have very r e a l concerns i f the approach taken becomes very much the s t r i c t vocational/technical approach ... i f i n fact, we set out i n a l i n e nice s p e c i f i c modules of information which students churn t h e i r way through, and then we say 'Yes, you've completed the Business Management Program". I think that we have to keep i n mind the objectives we have for the programs and the type of students we would l i k e to turn out: p o t e n t i a l managers (33:B6). I t ' s l i k e Dickens and h i s 'the hands' you know, what he c a l l e d the 'factory hands'. A l l you want from them i s t h e i r hands. What you are saying to these people [ i s ] we are going to t r a i n them and we don't need them to be president; we j u s t need these trainees.... So, l e t ' s remove a l l those elements of the learning process that aren't d i r e c t l y r e l a t e d to what they have to do (74:1). Other i n s t r u c t o r s point to the major debates about s k i l l l e v e l s going on i n academic and p o l i c y c i r c l e s , and to the c a l l to "save general education" i n order to produce "... a person that's f l e x i b l e , a person that i f that job doesn't pan out, there's something el s e " (33:28). They see the competency approach taking the colleges i n the other d i r e c t i o n : We hear again and again from people l i k e Rumberger and Levin that the s p e c i f i c s k i l l s should no longer be regarded as an educational concern, because they are v o l a t i l e , and because more and more the private sectors are taking i t as t h e i r own r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to impart those s k i l l s . So [they say] 'save general education.' ... I don't think the [competency-based curriculum] guys l i s t e n to those people (74:5). 119 And industry, I don't believe, should f u l l y c a l l the tune because t h e i r objectives ultimately w i l l tend to be f a i r l y narrow and s p e c i f i c to t h e i r own company or corporate or industry needs ... whereas we are t a l k i n g about r a i s i n g , helping to develop, a student who can f i t into a number of d i f f e r e n t industries (33:B6). The concept of f l e x i b i l i t y i s used repeatedly by these i n s t r u c t o r s to name both the work process of in s t r u c t o r s and the capa c i t i e s of students, according to t h e i r image of a worthwhile educational process. With competency measures, they foresee changes that are inconsistent with these objectives, and some are prepared to "dig i n t h e i r heels". That's when y o u ' l l l i k e l y f i n d f a c u l t y digging i n t h e i r heels ... when, as f a r as they're concerned, they f i n d content being t r i v i a l i z e d by ignoring some of what they would c a l l the higher l e v e l learning objectives. Faculty do take that ser i o u s l y (33:27). IMPACT ON THE INSTRUCTIONAL PROCESS Instructors point out that even the simplest objective of the task analysis to "eliminate overlap" runs counter to some basic pedagogical p r i n c i p l e s and to the conditions of educational l i f e . That i s , not a l l students take a l l courses exactly i n the recommended sequence, f o r a va r i e t y of reasons, not a l l of which can be co n t r o l l e d . And even i f the sequencing were perfect, i n s t r u c t o r s argue that a c e r t a i n amount of overlap i s important for "reinforcement", so students can u t i l i z e what they learn. 120 Some in s t r u c t o r s argue that a syllabus which t i g h t l y s p e c i f i e s not only the objectives, but the methods of both i n s t r u c t i o n and evaluation e f f e c t i v e l y takes the "human element" out of the classroom experience for both teachers and students. One i n s t r u c t o r argued that the students "are not getting t h e i r money's worth; they might as well take the course by correspondence" (29:5). You have to make i t i n t e r e s t i n g ... add some human elements ... give them something they can r e l a t e to as in d i v i d u a l s , as students ... Remember, ha l f these [accounting] students don't even have a banking account. So, you ask them to do a bank r e c o n c i l i a t i o n , and they haven't got a clue. They've never done i t before i n t h e i r l i v e s . They don't know what cancelled cheques look l i k e . They don't know what a bank statement looks l i k e (29:22-23). For i n s t r u c t o r s , a common complaint about such an approach i s that i t wastes the tal e n t s and expertise of the in s t r u c t o r s , both i n the f i e l d of practice and as educators. They are l e f t with l i t t l e power to mediate the learning process to f i t the circumstances of i n d i v i d u a l class dynamics, "to make the subject more a l i v e " (29:21): [T]he thrust toward ... a quite t i g h t t y i n g of content to s t r i c t behavioural objectives may i n h i b i t the dynamic i n t e r a c t i o n between a fac u l t y member and a group of students i n pursuing current topics ... i n pursuing s p e c i f i c or group concerns related to business and the business environment (33:B6). What I teach varies from one term to another, and the way I approach i t or explain i t v a r i e s . Students' i n t e r a c t i o n with each other v a r i e s . So i t i s not the same learning experience every term (35:6). I f e e l that students should be exposed to experiences of the in s t r u c t o r s . And ins t r u c t o r s should be free to some extent ... to t a l k about an area that they f e e l comfortable with from t h e i r experience. I t ' s worth i t for the students, not 121 j u s t for the i n s t r u c t o r to f e e l good that he's done something and you should know about i t ... (29:21). Instructors f e e l that these v i s i o n s and expectations for the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process are part of what i s thwarted by the competency approach, and with i t , t h e i r sense of pride and s a t i s f a c t i o n with the i n s t i t u t i o n where they work. CHANGING THE INSTITUTIONAL CLIMATE Instructors expressed various concerns about the i n s t i t u t i o n a l climate that they saw emerging as a product of the competency measures being introduced. A few i d e n t i f i e d the problem as the adoption "an i n d u s t r i a l model" of education i n which the students get " l o s t i n the s h u f f l e " : . I tend to think what's happening i n some cases with education r i g h t now i s that some of the stresses of the free market are taking place ... i n the colleges.... The students have become the product of an educational plant ... right? So i n f a c t , the i n d u s t r i a l model i s being applied to the colleges and I don't thing that i s always very successful. ... I'm not quite sure whether the r e s u l t s are going to be for the best benefit of the students, who seem to be getting l o s t i n the s h u f f l e (12:7) . We're not even teaching 'students' anymore.... they 1ve become 'through-puts 1! (25:86). Instructors at West Coast College were aware that i n a f u l l y developed ' i n d u s t r i a l model 1 of i n s t r u c t i o n a l management, ce n t r a l i z e d s p e c i f i c a t i o n of educational objectives i s only the s t a r t i n g point. I t i s followed by s p e c i f i c a t i o n of techniques of i n s t r u c t i o n , according to pre-set notions of e f f i c i e n c y and 122 effectiveness, [ 2] and then by c e n t r a l i z e d control over educational evaluation, i n order to complete the "feedback loop" necessary for program evaluation. In the Business Department, not a l l of these steps were being implemented as part of the current review process. But some fac u l t y members did not miss the point that the steps being taken did open the p o s s i b i l i t y for these next stages of change. They pointed out that once the basic l o g i c of the competency approach i s accepted, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to r e s t r i c t i t s claim on almost a l l aspects of the educational process. For t h i s reason, the response of i n s t r u c t o r s to current developments was informed not only by t h e i r observations of immediate impact, but also by the prospect of subsequent changes. So while most ins t r u c t o r s f e l t that the competency system i s " p e r f e c t l y e f f e c t i v e at transmitting f a c t s " (74:5), t h i s didn't e n t i r e l y a l l a y t h e i r concerns. There's nothing i n t r i n s i c a l l y intimidating or frightening about the DACUM approach,[ 3] i t i s j u s t that once you s t a r t to use [ i t ] , i t becomes very, very tempting to use i t as a t o o l of s t r i c t control over what takes place i n the classroom. ... As a planning t o o l , as an organizational t o o l to check out the matrix of a c t i v i t i e s , i t i s a wonderful, wonderful t o o l . But as soon as management sees i t they suddenly see, "Wait a moment! Using t h i s approach we can control i n a f a n t a s t i c way!" So, I guess ... i t ' s l i k e a hammer: i n the hand of a good carpenter i s a wonderful t o o l , but a hammer i n the hand of a c h i l d i n a china shop i s a dangerous weapon (33:7). One of the most controversial aspects of competency systems i s t h e i r promise to provide administrators with t i g h t e r methods of performance evaluation, not only of students, but at a l l 123 l e v e l s of the educational system, including f a c u l t y members, programs, departments, and i n s t i t u t i o n s . Individual and program evaluation i s a complex topic, most of which f a l l s outside the scope of the present i n v e s t i g a t i o n . However, some observations about the evaluation factor and i t s p o t e n t i a l are necessary for even the most rudimentary understanding of both the support for and the opposition to competency-based systems. At a glance, the problem was summed up by one in s t r u c t o r as "He who controls evaluation c a l l s the tune" ( 3 3 : 7 ) . I t i s only one short step from control of design to control of evaluation. So, my fear i s that i t ' s going to be used i n t h i s other fashion.... [From] the program set out i n DACUM d e t a i l i n g i n d i v i d u a l courses i n behavioural terms ...'This i s what we want to achieve ...' i t i s such a natural step. And that step, as fa r as our Dean i s concerned, I imagine, [ w i l l be] as fa s t as he can do i t . Fortunately, he i s quite busy at present (laughter). But on the other hand he i s w i l l i n g ( 3 3 : 7 - 8 ) . Instructors argue that increased administrative control over evaluation of students profoundly t i e s the hands of the classroom in s t r u c t o r , and that t h i s s i t u a t i o n i s good for neither students nor teachers. I t r e s u l t s i n such dynamics as 'teaching to the t e s t ' with i t s attendant problems of r e s t r i c t i n g the learning process i t s e l f . A d d i t i o n a l l y , the resistance of in s t r u c t o r s to ce n t r a l i z e d evaluation increases exponentially when i t s systematic character i s expanded to t i e the evaulation of student performance to evaluation of i n s t r u c t i o n . This i s accomplished by weighing objective measures of the terminal performance of students against objective statements of the i n s t r u c t i o n a l objectives. The r e s u l t i s treated as a measure of the q u a l i t y of 124 i n s t r u c t i o n . Of t h i s kind of 'systematic science', i n s t r u c t o r s are "a b i t s k e p t i c a l " : [The competency] system does lay the basis f o r evaluation of i n s t r u c t i o n which i s better from the point of view of administrators ... although I'm a b i t s k e p t i c a l . I recognize that evaluation i s important; there should be evaluation of i n s t r u c t i o n , and l i k e any group of employees we probably have a number of people who ... are not performing well enough. But at the same time, I know that the apprehension [faculty] have about the system, about how i t can be abused, i s also legitimate (78:10). [ 3] I think i n s t r u c t o r s are worried that they can be q u a l i f i e d , put the best e f f o r t they can or anybody could into a course, teach the course well, and the students w i l l s t i l l not reach those objectives, you know.... I teach where students' backqrounds aren't that great. A l o t of the students don't reach the objectives.... So, i f the success of a course, and therefore the succes of the i n s t r u c t o r , i s measured simply by the outcome - what happened - as opposed to the input that he or she put into the course, then instru c t o r s are worried (78:4). CRITICISMS OF TASK ANALYSIS Most of the "worry" and "skepticism" of i n s t r u c t o r s was focussed on the task analysis process which was already underway at the time of t h i s research, bringing "worries" which were concrete and immediate. Some instruct o r s argued that the workshops were "redundant" and "superfluous" because they duplicated the process of communication that was already taking place through the advisory committees. Others objected more strongly that the workshops were a poor substitute f o r the advisory committees and would produce le s s s a t i s f a c t o r y r e s u l t s : I think the c a l i b r e of analysis or thought you are l i k e l y to get from a group that's there on an ongoing basis i s l i k e l y 125 to be higher than i n a group that's b a s i c a l l y the r e s u l t of a struggle to f i n d people with two whole days to commit. Are you getting the very best people ... with two f u l l days to give up on this? (33:17). This comment alludes as well to the d i f f i c u l t i e s experienced i n organizing the task analysis workshop i n accordance with the DACUM guidelines. For instance, the DACUM process c a l l s f or a workshop which l a s t s two to three days, but according to the inst r u c t o r s whose job i t was to organize the event, "the business community would j u s t not make that commitment". This was a problem for small employers i n p a r t i c u l a r , who "j u s t could not free up the time" for t h e i r s t a f f to attend and as a r e s u l t were said to be noticeably "underrepresented". This raised some question about the make-up of the groups of employers who did attend, such as: Is i t t h e i r commitment to education that brings them here, or the fact that they are not very busy and could well a f f o r d two f u l l days to devote to a task analysis? (33:18). Many in s t r u c t o r s objected that the task analysis workshop provides them with answers they already knew. For instance, the outcome of the o f f i c e administration task analysis was said to be "... not news to fac u l t y " : The changes that were recommended were ones that had long been considered i n the department. We knew we would l i k e l y collapse some programs because t h e i r wasn't enough d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n , etc. So r e a l l y , that did not provide us with anything new (33:18). The most b i t i n g c r i t i c i s m s of the task analysis were aimed at the curriculum consultant who f a c i l i t a t e d the workshops, charging 126 that he f a i l e d to follow the p r i n c i p l e s and procedures of DACUM. According to some inst r u c t o r s , he was "lacking i n the necessary-leadership q u a l i t i e s " (21:1), "not d i r e c t i v e enough" (31:26) and sometimes "supplied h i s own interpretations or perceptions" (31:28). Others objected that the f a c i l i t a t o r "got a l i t t l e c a r r i e d away" and included i n the d r a f t of the s k i l l s p r o f i l e objectives that "were never discussed" at the workshop and "weren't relevant" (21:1). Some of t h i s improper material appeared to be "borrowed from other s k i l l s p r o f i l e s " and some of i t appeared to be "taken verbatim from text books" (21:2-3). In addition to these problems with i n d i v i d u a l performance, a number of i n s t r u c t o r s complained about "technical flaws" with the task analysis design i t s e l f . Some of these concerns re l a t e d to the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of language. Instructors point out that i n constructing a d e s c r i p t i o n of performance requirements on the job, "changing a word or two can change the whole meaning of a task" (33:31) and that such subtlety i s not sustainable i n the rather casual kinds of discussion that take place among par t i c i p a n t s i n the task analysis workshop. Because of t h i s , the process tends to be imprecise, leaving i t open to the problem of "bias" from the f a c i l i t a t o r , whose job i s i n part to resolve such ambiguities i n preparing the f i n a l documents. The problem of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n focussed i n p a r t i c u l a r on the use of "buzzwords" and "jargon". According to one i n s t r u c t o r , these words are often used by people "attempting to appear i n the know", but who may be unclear about t h e i r meaning. The d i f f i c u l t y i s compounded when 127 ... by the time those buzzwords are fleshed out as behavioural objectives by the f a c i l i t a t o r , who the h e l l know what was f u l l y intended, l e t alone whether the people using the buzzwords i n the f i r s t place knew what they meant (33:30). According to these i n s t r u c t o r s , problems with i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of "buzzwords" continue when the workshop materials are sent back to employers i n the process c a l l e d " v a l i d a t i o n " . Instructors argue that many employers ... aren't sophisticated enough to know whether t h e i r meaning [i n the s k i l l s p r o f i l e ] i s d i f f e r e n t from what they were thinking. They j u s t recognize the buzzwords, and think "Oh, yeah, I recognize that. Those are the words I sai d " (33:32). More broadly yet, some instruct o r s argue that the p r i n c i p l e of v a l i d a t i o n i t s e l f i s shakey. That i s , once employers have "validated" the p r o f i l e , confirming that they agree with i t , the p r o f i l e i s thereafter treated by the administration as a " t o t a l l y objective statement" of employers' needs. But some s k e p t i c a l i n s t r u c t o r s argue that " i f we sent them back ten other objectives, they would s t i l l agree" (99:2). In t h i s view, the whole process i s a r b i t r a r y , giving the appearance of something "objective and s c i e n t i f i c " while creating a "boondoggle": I would say that the e f f e c t of performance-based learning objectives i s to create the impression of pre c i s i o n , where there r e a l l y i s none.... So, whereas i n the past i t has been d i f f i c u l t for both instru c t o r s and administrators to say that the course i s working or not working, now there would be the appearance that i t i s working (78:5). The i n s t i t u t i o n s f e e l that i f they can get down on paper a nice c l e a r systematic statement ... that these were r e a l objectives and they, were achieved . . . then i t looks much more pursuasive. But you know, i t ' s a b i t of a game, 128 because you can write up the learning objectives to look very impressive and they can take up a couple of pages, and then you can achieve them. You haven't achieved much - i t j u s t depends on how you set them up, and i t s my impression that t h i s can become a boondoggle - a tremendous amount of e f f o r t into s t a t i n g the obvious. But I think the administrators f e e l that i t does give them something objective and s c i e n t i f i c (78:10.) Most of a l l , i n s t r u c t o r s perceive that t h e i r reservations and c r i t i c i s m are i n vain. "The Dean" w i l l have hi s way, and competency measures w i l l p r e v a i l , regardless of how " i t works": I think DACUM has become i t ' s own industry ... i t ' s s e l f -perpetuating. I don't think i t matters any more whether i t works or not. I t has a long enough h i s t o r y and i s i n enough places that i t s own competence no longer matters (74:5). CONCLUSION The experience of instructors examined i n t h i s chapter provides a point of entry to the dynamics of competency-based education and serves as a guide to i n v e s t i g a t i o n i n the chapters which follow. Their experience of "disruption" i n the s h i f t from a c o l l e g i a l to a competency-based mode of curriculum d e c i s i o n -making i n v i t e s further questioning. What about these notions of "educational and economic sense"? What changes i n the work process lead to the fears, reservations and skepticism which in s t r u c t o r s express? Does fragmentation of learning occur, and how? Are the long term i n t e r e s t s of learner jeopardized by the new measures, and i f so, how? What l i e s behind i n s t r u c t o r s ' experience of erosion i n " f l e x i b i l i t y " and " e f f i c i e n c y " of instruction? Is the work process of i n s t r u c t o r s constrained i n 129 new ways by the competency approach to decision-making? How does t h i s occur? Does the " i n d u s t r i a l model" of management make a difference to curriculum, and how does information that i s part of a "feedback loop" serve the i n t e r e s t s of "the Dean". How does a l l t h i s "disruption" i n the curriculum process connect to the arena of public policy? The following chapters w i l l pursue these and other questions. 130 ENDNOTES (CHAPTER FOUR) 1. Bracketed numbers i d e n t i f y f i l e and page number of f i e l d n o t e s . 2. I t takes the judgment of "effectiveness" out of the hands of teachers, where i t can be weighed and considered i n the context of l o c a l conditions. Instead, effectiveness comes to be redefined only as an o b j e c t i v e l y measureable matter, which, once established, i s expected to rule the p r a c t i c e of a l l , without regard to l o c a l conditions. 3. Reference to the climate of p o l i t i c a l controversy over cutbacks i n education i n B.C. was not unusual among in s t r u c t o r s . Many saw the introduction of competency measures as a means s p e c i f i c a l l y to cut i n s t r u c t i o n a l costs and to reduce the power of i n s t r u c t o r s (see Muller forthcoming). One representative of a province wide in s t r u c t o r s association put i t h i s way: "In the p o l i t i c a l climate i n B.C. i n the l a s t couple of years, which i s perceived to be a very vengeful climate, teachers are r e a l l y worried abou evaluation.... There are legitimate apprehensions about the administration getting back at people who have been p o l i t i c a l l y active outside the college, people who have been outspoken, etc.... The administration could get at people through a performance-based system. I know that sounds very ... unprofessional, but you know what I mean" (78 : 4 ) . 131 CHAPTER FIVE TASK ANALYSIS: THE SCIENCE OF 'NEEDS' The f i r s t major step i n implementation of the Program Review process i n the Business Department at West Coast College was to hold a ser i e s of task analysis workshops with l o c a l employers. Task analysis workshops stand at the center of the p r a c t i c e of competency methods. They are the p r i n c i p l e device through which "the requirements of industry" are translated into c u r r i c u l a r form. The process s t a r t s with structured input from employers about requirements on the job, which i s then worked up by curriculum s p e c i a l i s t s and, eventually, i n s t r u c t o r s , into a set of c u r r i c u l a r materials which can be seen to r e f l e c t the "needs" of industry. Thus the task analysis serves as the f i r s t step i n the process of p r a c t i c a l a r t i c u l a t i o n of vocational i n s t r u c t i o n i n colleges to the public p o l i c y objectives of "relevance" and "responsiveness" to the economy. This chapter explores the p r i n c i p l e s of task analysis as outlined i n the competency l i t e r a t u r e ; Chapter Six examines these same measures i n p r a c t i c e . Examination of the task analysis process i n these two chapters w i l l show that the "needs" and "requirements" of industry are not a straightforward empirical matter, given by the character of work i t s e l f . Rather, they are produced as a s o c i a l a r t i f a c t , a l i n e drawn by p a r t i c u l a r i n d i v i d u a l s with varied 132 ' i n t e r e s t s 1 , i n a highly structured process of decision-making. Thus, i n a broad sense, they are a p o l i t i c a l relation/product, and t h e i r impact on the educational process can best be understood i n t h i s l i g h t , [!] EMPIRICISM AND VOCATIONAL LEARNING Educational c r i t i c s of the use of behavioural objectives argue that the problem of o r i g i n s of learning objectives has never been s a t i s f a c t o r i l y solved (MacDonald-Ross 1975, 1972; Spady, 1982; Nunan 1983). Some curriculum s p e c i a l i s t s have attempted to avoid t h i s s t i c k y issue altogether by r e s t r i c t i n g t h e i r e f f o r t s to the pursuit of " c l a r i t y and p r e c i s i o n " i n oper a t i o n a l i z a t i o n of objectives which are said to be determined elsewhere, such as through vaguely-defined " s o c i a l goals" or " s o c i e t a l objectives". However, i n the arena of vo c a t i o n a l l y oriented learning, the problem of objectives has conventionally been seen as much less troublesome than i n general or " l i b e r a l " education. Indeed, liberal-minded educators commonly assume that the a p p l i c a t i o n of behaviourism to occupational learning i s e n t i r e l y appropriate and unproblematic (e.g. H a l l and Jones 1976) . Since the e a r l i e s t days of s c i e n t i f i c curriculum making the problem of es t a b l i s h i n g s u f f i c i e n c y i n vocational education commonly has been thought to be resolvable empirically. That i s , 133 i n s t r u c t i o n a l objectives have been seen as derivable d i r e c t l y from observation of the desired occupational tasks themselves, as suggested by Bobbitt (1918, 1913) at the turn of the century. [ 2] This premise was given i t s f i r s t large scale t r i a l during World War I, when the United States War Department hired leading vocational educators to design a system of rapid t r a i n i n g to supply the tens of thousands of operators and technicians required f o r the war e f f o r t , both within the armed services and i n c i v i l i a m shipyards, munitions plants, and other war industries (see A l l e n 1919; Dooley 1919). The r e s u l t i n g war-time t r a i n i n g programs were widely acclaimed i n a number of postwar publications which were highly i n f l u e n t i a l i n the wider educational community (see Chapman 1921; Toops 1921; Mann 1922). The American Council on Education published a s e r i e s of monographs and reports o u t l i n i n g the "lessons of the wartime ... for c i v i l i a n education" (Grace 1948:vii). S i g n i f i c a n t l y , these documents c a r e f u l l y s i t u a t e t h e i r observations and recommendations i n the recognition that the objectives of wartime programs of education and t r a i n i n g were very s p e c i f i c : "the e f f e c t i v e conduct of modern technological warfare", "destruction of the enemy" i n sum "Victory!" (Grace 1948:v,133). I t i s repeatedly acknowledged that the context of war created conditions, motivations, and practices that may not apply and indeed may not be acceptable or advisable or possible under peace-time conditions. Such caveats ranged from the general to the p a r t i c u l a r : that wartime learning was always 134 "knowledge stripped for action" i . e . the bare e s s e n t i a l s , i n the context of both m i l i t a r y and c i v i l i a n t r a i n i n g ; that a l l t r a i n i n g was " f o r a s p e c i f i c operation" and o f f e r s "few lessons fo r the future i n i n t e l l e c t u a l freedom or a l i b e r a l education"; that the end was always more important than the means; that the exercise of wartime m i l i t a r y authority, as well as conditions of funding, were nearly unlimited; that the incentives f o r learners and i n s t r u c t o r s a l i k e included the r i s k of death as well as the p o s s i b i l i t y of honor and promotion; that t r a d i t i o n a l methods were abandoned with ease i f deemed i n e f f e c t i v e (Grace, 1948:6,16,247). The council acknowledged as well the c r i t i c i s m and skepticism which the wartime i n i t i a t i v e s engendered i n some quarters, including the fear that i t would ultimately contribute to the decline of l i b e r a l education (Grace 1948:233). While, the r e s t r a i n i n g influence of such warnings and reservations i s hard to judge, the influence of war-time experience on future approaches to t r a i n i n g i s well documented (Travers 1973; Glaser 1962; Tyler 1975; 1949). The e n t i r e t r a d i t i o n of occupational analysis i s a part of t h i s heritage, including the concept of "task analysis" i t s e l f ( M i l l e r 1962). The adaptation of t h i s e m p i r i c i s t t r a d i t i o n to public vocational education has received l i t t l e sustained c r i t i q u e . A notable exception i s Macdonald-Ross (1975, 1972) who argues that behavioural objectives are characterized by a "basic (and inerradicable) ambiguity" and that the problems associated with t h e i r use i n specifying t r a i n i n g needs are i n t r a c t a b l e "even i n 135 the i n d u s t r i a l t r a i n i n g context f o r which [such an approach] was created" (Macdonal-Ross 1972:40; 1975:359). This chapter and the next explore some of these i n t r a c t a b l e problems as they appear i n the context of the use of task analysis to define en t r y - l e v e l "competencies" f o r o f f i c e occupations served by community college programs. I w i l l argue that the ambiguities explored here cannot not be resolved through i n f i n i t e s p e c i f i c a t i o n ; they endure because the s p e c i f i c a t i o n of requirements for job performance i s ultimately an i n t e r p r e t i v e rather than an empirical undertaking. I t involves grappling with problems about the nature and organization of work i t s e l f , questions which are fundamentally s o c i o - h i s t o r i c a l and p o l i t i c a l i n character. And i t i s inseparable from the work of defining the r e l a t i o n of i n d i v i d u a l workers to the labour process of which they are part, again a r e l a t i o n which i s not "given" by the character of work i t s e l f but determined i n a highly interested s o c i a l process. In t h i s context, we w i l l see that the process of superimposing a set of r a t i o n a l / s c i e n t i f i c procedures on the problems of a r t i c u l a t i n g learning to the labour process on the job constitutes a further s o c i a l / p o l i t i c a l act. I t provides a "raiment of r a t i o n a l i t y " (McLaughlin 1975:118) under which intensely p o l i t i c a l choices go unexamined and unchallenged. 136 DACUM: A FRAMEWORK FOR EDUCATION OF DISADVANTAGED ADULTS The Nova Scotia NewStart Program i s most commonly i d e n t i f i e d as the o r i g i n a l s i t e of the adaptation and use of the task analysis technique i n the Canadian context (Prokopec 1978, Adams 1975, Sinnett 1975). The handbook for p r a c t i t i o n e r s produced under t h i s project, DACUM: Approach to Curriculum, Learning and  Evaluation i n Occupational Training by R.E. Adams (1975), has become the Canadian standard on DACUM [ 3J technique, and I w i l l r e l y on i t heavily. The other standard work on which I w i l l draw i s The Application of DACUM i n Retraining and Post Secondary  Curriculum Development by W.E. Sinnett (1975) who was instrumental i n introducing the DACUM approach i n Ontario. The s e n s i b i l i t y / r a t i o n a l i t y of DACUM methods are best understood i n the context for which they were developed, that i s programs of vocational education t a i l o r e d s p e c i f i c a l l y to meet the needs of educationally disadvantaged adults. This s p e c i a l i z e d approach to curriculum was based on a c r i t i q u e of standard practices i n occupational analysis and vocational education that i s very informative for our purposes and highly determining of the character of the DACUM approach. According to Adams (1975), previous techniques for developing " e f f i c i e n t " occupational t r a i n i n g suffered from severe shortcomings i n a number of areas. F i r s t l y , they were "formidably" elaborate and cumbersome, to the point of discouraging t h e i r use altogether. Secondly, they tended to be characterized by an emphasis on 137 knowledge or information content as opposed to performance, at the l e v e l of both occupational analysis i t s e l f and i n design of materials f o r i n s t r u c t i o n and evaluation. Adams points out that such knowledge-based approaches to learning systematically disadvantage learners who do not already have a high l e v e l of communication s k i l l s . That i s , an i n d i v i d u a l might have a high functional capacity i n the occupation i t s e l f , and a low functional capacity for the medium i n which competence i s taught and evaluated i n the learning s i t u a t i o n . The DACUM approach addresses these major obstacles by of f e r i n g a "quick and economical" (Sinnett 1975:Part 1,8) two day process for occupational analysis and an approach to educational design oriented to minimizing b a r r i e r s to learning that can be seen as extraneous to occupational performance. I t emphasizes those behavioural s k i l l s which most r e a d i l y f a c i l i t a t e achievement and places information or knowledge "about" occupational tasks i n a "supportive r o l e " . According to Adams, basic knowledge components such as science, math, communications, or theory r e l a t e d to the work may be "somewhat re l a t e d " but "not es s e n t i a l to development of the s k i l l s or behaviours required for performance i n the occupation" (Adams 1975:11). By i s o l a t i n g such factors, the DACUM approach i s said to minimize those dynamics which commonly contribute to lack of success i n learning s i t u a t i o n s among disadvantaged adults. In l i g h t of these considerations, the DACUM approach i n s t r u c t s the designers of curriculum to "ignore" and "suppress" 138 t r a d i t i o n a l methods of handling subject matter which are derived from an educational t r a d i t i o n . Instead, learning objectives are broken down into i n d i v i d u a l s k i l l s or behaviours which are s p e c i f i e d as independent learning tasks, or independent terminal goals. Each learning task becomes a "problem-solving s i t u a t i o n " and evaluation i s geared to the achievement of behavioural solutions. This learning process i s said to c l o s e l y approximate that which occurs i n the work environment, and on t h i s account the DACUM i s said to promote ease of transfer from one s e t t i n g of performance to the other (Adams 1975:38-45). DACUM AS A TOOL OF GENERAL VOCATIONAL EDUCATION The DACUM method developed by Adams and h i s colleagues i n Nova Scotia has had a major influence on the pr a c t i c e of vocational education across Canada. The method has been adapted and developed for a v a r i e t y of settings of vocational learning, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and B r i t i s h Columbia, and somewhat l a t e r , Ontario (see Hart 1987; Sinnett 1975). As Sinnett points out, not a l l users implement the approach i n the same way, but a common denominator seems to be the use of a systematic aproach to analysis of objectives and the creation of a chart of s k i l l d e f i n i t i o n s . Such a chart may then be used i n any type of delivery system ( i n d i v i d u a l i z e d or group, lecture or lab etc.) and may or may not be embedded i n an e n t i r e i n s t r u c t i o n a l management system. 139 According to Sinnett, the basic i n t e g r i t y of the approach depends upon the c r i t i c a l f i r s t step of producing a s k i l l p r o f i l e chart by means of a committee of employers i n a task analysis process. The common v a r i a t i o n of having i n s t r u c t o r s produce a s i m i l a r p r o f i l e chart of course content i s c r i t i c i s e d for being j u s t another form of "scope and sequence chart" and an "afterthought" which "cannot become an instrument f o r relevant job or generic s k i l l - o r i e n t e d change i n the learning environment" (Sinnett 1975:11-8). Such instructor-based analysis i s said not to provide an "embedded" or "real-job" type of curriculum and thus i t "defeats the whole purpose of behavioural task analysis as a learning technique leading to performance objectives" (Sinnett 1975:11-5). When the employer-based character of the task analysis i s retained however, Sinnett argues that the analysis and p r o f i l i n g steps may be safely "extracted" from the app l i c a t i o n f o r which they were designed i n Nova Scotia "without changing the i n t e g r i t y of the process" and may be applied "whenever a task or behavioural analysis technique would be useful i n o u t l i n i n g the skeleton of a curriculum" (Sinnett 1975:11-3). Sinnett's discussion of ' i n t e g r i t y ' does not include consideration of whether p r i n c i p l e s of learning derived from the needs of in d i v i d u a l s who are educationally handicapped are equally s u i t a b l e f o r a l l learners, or more s p e c i f i c a l l y , the question of how systematic suppresion of the knowledge component i s j u s t i f i e d i n general vocational learning. 140 According to Sinnett, the strength of the DACUM approach i s i n the po t e n t i a l which i t brings to s a t i s f y what he c a l l s the "emerging need" fo r greater curriculum f l e x i b i l i t y . The concept of learning objectives serves to "break-up" large blocks of learning into "curriculum b i t s " or modules which can be stored by a computer i n large "data bases", arranged i n various matrices or p r o f i l e s . These modules can l a t e r be retrieved i n "new combinations" to b u i l d "unique courses" to meet i n d i v i d u a l i z e d or sp e c i a l i z e d learning needs. Sinnett points out that these are the elements of a "highly f l e x i b l e " i n s t r u c t i o n a l system, i n which " l o c a l decision-making i s possible." In h i s v i s i o n , "business, industry and the l o c a l community" can thus become "much more involved i n shaping curriculum" (Sinnett 1975:V-3,4). Both Adams and Sinnett include i n t h e i r "how-to" manuals considerable discussion of the procedures that w i l l lead to a "successful outcome" of the task analysis process. Both point to a wide range of pot e n t i a l p i t f a l l s and deviations from the procedure that are said to "disrupt" the work of the committee and prevent i t from "completing i t s task". These in s t r u c t i o n s are reviewed below, along with some c r i t i c a l commentary, under two headings: planning and process. PLANNING FOR SUCCESS The f i r s t consideration i n planning a DACUM workshop i s se l e c t i o n of committee members. Committee members are sought who 141 represent a l l aspects of the occupation so that the document which r e s u l t s from the workshop can be said to "serve as a universal d e s c r i p t i o n of the occupation" (Adams 1975:48). A number of e x p l i c i t c r i t e r i a of "coverage" are outlined. Regional or l o c a l differences i n how an occupation i s defined should be considered, as well as the relevance of s p e c i a l t i e s within the occupation related to p a r t i c u l a r i n d u s t r i e s . Also, variance i n the occupation r e l a t i v e to the s i z e of employing firms i s said to be important because large firms w i l l tend to define the occupation as having a narrower range of highly developed s k i l l s , and smaller firms w i l l specify a wider range of s k i l l s at more general l e v e l . However, the i n s t r u c t i o n s do not specify how such differences are to be handled once they are brought to l i g h t , and how they may be resolved into a s i n g l e account i n the workshop documents. The only suggestion of such procedure that I could f i n d i n the Adams manual i s the b r i e f observation that the broader d e f i n i t i o n of s k i l l s t y p i c a l of smaller firms i s l i k e l y to include "some that might not properly be part of the occupation even though job incumbents might be applying them" (Adams 1975:48). This statement suggests that the workshop procedure i s predicated upon an a p r i o r i notion of "occupation" which i s applied i n order to construct some forms of occupational p r a c t i c e as "proper" and not others. But no such concept i s provided i n the DACUM materials, and the procedures for c o n s t i t u t i n g "occupation" i n the workshop remain unexamined. I t i s treated as a n a t u r a l l y occurring phenomenon which can be merely found and described. This i s a highly e m p i r i c i s t practice 142 with heavily i d e o l o g i c a l implications, which w i l l become more cl e a r as t h i s chapter unfolds. The second consideration i n se l e c t i o n of a DACUM committee are the 11 q u a l i f i c a t i o n s 1 1 of the ind i v i d u a l s themselves. F i r s t , they must be competent i n the occupation themselves, by v i r t u e of being an incumbent i n the type of p o s i t i o n being described, a past incumbent, or a f i r s t l i n e supervisor of the work i t s e l f . They must be involved i n the work process f u l l time, must be able to communicate the s k i l l s of the occupation v e r b a l l y and have a demonstrated a b i l i t y to work with confidence and f l e x i b i l i t y i n a group s i t u a t i o n . In addition, because of the "lead time" necessary for the preparation of new graduates, the " i d e a l " and " e f f e c t i v e " committee member i s one who "keeps abreast of his f i e l d by reading journals and exploring he po t e n t i a l of new inventions" and who can then interpret, even "predict" the impact of such changes on s k i l l requirements i n the occupation (Adams 1975:49). F i n a l l y , i n d i v i d u a l s must be "free from b i a s f e s ] " related to t r a i n i n g methods, t r a i n i n g time, t r a i n i n g costs, status of the occupation etc. i n order to be " q u a l i f i e d " f o r the DACUM committee. Individuals who " f i l l an a u x i l l i a r y r o l e such as a union leader" are excluded on t h i s basis, since they may be "influenced by h i s a u x i l i a r y r o l e more than by the r e a l requirements" (Adams 1975:50). [ 3] Again, we see the use of a d i s t i n c t i o n about what i s " r e a l " and "proper" which remains an unexplicated resource i n the decision-making work of the committee. 143 The problem of "bias" also rules out the p a r t i c i p a t i o n of ins t r u c t o r s or t r a i n e r s , who are said to "not perform well" as committee members because they v i s u a l i z e and anti c i p a t e the impact of committee decisions on the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process rather than focussing on a description of the work process i t s e l f . In p a r t i c u l a r , i n s t r u c t o r s are said to "hamper ana l y s i s " and " r e s i s t s p e c i f i c a t i o n " of "theory-based a n a l y t i c a l or problem-solving s k i l l s " and to "encourage s p e c i f i c a t i o n of the theory or knowledge i t s e l f . " This tendency i s said to "disrupt[] the ... momentum" of committee work (Adams 1975:47-53). The r e s u l t of a l l t h i s s p e c i f i c a t i o n i s that the f i e l d of in d i v i d u a l s s u i t a b l e to serve as workshop p a r t i c i p a n t s i s r e l a t i v e l y small. Nevertheless, workshop organizers are urged not to t r e a t the stated requirements l i g h t l y . Considerable advice i s given about the most successful methods of r e c r u i t i n g s u i t a b l e p a r t i c i p a n t s , and organizers are urged to avoid "concession to p o l i t i c a l pressure" i n accepting committee members who are personnally or professional unqualified or i l l - p r e p a r e d for the work of the committee. While i t i s recogized that the sources of such pressure are many and varied, " [ i ] t has been found i n work to date that insistence on r e j e c t i n g such persons i s necessary" i n order to secure a "successful outcome" of the workshop (Adams 1975:53). F i n a l l y , i t i s stressed that committee members must be availa b l e for the entir e duration of the workshop i n order f o r the group dynamics to be sustained and a successful outcome to be achieved. 144 Throughout t h i s l i t e r a t u r e , normative concepts l i k e " q u a l i f i e d " , "necessary" and "successful" are used i n a completely taken f o r granted way. They assume the standpoint of the competency paradigm and i n s e r t i t s assumptions as what the reader must share i n order for the text to make sense. This problem of standpoint i s key to the i d e o l o g i c a l character of the documents per se, as well as of the workshop procedures they describe, which w i l l be examined i n Chapter Six. MANAGING A SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME Once a su i t a b l e committee i s assembled, the conduct of the workshop i t s e l f i s also a highly s p e c i f i e d undertaking. The manuals stress that because the task analysis procedure and i t s requirements w i l l l i k e l y be unfamiliar to p a r t i c i p a n t s , a succesful outcome depends heavily on the e f f o r t s of a s k i l l e d f a c i l i t a t o r / c o o r d i n a t o r . On the one hand, the coordinator must not influence the "technical judgments or contributions of the committee", and must be "very patient" i n allowing the committee to "search f o r solutions" on i t s own. On the other hand, the coordinator i s instructed to " i n s i s t that they work within the s p e c i f i e d framework" and to be "unyielding i n applying the basic p r i n c i p l e s of DACUM" (Adams 1975:58-60). This i s said to be a " d i f f i c u l t r o l e " , and not one suited to in d i v i d u a l s to whom " i t to i s important to be l i k e d " . The coordinator must be able to 145 "handle argument, provide responses to questions and handle severe c r i t i c i s m i n r e l a t i o n to h i s and the DACUM approach" (Adams 1975:59-60). Since these documents contain no discussion of the nature or the sources of such "pressure", these concerns with conformity serve as another aspect of t h e i r opaque and i d e o l o g i c a l character. Using a system of cards displayed on the wall, the coordinator i s instructed to maintaining the focus and momentum of the group "on i t s task". To do t h i s , he [sic] must be able to make "rapid, in-process decisions" to "maintain control of the s i t u a t i o n " . He must notice when the committee or some members have begun to " d r i f t away" from the framework, and take appropriate action to bring "the l o s t i n d i v i d u a l [ s ] back on track". He i s charged with the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of maintaining "a steady work pace" to "ensure that the work w i l l be complete i n the a l l o t e d time" (Adams 1975:59-65). The documents specify that the coordinator may occasionally a s s i s t the committee i n s e l e c t i o n of a suitable "action verb" for expressing a given s k i l l . Such assistance i s said to be most commonly needed for s k i l l s "which have i n the past been treated as knowledge that i s merely applied" or i n the case of s k i l l s that are "mental problem-solving i n nature" and therefore "not p h y s i c a l l y observable" (Adams 1975:63). Hence, committee i s said to have d i f f i c u l t y specifying them without assistance. No r e l a t i o n i s suggested i n the manuals between t h i s " d i f f i c u l t y " 146 and the requirement to suppress emphasis on knowledge or background information. In fac t one of the biggest obstacles that the f a c i l i t a t o r i s said to face i s "persons concerned with knowledge f o r the sake of knowledge" who f e e l "that a wide background of information and theory i s es s e n t i a l to enable the employee to speak i n t e l l i g e n t l y about h i s f i e l d , as well as to perform capably" (Adams 1975:111). To counter t h i s d i f f i c u l t y , Adams recommends to f a c i l i t a t o r s that i t i s "easy" to use examples of other occupations " i n which increasing emphasis was placed on knowledge to the exclusion of useful occupational s k i l l s " (1975:111). [ 4] Again, we see evidence of the use of a p r i o r standards for determining usefulness or relevance of knowledge which remain unexplicated i n the workshop procedures. F i n a l l y , i t i s said that the coordinator "must display common sense" (Adams 1975:68). While i t i s acknowledged that t h i s i s a "rather nebulous s k i l l d e f i n i t i o n " , i t i s nevertheless said to be "necessary" f o r the following reasons: The e n t i r e procedure i s a r e l a t i v e l y simple commonsense approach to the problem of s p e c i f i y i n g t r a i n i n g requirements. I t i s not commonsense to allow the s i m p l i c i t y of the approach to be complicated by the a i r i n g of committee members' views on learning, education systems, t r a i n i n g programs, and a v a r i e t y of s i m i l a r concerns such as unionism, socialism, and motivation to work (Adams 1975:68). In t h i s use, the concept of "simple commonsense" i s a completely taken-for-granted resource i n the organization of the workshop process and i n determining the character of i t s r e s u l t s . The opposition of "simple" and "complicated" appears e n t i r e l y 147 a r b i t r a r y , as does the claim that " a i r i n g of views" i s unwelcome on topics which are declared to be "peripheral" and "philosophic". In these areas, the coordinator i s instructed to "avoid becoming personally involved" because i t may " d i s c r e d i t him i n the eyes of the committee and he may lose h i s leadership r o l e " (Adams 1975:69). The a b i l i t y to avoid such detours i s seen as evidence of the professional s k i l l of the f a c i l i t a t o r . Inasmuch as these p r e s c r i p t i v e formulations assume a standpoint which cannot be interrogated by the reader, they contribute further to the i d e o l o g i c a l character of the task analysis process. These various s p e c i f i c a t i o n s for a "successful outcome" of the DACUM workshop add up to a highly technical process, using a t i g h t l y c o n t r o l l e d and determining set of procedures f o r organization and conduct of the workshop, including a c l o s e l y s p e c i f i e d set of procedures for the description of work tasks. In t h i s framework, only c e r t a i n kinds of t a l k and action may be entered as data or appear as r e s u l t s . A l l other contributions are counted as "disruption" or "trouble". They promote the 'wrong kind' of discussion or they "slow down" the committee's progress toward i t s target i n the a l l o t e d time. Thus, i n contrast to the n a t u r a l i s t i c and folksy common-sense claims of many of i t s advocates, a "successful outcome" of the DACUM process emerges as an extremely f r a g i l e phemonenon. The highly i d e o l o g i c a l character of the DACUM procedures i s embedded i n that t e c h n i c a l f r a g i l i t y , and remains the object of our continuing i n v e s t i g a t i o n . 148 'NEEDS 1 AND 1INDUSTRY': AN ASSUMED RELATION The product of the workshop process i s a statement of the "needs of industry" as they are knowable from within a given, highly structured framework. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note, however, that the concept " t h e o r e t i c a l " i s not used i n the competency l i t e r a t u r e to describe t h i s character of the approach. Rather, the t h e o r e t i c a l character of the framework i s systematically denied and obscured, both i n the s k i l l s p r o f i l e documents themselves, which routinely make no reference whatsoever to t h e i r own highly technical character, and i n the bulk of the "how-to" l i t e r a t u r e which introduces these methods to p r a c t i t i o n e r s . Instead, the methods are introduced as l o g i c a l , r a t i o n a l , r e f l e c t i n g common sense, and t e c h n i c a l l y neutral or free from "bias". The c l o s e s t thing to a statement of framework i n these works i s i n Adams who writes that the DACUM approach " r e l i e s heavily on the p r i n c i p l e that the s k i l l s or types of competence required for performance i n an occupation can be defined and that the d e f i n i t i o n s can be u s e f u l l y applied as the goals of a learning program" (Adams 1975:60). Adams i d e n t i f i e s t h i s stance as part of a "skill-knowledge debate" i n which the opposing side i n commited to the expression of needs i n terms of information or knowledge which may be s p e c i f i e d i n more general terms and i s 149 s a i d to be a hindrance to learning. However, no general theory i s offered or referred to as an account of t h i s d i f f i c u l t y . The Adams manual i s completely without footnotes or bibliography. Sinnett has both, but with a l i m i t e d content that might be c a l l e d t h e o r e t i c a l . This feature of competency documents makes i t d i f f i c u l t to track back to locate the i n t e l l e c t u a l t r a d i t i o n of which they are a part (Moore 1987). This apparently a-theoretic character of the DACUM l i t e r a t u r e i s an expresion/reflection of the i d e o l o g i c a l character of the workshop practices themselves. The next i n t e g r a l piece of the i d e o l o g i c a l character of the DACUM procedure i s the way i n which "employers" are defined. That i s , "employers" i n t h i s case means not j u s t any employer or group of employers, but rather a c a r e f u l l y constructed abstraction, a voice duly constituted to speak f o r employers at large, authorized to make what i s c a l l e d a "universal" statement of "need". The procedures for c o n s t i t u t i n g such a voice are examined i n t h i s chapter. However, the statements of the abstract e n t i t y "employers" are inescapably grounded i n the p a r t i c u l a r experience of those employers present at the task analysis workshop. Indeed, the insistence of the DACUM procedures on working concretely (discussed below) are intended to ensure that t h i s i s the case. The existence of s i g n i f i c a n t differences between workplaces i s rendered o f f i c i a l l y i n v i s i b l e and i r r e l e v a n t to t r a i n i n g following the p u b l i c a t i o n of a s k i l l s p r o f i l e which speaks for a l l . 150 ) Next, the i d e o l o g i c a l character of DACUM practices i s v i s i b l e inasmuch as not a l l statements on the part of employers are equally e l i g i b l e to be counted as "needs". While the purpose of the task analysis process i s to s o l i c i t information from employers to demonstrate s k i l l requirements i n t h e i r workplaces, only c e r t a i n kinds of information are admitted; others are a c t i v e l y 'suppressed'. In order to be e l i g i b l e , contributions of employers must contribute toward the construction of an answer to one basic question, variants of which recurred frequently throughout the workshop: "What w i l l these people be required to do?" " W i l l they be required to do ...?" "Do you want them to be able to do ...?". The ideas or expectations of employers which cannot be expressed i n t h i s form are excluded from the product by means of active, systematic, "suppression" i n the workshop procedings. Employers ideas about s k i l l requirements which f a l l outside t h i s framework were described by one administrator at West Coast College as t h e i r "wish l i s t s " . The work of c o n s t i t u t i n g the d i f f e r e n t between a "wish l i s t " and a "statement of needs" i s the business of the task analysis. F i n a l l y , not j u s t any behaviourally-formulated statement of employers about work related-knowledge and action expressed as "competencies" can be the occasion for i n s t i t u t i o n a l action. Rather, the character of a given work a c t i v i t y as a 'competency' can only be assigned as the product of the o f f i c i a l process of s o c i a l construction which takes place i n the workshop s e t t i n g . It i s through these processes that some actions and not others 151 achieve status as the warrantable object of i n s t r u c t i o n i n a "competency-driven" educational system. The i d e o l o g i c a l character of the DACUM process i s thus a product of these routine, systematic, o b j e c t i f i e d and o b j e c t i f y i n g p r a c t i c e s . These determining features of the DACUM process w i l l become v i s i b l e as a form of p r a c t i c a l action only through an analysis of in t e r a c t i o n of pa r t i c i p a n t s i n the task analysis workshop i t s e l f , which i s undertaken i n the next chapter. There, descriptions of work which are a product of the workshop process w i l l be seen to r e l y not on any n a t u r a l i s t i c d e f i n i t i o n or dominant empirical p r a c t i c e which i s discoverable as the e n t i t y c a l l e d " s u f f i c i e n c y " on the job. Instead, we w i l l see that the descriptions of work which r e s u l t from the workshop are the product of a process of mediation among divergent accounts of work i t s e l f and c o n f l i c t i n g and competing statements of adequacy i n s k i l l s and knowledge. CONCLUSION The p r e s c r i p t i o n s examined i n t h i s chapter suggest that notions of "competence" i t s e l f , or the concept of "need" through which competencies are defined, are ultimately normative i n character. That i s , they prescribe s p e c i f i c behaviours to which in d i v i d u a l s are expected to conform, but they represent only one possible 'value* among many. Their meaning i s always derived 152 from the choices made i n defining some other e n t i t y . But these l a t t e r d e f i n i t i o n s are open as well for negotiation, indeed only e x i s t i n a continuing process of s o c i a l construction. The implications of t h i s conundrum are i d e n t i f i e d by Edmund Short (1984) using teaching as an example. He argues that the competencies of teaching depend upon how one defines the r o l e of a teacher, and that: C r i t e r i a cannot be found ready-made by turning to a u t h o r i t i e s or empirical investigations; the represent value judgments (as does the use of them) and therefore they must be constructed, determined, by someone or some group i n p a r t i c u l a r circumstances. Who, therefore, should p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h e i r creation i s a c r u c i a l p o l i t i c a l question to be resolved. (Short 1984:205). According to Short, the development of c r i t e r i a of competence i s always "both a p o l i t i c a l and moral a c t i v i t y " . While t r a d i t i o n a l educational t h e o r i s t s , Short included, have tended to focus on the moral dimension of such dilemmas, very few observers of the competency approach have turned t h e i r attention to the p o l i t i c a l character of these dynamics. William Spady has done so, and remains a singular resource i n t h i s regard because of h i s unique p o s i t i o n as a staunch proponent of the approach who i s at the same time one of i t s most i n s i g h t f u l c r i t i c s (1982, 1980, 1977). Spady has i d e n t i f i e d the irremediably p o l i t i c a l character of c r i t e r i a for job requirements: I t i s my personal conviction, a f t e r having examined t h i s problem c l o s e l y for several years, that ... decisive cut-off points f o r various programs or grade l e v e l s ... must e s s e n t i a l l y be p o l i t i c a l rather than educational or s c i e n t i f i c , since most s k i l l s or information-oriented c u r r i c u l a have few e a s i l y defined or p r o f e s s i o n a l l y advocated threshold points (Spady 1982:135). 153 Indeed, the absence of easy threshold points i s a s t r i k i n g feature of the discussions reported i n the next chapter. What i s a maximum requirement from one perspective or i n one s i t u a t i o n i s a bare foundation from the next. This dilemma h i g h l i g h t s the fact that work tasks do not e x i s t as such outside of a work process i n which they a r i s e and have t h e i r sense. The imposition of separateness on them, to s a t i s f y a curriculum format that requires d i s c r e t e independent tasks, has the e f f e c t of disrupting these material conditions of t h e i r performability and l e a r n a b i l i t y . Severed from t h e i r sense as ' p r a c t i c a l action', and formulated instead as dis c r e t e phenomenon, job tasks acquire a peculiar, s t e r i l e , unfinished q u a l i t y . In fact, t h i s q u a l i t y i s an elusive source of d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n to both employers and educators involved i n curriculum review process, as I w i l l show in subsequent chapters. We w i l l see that the "universal d e s c r i p t i o n " (Adams 1975:48) which the DACUM processs promises to provide i s neither a mirror r e f l e c t i o n of how jobs are practiced, nor even how employers think about t h e i r "needs". The "cut-off" points which are established are the product of structured i n t e r a c t i o n between what workers do, what employers want or think i s needed for the job and what the s p e c i f i e d curriculum procedures are w i l l i n g to count as a statement of "need". The d e f i n i t i o n of "need" which i s achieved through these procedures i s an abstraction, organized from a lo c a t i o n which continues to be unexplicated i n the 154 procedures themselves, as we have seen i n t h i s chapter. However, as our i n v e s t i g a t i o n continues, i t w i l l be increasingly c l e a r that t h i s l o c a t i o n represents the standpoint of c a p i t a l i t s e l f , that i s , the p o s i t i o n of dominance by c a p i t a l over labour within the terms of work organization. Evidence of how t h i s r e l a t i o n i s embedded i n the midst of educational practices continues to be explored i n the next chapter. 155 ENDNOTES (CHAPTER FIVE) 1. See G.W. Smith (forthcoming), The Soc i a l Organization of the Government Category of "Occupation". Also G.W. Smith (1987). 2. See t h i s discussion i n Chapter One. 3. The o r i g i n a l term DACUM stands for "Designing a Curriculum", but i t i s often used i n a generic sense to r e f e r to a sequence chart of i n s t r u c t i o n a l objectives. See discussion on pages 139-141. 4. Note here that the exclusion of representatives of labour organizations distinguishes these methods from s i m i l a r practices undertaken i n a more s o c i a l democratic context i n European countries such as West Germany. 5. Interestingly, Adams points to teaching as a good example of an occupation which i l l u s t r a t e s t h i s problem. I t would be in t e r e s t i n g and revealing to pursue how such a claim would be argued from h i s point of view. 156 CHAPTER SIX TASK ANALYSIS: THE POLITICS OF 'SUFFICIENCY' "There i s nothing ine v i t a b l e about a more work-related curriculum being r e s t r i c t e d to an employer-dominated version of work preparation" (Finn 1987:193). The objective of t h i s chapter i s to explore the task analysis workshop process conducted to revise o f f i c e programs at West Coast College. Here we w i l l see how the DACUM procedures described i n the l a s t chapter e f f e c t the d e f i n i t i o n of "needs" which i s achieved. I w i l l demonstrate that the "universal d e s c r i p t i o n " of required competencies which i s achieved i n these procedings represents a highly mediated point of in t e r s e c t i o n between what various employers want, what the DACUM methods permit, and what a given college program can p r a c t i c a l l y get done within the time frame ava i l a b l e . This product nevertheless achieves status i n documentary form as a " t o t a l l y objective statement of needs" for the purposes of i n s t r u c t i o n a l management. Here we w i l l examine the id e o l o g i c a l character of t h i s process. The excerpts of workshop i n t e r a c t i o n examined below i l l u s t r a t e that many aspects of the work process on the job which are systematically counted out when i t comes to planning a curriculum are nevertheless central to the communication which takes place i n the workshop process. They are c r i t i c a l to how the employers i n attendance construct a sense-in-common of the work which i s 157 the t o p i c of discussion. In some cases such as the discussion of "bookkeeping" reported below, decisions about what to count i n a r i s e almost as a residue from the process of deciding what to count out. By emphasizing and h i g h l i g h t i n g the apparently irremediably embedded character of work tasks on the job, t h i s discussion casts a shadow on the v i a b i l i t y of the basic assumptions of the competency approach to vocational learning i n general: that "competence" on the job i s constituted i n the mastery of tasks which stand as di s c r e t e "terminal goals", and that, indeed, "competence" can be adequately taught and learned through independent "learning objectives" that have been carved out to conform to such a model. However, my object here i s not to attempt to resolve these broad questions about the educational v i a b i l i t y of these concepts and practices, but rather to show t h e i r fundamentally interested character and t h e i r l o c a t i o n i n a process of mediation by the state. One of the d i f f i c u l t i e s experienced by workshop pa r t i c i p a n t s i n t r y i n g to produce such di s c r e t e curriculum b i t s i s the problem of t r y i n g to separate the requirements for performance and the necessity f o r what they c a l l "awareness". This problem resonates with the century-old c r i t i c a l debates surrounding behaviourism and empiricism i n education i n North America, focussing on the r e l a t i o n s between doing and knowing, action and i t s object. Here, I have argued that the competency approach imposes a method of "knowing" work tasks for the purposes of teaching/learning which in s e r t s a rupture into these r e l a t i o n s . 158 That i s , 'competence' of the worker becomes o b j e c t i f i e d , organized from a p o s i t i o n outside of the learner/worker as the acting subject. Work tasks are constituted as knowable from the l o c a t i o n of those whose i n t e r e s t (need-to-know) i s not i n order to perform but i n order to manage, ei t h e r i n the workplace i t s e l f or i n the learning environment. The importance of t h i s s h i f t would be d i f f i c u l t to over-rate fo r the purposes of the present analysis. I t i s foundational to the task of re-organizing vocational learning so that i t w i l l be responsive to the p o l i c y process. I t s immediate e f f e c t i s part of separating teachers from control over the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process. In the long term i t i s part of the process of separating workers i n general from the conditions for control over work, as argued i n Chapter Two. Thus i t i s part of reconstructing working knowledge i n an alienated form as a property of c a p i t a l (Holly 1977). A l l of t h i s takes place i n a process of textual mediation that i s i n i t i a t e d and defined by the state. THE WORKSHOP IN ACTION The most persistent issue that emerged throughout the workshop was the problem that came to be c a l l e d "awareness". This concept appeared i n discussion of v i r t u a l l y every kind of work covered i n the program, and served as a major organizing 159 device to handle the problem of embeddedness of work tasks, that i s , that work takes place i n a continuous flow of interdependent action, each task dependent on the steps before and intending those that come a f t e r . Making sense of i n d i v i d u a l job tasks thus depended for employers upon defining t h i s larger undertaking of which they were part, and competent l e v e l s of performance depended upon grasping the larger sense of ones* actions. For instance, the task c a l l e d "opening the mail" i s arguably one of the most mundane forms of work that goes on i n an o f f i c e environment. But even such a simple task was revealed by the discussion to be embedded i n a larger framework of understanding. Employer: Sometimes they don't know what an invoice i s , and they don't know what a purchase order i s . That's a problem because ... i f they are opening the mail, they don't know what things are or what to do with them. And that i s an entry l e v e l duty (55:9). In t h i s case, what pieces of mail or other objects "are" depends upon t h e i r use i n a work process. This i s a s p e c i a l i z e d method of knowing i n which recognizing the object i s a matter of o r i e n t i n g to a p a r t i c u l a r course of action i n the o f f i c e , i . e . "what to do" with i t . A s i m i l a r problem of comprehending objects as part of a course of action can be seen, at a s l i g h t l y greater l e v e l of complexity, i n the following discussion of basic s e c r e t a r i a l duties such as preparing i t i n e r a r i e s or cash advances. 160 Employer: Should we be including things l i k e i t i n e r a r i e s , and making t r a v e l arrangements ... there's an awful l o t of things you could include.... Employer: Most junior secretaries would have to type up an i t i n e r a r y , and i f they give you an i t i n e r a r y to type up and you didn't have a clue what i t was, you've never done i t , that's a problem. And you have to order a cash advance ... they a l l have to do i t , i t doesn't matter who i t i s . . . . Employer: I am not saying she i s going to know them a l l ... but we're t a l k i n g about her having some awareness ... that she i s going to be adding these type of things.... Employer: So are we t a l k i n g about simply an awareness of these things? (55:31-32). The concept of •awareness' comes to stand not only f o r being able to recognize objects, but fo r various kinds of comprehension of the how and why of objects-in-use or function: where they come from and where they are are going. This i s v i s i b l e i n the following discussion of basic bookkeeping s k i l l s : Employer: Even a secretary at a desk has to have some sort of records, l i k e to keep a i r t r a v e l , and cash advances, t r a v e l e r s cheques, everyone keeps t h e i r own for each p r i n c i p l e ... i t ' s a bookkeeping function. Employer: I f i n d with our small o f f i c e , too, that most of the s t a f f do make accounting entries, and I'm sure that some of them don't know why they are doing i t . Employer: These are people who are not necessarily going to go on to become accountants, but they do need some accouting s k i l l s . The important thing to teach i s some theory, so they understand what they are doing and why. Employer: Obviously they are not going to be f u l l - f l e d g e d accountants, so you don't want to go into a kind of depth; but quite often they w i l l take, maybe, f i r s t year accounting at night school, or something l i k e that. The company pays for i t , and i t ' s very h e l p f u l . Employer: I think i t i s too. Even i f the word processing operator i s typing up a document, a f i n a n c i a l statement or a balance sheet, at l e a s t they have an awareness of what they are doing. Where i t came from and maybe a l i t l e b i t about why (55:19-21). 161 Thus the term "awareness" came to be applied over and over to areas of comprehension that were ju s t beyond the l i m i t s of what an entry l e v e l person would be expected to perform independently, but were nevertheless important to a p r a c t i c a l understanding of her own job functions. The term came to stand for aspects of background knowledge or understanding which are at the margins of what could be counted-in using a performance-based framework, but were seen by pa r t i c i p a n t s as part of both present and future c a p a c i t i e s to act on the job. Other aspects of performance on the job which were emphasized were described not so much as tasks at a l l , but as methods of proceeding. Early i n the workshop, the f a c i l i t a t o r supplied the term "problem solving" to bring a behavioural focus to aspects of job performance that some employers wanted to c a l l "common sense": F a c i l i t a t o r : Do we need to l i s t problem solving as a s k i l l ? Is i t a common problem? I heard 'analyze problems* and •problem solve' a couple of times.... Employer: When you say problem solving, would t h i s be at a basic c l e r i c a l level? Like, when they come to you with a problem, and you t r y to f i n d out what the heck the problem r e a l l y i s . Is that what we are t a l k i n g about? Employer: Yeah, you have to r e a l l y interrogate them, and get them to define i t , and go back and look again.... Employer: I think those are the people who stand out. The ones who use ju s t a l i t t l e b i t of l o g i c and problem solving and are not running to you with every l i t t l e thing. Or they come to you with t h e i r answer and say 'Is t h i s r i g h t ? ' not 'What should I do?'. I think people l i k e that absolutely shine. 162 Employer: But aren't we t a l k i n g about using common sense? (Several Employers: 'Yes'... 'That's right*....) (55:7-8) There were other ways of proceeding that employers t r i e d to express v a r i o u s l y as maturity, understanding, i n s i g h t , and foresight, but they wanted them counted as part of what a "good secretary" took into account i n typing a memo: Employer: I can give you an example, and I think a good secretary would be able to catch i t . Yesterday, a memo went out to 90 employees of our company, and i t said, 'We are once again having our annual Fin and Feather Event. We would l i k e volunteers for t h i s worthwhile event...the time w i l l be such and such., and dinner w i l l be served.' Well, I thought, what the heck i s a Fin and Feather event, and what do these volunteers do? I don't know anything about l a s t year's event (laughter). So, i f a secretary had the foresight to go to the manager and say, well, t e l l me more about i t , she could have reconstructed the l e t t e r . . . . Employer: So i t i s n ' t j u s t the grammar, then, the grammar and the s p e l l i n g and the punctuation ... i t ' s what they are putting down.... F a c i l i t a t o r : So these people should be s k i l l e d i n understanding the top i c and always questioning themselves, not j u s t read and type? Employer: But that comes with maturity.... Employer: Well, t h i s was a mature person ... and you would think they should have the i n s i g h t to say, hey, t h i s memo i s n ' t going to t e l l a person.... Employer: Yes, but I am not sure that students going into t h e i r f i r s t job would f e e l that.... They should, but they don't a l l think that way. They take what i s given to them.... F a c i l i t a t o r : They could be aware of i t , though....(55:12). This discussion h i g h l i g h t s the absence of cl e a r boundaries between various stages of knowing and doing on the job. Opening the mail also involves d i r e c t i n g the mail; typing documents 163 requires comprehending t h e i r basic function; processing routine o f f i c e communication involves the use of judgment l o g i c and problem solving. As the boundaries of the tasks themselves get fuzzy, so do the notions of s u f f i c i e n c y i n the s k i l l required to perform them. Much discussion i n the workshop focussed on attempts to e s t a b l i s h pragmatic c e i l i n g s of s k i l l for various kinds of entry l e v e l work. Often these attempts were undermined by comments all u d i n g to the difference between adequate performance conceived t e c h n i c a l l y , such as typing speed, and the kind of performance which brings a notable sense of s a t i s f a c t i o n and confidence to the employer. The l a t t e r was c l e a r l y of i n t e r e s t to employers, as evidenced i n the following remarks: Employer: I think knowledge of what they are doing w i l l increase t h e i r speed, as opposed to having to type f a s t e r . . . Say, i f you are using a spread sheet package, you are keying i t i n . How quickly you f i n i s h the spreadsheet doesn't depend upon how quickly you type. I t depends on your approach and your knowledge of the package, and how you do i t (55:17-18). Employer: I think i t i s too. Even i f the word processing operator i s typing up a document, a f i n a n c i a l statement or a balance sheet, at l e a s t they have an awareness of what they are doing. Where i t came from and maybe a l i t l e b i t about why (55:21). Employer: [It i s ] very important to be r e a l l y f a m i l i a r with t h i s l i t t l e monster [personal computer] you are dealing with ... even though i t i s user - f r i e n d l y , i t doesn't t e l l you every step. So you have got to have the a b i l i t y to go i n and learn to f u l l y u t i l i z e i t . You have got to f e e l comfortable with the equipment ... I f you get someone who i s r e a l l y comfortable with i t , you r e a l l y see the difference (55:11). 164 These comments point to the presence of what might be c a l l e d "hidden s k i l l s " , s k i l l s that are not v i s i b l e as d i s c r e t e performances and thus are e a s i l y taken f o r granted. But t h e i r presence or absence i s said to make a difference to o v e r a l l job performance that "you r e a l l y see". Perhaps the best o v e r a l l i l l u s t r a t i o n of the problems that emerged i n attempting to chop work up into " d i s c r e t e " b i t s and assign the s k i l l l e v e l s required to perform the " b i t s " was a protracted discussion of bookkeeping. One basic point on which there was general agreement was that "there's no such thing as basic bookkeeping any more." Employer: There i s no such thing as basic bookkeeping any more. That's a hang over from an e a r l i e r era ... where you were s i t t i n g down there i n the c e l l a r ... using 'books' ... and the theory was completely l e f t out. [Now] you can l i m i t the accounting to one area, but i t ' s not bookkeeping any longer...(55:22,24). Agreement upon that point however, made even more d i f f i c u l t the problem of e s t a b l i s h i n g what l e v e l of s k i l l i n d i v i d u a l s needed to do t h e i r jobs, since the old habits of thinking didn't r e a l l y apply. The answer to t h i s question kept changing, depending upon the point of reference used i n the discussion. The p a r t i c i p a n t s could a l l agree that even when the tasks were elementary, "you have to deal with concepts". But that l e f t them with the problem of how far to go with "concepts". This seemed to be the most d i f f i c u l t decision of the e n t i r e workshop: Employer: So, are we taking them to f i n a n c i a l statments, or j u s t to t r i a l balance? 165 Employer: Well, I f i n d i t point l e s s to take a person j u s t to t r i a l balance, when the f i n a n c i a l statement i s r e a l l y the object.... The question of what i s " r e a l l y the object" h i g h l i g h t s the manner i n which work tasks r e a l i z e t h e i r sense by or i e n t i n g to one another i n pr a c t i c e . Without t h i s context, t h e i r sense i s disorganized for the purposes of performance as well as learning. The discussion continues from above: Employer: Maybe get them to do the work up to the t r i a l balance, but then have an awareness of the f i n a n c i a l statement.... (Several employers): No, do the f i n a n c i a l statements .... Employer: Unless you do the f i n a n c i a l statements, you don't r e a l l y understand how the numbers are a r t i c u l a t e d . . . . What you do with a t r i a l balance i s t e c h n i c a l ; you run o f f a t r i a l balance, then you pick and choose the numbers that are relat e d to the d i f f e r e n t stages, and then you lay i t out as a f i n a n c i a l statement. And t h i s i s where the understanding r e a l l y comes i n . . . . See, a t r i a l balance i s j u s t a working paper. Employer: Delete t r i a l balance and j u s t leave f i n a n c i a l statement. Employer: How about 'procedures and processes leading to f i n a n c i a l statements'? Even the usual device of "awareness" d i d not solve the problems faced i n t h i s discussion of bookkeeping. A p l a u s i b l e argument could be made for se t t i n g the c e i l i n g at ei t h e r the t r i a l balance or f i n a n c i a l statement l e v e l . Eventually i t became cl e a r that t h i s ambiguity had something to do with differences between workplaces. The discussion continues again from above: Employer: I f a person i s coming out and going to work for a small o f f i c e , they should be able to do t h i s . 166 Employer: They would have to be pretty s i m p l i s t i c , though, wouldn't they? Employer: Well, here we are t a l k i n g about a small business, a person who i s going to be able to function without supervision, i n small o f f i c e s , lawyers' o f f i c e s , doctors' o f f i c e s , etc. They may not have to do the f i n a n c i a l statement, because i n a small business chances are the accountant w i l l come i n . But they should have the knowledge, be conversant up to that point. F a c i l i t a t o r : Would t h i s not happen i n a larger o f f i c e ? Employer: We use technicians i n a larger firm... We use a technician to take i t up to a t r i a l balance, and then an accountant to go to f i n a n c i a l statements. Whether that i s a good stopping point, I don't know.... Employer: Our people i n accounting take care of debits and c r e d i t s , and another g i r l w i l l be i n charge of the no ship l i s t s , f o r so many days they don't get any more product i f they haven't paid, etc. They each have a s p e c i f i c job. One does the data entry, to write i n a l l the invoices. But none of them would be responsible for any kind of statement at a l l . Employer: This i s most probably true. And d e f i n i t e l y i n big businesses t h i s w i l l happen. F a c i l i t a t o r : Well now, from what I am hearing, i t sounds l i k e i n larger companies there i s no need for t h i s , but i n smaller companies, there is...(55:25-28). This discussion o f f e r s an important view into the r e l a t i o n between s k i l l requirements and the organization of work i t s e l f . The discussion shows how jobs which appear to be the same are not because i n d i v i d u a l workplaces are organized d i f f e r e n t l y , depending on many factors, including technology and s i z e . Thus the concept of a "universal d e s c r i p t i o n " i s c a l l e d into question. For over an hour, the discussion of bookkeeping was s t a l l e d on these problems. Every avenue lead to the same ambivalent conclusion: " i t depends". 167 College Personnel: What about cash control procedures, how much p a y r o l l , do you think we are into. And what about inventory? What kind of depth? Employer: I r e a l i z e you have to cover a l l of that, but i n what depth? A very basic payroll? A more involved p a y r o l l . Do they need to know the ins and outs of a l l the various deductions, regulations, l e g i s l a t i o n . . . . Employer: They would have to do that i f a person ended up i n a one-girl office....(55:27) Eventually, a break-through occurred which resulted a decision about bookkeeping made on pragmatic grounds r e l a t i n g to the organization of the college rather than the organization of the workplace. The turning point i n the d e l i b e r a t i o n s came i n the following exchange: Employer: Well, how much t r a i n i n g time are we looking at here for that person? Two years? College Personnel: Oh, no ... no. Eight months (55:27). Within a few moments the decision to abandon the f i n a n c i a l statement as the goal was i m p l i c i t : Employer: I am wondering i f we are heading i n the wrong d i r e c t i o n , because, to be quite frank with you ... there's not going to be enough time ... we can't r e a l l y take them up that f a r anyway.... Employer: You couldn't possibly do i t i n that time..."(55:27-28). On the strength of t h i s somewhat belated r e a l i z a t i o n , the workshop group made a major decision a f f e c t i n g the O f f i c e Administration Program as a whole. They recommended the discontinuance of what had previously been a s p e c i a l i s t c e r t i f i c a t e i n Bookkeeping within the O f f i c e Administration 168 Program. Instead of graduating students with only eight months t r a i n i n g who were c a l l e d " s p e c i a l i s t s " , they c a l l e d for the in c l u s i o n of basic i n s t r u c t i o n i n p r i n c i p l e s of bookkeeping/accounting for a l l students i n O f f i c e Administration programs, and they set the t r i a l balance as the c e i l i n g . This was a compromise p o s i t i o n : there wasn't "enough time" f o r the higher goal, but they s e t t l e d f o r the lower goal on the op t i m i s t i c note that "By the time they can do a t r i a l balance, they have got enough concepts..." (55:29). The problem which remains unresolved, a f t e r a l l i s said and done, i s "enough" for whose purposes? In the area of general s e c r e t a r i a l s k i l l s , the conundrums were not so great, but there were nevertheless a number of li n g e r i n g indeterminacies. As for bookkeeping, some of the problems rel a t e d to the si z e of firms, but the more common differences r e l a t e d to workplace organization that depended upon the implementation of e l e c t r o n i c technology. For instance, job requirements depend heavily on factors such as ce n t r a l i z e d or decentralized approaches to word processing: F a c i l i t a t o r : Don't you have a kind of a 1-2-3-4 type standard l e t t e r that you send to your receivables ...? Employer: No, the g i r l does i t completely on her own. So do payables ... we're small. Employer: Yes, well we do. In our [large] l e g a l o f f i c e , they are standard, and they are done by word processing ... (55:12-13). Or the following: Employer: Then you need to look at ce n t r a l i z e d and decentralized word processing.... When you have a 169 c e n t r a l i z e d center, they wouldn't so much be doing s e c r e t a r i a l duties. But, i f i t ' s decentralized word processing, they would, wouldn't they. You know, you have got a c t u a l l y two d i f f e r e n t job descriptions. And depending on the actual business, whether they have decentralized or ce n t r a l i z e d set up, they could be one and the same person (55:38) . The omnipresence of new technology led to a strong c a l l f or "a general knowledge of a l l kinds of o f f i c e automation equipment - what they can expect to f i n d , what i t i s , what i t does, what i t i s capable of doing" (55:18). New areas of technological innovation were seen to transform even basic, t r a d i t i o n a l o f f i c e s k i l l s : typewriters, ca l c u l a t o r s , and telephones have "memory chips" and are "programmable"; word processing and data entry can mean operating anything from a dedicated work processor to a "dumb" terminal on a main frame to a personal computer; handling the mail can mean everything from posting l e t t e r s to sending e l e c t r o n i c messages. In the face of such changes, the r e l a t i o n between what employers "want [employees] to know" and what "they w i l l have to do" grew increasingly cloudy. The case of programmable telephone systems provides an i l l u s t r a t i o n . Employer: There i s something new that i s ju s t s t a r t i n g to be used, and that i s the c o n t r o l l i n g software which can be cont r o l l e d in-house. We have our own computer, we change our own l o c a l s , color paths, message senders ... that sort of thing. I t i s a new f i e l d . . . . F a c i l i t a t o r : Give me an example of how an entry l e v e l person would be affected by t h i s . . . . Do you want t h i s person to have the c a p a b i l i t y to do some minor l e v e l trouble shooting? Employer: They would have to know enough to recognize that there i s something wrong with the telephone, and to get to the person i n charge and give them an i n t e l l i g e n t problem to be solved. 170 Employer: Part of the d i f f i c u l t y i s determining whether the problem i s software or whether i t i s hardware; whether you t r y to do i t yourself, or whether you phone for help. So there i s a l o t of problem solving i n the job and you have to be aware of where the service comes from, whether i t i s i n -house, or whether you don't waste two or three hours but go immediately outside.... Employer: Yes, we have j u s t put i n a new system, and i t means a l o t more s k i l l s required from the r e c e p t i o n i s t . Not only to trouble shoot, but also she does the programming, for messages and that kind of thing. She has to be aware that you get read-out, so she has to know how to operate the p r i n t e r so she can get the read-out to see what c a l l s were made.... And t h i s i s a l l getting to be standard equipment now, i n a l o t of places.... Employer: We see i t now as something that you add to your job description, but i n future i t w i l l be a whole career path of i t s own, and one that w i l l be of some i n t e r e s t to students. I think that as time goes on i t i s going to be very important.... Employer: So maybe we should l i s t "equipment awareness", because at t h i s point i n time the equipment i s changing so r a p i d l y and i s so complex ... they need to be aware when they run into these things ..."(55:6-7). Thus, while an entry l e v e l person would not be expected to program an in-house telephone system, a basic grasp of t h e i r programmable character was seen as central to mastering the basic r e c e p t i o n i s t function. The v a r i e t y and r a p i d l y changing character of other types of computer applications i n the o f f i c e also provided a large grey area i n " s u f f i c i e n c y " of s k i l l s . F a c i l i t a t o r : Ok, what about other technical s k i l l s . I guess we should t a l k about computers?. Employer: I t seems that secretaries now are expected to have a general working knowledge of a l o t of d i f f e r e n t software applications....graphics, multi-plan, spreadsheets.... F a c i l i t a t o r : Lets take spreadsheets - i s there something that i s going to be common? (Several employers)... Lotus 1-2-3 ... 171 F a c i l i t a t o r : Do you want them to be able to use t h i s (Several employers) ... Yes.... that's r i g h t . F a c i l i t a t o r : Do you want them to have programming... Employer: I don't think so. You j u s t want them to be f a m i l i a r with what i t does Employer: I think i t i s j u s t an awareness again (55:18). Grey areas i n general s e c r e t a r i a l s k i l l s were not confined to problems with grasping new technology. One of the most pers i s t e n t themes throughout the workshop was the old-fashioned problem of w r i t i n g s k i l l s . Concern with w r i t i n g s k i l l s reappeared i n the context of many d i f f e r e n t kinds of o f f i c e tasks. But i t always appeared obliquely, as a taken f o r granted means to the accomplishment of other tasks. Since i n the e x i s t i n g curriculum, 'report writing' was taught to a l l students, one of the departmental observers eventually asked f o r c l a r i f i c a t i o n about the p r i o r i t y for writing i n s t r u c t i o n at t h i s l e v e l . The process of c l a r i f i c a t i o n took place i n stages, each one r e v i s i n g the decision made before. In the f i r s t stage, the group agreed that "a basic command" of English s u i t a b l e for taking messages was a l l that was required. College Personnel - I think i t would be h e l p f u l f o r us developing curriculum i f we had more d i r e c t i o n under written s k i l l s . What kind of written s k i l l s , Employer: Well, there are written s k i l l s a l l the way from the telephone which i s simply taking messages to report wri t i n g . So what kind of s k i l l s are we asking for? F a c i l i t a t o r : OK, What about written s k i l l s ? ... This i s an entry l e v e l person.... Employers (several voices ) : English ... Language s k i l l s ... grammar ... punctuation ... s p e l l i n g . 172 F a c i l i t a t o r : What kind of composition would these people get, would you think? Would i t be a very basic level? ... Obviously you don't have to put together a report.... College Personnel: Well, that's what I'd l i k e to know.... What do they need...? (multiple voices..murmers...). Employer: . . . . j u s t a basic command ... I mean some people j u s t can't put t h e i r thoughts on paper, and i f you read a message you s t i l l have to go back and c l a r i f y what was sai d . . . . College Personnel: So generally, report w r i t i n g i s not a requirement of these entry l e v e l people? Employer: I would say no ... no ... no.... Employers (several voices, murmers...): ... No ... no, I don't think so (55:9-11). Only a few minutes l a t e r , they agreed that the a b i l i t y to compose "a small note" to customers was a r e a l i s t i c requirement. F a c i l i t a t o r : Do they have to be able to prepare c e r t a i n kinds of business l e t t e r s ... correspondence, memorandums [si c ] ? Employer: Yes, what about a clerk, an accounts receivable c l e r k ... who has to send a small note o f f to a customer ... They should know how to do that.... Employer: Yes, that's important. E s p e c i a l l y receivables Employers (several voices): ... that's r i g h t ...(55:11-13). Somewhat l a t e r i n the workshop, the decision about s u f f i c i e n c y i n wri t i n g s k i l l s was revised again to include "short report w r i t i n g " for a l l students except those enrolled i n the s p e c i a l l e g a l s e c r e t a r i a l program option. Employer: You could o f f e r a higher l e v e l of communications i n the second l e v e l course ... much more written work.... 173 Employer: Maybe doing some reports at t h i s l e v e l . . . . Employer: ... actual composition, rather than j u s t the routine memos.... F a c i l i t a t o r : OK, what would i t mean though, about report writing? Do they a c t u a l l y write a report? Do research? Employer: J u s t i f i c a t i o n s , maybe, for something.... Employer: I could give you an example. Right now, we have a secretary struggling with a report. She went out and did a s p e c i a l telephone assignment on how to bring i n conference c a l l s , from both outside and inside, and hook them a l l up. She researched i t through the telephone company and put i t a l l together. And i t ' s a tough thing to put down on paper. That's the type of thing.... Employer: ... and writing out the procedures.... F a c i l i t a t o r : OK report writing, writing procedures manual, i s that right? ( 5 5 : 3 3 ) . The upshot of t h i s protracted discussion was to include report writing i n the upper l e v e l course f o r students i n a l l but one program, a reversal of the o r i g i n a l decision. Indeed, the question of whether o f f i c e workers "need" writing s k i l l s seemed quite e l a s t i c . The answer was influenced by how employers thought about the problem. I t depended, for example, upon whether they focussed on everyday routines l i k e answering the telephone, or on intermittent a c t i v i t i e s , l i k e w riting a procedures manual for new equipment. I t depended upon the amount of scope that was b u i l t into the job, l i k e w riting " l i t t l e notes" to customers. I t depended as well on the amount of i n i t i a t i v e that an i n d i v i d u a l took i n the performance of her entry l e v e l job, such as attempting a report on a new telephone system. 174 I t i s evident from these discussions that both r e s t r i c t i v e and expansive practices e x i s t i n entry l e v e l p o s itions, depending upon the si t u a t i o n s (small or large), the p o l i c i e s (centralized or decentralized) and the in d i v i d u a l s involved. The concept of a "universal d e s c r i p t i o n " of an occupation with which the DACUM process operates completely obscures t h i s complex r e a l i t y and provides no e x p l i c i t grounds for resolving the maze of contradictions which are uncovered. This s i t u a t i o n l e d one employer i n the O f f i c e Administration workshop to remark with a sigh, "There's so much in t e r p r e t a t i o n l e f t here!" (55:27) The highly i n t e r p r e t i v e character of the decision-making process was an ongoing management problem f o r the f a c i l i t a t o r , as anticipated i n the how-to manuals. Discussion did not always proceed "according to the book". For instance, occasionally the problem of "wish l i s t s " appeared as employers indulged i n thinking about what "would be nice" for t h e i r new employees to "know". For example: I'd love i t i f a l l my o f f i c e s t a f f had a better understanding of accounting. A l o t of them have gone out and taken an accounting course a f t e r we have hired them (55:19). Or the following: I think i t [knowledge of economic concepts] would a l l be valuable; they couldn't learn too much (55:22). And Probably marketing and sales are very important. You don't need them to get hired, c e r t a i n l y , but i t wouldn't hurt (55:22) . 175 When the discussion took these turns, the f a c i l i t a t o r jumped i n to r e - d i r e c t the par t i c i p a n t s to focus s p e c i f i c a l l y on performance expectations for an entry l e v e l employee. F a c i l i t a t o r : I can think of a l o t of things that i t 'wouldn't hurt' these people to know, but we are t r y i n g to be as job s p e c i f i c as possible here...(55:22). Or, i n the same vein, F a c i l i t a t o r : OK, that's where we have to ask the question, at what l e v e l do we want t h i s to come to a halt? What are we t a l k i n g about? I guess what we are asking i s , what kind of general theory are we going to give these people ... [about] the marketing system ... the economic system ... without loosing them i n too much theory ...? (55:22). However, the f a c i l i t a t o r was not always successful with h i s re d i r e c t i o n . As a r e s u l t , there were moments i n the discussion which contravened a l l the rules about focussing e x c l u s i v e l y on ent r y - l e v e l performance. These v i o l a t i o n s are h e l p f u l because they display what i s consistently counted out of the DACUM p r o f i l e when the rules are being enforced. The statements i n point focus on the r e l a t i o n between present and future performance at work. They suggest, among other things, that even i f a pragmatic statement of universal entry l e v e l requirements fo r an occupation such as secretary could be achieved, a grey area would s t i l l remain with regard to what " e n t r y - l e v e l " should be taken to cover. Does entry l e v e l mean only up to the day of hiring? What about performance s i x months la t e r ? Is future p o t e n t i a l a legitimate part of entry-level h i r i n g c r i t e r i a , and i f so, what implications would t h i s have f o r training? Employer: From my point of view, I could h i r e a new employee f o r the accounting department without any 176 accounting s k i l l s , j u s t s t r a i g h t data-entry s k i l l s . In other words keyboarding, plus attitude, those kinds of things. I could be quite happy i f she does the job as i t i s , s t r a i g h t data entry, without any concepts of accounting, she could do a very nice job. But l e t ' s say the i n d i v i d u a l wants to go further, and a l l she has i s s t r a i g h t data entry, a l i t t l e experience with debits and c r e d i t s , without any understanding of the concepts involved. That person i s l i m i t e d (55:23). Or, the following: Employer: I think i n today's world i t would be advantageous for a student to have an o v e r a l l grasp. In data entry -and when I say data entry I mean d o l l a r s and cents vs. communication - you have to know these software packages they keep coming out with. But, you've got a terminal, so you've also got word processing c a p a b i l i t y . I think i t i s advantageous for the student to give him the whole thing rather than t r y i n g to separate you know. I t ' s too low a l e v e l to s p l i t i t into a career - to say, OK, I am going to spend the res t of my l i f e j u s t doing accounting data entry and no wordprocessing, etc.... So, I think i t i s to t h e i r advantage that things l i k e commications s k i l l s be given to a l l of them. Employer: I agree; they may not always be i n that job. I f they s t a r t with data entry, they may go on to do weird and wonderful things a f t e r that ... so they may as well have the basics (55:10). Or, the following: Employer: I f they have those communication s k i l l s , they are going to be able to do what i s necessary at an entry l e v e l . And i f they don't, they are not going to be hired anyway, because i f you get a young person coming i n who can't t a l k during the interview ... then you know that t h i s person may be good f o r s i x months i n t h i s p o s i t i o n , but then that's i t . They won't go any further...(55:16). The i n t e r e s t i n future s k i l l s which i s s p e c i f i e d i n the DACUM procedures manuals i s not i n the future of i n d i v i d u a l s , qua ind i v i d u a l s as expressed here, but rather i n the future of the entry l e v e l positions i t s e l f , i . e . "what the [entry-level] employee w i l l be required to do" i n future. Thus the concerns addressed here are ones that do not f i n d legitimate expression i n 177 the workshop "task". The implications of t h i s r e s t r i c t i o n are addressed e x p l i c i t l y i n the following exchange: F a c i l i t a t o r : Do these people ever have to address groups? Employer: No, not r e a l l y . [Silence...] Employer: I wanted to comment on what I think i s a common mistake. You said, speaking to a group? and I have found t r a d i t i o n a l l y public speaking gets l e f t o f f . You become an engineer, and suddenly you need to be t a l k i n to groups so you go take a public speaking course.... So j u s t because you don't get up often and speak to groups doesn't mean that you shouldn't have good hands-on t r a i n i n g i n public speaking. Because of the interviews, we are t a l k i n g about, the a b i l i t y to l i s t e n , give feed back. A l l of these are communication s k i l l s . A l o t of them are part of t h i s t r a i n i n g i n public speaking, which quite often they are not even getting at u n i v e r s i t y l e v e l . To go into an interview, i f a person has stood up and been taught some of the f i n e r points of public speaking, i t r e a l l y helps (55:16). The underlying difference of in t e r e s t s revealed i n these remarks remains s t r i c t l y off-stage as long as the workshop i s focused on " i t s task." The only venue for such observations was i n the manner of an "aside", as i n an "off the record" remark made over lunch i n a conversation about the importance of writing s k i l l s , when one p a r t i c i p a n t said, with a knowing g r i n , "Maybe they need to ask for a r a i s e , you know!" This sub-text of i n t e r e s t i n the employee's capacity to look a f t e r her own i n t e r e s t s came to the surface during the workshop proper only once, l a t e i n the proceedings, when the following exchange took place between one of the department observers and an employer: College Personnel: I t seems to me to be doing our students a d i s s e r v i c e i f we give them only entry l e v e l s k i l l s . Because then they would have to keep hopping back into the i n s t i t u t i o n to get more and more and more, and once they have committed themselves to a job, that's very d i f f i c u l t to do. So I know that you are t a l k i n g about entry l e v e l , but 178 mind i t ' s not r e a l i s t i c to only give them that; we must give them more, so that they can.... Employer: I agree with that, but i s n ' t t h i s s p e c i f i c task-analysis job to define t h i s entry le v e l ? (55:31). Of course, the questions of "disservice", or whose needs are served, resides at the heart of the technical requirements f o r the task analysis i n p a r t i c u l a r and the competency approach i n general. According to the basic p r i n c i p l e s of competency-based curriculum i n i t i a t i v e s , only the needs of "industry" are e l i g i b l e to be named and served. Furthermore, i n order to ensure that these needs are serviced i n ways that meet the c r i t e r i a of ' f l e x i b l e ' , ' e f f i c i e n t ' and 'accountable 1, only short term learning objectives may be pursued. These r e s t r i c t i o n s are p r e c i s e l y what the e f f i c i e n c y and effectiveness of DACUM i s about. The voice which says, "This i s a d i s s e r v i c e to our students" i s an instance of what i s systematically counted out, a "disruption" and a " d i s t r a c t i o n " which deters the committee from "completing i t s task". The voice i s an i l l u s t r a t i o n of what i t means to "not perform w e l l " i n the workshop process, and the reason that the attendance of college personnel i s recommended only as observers. CONCLUSION The organization of educational r e l a t i o n s put i n place by these procedures f o r determining "required competencies" i s one step i n the r e a l i z a t i o n of the p o l i c y objective of achieving 179 f l e x i b i l i t y and responsiveness i n programs of vocational education. The technique of task analysis, as seen i n practice i n t h i s chapter, i s central to the production of the "curriculum b i t s " (Adams 1975) that are required for the modularization of i n s t r u c t i o n . Only learning objectives which can stand as d i s c r e t e units are workable i n such a system, and only those which r e l a t e to performance i n the short term are warrantable. Such an organization of i n s t r u c t i o n i s said to provide effectiveness and e f f i c i e n c y i n producing the conditions f o r p r o d u c t i v i t y on the job and thus for growth and prosperity of "industry". I t involves the active "suppression" of i n d i v i d u a l i n t e r e s t s i n the learning process and the subordination of p r a c t i c e at every l e v e l to the s e r v i c i n g of "needs" which are a t t r i b u t a b l e to the employer. As we have seen i n the task analysis examined above, i t i s d i f f i c u l t i n t h i s context to represent a c i t i v i t i e s with a long-term educational pay-off, e.g. public speaking, as a legitimate learning task f o r entry l e v e l o f f i c e workers, and those which serve the i n t e r e s t s of i n d i v i d u a l s , e.g. the need f o r writing s k i l l s i n order to ask for a r a i s e , are no "need" at a l l . For our purposes, what i s e s s e n t i a l to notice i s that i n pr a c t i c e , conformity to t h i s model of "needs" or " s u f f i c i e n c y " of s k i l l s does not depend upon the desire or a b i l i t y of i n d i v i d u a l employers to formulate and express t h e i r i n t e r e s t s or desires t h i s form. Nor does i t depend upon the agreement and intention of i n s t r u c t o r s to structure educational a c t i v i t i e s according to 180 t h i s view. Rather, the r e l a t i o n s are produced and held i n place through the technical practices of the educational technology i t s e l f . Like other forms of modern technological innovation, whether embodied i n machines or management systems, competency measures implicate t h e i r users i n the practice of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s which may not r e f l e c t t h e i r own intentions. The measures provide the vehicle to organize educational practice i n a wide range of l o c a l settings, and to incorporate them into s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s which begin and end outside the immediate experience of l o c a l actors. This i s the form of s o c i a l organization which Smith (1974) c a l l s the " e x t r a - l o c a l " organization of r u l i n g . Furthermore, t h i s method of managing the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of education i s selected and imposed not by c a p i t a l i t s e l f , but by the state, i n an attempt to meet the changing requirements for c a p i t a l accumulation, as part of the conditions of bourgeois r u l e . This discovery about the interested character of competency measures puts into perspective the claims to o b j e c t i v i t y which surround competency-based curriculum and other systems-based approaches to management, i n education as elsewhere. That i s , we are compelled to recognize that the o b j e c t i v i t y of these practices i s constituted not i n any claim to t h e i r " n e u t r a l i t y " v i s - a - v i s competing i n t e r e s t s , but rather i n t h e i r a b i l i t y to systematize, s t a b l i z e and make obj e c t i v e l y a v a i l a b l e a set of r a t i o n a l procedures for decision-making. Such procedures r e s u l t i n decisions which are routinely r e l i a b l e , insofar as they are 181 not subject to influence by in t e r e s t s deemed "extraneous" to some s p e c i f i e d "task". In t h i s l i e s t h e i r popular claim to o b j e c t i v i t y . The ce r t a i n t y which i s promised by these measures i s achieved not by resolving the ambiguity inherent i n the s o c i a l process, but by banishing such ambiguity to the margins of p r a c t i c a l action and awareness. The s t a b i l i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y of such an objective management process i s achieved through i t s embeddedness i n a documentary process, as we w i l l see i n the next chapter. The next step i n our inv e s t i g a t i o n i s to explore the p r a c t i c a l impact of the task analysis process within the college environment on an ongoing basis. Chapter Seven begins that exploration with a focus on the changing s i t u a t i o n of instruct o r s within a new regime of c u r r i c u l a r r e l a t i o n s , and Chapter Eight explores how these changes are i n t e g r a l to the way that administrators do t h e i r jobs. 182 CHAPTER SEVEN "THESE THINGS JUST HAPPEN": THE NEW RELATIONS OF CURRICULUM This chapter w i l l examine pervasive changes i n the organization of curriculum decision-making which are part of the implementation of a competency-based curriculum process at West Coast College. Although the ostensible object of the decision-making processes i n question i s curriculum content, i t w i l l be apparent that the issues at stake are more complex than course 'content 1, narrowly conceived. Also hanging i n the balance are some basic assumptions about the proper sphere of action, expertise and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r key actors such as i n s t r u c t o r s , administrators, and employers, as well as the dominant concepts, vocabularies and methods of organization through which the enterprise of vocational education i s made actionable. In other words, we are concerned not only with curriculum change, but with changes i n the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of curriculum, and with the s i g n i f i c a n c e of these r e l a t i o n s i n a larger s o c i a l process. In t h i s context, I w i l l argue that changes i n curriculum r e l a t i o n s explored here are part of the process of i d e o l o g i c a l "retooling" discussed i n Chapter Two. They serve to a r t i c u l a t e , to a l i g n , the everyday p r a c t i c e of college inst r u c t o r s i n a host of l o c a l settings to the broader p o l i c y discourse. Most importantly, they make the work process i n the college s e t t i n g accountable to a . p o l i c y discourse through a process of documentary mediation. 183 I w i l l argue that i n the implementation of competency methods, i n s t r u c t o r s ' knowledge of the workplace, which has served as the basis for t h e i r professionalism as vocational educators, i s displaced and embedded i n a new form of documentary process which comes to dominate and circumscribe t h e i r work. Their active p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n , indeed e s s e n t i a l contribution to, the production of these documentary forms i s thus highly contradictory. This transformation i n the work process of i n s t r u c t o r s i s most v i s i b l e i n the series of program r e v i s i o n meetings, attended only by faculty, which are held following r e c e i p t of the s k i l l s p r o f i l e chart from the task analysis workshop. These r e v i s i o n meetings are the focus of i n v e s t i g a t i o n i n t h i s chapter. The r e v i s i o n meetings take place i n a sequence of action that i s dependent upon and subordinate to an extended d i v i s i o n of educational and administrative labour. In the broadest sense, of course, t h i s d i v i s i o n of labour i s as large i n scope as the public discourse on needs i n eduation and t r a i n i n g , which we examined i n Chapter Two. In a more immediate sense, however, i t means that the a c t i v i t i e s of r e v i s i o n examined i n t h i s chapter are t i e d to and presuppose the p r i o r occurrence of a task analysis process among employers (with the active " f a c i l i t a t i o n " and mediation of the curriculum s p e c i a l i s t ) , and they orient to the subsequent stages of i n s t i t u t i o n a l action, e.g. reports to college committees or to the Ministry of Education, involved i n implementing a curriculum r e v i s i o n . 184 In the context of such a d i v i s i o n of labour, the t a l k and actions undertaken i n the r e v i s i o n meetings cannot be interpreted i n i s o l a t i o n , but rather must be seen as organized and coordinated by the larger process of s o c i a l action of which they are a part. The t a l k and i n t e r a c t i o n within and around the meetings w i l l be seen as moments i n a s o c i a l d i v i s i o n of labour, organized by and a r t i c u l a t e d to actions and events which are eit h e r p r i o r to or. subsequent to the occasion of the meeting i t s e l f . This also means that the actions of i n d i v i d u a l p a r t i c i p a n t s are t i e d to a c t i v i t i e s and intentions which are not t h e i r own and which originate outside t h e i r sphere of immediate everyday experience. My objective i n t h i s chapter i s to make v i s i b l e t h i s process of coordination or concerting of action and to e s t a b l i s h how i t gives shape to the pra c t i c e of c u r r i c u l a r decision-making. For our purposes, one of the most s i g n i f i c a n t and pervasive features of t h i s process of coordination and a r t i c u l a t i o n i s that i t takes place through the mediation of texts. In a competency-based system, textual or documentary processes mediate the c u r r i c u l a r process i n a host of complex ways. The mediating presence of texts can be traced i n i t s most r e a d i l y v i s i b l e form by observing the movement of documents through the process of program design and approval, involving employers, i n s t r u c t o r s and administrators, eventually reaching a l l the way to the ministry that eventually gives program approval. 185 In o u t l i n e , the documentary process thus conceived i s accessible to investi g a t i o n using r e l a t i v e l y common sense procedures for factual observation and descr i p t i o n . In t h i s mode i t can be seen to involve a number of in t e r l o c k i n g steps. The organization of the task analysis workshop and i t s conduct r e l y i n various ways on documents which provide i n s t r u c t i o n s , explanation, i n v i t a t i o n , etc. for p a r t i c i p a n t s . Subsequently, the documentary products of the task analysis workshop bring forward the outcome of that process of decision-making into other moments of i n s t i t u t i o n a l l i f e , of which the r e v i s i o n meetings are only the f i r s t . In turn, the documentary products of the re v i s i o n meetings, examined i n t h i s chapter, bring forward the cumulative r e s u l t s of the task analysis and r e v i s i o n processes into subsequent s i t e s of administrative action within the college i n the form of curriculum review committees. A l l of t h i s a c t i v i t y intends the s t i l l subsequent actions through which the college o f f i c i a l l y ( i . e . f o r organizational purposes) accomplishes the adoption of the newly revised curriculum. Part of t h i s l a t t e r stage of action involves forwarding documents to the ministry, where they indicate the compliance of the college with i t s mandate to o f f e r "competency-driven" programs of education and t r a i n i n g . Not a l l of these stages of documentary communication by the college l i e within the scope of det a i l e d empirical inv e s t i g a t i o n undertaken here, but they are nevertheless relevant to my 186 argument. Their importance l i e s i n the way that t h e i r presence as p r i o r and/or next steps i n an organizational course of action gives shape to the p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s which take place at each step along the way. The p r a c t i c e of "giving shape" i s also a textually-mediated process, but one which requires a rather d i f f e r e n t l e v e l of observation and analysis than the account of bureaucratic communication given above. I t involves discovering the mediating presence of documents within settings, and attending to the capacity of documents to "stand i n f o r " s o c i a l r e a l i t y i n ways that obscure both the conditions f o r which they speak and conditions of t h e i r own production. In these cap a c i t i e s they serve as constituents of s o c i a l action, as opposed to simple transmitters of information, and i n t h i s capacity l i e s t h e i r i d e o l o g i c a l character. This l a t t e r feature of documentary processes i s e s s e n t i a l to the processes of mediation to which Smith (1984) draws our attention i n the term "textually-mediated s o c i a l organization", and i s c e n t r a l to the analysis undertaken i n t h i s t h e s i s . INSTRUCTORS AS SUBJECTS The p r i n c i p l e s of competency-based education specify that the primary r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of i n s t r u c t o r s i s to ensure that a sound educational process i s used to pursue the learning objectives s p e c i f i e d by employers i n the s k i l l s p r o f i l e charts. And indeed, there i s plenty of evidence that t h i s kind of educational 187 expertise i s supplied by teachers i n the implementation of the new design process at West Coast College. My f i e l d notes from the r e v i s i o n meetings are f u l l of discussions among ins t r u c t o r s over j u s t such educational decisions: W i l l they have enough time i n the course to get through t h i s much material? ... Is there a l o t of terminology to worry about? ... Should b i l l i n g and p a y r o l l be kept together i n one course? ... What sequencing do they need to be taught i n so they have the background when these things come up? ... Time sheets could be kept together with p a y r o l l because they go together. ... What are the prerequisites for each of these courses? ... Do they need to do anatomy and physiology before they do terminology, and do they need to do both before they can r e a l l y do tra n s c r i p t i o n ? ... Is t r a n s c r i p t i o n a lab course, or a lecture lab? ... W i l l we be able to get i t through the system c a l l i n g i t j u s t a t r a n s c r i p t i o n course? (56:4-5). What i s not recognized i n p r i n c i p l e , although i t i s obvious i n p r a c t i c e , i s how in s t r u c t o r s ' knowledge of the workplace also serves as a cornerstone of the competency process. This r e l i a n c e begins with the fac t that i n the college environment, i n s t r u c t o r s are the primary source of the kind of intimate knowledge on which the successful planning of a task analysis workshop depends. The Dean and the department head are heavily dependent upon t h i s expertise, i m p l i c i t l y or e x p l i c i t l y , i n the decision to hold l o c a l workshops. At West Coast College, the planning of the task analysis workshop was l e f t e n t i r e l y to the fac u l t y to do. Invitations to employers were sent out to ind i v i d u a l s and firms known to and selected by ins t r u c t o r s i n the department. Instructors' choice of employers to p a r t i c i p a t e depends upon many layers of knowledge 188 about t h e i r f i e l d s . I t draws upon t h e i r general knowledge of developments i n the f i e l d , as well as of va r i a t i o n s and s p e c i a l t i e s by sector. I t requires an understanding of the p r o f i l e of various firms and ind i v i d u a l s within firms, as v i s i b l e i n the following statement by a fa c u l t y member: The people I have i n v i t e d to the task analysis are i n supervisory positions, o f f i c e managers, comptrollers - they are the type of people who would be h i r i n g the types of students we are putting out, such as accounts receivable or accounts payable clerks, inventory control c l e r k s , bookkeepers. They are dealing sort of i n a middle range, both upward and downward, having a meeting with the president of the company one minute and having a s t a f f meeting the next. The people who do the h i r i n g and f i r i n g , making employee evaluations and so on ... (36:13). Instructors maintain a current knowledge of t h e i r f i e l d s through membership i n professional associations - for example of accountants, o f f i c e systems analysts, professional secretaries, etc. - through which they attend meetings which keep them up to date on developments i n the f i e l d . They read professional journals and other l i t e r a t u r e from a v a r i e t y of sources, and attend the occasional seminar. Some, p a r t i c u l a r l y contract fa c u l t y , have small consulting businesses on the side. As a part of t h e i r work at the college, i n s t r u c t o r s frequently w i l l get phone c a l l s from employers looking for a new employee. These conversations are also a source of " i n t e l l i g e n c e " about conditions for new employees i n the workplace. I s t i l l have a l o t of contacts with employers, with them phoning i n and asking for students for openings they may 189 have. And so they are a c t u a l l y t e l l i n g me what s k i l l s they expect when I send a student out (24:16). In that sense, I r e a l l y do s t a r t to see a t r a n s i t i o n i n requirements on the job. I f e e l that now a l o t of the interpersonal s k i l l s are being emphasized more and more, rather than marks.... Before, what they wanted to know was 'How fas t does t h i s person type? How accurate i s she?' -those kinds of things. Now, they're saying to me, 'Does she get along well with her classmates? Is she punctual? -those kinds of s k i l l s (20:10). There are more informal ways that i n s t r u c t o r s have and continue to use to be informed about the f i e l d s i n which they teach, what one i n s t r u c t o r c a l l e d a " l i t t l e path of i n t e l l i g e n c e " : There are friends of mine who are accountants, o f f i c e managers, and related f i e l d s . Our kids are the same age so we w i l l meet at a band concert at school or something and I ' l l ask 'What do you think about t h i s ' and t h e y ' l l say 'Oh, i t ' s d e f i n i t e l y t h i s way' or ' d e f i n i t e l y that way. Then there's another fellow, an accountant, who has taught quite a b i t and has quite a large sphere of people he t a l k s to. He i s an ex-programmer as well as being an accountant, so he has been into computers for a long time. We"used to chat and takes things apart. We both have friends i n public accounting practice, doing consulting, and so on. So, you see, there's a l i t t l e path of i n t e l l i g e n c e ...(36:7). These contacts provide t h i s bookkeeping i n s t r u c t o r with a source of information about the f i e l d that i s as dynamic as the f i e l d i t s e l f . He pumps them for information about changes i n t h e i r working environments, always l i s t e n i n g for evidence about whether h i s course addresses the sit u a t i o n s he i s hearing described. These guys know what's going on. They may not necessarily have a degree, but they get involved with computers because t h e i r company i s on a network system, on-line, or stand-alone. Or they are using wholly automated packages. So they w i l l say, the PC i s d e f i n i t e l y the way to go, not to 190 mainframes, or i f they can have network experience, so much the better, which i s what we are putting i n . They need to be able to load up a l o c a l o f f i c e automated package and use i t . . . . So when i t comes to what I've done with my course, i t i s coming r i g h t out of t h e i r mouths (36:7). Because of t h e i r extensive knowledge of the f i e l d , most in s t r u c t o r s expect no surprises about s k i l l requirements to emerge from the task analysis process. They anti c i p a t e that most of the changes c a l l e d for w i l l be ones that they have been considering or even recommending for some time. Instead, they indicate that the biggest change w i l l be i n the power of the new approach to get things done. For example, o f f i c e administration f a c u l t y pointed out that for more than two years they had been d i s s a t i s f i e d with the marketing course provided for o f f i c e administration students by the marketing d i s c i p l i n e . However, fac u l t y a g i t a t i o n for change had been seen as a matter of them t r y i n g to take the course back i n order to protect employment within t h e i r d i s c i p l i n e . Their complaints were seen to be tainted with s e l f i n t e r e s t , r e s u l t i n g i n a deadlock between opposing points of view or i n t e r e s t s . Under the new system, however, once the course i s shown to be inappropriate i n r e l a t i o n to a s k i l l s p r o f i l e chart, instru c t o r s expect that the changes w i l l be addressed as matter of course. In cases l i k e t h i s , i n s t r u c t o r s a n t i c i p a t e that the new methods w i l l bring action where t h e i r voices have been unsuccessful. Some of them t a l k about t h i s o p t i m i s t i c a l l y as a matter of increased "leverage" for change. Instructor: B a s i c a l l y I think some of the things that they came up with reinforced a l o t of what we as teachers have 191 been pushing f o r a long time, f o r three or four years. And I think getting that feedback ... was good. I think i t sort of gave us some impetus to get busy and say okay, you know, there are changes that are necessary. And i t - because of the status of task analysis with the higher l e v e l s here, you can almost say that t h i s i s what task analysis wanted .... I t i s a l i t t l e b i t of leverage (20:17). Instructor: I t i s a b i t of a p o l i t i c a l issue, a c t u a l l y . Some of our courses as you know i n O f f i c e Administration are service courses, taught from outside the department. So there i s one course, taught by the business department, that i n essence was supposed to have been a l e v e l of o r a l communications for us. And we have taken issue with how i t ' s taught. Students have taken issue with i t and so have fa c u l t y . We did have a meeting with the business department and expressed our concerns with regards to the f a c t that the course i s maybe not answering the need. And the business department defended t h e i r stand and we defended our stand.... But now, I think that upper management w i l l give us the support now to say, "Look, you people i n that d i s c i p l i n e obviously have not been serving them well. Their focus i s d i f f e r e n t . Their objectives are defined d i f f e r e n t l y . " And we'll have t h i s package saying i t , rather than our word against t h e i r s . . . . We have t h i s external input (20:13). Instructors' t a l k of 'leverage' i s a useful focus f o r our i n v e s t i g a t i o n . As we pursue t h e i r sense that the task analysis w i l l 'get things done', we w i l l see that t h i s feature of the approach i s the same dynamic that makes the process contradictory i n r e l a t i o n to t h e i r i n t e r e s t s as i n s t r u c t o r s . The power of the new curriculum methods arises out of a new organization of decision-making r e l a t i o n s . In the new mode, the knowledge that i n s t r u c t o r s have of the workplace comes to be externalized, vested i n a documentary process which i s then used to subordinate t h e i r work to the decisions of employers and administrators. The a c t i v i t y of i n s t r u c t o r s becomes one step i n an organizational course of action which originates and derives i t s sense elsewhere. 192 REVISION MEETINGS IN ACTION There are many moments i n the i n t e r a c t i o n of i n s t r u c t o r s i n these two days of r e v i s i o n meetings that begin to make v i s i b l e the contradictory process i n which they are ineluctably embedded. The f i r s t and probably most pervasive feature of the course r e v i s i o n meetings that i s important to examine i n t h i s l i g h t i s the way i n which the voice of employers organizes the scene from off-stage. The duly constituted voice of the abstraction "employers i n general" enters the r e v i s i o n meetings as a ubiquitous "they" which serves as a central organizing device i n the discussions which take place among in s t r u c t o r s . This dynamic secures the o r i e n t a t i o n of t a l k and action i n these meetings to the employer as the source of legitimate authority on the work process and to the dominant discourse on "needs" which i s the d r i v i n g force behind the program review. The a r t i c u l a t i n g presence of the abstract "they" may be seen, for instance, i n the following verbal summary of a portion of the s k i l l s p r o f i l e f o r the Medical O f f i c e Assistant Program. This summary was part of an introduction of the r e s u l t s of the task analysis process, done for the i n s t r u c t o r s who were assembled for the r e v i s i o n s meetings. The person speaking had been one of the departmental observers at the task analysis workshop i t s e l f , and was also c h a i r i n g the r e v i s i o n meetings. 193 Maybe I w i l l j u s t review the type of content included there to give you some kind of f e e l i n g . In t h i s one, they wanted to t a l k about medical i n s t i t u t i o n s i n the Lower Mainland, they wanted to know about t h e i r l o c a t i o n , t h e i r p r i n c i p a l focus f o r work. They wanted to have students aware of t h e i r h i e r a r c h i c a l structure and the communication structure within these i n s t i t u t i o n s . . . . They also wanted them to be aware of the d i f f e r e n t types of o r i e n t a t i o n packages they face when they enter those i n s t i t u t i o n s ... who they report to etc. They wanted team dynamics addressed ... They want you to address i n t h i s course the " t y p i c a l o f f i c e assistant" i . e . the kinds of jobs, the kinds of s k i l l s , the kinds of personality, the kinds of knowledge that that i n d i v i d u a l w i l l need to get a job at the end. They wanted them to be aware of the professional associations that they can use as a support group.... Then they talked about the students s e t t i n g down career goals for themselves.... They wanted time and stress management s k i l l s looked at a l i t t l e b i t . And they wanted us to discuss things l i k e r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s to the employer ... (56:4). This excerpt of t a l k i l l u s t r a t e s the structure of 'us and them' that dominated the meeting. The word 'they' appears f i f t e e n times i n a roughly two minute segment of t a l k . This i s , of course, p a r t l y a feature of the character of t h i s t a l k as a condensation, a summary, but i n t h i s form, the e s s e n t i a l r e l a t i o n s are also made very stark. The word "they" appears i n the paragraph above as the subject of almost every sentence. This i s more than a grammatical observation; "they" are indeed the acting subjects and authors of the decision-making process which i s being recounted i n summary. I t i s that same decision-making process which i s being re-organized and reconstituted through the review process i n ways that s i t u a t e the "us" and "you" of the speaker, r e f e r r i n g to i n s t r u c t o r s c o l l e c t i v e l y as audience, "other" to the decision-making subjects who are employers. The r e s u l t s of employers' actions come to instructors 194 as news, information conveyed to them from outside t h e i r sphere of immediate experience and action. Results of the task analysis process are o f f i c i a l l y vested i n and conveyed through the formal documents of the task analysis workshop, the s k i l l s p r o f i l e and learning objectives charts. These documents are i n t e g r a l to the accomplishment of the r e v i s i o n process for administrative purposes, but t h e i r power i n t h i s regard depends upon t h e i r capacity to stand i n f o r the d e t a i l e d process of review and r e v i s i o n of course materials by i n s t r u c t o r s , which the documents also organize, as we w i l l see i n t h i s chapter. During the review and r e v i s i o n process, the information contained i n the task analysis documents i s summarized, interpreted, reinforced, mediated i n various ways through personal communication by those f a c u l t y members who attended the task analysis workshop as observers. In the case of o f f i c e administration programs, there were two observers, who also held appointed positions within the department as coordinators or "convenors" of d i f f e r e n t aspects of the program. In t h i s context, t h e i r actions are extremely important i n putting into p r a c t i c e the new organization of r e l a t i o n s which i s begun i n the task analysis process. Their verbal summaries and interpretations of the task analysis documents c a r r i e s the s p e c i a l force of speakers who were present at the events of which they speak. Their voices also carry the weight of t h e i r 195 delegated administrative r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for overseeing the "implementation" of the review process, of s e t t i n g the meeting on track by reminding others of "what we should be doing". In these senses, t h e i r voices ' r e a l - i z e ' i n the new se t t i n g the decisions of others on which they are reporting. At the same time, t h e i r t a l k and actions i n these meetings are part of putting into p r a c t i c e a transformation i n the r e l a t i o n s of curriculum i n which they are f u l l p a r t i c i p a n t s . In t h i s l i g h t , the t a l k of the person c h a i r i n g the r e v i s i o n meetings i s more than a matter of reporting; i t i s an active part of c o n s t i t u t i n g the new r e l a t i o n s . At the same time that she constructs an account of the decisions that have been made elsewhere by others, and of the procedures which are to be followed, her account of these changes i s part of t h e i r r e f l e x i v e accomplishment as a new form of curriculum r e l a t i o n s . For instance, the f i r s t discussion of the day was about requirements i n the area of communication s k i l l s . A f t e r several minutes of discussion, the chair produced the following i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of what had gone on i n the task analysis workshop: What the task analysis r e a l l y stressed was communications -being able to communicate with other o f f i c e workers adequately, i n o r a l and written form.... What they say here [reading from the p r o f i l e chart] i s "demonstrate the a b i l i t y to communicate e f f e c t i v e l y . . . . " And they r e a l l y did stress t h i s , to the point where, I would say, the f i r s t hour of the O f f i c e Administration task analysis was b a s i c a l l y spent discussing j u s t communications from a l l angles - telephone, interpersonal relationships, working with a team - a l l of those things (55:3). 196 This kind of mediation and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s part of making r e a l i n the s e t t i n g occupied by i n s t r u c t o r s the new organization of decision-making. What i s important i s determined elsewhere, as i s the sense of r e l a t i v e weight or urgency among items. This information i s conveyed to inst r u c t o r s as a form of instructions to act, not an i n v i t a t i o n to debate and decide, as i n the past. Faced with t h i s recognition as the discussion progressed, one teacher soon voiced the following protest: I am a l i t t l e confused here; i t i s as though we have already changed communications into two courses, and yet we  have never decided whether we need that course more than we need Typing I. I am a l i t t l e miffed about that. I t seems  that these things j u s t happen. The way you are t a l k i n g , we are j u s t going to get the two communications courses, and Typing I has j u s t been swept under the rug (56:3, emphasis mine). Under the new system, instruc t o r s are put into a s i t u a t i o n where curriculum decisions " j u s t happen". By the time they are involved, the moment of decision i s past, a f a i t accompli. Consider the response of the meeting chair to the protest quoted above: I think i t i s given that we need two l e v e l s of communications courses ... i f you read through both  documents. i t ' s there, without a doubt.... There are f i v e pages i n there that c a l l for communication s k i l l s ... and that's j u s t the o r a l part. Then you have to address the written s k i l l s . . . . So we have to think of t h i s as not s t r a i g h t English (56:3, emphasis mine). In past, there was no mechanism for curriculum decisions to " j u s t happen" to teachers i n t h i s way. Teachers were the active agents of curriculum design work which was undertaken i n a c o l l e g i a l process. Within that organization of action, 197 i n s t r u c t o r s might influence, even constrain one anothers' decisions. Employers, on the other hand, remained e s s e n t i a l l y a resource, able to influence the curriculum only i n so f a r as teachers, i n d i v i d u a l l y or c o l l e c t i v e l y adopted t h e i r advice, or took t h e i r experience as the basis f o r planning. By statutory requirement, each program maintained an Advisory Committee of l o c a l employers that met on an i r r e g u l a r basis to advise departments on matters of program content. Faculty t r a d i t i o n a l l y organized and met with these committees, with the endorsement and assistance of the Dean and the President's o f f i c e i n recognition of the formal character of the advisory r o l e . But the knowledge which came from employers v i a these contacts was appropriated by instruct o r s as t h e i r own, for use as part of t h e i r professional stock of knowledge and as the basis to act. The new system precludes t h i s p a r t i c u l a r form of appropriation, imposing a new organization i n which knowledge of work i s mediated through an administrative process to which in s t r u c t o r s are subordinate. This new organization of decision-making was summed-up l a t e r by one teacher who said: "Who are we to question what they think i s worth while? They are the experts" (29:21). This process of subordination i s mediated by the task analysis documents. As put by the meeting chair above, s t i l l i n response to the voice of protest above: " I f you don't want to take my word f o r i t , you can look at the documents ..." (56:3). The kinds of decision-making assigned to in s t r u c t o r s i s profoundly al t e r e d by these new arrangements. This i s c l e a r l y 198 v i s i b l e i n the proceedings of the r e v i s i o n meetings. According to the meeting chair, the f i r s t job of instruct o r s i s to rearrange e x i s t i n g i n s t r u c t i o n a l blocks to see where they f i t into the new p r o f i l e and to make whatever additions or deletions the new p r o f i l e requries. Then, they prepare the documentation that must go forward from the department to the established system of curriculum committees within the college where formal, i n s t i t u t i o n a l approval of course and program changes takes place. Sending the changes to these committees involves the use of standard "Course Information" sheets which provide an overview of each course i n a standardized format. For the r e v i s i o n meetings examined here, the coordinator and convenor have done some preliminary work of matching e x i s t i n g course content to the new p r o f i l e charts i n order to "expedite the process" among the larger grouping of fac u l t y attending the r e v i s i o n meetings. This has involved " i d e n t i f y i n g " blocks of curriculum i n the e x i s t i n g programs and i n the new p r o f i l e , seeing what's "missing", what's "covered", and what "coincides". The process i s l i k e completing a puzzle: "checking" one document against the other, seeing that items are " l i s t e d " , "covered" or "don't f i t " . The chairperson asks the assembled i n s t r u c t o r s to check t h i s preliminary work, to v e r i f y that what they have produced " a c t u a l l y conforms to what i s i n the p r o f i l e s " or whether something has been added or deleted i n error (56:1-2). A f t e r introductory discussions, the chairperson gives i n s t r u c t i o n s f o r the fac u l t y to break into groups f o r the 199 afternoon and work on d i f f e r e n t segments of the program. Their major task i s to prepare a new set of documents c a l l e d Course Information Sheets which must be submitted to a se r i e s of curriculum committees within the college for formal approval of the r e v i s i o n . Her instructions to the group are as follows: Your job t h i s afternoon and tomorrow, w i l l be f i r s t of a l l to name the course, to i d e n t i f y a calendar description, to v e r i f y the content ... I think the content i s almost b a s i c a l l y done fo r you, you j u s t have to type i t i n . The objective statements are b a s i c a l l y given i n the [task analysis] package. A l l you have to do i s make sure that they match. Then you are going to have to determine the mode of i n s t r u c t i o n , e.g. lecture, or lecture/lab, and l a s t thing the evaluation process. Oh, then texts. I have an o f f i c e f u l l of texts for you to look at ... (56:6). In t h i s account, i n s t r u c t o r s 1 r o l e i s c a r e f u l l y delimited. I t consists of matching, determining i . e . choosing between options, and a small amount of composition i . e . the course name and one paragraph des c r i p t i o n . Working i n sub-groups on the d e t a i l s of the r e v i s i o n , i n s t r u c t o r s reminded one another: This i s what the committee said we should be doing ... We should be working from the recommendations of the committee.... I think we can take from the old course outlines, as long as we don't go against that (56:6). As the meetings proceeded, i t became cl e a r that t h i s was not an occasion f o r debate or discussion of decisions contained i n the p r o f i l e charts. At the time of the meetings, the dr a f t document had been sent back to employers who attended the workshop fo r " v a l i d a t i o n " , a process which provides a check on the work of the curriculum s p e c i a l i s t and a chance f o r employers to think twice about t h e i r own decisions. Although the 200 v a l i d a t i o n process might lead to requests for amendments from employers, the department was i n t i a t i n g the r e v i s i o n work on the basis of the d r a f t documents, due to time pressures. The v a l i d a t i o n process includes v i r t u a l l y no formal mechanism for ins t r u c t o r s themselves to challenge the decisions contained i n the documents. Due to the fac t that the documents were not e n t i r e l y f i n a l i z e d , the department head anticipated some argument over d e t a i l s , but he has made i t c l e a r that instructors* opinions w i l l not carry much weight: Any changes that we suggest w i l l have to be substantiated i n some way; i t can't be ju s t a gut f e e l i n g , or something l i k e that. [The head of the department] i s going to expect some sort of substantiation to support our adding, or taking out, curriculum that was not i n the task analysis. So i t can't be j u s t sort of an idea that comes up ... he wants some sort of back up ... and he has r e a l l y indicated that to me ... (56:1). The curriculum committees for which the Course Information Sheets are being prepared have already adopted the use of some standard competency techniques, such as the use of behavioural language, and some instruct o r s already have experience with the need to conform i n order to get t h e i r courses approved. As the r e v i s i o n meeting broke up i n to smaller working groups, the chair o f f e r s the reminder, "Make sure you don't miss anything; they are getting r e a l l y s t i c k y about everything matching - boy oh boy!" (56:9). A n t i c i p a t i o n of a "s t i c k y " committee process can be seen as a major factor i n determining how time i s spent i n the small group meetings. For instance, a l o t of time and e f f o r t i s spent 201 struggling to produce the required form of verbs for the Course Information Sheets, as the followinq passage demonstrates: Instructor A: OK, well, t h i s i s a main objective.... The student w i l l demonstrate the a b i l i t y to communicate using written business messages. Now, do we have to say 'by choosing' or do we s t a r t out 'choose and produce'...? Instructor B: I t has to a l l j u s t add on to t h i s part.... A: But what I am saying here i s can you use "choosing, using..."? B: Oh, yeh, that's no problem. I t ' s got to be a verb that continues with t h i s . . . . A: Yeh, that's a gerund, though ... can you use a gerund instead of an active verb? B: I t seems to me that on the DACUM chart you're supposed to have 'choose, use, handle, discuss ...'? A: Yeah, but can you use 'choosing, handling, correcting • • • • B: Oh, I see what you're saying ... that's no problem. A: Or do you put 'the student w i l l be able to ...' several times down the page ...? B: No, you would have 'The student w i l l be able to...' and ... then a colon ... and under that have A,B,C,D.... A: Oh, I see, well that would be a l o t easier ... so a f t e r the colon would be 'A. Demonstrate the a b i l i t y to ta-da-ta-da....' Yes, I'm following you now. I t ' s easier to work with t h i s way ... (56:7-8). Attention to a p a r t i c u l a r use of verb forms i s small d e t a i l from which we can learn a l o t . On the surface, the problem appears as l a r g e l y a matter of c l a r i t y and economy of words. Getting the s p e c i f i e d arrangement of gerunds and i n f i n i t i v e s etc. gives a degree of c l a r i t y , s i m p l i c i t y and uniformity to course outlines. Achieving t h i s format i s reported by those instructors who have been trained to use the system as r e l a t i v e l y 202 unproblematic, even h e l p f u l . For those who have not had such t r a i n i n g , the required use of language poses a considerable stumbling block - an example of "impenetrable jargon" (Cantor and Roberts 1979:63) or educational "mumbo-jumbo" (51:8,10). In the O f f i c e Administration Program at West Coast College, the majority of f a c u l t y members have not had such t r a i n i n g , and the r e s u l t i s that a large proportion of the time and attention of f a c u l t y members i n r e v i s i o n meetings i s devoted to mastering the format, as i n the example above and the one following. "They" re f e r s again to the " s t i c k y " approvals committees i n the college hierarchy who p o l i c e the use of the competency format: Instructor A: OK, so what we are saying i s , "The student w i l l be able to ... demonstrate the a b i l i t y . . . . Instructor B: You can't demonstrate an a b i l i t y . . . . A: Yes you can; they accept that.... B: Oh, w i l l they except that? A: Sure, they can demonstrate by writing an exam, etc ... (56:7-8). The e s s e n t i a l importance of language to the competency system i s , however, much more deeply rooted than the concern f o r economy of words. I t i s embedded i n the basic p r i n c i p l e s of behaviourism required to achieve a thoroughly systematic form of c u r r i c u l a r organization. In t h i s mode, only those outcomes that can be externalized or o b j e c t i f i e d for the purposes of observation and measurement are t e c h n i c a l l y e l i g i b l e to be used as learning objectives. This requirement i s p a r t i c u l a r l y e s s e n t i a l i f the systems approach i s to be extended beyond the planning and design 203 phase of i n s t r u c t i o n into the evaluation phase as well. In the Business Department at West Coast College, such s t r i c t a pplications of the r a t i o n a l / s c i e n t i f i c approach to evaluation were not being introduced at t h i s time. But i n s t r u c t o r s were aware that the administration favoured such an approach and that they were already i n use i n some other departments. The competency steps which were being implemented and are v i s i b l e i n a c t i v i t i e s examined here constitute c r i t i c a l ground on which any further aspects of a curriculum management system might be l a i d . They achieve the e s s e n t i a l step of making i n s t r u c t i o n a l goals determinable by i n d i v i d u a l s other than i n s t r u c t o r s , thus laying the cornerstone for programs that can be seen to be "responsive" to p o l i c y , and esta b l i s h i n g a framework of i n s t i t u t i o n a l r e l a t i o n s i n which the problem of accountability f o r d e l i v e r y can be addressed r a t i o n a l l y and systematically. The v i t a l importance of t h i s s h i f t i n the r e l a t i o n s of curriculum decision making i s further i l l u s t r a t e d by taking note of an aborted e a r l i e r attempt at a review process f o r business progams. The decision to undertake a review was made more than a year before the task analysis workshops eventually took place, and i n the interim, the department head had instructed f a c u l t y to begin work on the d e f i n i t i o n of competencies i n t h e i r program areas by breaking t h e i r course content down into what they c a l l e d "dacum charts", using the word DACUM ge n e r i c a l l y to mean a chart of performance objectives. Some fac u l t y had previous t r a i n i n g i n 204 t h i s method of i n s t r u c t i o n a l design, and began work on the requested charts f a i r l y promptly. I interviewed a number of i n s t r u c t o r s as t h i s work was underway, and discovered considerable v a r i a t i o n among them i n procedures used and r e s u l t s obtained. The charts which I was shown conform to what Adams (1975) described (and objected to) as 'content matrices' which broke the courses up into fourteen week segments, and were predominantly information-oriented. This was best i l l u s t r a t e d by the Math i n s t r u c t o r who began each objective with "The student w i l l understand ..." i n d i r e c t contravention of DACUM p r i n c i p l e s . Many in s t r u c t o r s delayed s t a r t i n g on the charts, f o r a v a r i e t y of reasons: lack of f a m i l i a r i t y with the process, disagreement with the approach, pressure of other work, etc., and eventually, rumours that the request was going to be withdrawn (89:10). Indeed, within a couple of months, o f f i c i a l d i r e c t i o n s came down from the Dean's o f f i c e , v i a the department head that f a c u l t y were no longer required to work on the charts, since the Dean intended to host DACUM workshops, using employers to define the s k i l l s p r o f i l e s . This decision produced considerable i r r i t a t i o n among the faculty, usually expressed as resentment by those who had already spent time working on t h e i r own charts, and/or impatience that the decision meant further delays i n the program review process which was already behind schedule. The most t a c t f u l version of these complaints which I heard was that the change of plans caused "a loss of momentum and enthusiasm f o r the program review process, which was unfortunate" (33:17-18). Others objected to the change of plans because they vaguely d i s t r u s t e d 205 the prospect of l o s i n g control over t h e i r courses, although these same people were of the opinion that you know, one can see the administration's perspective. ... [They are] understandably concerned that you shouldn't have a s e l f review ... otherwise you can simply perpetuate the mistakes or problems that are inherent i n the programs (33:17-18). Here we see again the triumph of commonsense scientism: a r a t i o n a l i z e d , systematic, external review i s seen as being 'objective' and therefore j u s t and reasonable. However, the evidence to be gleaned from the aborted e f f o r t to write competency charts i s c r i t i c a l to t h i s chapter. That i s , the o r i g i n a l procedure of having instru c t o r s make content matrices was cancelled by the dean i n favour of the plan to hold l o c a l task analysis workshops. The c a n c e l l a t i o n occured even though the process of chart production by i n s t r u c t o r s was well underway, and s i m i l a r s k i l l p r o f i l e charts for a number of the occupations were already a v a i l a b l e from other sources. In an interview with the dean, I asked about the importance of doing l o c a l task analyses i n occupational areas for which p r o f i l e charts were already av a i l a b l e . His answer was that i t was important to do the workshops l o c a l l y as well, because i t "validated" the chart for each l o c a l s i t u a t i o n (54:16). What I hope w i l l become apparent here i s that the c r i t i c a l difference, which i s being subsumed into the notion of " v a l i d a t i o n " , i s the process of reorganization i n l o c a l r e l a t i o n s of decision-making about course and program content. Without putting these new 206 r e l a t i o n s into p r a c t i c e on a l o c a l basis, the introduction of a new s k i l l s p r o f i l e chart from employers would have l i t t l e transformative power. Instructors would s t i l l see themselves as the authors of curriculum, free to pick and choose from the new p r o f i l e chart as they have always done from an array of text books, and t h e i r choices would s t i l l be grounded i n classroom p r a c t i c e . At West Coast College as elsewhere (see Grant, 1979), t h i s s h i f t i n expectations for professional p r a c t i c e met with some resistance, as i n the case of the i n s t r u c t o r quoted above who was "miffed" that her concerns had apparently been "swept under the rug". The experience of d i f f i c u l t y with i n s t r u c t o r s i n implementing competency-based systems i s routinely taken as evidence of the need for t r a i n i n g i n the s p e c i a l i z e d techniques required to support the competency approach. Lack of such t r a i n i n g i s the most commonly c i t e d explanation f o r programs which have been unsuccessful: i n s t r u c t o r s are said to be "not adequately prepared" or "not proporly trained" (69:15). Indeed much pre-service and in-service t r a i n i n g for college i n s t r u c t o r s i n the l a s t decade i n B.C. has been focussed on mastery of the competency-based approach to i n s t r u c t i o n a l design (see B.C. Ministry of Education 1981). The requirement for sp e c i a l t r a i n i n g to a s s i s t i n s t r u c t o r s i n the use of the competency approach contributes to the aura of science that surrounds i t . The equation of r a t i o n a l / s c i e n t i f i c a l i n s t r u c t i o n a l design procedures with professionalism serves as an e f f e c t i v e mechanism 207 f o r s o c i a l c o n t r o l . Teacher resistance may be construed as an outgrowth of backwardness, lack of appropriate s k i l l s , and need for professional upgrading. The p o t e n t i a l f o r legitimate controversy among informed professionals i s e f f e c t i v e l y suppressed. The provision of in- s e r v i c e t r a i n i n g i s part of transforming how ins t r u c t o r s understand and perform t h e i r jobs. I t also contributes to the t e c h n i c a l / s c i e n t i f i c mystique surrounding these methods. I t s value as "window dressing" for the new professionalism i s evidenced i n the occasional passing remark by in s t r u c t o r s or administrators about "those thousand d o l l a r seminars" from " one of those educational entrepreneur types" (78:10). The r e o r i e n t a t i o n of the attention, sphere of action and expertise f o r ins t r u c t o r s examined here does not occur i n the form of an e x p l i c i t challenge to t h e i r professional r o l e , but rather as a change i n how t h e i r professionalism i s defined. The new system puts aside i n s t r u c t o r s ' former claim to professionalism as 'deciders' i n r e l a t i o n to course and program content. Under the new order, professionalism for in s t r u c t o r s consists of willingness and preparedness to p a r t i c i p a t e i n a new r a t i o n a l i z e d organization of decision-making about curriculum, and i n demonstrating the range of s k i l l s involved i n producing curriculum i n a competency-based format. 208 CONCLUSION The a c t i v i t i e s examined i n t h i s chapter are part of the p r a c t i c e of the r e l a t i o n s of coordination, a r t i c u l a t i o n , and alignment discussed i n Chapter Two. The experience of decisions that " j u s t happen" i s the everyday form of those r e l a t i o n s and of t h e i r capacity to shape l o c a l action. The r e v i s i o n process warrants only those actions i n which the p r a c t i c e of i n s t r u c t o r s i s suborinated to the decision-making of others. Instructors "match" and " v e r i f y " and supply verbs f o r decisions which have already been made, and translate them into an objectied form (Course Information Sheets) where they become a property of the organization. The remaining c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of teachers' knowledge, action and decision-making disappear, are not accountable f o r organizational purposes. They are done as a s t a f f function for the Department head, making v i s i b l e for organizational purposes a c u r r i c u l a r system which i s said to be "employer-driven". The "employer" i s an abstration who stands as a d i s c u r s i v e object, organizing from offstage the p r a c t i c a l action of i n s t r u c t o r s , mediated by the i d e o l o g i c a l procedures of a curriculum method designed and imposed by the state. The s k i l l s p r o f i l e chart provides an archemedian point of reference f o r decisions regarding course content. The judgements of "needs" which appear there are stripped of t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r i t y , t h e i r v i s i b l e l o c a t i o n i n a s o c i a l c o n s t e l l a t i o n of i n t e r e s t s . They are seen to be objective, to have no 209 interested subject. They can be expressed i n the passive voice, as actions with no actor: requirements "were i d e n t i f i e d " and changes "were indicated". Only i n t h i s i d e o l o g i c a l form, are they legitimate agents i n a r a t i o n a l / s c i e n t i f i c universe of action. They are the property of the Dean's o f f i c e , and have t h e i r sense i n the practice not of i n s t r u c t i o n but of administration. The processes of change or s h i f t i n dynamics that are v i s i b l e i n the r e v i s i o n meetings are central to the transformations i n s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s with which I am concerned. They are the mechanisms through which management or administration come to substitute for education at the heart of the curriculum process. They sign a l the emergence of a r e l a t i o n which might be dubbed, for convenience, the 'employer/administrator couplet' which i s a c r i t i c a l step i n the transformation of the r e l a t i o n s of curriculum and i n t h e i r i d e o l o g i c a l character. The most important thing about t h i s transformative process i s that the e n t i r e sequence of action examined i n these chapters, from the s t a r t of a task analysis to the production of Course Information Sheets, i s e f f e c t i v e l y blurred i n pr a c t i c e , and the products of a l l the accumulated work processes contained i n the sequence come to be enshrined i n the documents and a t t r i b u t e d to employers as t h e i r " t o t a l l y objective statement of needs". With the implementation of new c u r r i c u l a r r e l a t i o n s which represent the "needs of industry" i n decision-making processes at the 210 college, the pieces required for p u b l i c l y accountable i n s t i t u t i o n a l action are i n place. Thus the promise of greater c e r t a i n t y i n administration of the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process i s accomplished f o r organizational purposes. Key features of t h i s administrative process are examined i n more d e t a i l i n Chapter Eight. 211 CHAPTER EIGHT COMPETENCE AS "GOOD MANAGEMENT PRACTICE" This chapter w i l l take up the exploration of competency measures from the location which i s occupied by administrators. As with the i n s t r u c t o r s examined i n Chapter Four, our i n v e s t i g a t i o n w i l l begin with the comments and complaints of administrators which a r i s e from t h e i r l o c a t i o n i n the extended r e l a t i o n s of curriculum decision-making. Then, i t w i l l go on to explore t h e i r descriptions of the administrative work process i n which t h e i r own p a r t i c u l a r needs, i n t e r e s t s , and choices v i s - a -v i s curriculum organization are embedded. Again, we w i l l f i n d i n such 'talk' about the work process of administrators evidence of the extended d i v i s i o n of labour i n which i t i s embedded and traces of the process of documentary organization and textual mediation which are e s s e n t i a l to i t s character as part of an e x t r a - l o c a l mode of r u l i n g . [!] In our search for the "sense" of competency measures, the experience of i n s t r u c t o r s has repeatedly directed attention to places "on high" i n the ranks of the college administration, the most v i s i b l e l o c a t i o n of which i s the Dean's o f f i c e . From the standpoint of i n s t r u c t o r s , the "buck stops" there f o r the curriculum reforms with which they are struggling. However, i t would be a mistake to conclude that, when the documents of a " t o t a l l y objective statement of needs" f i n a l l y a r r i v e i n the 212 Dean's o f f i c e , and the Course Information Sheets have been duly submitted to the " s t i c k y " college approvals committees, that the transformative power of competency measures has been exhausted, or that the f u l l extent of t h e i r "sense" and " r a t i o n a l i t y " has been accounted f o r . This chapter w i l l locate these moments within the broader scope of the p o l i c y process of which they are a part. THE PROBLEM OF "CURRICULUM CREEP" The "presenting problem" or complaint of administrators i s about the trouble they have with f a c u l t y . The problem, as they see i t , i s that instr u c t o r s have t h e i r own "pet i n t e r e s t s " and "hobby horses" that influence what they teach. "Faculty l i k e doing t h e i r own thing, i n t h e i r own way" and they l i k e "shutting the door on the classroom." According to adminstrators, f a c u l t y "hide behind the [idea] of academic freedom ... not always knowing what i t means". But they don't l i k e anyone "meddling i n how and what they teach" and they "turn o f f anything they think intrudes". This behaviour of f a c u l t y i s characterized by administrators as "very, very conservative" (51:19-20; 58:C4). In the view of administrators, the r e s u l t of such f a c u l t y autonomy i s that a l o t of "baggage" finds i t s way into the program, material that " i s not required by anyone" but i s there because " i n s t r u c t o r s have a passion for i t " (58:B16,C4). They 213 r e f e r to t h i s condition as "curriculum creep" or "program creep". They complain that i t clogs up the system by making i t d i f f i c u l t "not to create something new, but to get r i d of the obsolete junk" (58:B3). The department comes to be run by "vested i n t e r e s t s " where "employment security dictates curriculum" or where "we are employing instruc t o r s for the sake of employing i n s t r u c t o r s " . In the words of the department head " i t doesn't serve any bloody purpose" (58:B2,B15-16). These few phrases from the working language of administrators plunge us deeply into a standpoint for viewing the curriculum process which i s r a d i c a l l y altered from where we have been located heretofore i n the analysis. Suddenly, the tables are turned, and what makes "good educational sense" f o r in s t r u c t o r s has become "baggage" from the standpoint of administrators; what in s t r u c t o r s see as being a "responsible f a c u l t y " represents "vested i n t e r e s t s " to the administration. These oppositions r a i s e a host of questions about the s o c i a l process that l i e s behind these concepts. For example, how i s the difference constituted between a "requirement" and a "passion", and what "purposes" count as legitimate for the purposes of instruction? In r e l a t i o n to what a l t e r n a t i v e i s f a c u l t y behaviour construed as "conservative"? As i n previous chapters, these questions which guide our i n v e s t i g a t i o n are about the lo c a t i o n of the knower and the sense which t h e i r "knowing" derives from the work process i n which i t i s embedded. 214 From the a c t i v i t i e s examined i n previous chapters, we can re a d i l y see how the competency approach serves as a remedy for the s i t u a t i o n s formulated by these administrators as t h e i r 'problems with f a c u l t y ' . The task analysis begins to address these problems because i t lays the content of every course open to examination. This i s acomplished not d i r e c t l y by evaluating what i s already taught, which would be seen as a d i r e c t assault on fa c u l t y , but rather by est a b l i s h i n g a new d e f i n i t i o n of "need" against which every aspect of i n s t r u c t i o n w i l l have to be j u s t i f i e d anew. Administrators at both the college and the ministry compared t h i s approach to a zero-based budgeting exercise, i n which nothing continues from year to year without j u s t i f i c a t i o n . In t h i s context, some administrators described the task analysis as a basic administrative t o o l f o r "program evaluation". For our purposes, i t i s important to notice that the process of making the curriculum accessible to evaluation i n the o f f i c e s of the administration i s a p i v o t a l step i n the reorganization of curriculum r e l a t i o n s . I t s h i f t s the grounds on which evaluation of curriculum i s conducted and the adequacy of course and program content i s established. That i s , the task analysis process, properly undertaken i n i t s competency-based framework, establishes the terms for review of i n s t r u c t i o n by focussing on on-the-job requirements as these are i d e n t i f i e d by employers, for example the a b i l i t y to write a business memo or report. Adequacy of i n s t r u c t i o n can be j u s t i f i e d only i n r e l a t i o n to 215 these end goals, and not i n terms of the mastery of f a m i l i a r educational b u i l d i n g blocks such as grammar, punctuation, and composition. Thus i t forces a s h i f t i n the reference point for the work of in s t r u c t o r s from t h e i r " d i s c i p l i n e " as educators (e.g. math, english, accounting) to the workplace, as the place where adequacy i s determined. Furthermore, the introduction of the task analysis s h i f t s the locus of legitimate decisions about when or how "adequacy" i n i n s t r u c t i o n has been achieved from i n s t r u c t o r s themselves to the college administration. I t dislodges the previous authority and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of instru c t o r s to mediate between the workplace and the classroom, a f f e c t i n g i n s t r u c t o r s both i n d i v i d u a l l y and c o l l e c t i v e l y . I n d i vidually, the knowledge of workplace requirements which instruc t o r s acquire through professional a c t i v i t i e s or i n intermittent dealings with employers regarding e i t h e r t h e i r courses or t h e i r graduates, i s no longer accorded legitimacy for organizational purposes. Judgments which they make about classroom i n s t r u c t i o n on the basis of such knowledge i s now subjected to a new l e v e l of review and assessment i n the task analysis process and i t s aftermath of r e v i s i o n s . C o l l e c t i v e l y , the new procedures disrupt the formal Advisory Committee mechanism through which in s t r u c t o r s have i n the past gathered information about changing needs i n the workplace. The task analysis process replaces these previous systems of d i r e c t consultation between fa c u l t y and employers with a process 216 which l a r g e l y circumvents the faculty. This i t does by bringing i n an external curriculum consultant, who reports d i r e c t l y to the Dean's o f f i c e , to f a c i l i t a t e the task analysis workshop and write a l l reports of the workshop procedings. This process e s s e n t i a l l y takes authority f o r curriculum out of the hands of i n s t r u c t o r s . I t establishes instead a system i n which the judgment for curriculum decisions resides not only outside of the professional expertise of i n d i v i d u a l f a c u l t y members, but utlimately outside the c o l l e c t i v i t y of fac u l t y as a whole. The department head stresses the importance of t h i s step, c a l l i n g i t the "separation of outcomes from input" which he c l a r i f i e s as meaning that "objectives ... are going to be set by people out there as opposed to people i n here ..." (58:B15). The process we are implementing i s a method whereby the fac u l t y assumes the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r assuring that the i n s t i t u t i o n meets those [externally defined] objectives. You know, i t ' s simple - almost t r i v i a l - yet i t ' s a major, major s h i f t i n d i r e c t i o n for the i n s t i t u t i o n ... because i n the past, the fac u l t y have been responsible for the d e f i n i t i o n of program content and outcome. You cannot have that - you cannot put the wolves i n charge of the chicken coop, l e t ' s face i t (58:B5). I t has not always been the case that f a c u l t y i n charge of curriculum would be seen as "wolves i n charge of the chicken coop". Indeed, during the years of headlong growth i n the college system, curriculum development was done almost exc l u s i v e l y by fac u l t y members, and depended on t h e i r expertise both as p r a c t i t i o n e r s i n a given subject area and as educators. In the view of administrators, t h i s process led to a sense of "ownership" of the curriculum among fac u l t y . In the 1980's, i n a 217 climate concerned with system-wide r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n and accountability, t h i s sense of ownership has become a b a r r i e r to the implementation of goals and objectives set f o r the college system as a whole. Under these new conditions, what administrators say they need i s "a vehicle - anything - to force people to abandon the concept of ownership" and to address instead a set of i n s t i t u t i o n a l l y defined objectives (58:B1). T H E PROBLEM O F " I N S T I T U T I O N A L P R E S S U R E " Administrators are not unanimously or straightforwardly opposed to the curriculum decisions that f a c u l t y have made i n the past. On the contrary, i n d i v i d u a l administrators voice a wide range of opinions about the d i r e c t i o n of educational change, and some of t h e i r comments r e f l e c t a v i s i o n of the educational process that appears quite s i m i l a r to the goals expressed by i n s t r u c t o r s , and highly contradictory v i s - a - v i s competency measures. For instance, the Business Department head spoke on a number of occasions about hi s r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s as an educator to r e s i s t the move from "education to t r a i n i n g " : Employers, by d e f i n i t i o n , want t r a i n i n g to occur. And as an educator, we have to make sure that when we t r a n s l a t e t h e i r objectives we are t r a n s l a t i n g back into educational terms, not t r a i n i n g terms.... The educators' job i s to take a step back and say, a l r i g h t , i f we are t a l k i n g about sales work here, we had better provide you with some material about what constitutes marketing, or f i n a n c i a l analysis, or maybe you should know what a debit and a c r e d i t i s . . . . So the educator w i l l f i l l i n those blanks, [although] the f i n a l check, the f i n a l audit, w i l l be the employers' again (58:A9). 218 I t i s not s o c i a l l y responsible for public educational i n s t i t u t i o n s to adopt a narrow approach to t r a i n i n g . Because, i n the f i n a l analysis ... we are i n the education business. We have to ensure that the graduates have a broad set of s k i l l s and knowledge (58:A2-3). What we, by d e f i n i t i o n must do, i s educate i n d i v i d u a l s ... give them ... the basic knowledge to permit them to [have] ... career paths ... i f you w i l l (58:B7). While espousing these ideals, the same department head reported that competency measures seemed to him to be "the most e f f e c t i v e way to accomplish what we are t r y i n g to do ... considering our f i n a n c i a l problems and everything e l s e " (58:A13). For instance, i n the o f f i c e administration area, he reported that the competency-based review was i n t e g r a l to h i s plans to s h i f t the program "to a two month modularized structure ... expand i t to ten months duration, and gain a l o t of f l e x i b i l i t y " . These changes are s p e c i f i c a l l y designed to s a t i s f y the requirements for seat purchase by the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission (CEIC), a move which had long been unpopular i n the department but was eventually dictated by "our f i n a n c i a l p i c t u r e " . Once these changes were implemented, the department head expressed confidence that "substantial e f f i c i e n c i e s w i l l come from the process" (58:19-20). Another high ranking executive at West Coast College gave me a b r i e f account of the dangers of the competency approach, at the same time as he was overseeing i t s implementation i n the departments under h i s contr o l . He said that by i t s e l f " i t does not t e l l you what an adequate education would be" because i t i s 219 "reductive, l i k e a l l of western science". He warned that " i f you don't s t a r t with a broader perspective, you won't have anything of q u a l i t y " and i t can lead to "absolutely absurd s i t u a t i o n s " . At the same time, he hastened to point out that i t " i s a very useful t o o l of analysis". I t "helps you sharpen your objectives, [and] ... l e t s you crank out a l o t of answers i n a short time" (50:1). The c r u c i a l factor for these and other administrators i n t h e i r accounts of the "usefulness" of the competency approach seemed to be the contemporary "climate" or "environment" of decision-making. They talked about the l a s t decade as a "rather h e c t i c " one i n educational i n s t i t u t i o n s , from which they were struggling to recover. A l o t of new programs had been "brought on-line" i n a r e l a t i v e l y short space of time. Major s h i f t s i n the economy and "changes i n p o l i t i c a l d i r e c t i o n " had brought re v i s i o n s i n " o v e r a l l educational strategy", p a r t i c u l a r l y i n employment oriented programs (78:8; 60:3). S i g n i f i c a n t reductions had occurred i n educational spending l e v e l s , p a r t i c u l a r l y the B.C. government campaign of " r e s t r a i n t " . [ 2 ] In t h i s context, there had come to be a "much greater emphasis on acco u n t a b i l i t y and reporting" and a growing i n t e r e s t i n "central c o n t r o l " (78:8; 60:3; 51:8; 58:A4. Many administrators summed up t h i s state of a f f a i r s as an "environment" of " i n s t i t u t i o n a l pressure". When pressed to c l a r i f y what t h i s meant, they gave the following kinds of r e p l i e s : 220 In a contracting environment, everyone i s i n the trenches defending t h e i r t u r f . . . . I f you create the greatest program i n the world, i t w i l l always be s c r u t i n i z e d , always be challenged, questioned, and so f o r t h (58:A12). During d i f f i c u l t economic times, what we have l a i d on the i n s t i t u t i o n s ... i s i f you want to do something new, you are going to have to do i t at the expense of something you are already doing (60:3). You don't need i n d i v i d u a l pressures.... When we are looking at r e a l l o c a t i o n of resources i n t e r n a l l y because we don't have enough money to make ends meet, things are going to come under scrutiny (58:A13). Since the early 1980's, administrators report that there has been a l o t of "pressure" for the colleges to "tighten up" and to "consolidate around a kind of philosophical objective" (58:A4). A l o t of time and e f f o r t have gone into reporting " a l l sorts of s t a t i s t i c a l information" (51:8; 78:8) to the government, and that t h i s work has become the j u s t i f i c a t i o n for the expansion of administration. Increased c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of information i s seen as part of the drive to consolidate and r a t i o n a l i z e services where possible, and to "increase e f f i c i e n c i e s through c o n t r o l " (51:10; 78:14). In vocational programs, t h i s has resulted i n a move to "standardize programs, including curriculum, evaluation, etc." (58:A10). I t a l l started about f i v e or s i x years ago when they started developing these f i v e year plans.... A l o t of work was spent on these goals, and now i t has become part of the budgeting process, where a college decides what i t plans to do and how much money i t needs, and the government makes i t s decision whether to give us the money. I think that l a i d the foundation for competency-based i n s t r u c t i o n . I t ' s a natural outcome, i t n a t u r a l l y flows from i t ... (51:1-2). 221 The view of competency measures as a "natural" outcome or component of the systematic approach to college management echoes the dominant understandings of educational "common sense" explored i n Chapter One. Its adoption by adminstrators as a "useful t o o l " , despite i t s tendency to be "narrow" and "reductive", r e f l e c t s the power of the r a t i o n a l / s c i e n t i f i c paradigm as a framework for administrative thinking and action. As one college administrator observed, focussing on outcomes seems so 'obvious and n a t u r a l 1 that "you might ask why [the idea] has been so slow i n getting going" (51:18). I think the a t t r a c t i o n of administrators f o r t h i s i s i n the outcomes; j u s t to be able to demonstrate that at the end, t h i s i s what we w i l l have (78:10). The competency format allows you to be s p e c i f i c about what i t i s you're getting out of i t . You state what your outcomes are, what your competencies are. Then the curriculum i s designed to meet those outcomes (76:12-13). Both curriculum s p e c i a l i s t s and administrators agree that the competency approach takes the element of "chance" out of the curriculum. That i s , with an instructor-based system ... a l l of the curriculum i s vested with the f a c u l t y person you h i r e to teach that course ... and there's a tendency for them to teach to t h e i r own area of sp e c i a l t y , which may or may not be i n tune with the world of p r a c t i c e . . . . Then, i f that f a c u l t y person walks out, you don't know what's going on (76:12-13). D i f f e r e n t i a l emphasis within d i s c i p l i n e s r e a l l y skews what the student learns.... So whether you are well prepared or not depends upon what college you went to or what in s t r u c t o r you had.... That i s leaving i t to chance (76:13). "Leaving i t to chance" i s more of a problem i n some areas of i n s t r u c t i o n than others. In some f i e l d s , i n s t r u c t i o n i n the 222 college system i s t i e d to regulatory processes of the state, such as the l i c e n s i n g of p r a c t i t i o n e r s i n s o c i a l and health care f i e l d s where, as one ministry o f f i c i a l put i t , "there i s a re a l or an apparent health or human safety problem" (60:28). According to ministry o f i c i a l s , such cases c a l l f or "competency-based t r a i n i n g i n i t s purest form": In t h i s p a r t i c u l a r case we are saying that the kind of t r a i n i n g that r e l i e s on the in d i v i d u a l input of the in s t r u c t o r i s inappropriate.... We want to make sure that everybody has a standard set of s k i l l s . Then we can f e e l f a i r l y comfortable when they ask about your l i c e n s e (64:28). You don't have each l i t t l e t r a i n i n g program doing t h e i r own thing. We are saying there i s a standard of pra c t i c e that i s required i f somebody i s going to work i n t h i s f i e l d ... and i t becomes the standard for the system (64:27-8). What the lic e n s e i s saying i s 'We c e r t i f y that t h i s person i s i n fac t capable of doing A, B, and C. We trained them, we assessed them, and we are saying that t h i s person i s capable of doing one group of things and not others ... i n a safe and e f f e c t i v e fashion' (64:23). Competency-based curriculum makes a contribution to t h i s kind of t r a i n i n g not only i n i t s routine form, but also when trouble a r i s e s . As a ministry o f f i c i a l explained, the competency approach i s an es s e n t i a l safety net should "the people i n our t r a i n i n g i n s t i t u t i o n s get hauled into court" i n a malpractice s u i t of the kind that are now happening i n C a l i f o r n i a . [ 3] In such a s i t u a t i o n , competency measures have you "covered": Suppose you have a daycare s i t u a t i o n where a worker has been s t r i k i n g a k i d . So they come to you and they say 'What procedures have been taught to t h i s worker for handling such a s i t u a t i o n . • So you check, and you say, 'OK, on September tenth we taught the competencies for handling an aggresive c h i l d ... no s t r i k i n g the kids, time out up to three minutes i s OK ... ' etc. So then the students went on practicum, and you check the records and f i n d , yes the student i n 223 question handled a time out s i t u a t i o n on November eighth, yes, i t was the correct time, and the correct procedures, and yes the practicum supervisor checked him out on that.... So you've got i t covered (64:31). This hypothetical scenario demonstrates an important feature of competence as an organizational pra c t i c e . That i s , the s i g n i f i c a n t forms of competence for the educational system are those constituted as an organizational course of action rather than as an a t t r i b u t e of i n d i v i d u a l s . The l e g a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the college or the ministry stops at e s t a b l i s h i n g that the procedures f o r safe and l e g a l p ractice were accountably taught, and that the performance of the i n d i v i d u a l was demonstrated to be adequate i n that context. So that demonstrating "competence" i s a matter of making teaching and t e s t i n g accountable to a standard through a warantable set of procedures. Technically i t i s not the competence of the i n d i v i d u a l but the competence of the i n s t r u c t i o n which i s at issue. The important thing about competency measures i n t h i s context i s , as put by administrators, "... [w]hen you have outcomes, you can t e l l " about the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process. The new systematic methods require educators to e s t a b l i s h i n advance "what outcomes they seek" and then to "operationally define them" (76:5). They also require "standards that are validated", since "most standards are sort of guesses out of the a i r ; they don't have any v a l i d i t y , i n a professional sense, attached to them. They are kind of best guesses" (54:9). Previous methods of es t a b l i s h i n g standards through advisory committees are c r i t i c i z e d 224 with hindsight as "having no checks and balances" (58:A2). The ministry argues that such committees were used by business people as a forum f o r "lobbying" for t h e i r own p a r t i c u l a r i n t e r e s t s and by college o f f i c i a l s to "co-opt" l o c a l business groups to support the college. By contrast, competency methods are said to engage l o c a l employers " l e g i t i m a t e l y " as a "sounding board" to examine the nature of the program (64:3). F i n a l l y , since the "objective function" of the program i s "marketability of graduates", they require an "operational d e f i n i t i o n of that outcome", a measure that i s currently under review by the ministry (58:A2). COMPETENCE AS OBJECTIVE ORGANIZATION The notion of "objective function" i s i t s e l f a manifestation of another c e n t r a l aspect of the systematic r e l a t i o n s of management i n the college system. I t points to the existence of a hierarchy of reporting r e l a t i o n s traceable a l l the way to the College and I n s t i t u t e s Act, which s p e c i f i e s what may consitute college 'business'. A number of administrators r e f e r r e d to the importance of the Act as the point of departure f o r understanding the college system. [T]he d r i v e r for me has always been the Colleges and In s t i t u t e s Act, and i t i s very c l e a r i n terms of the i n s t i t u t i o n s ' mandates. The act s p e c i f i e s that colleges are i n the business of providing u n i v e r s i t y t r a n s f e r f o r up to two years, career/technical, and continuing education I t ' s a very, very simple model. Those are the three things I must do; they govern a l l our a c t i v i t y . The mandate determines what i s relevant; anything else i s i r r e l e v a n t . (58:B2) 225 These remarks serve as reminders that the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for curriculum organization does not stop with administrators, and does not depend, as fac u l t y may fear, merely on t h e i r "passions", t h e i r past experience, or the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of t h e i r "brains". Instead, the s e n s i b i l i t y of administrators' actions, l i k e those of faculty, arises i n the p a r t i c u l a r work organization i n which those actions are embedded. Their p r i o r i t i e s , and t h e i r accountability, are determined i n the extended bureaucratic, l e g i s l a t i v e , and p o l i t i c a l framework i n which the college system i s situated. These extended r e l a t i o n s r o u t i n e l y depend upon documentary forms of communication which make the administrative process accountable/reportable i n a po l i c y process. In such a documentary mode of organization, the c r e d i b i l i t y of the college as a whole, i t s programs, and i t s administration, depends upon, as the department head put i t , the a b i l i t y of ind i v i d u a l s viewing the college from the outside to "recognize that we are performing as stated i n our mandate" (58:B2). In recent years, t h i s requirement has been made increasingly central i n t h e i r reporting r e l a t i o n with the ministry. In order to demonstrate that college programs match the "requirements of the f i e l d " , administrators are now expected not only to show feedback from employers that says "Yup, these people are i n fac t able to do the work" but also to demonstrate that the learning objectives of the program have been established and "validated by the 226 f i e l d " , that the "pedagogy ... matches the learning objectives" and " a l l that kind of s t u f f " (58:A12; 64:12). Only under such conditions can the department head or the f a c u l t y adequately defend what they are doing. Competency-based curriculum procedures emerge as the primary means for demonstrating that administrators are "doing our job". I t can make a difference i n face v a l i d i t y ... with the ministry, I think. Because as part of our reporting of what we are doing and what we have done, the f a c t that we have done a task analysis w i l l indicate that, yes, we are doing our job. We are involved i n the community (33:16-17). What competency-based measures would do provide i s a j u s t i f i c a t i o n . . . . So i f the administration came to us and said, 'Why should we put your program on the p r o f i l e t h i s year? 1 what I would do i s to haul out my s t u f f and say ... •I've got i t a l l l a i d out; here i t i s . ' . . . So i f you want to cut the program, you w i l l cut i t f o r some other reason that we aren't doing our job.... (64:12). "Doing our job" i n the sense used here i s not j u s t a matter of running up-to-date programs and turning out students who get jobs. I t i s a matter of attending to these goals i n a manner that i s v i s i b l e and accountable for organizational purposes. In t h i s context, there i s growing emphasis on the administrative r o l e per se and on the professionalism of administrative p r a c t i c e s . This translates i n turn into pressure on l o c a l administrators to show an i n t e r e s t i n the l a t e s t trends i n program evaluation and accountability measures, which are seen as " j u s t good management pr a c t i c e " (64:15) and part of doing "a c r e d i t a b l e job" (60:16). Administrators are professionals i n t h e i r own r i g h t , and that brings an i n t e r e s t i n program evaluation and acc o u n t a b i l i t y that doesn't necessarily come from government. I t comes from a number of d i r e c t i o n s . . . . 227 I would think that some of the i n t e r e s t would come from administrators themselves, j u s t wanting to do a more cred i t a b l e job (60:15-16). Competency measures serve exactly t h i s purpose: they have, as one i n s t r u c t o r put i t , a l l the "administrative j e l l y beans you could desire" (74:5) to demonstrate that administrators are "doing our job". For example, competency methods can f a c i l i t a t e the routine demands of "housekeeping" by providing information about programs at a very d e t a i l e d l e v e l . Then, i f a program i s not doing very well, there i s recourse to systematic information to help i d e n t i f y the problem. So instead of j u s t saying, "We've got a problem here ... we had better cut the program," or "... we had better change i t we need to ask, "Change i t to what?" "Let's t r y something d i f f e r e n t . . . " you say, but what? Maybe i f they t r y three or four d i f f e r e n t things, i t w i l l work. But i f i t works, they would never know why. With [the competency approach], you are at l e a s t able to i d e n t i f y a problem and back i t up (64:13-14). Competency methods permit administrators to respond to routine pressures of planning and budgeting i n the current management climate. Also, when non-routine changes are required, due to budget cuts or changes i n spending p r i o r i t i e s , competency methods provide the administrator with a means to make and defend d i f f i c u l t decisions. For example: Well, i f I was running a program out i n the f i e l d , ... and I knew that every year I had to j u s t i f y to my Board my l i t t l e program with twenty-four students i n i t , because every year they are going to have to request the money and the Ministry i s going to look at i t and say, 'Gee, why are they doing that?', and they are going to ask that question every year.... Well, then what competency-based measures would do for me would be a j u s t i f i c a t i o n (64:12). 228 I f an i n s t i t u t i o n has cancelled the r e a l l y obviously poor, un-needed programs, and you s t i l l have some 'plums* you want to run, and you're only given the option of maybe a l i t t l e b i t of p r o v i n c i a l money, you're going to have to f i n d the resources i n t e r n a l l y . You have to come up with a pretty good method of judging and evaluating the programs you have. So you have to bring up the rigour and q u a l i t y of your own curriculum assessment, curriculum development. Otherwise, you're j u s t shooting i n the dark (60:4-5). "Shooting i n the dark" may have been passable administrative p r a c t i c e i n the past, but today administrators see i t as r i s k y business, "given the nature of grievances and things l i k e that". They point to the p o s s i b i l i t y of "being on pretty rocky ground pretty quickly" i f they t r y to cancel one program and bring on another based on " s u p e r f i c i a l a l l e g a t i o n s " about the merits of one program versus another (60:5). In t h i s s i t u a t i o n , competency processes are a means of making decisions which w i l l be seen to be "objective" and organizationally warranted. For the purposes of our analysis, the important thing to es t a b l i s h i s that the all-important o b j e c t i v i t y of competency measures i s accomplished i n and through the use of decision-making processes that can be seen as external to the i n t e r e s t s of the p a r t i c u l a r i n d i v i d u a l s or groups, p a r t i c u l a r l y the in t e r e s t s of i n s t r u c t o r s . Through competency measures, judgments about "relevance" and "needs" are externalized, made into a property of the duly authorized administrative process of the college i t s e l f . This i s l a r g e l y accomplished through the documents of the competency-based curriculum process, which come to stand i n for l i v e d experience i n settings of work and learning, and become active constituents of an i n s t i t u t i o n a l course of action. 229 In such a textually-mediated universe of action, what counts as "the a c t u a l i t y " f o r organizational purposes comes to be one step removed from the ground of experience and action of i n d i v i d u a l s . What counts i s not what i n d i v i d u a l s do per se, but what i n d i v i d u a l s can be shown to have done - action as reportable/accountable. This epistemological disjuncture i n the c o n s t i t u t i o n of the "actual" i s an e s s e n t i a l ingredient i n what Macdonald-Ross (1975) lamented as the "weak" form of systematic procedures, and what i s popularly c a l l e d by bureaucrats an "arms' length r e l a t i o n " . What counts as "actual" i s a s o c i a l l y constructed abstraction, omitting many aspects of the s o c i a l process which i t claims to represent. This form of organization allows f o r a c e r t a i n amoung of "slush", or absence of p r e c i s i o n i n i t s renderings of the s o c i a l r e a l i t y . Some questions are neither asked nor answered. We have a p r o v i n c i a l curriculum, but a l l the i n s t i t u t i o n s don't teach to i t . . . . I suppose you could say they are not required to teach to i t . . . . You might c a l l i t an arm's length r e l a t i o n s h i p ... (60:16). I suppose i f we wanted to go out and assess a l l of the [] programs, we would f i n d that there's a great array of content.... Do a l l [] programs use our competency book and s t a r t on page one? No, they don't. But we don't necessarily want to know the answer to that question, so we don't go out and t r y to f i n d i t (60:16). Suppose we challenge you to prove that you are covering each one of these competencies i n the r i g h t degree of emphasis. ... That's where the program would have a h e l l of a time. We know bloody well that the r e a l i t y of the s i t u a t i o n i s d i f f e r e n t (69:38). On the other hand, the "value" of competency measures i s said by these same administrators to be the manner i n which they "can 230 t e l l " those things they need to know, to the degree they need to know them. I t makes selected aspects of the curriculum process reportable/accountable, creating a form of documentary v i s i o n , through which they "can see" and "know". This form of seeing and knowing comes to constitute the "actual" f o r administrative purposes. The value of the competency approach, i n my perspective at the moment ... i s that i t l e t s us know what we can expect to see covered i n the program: A,B,C, and D. *B* i s not missing, regardless of which way i t i s delivered, i t i s  a c t u a l l y there. We know that the f i e l d has been consulted by the task analysis process. We know that the competencies have been validated by the f i e l d . So what you are g i v i n g me i s a statement not from i n s t r u c t o r s , not from administrators of the college. You are giving me a statement from the people who are doing t h i s s t u f f for r e a l - the employers. So the statement about what needs to be trained i s employment based, p r a c t i t i o n e r based. We can see that... (60:19-20, emphasis mine). The abstract character of these arrangements i s as old as s c i e n t i f i c management i t s e l f . I t i s perhaps t h i s feature of management "science" that Spaulding (1913:260) was r e f e r r i n g to at the turn of the century i n the claim that " s c i e n t i f i c management i s a method characterized by i t s s p i r i t quite as much as by i t s accuracy". I t i s echoed again by o f f i c i a l s i n the B r i t i s h Columbia Ministry of Education who assured me that a c e r t a i n "looseness" i n d e t a i l was not inconsistent with the " s p i r i t " of the competency regime. Well, I think that from a program management point of view, what you have to have i s a method, on the part of the department or the i n s t i t u t i o n s doing the t r a i n i n g , of showing that what they are doing on a day to day basis r e a l l y meets the s p i r i t of the [competency] approach (64:32). 231 REFORM AT AN ARM'S LENGTH The fact that such " i n d i r e c t " , "loose" or "weak" management methods tended to be cumbersome and even to generate a ce r t a i n amount of confusion and contradiction was a matter of l i t t l e surprise or concern to the administrators with whom I spoke. As one government o f f i c i a l put i t , "Big ships take a long time to turn around" (69:7). This attitude was most strongly expressed i n the reaction of the college administrators to the complaints of i n s t r u c t o r s about the inadequacies of the task analysis process, as c i t e d i n Chapter Four. I am not r e a l l y concerned. I t doesn't make a damned b i t of difference what the h e l l [the task analysis report] comes up with ... that i s not important. The process i s important (58:B5). The actual q u a l i t y of of the work that i s being done from our perspective i s not acceptable; i t i s very very mediocre.... But that's i r r e l e v a n t . What's important i s that a new process, an objective process, w i l l be introduced into the system (58:B4). What the process b a s i c a l l y says i s that - i n the long run -there w i l l be periodic external d e f i n i t i o n of requirements ... of these programs. A t o t a l l y independent, objective statement of what program requirements are (58:B5). In the long run you've implemented something very p o s i t i v e (58:A13). Reform of curriculum i n "the long run" and from an "arm's length" depends upon estab l i s h i n g a work process which reorganizes and re-orients the work routines of ind i v i d u a l s toward d i f f e r e n t ends. Such a process of re-alignment i s most successful when lea s t v i s i b l e , taken f o r granted as a part of 232 "environment" i n which i n d i v i d u a l s do t h e i r work. The routine and i n v i s i b l e character of such a process commonly depends heavily on documents to order and organize the work processes. The methods used to introduce competency measures into the college system of B r i t i s h Columbia i l l u s t r a t e these points. The key documentary device that serves to coordinate a c t i v i t i e s among various s i t e s i n the college system i s the Integrated Five Year Planning document e n t i t l e d "System Mission And Goals and System Objectives", ("MGO"). This documents c a l l s for a number of measures to ensure that programs are "competency-driven". These include "securing feedback from employers ... on a l l competenceis demanded i n the work place" and "ensuring that program length and method i n career/technical and vocational programs r e l a t e d i r e c t l y to the time and approach required to become competent" (B.C. Ministry of Education 1983:8). The performance of i n d i v i d u a l i n s t i t u t i o n s i s assessed against the goals and objectives outlined i n t h i s document. Yet, when asked about the upsurge of i n t e r e s t i n competency measures i n the province, a number of administrators expressed the view that the impetus was coming from educators " i n the f i e l d " and that "... there's nothing r e a l l y i n i t f o r the administration" (51:9). [ 4] The business department head at West Coast College expressed the opinion that the ministry of education had "very l i t t l e i n t e r e s t " i n the use of task analysis i n h i s department. He said he "hasn't discussed the matter with V i c t o r i a " and that the ministry i s mostly "an interested observer" of such undertakings by the 233 l o c a l college administrations. [The ministry] i s very interested i n seeing the r e s u l t s of what we are doing.... They may recommend what we have done to other i n s t i t u t i o n s , or show them the f i n a l product and say, why don't you have a look and see i f i t i s of use to you. But beyond that, I don't see the ministry becoming active (58:B16). Indeed, t h i s p a r t i c u l a r college has tended to pride i t s e l f on standing up to the ministry on a number of curriculum issues, and several administrators expressed s a t i s f a c t i o n on t h i s account. On the bright side of things, the ministry has f a i l e d i n terms of t o t a l c o n t r o l . And I am very pleased with t h i s i n s t i t u t i o n . We have l a r g e l y taken the p o s i t i o n that the i n s t i t u t i o n has complete control and r e s p o n s i b i l i y f o r what i t teaches. I t i s quite true that the ministry approves programs through the Program P r o f i l e s , and a l l that jazz, but we w i l l not accept the ministry d i c t a t i n g what can and what cannot be taught (58:B12). Of course, with the competency approach, the ministry does not " d i c t a t e what can and cannot be taught", nor do l o c a l administrators need to discuss t h e i r plans with " V i c t o r i a " . The whole system of accountability works on a longer leash. I t organizes the conformity of i n d i v i d u a l i n s t i t u t i o n s to decisions made at the center by ensuring t h e i r p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n a revised professional discourse, by providing them with an " i d e o l o g i c a l currency" which provides for both understanding and action. In t h i s manner, the d i r e c t i o n of the i n s t i t u t i o n can be influenced i n a host of " i n d i r e c t ways" including f i n a n c i a l and administrative mechanisms which form an "architecture of c o n t r o l " (51:3) embedded i n the midst of l o c a l decision-making. 234 The nerve center i n the system of control i s at Treasury Board, where budgets are approved on an annual basis. S a t i s f y i n g the information requirements of Treasury Board i s the ultimate hurdle i n the hierarchy of decision-making. At t h i s l e v e l , the systematic character of decision-making i s very t i g h t : The colleges and i n s t i t u t e s send us programs they want to run. We crank i t through our formula and come up with a program approval which j u s t happens to be a budget at the same time. So i t i s a constant, annual program review that by d e f i n i t i o n translates into money.... So, you don't need PPBS any more. I t i s a l l on l i n e every year (64:11). Thus what a college administrator sees as the ministry being "not very a c t i v e " i s rather the l o c a l appearance of a r e l a t i o n which has a s i g n i f i c a n t l y determining character, but which has already been provided f o r at a l e v e l of organization that i s taken for granted i n peoples' d a i l y work routines. So, for instance, i n the o f f i c e administration area, the decision of the p r o v i n c i a l government to p r i v a t i z e i n s t r u c t i o n for o f f i c e administration was implemented i n part through a se r i e s of low p r o f i l e administrative moves, moving o f f i c e administration programs i n community colleges from the budget category of p r o v i n c i a l programs to the budget category of l o c a l p r i o r i t y programs. The difference was explained to me as follows: P r o v i n c i a l programs means that ... we cannot change i t , we cannot cancel i t . We can only dump the damn thing with the ministry's permission.... Local p r i o r i t y means that we can do whatever we f e e l l i k e . . . . We can dump i t i f we want to and move the money elsewhere.... [For instance,] ... O f f i c e Administration was a p r o v i n c i a l p r i o r i t y , and i t has been changed to l o c a l p r i o r i t y t h i s year (58:B12). 235 The i n t e r e s t i n g point here, of course i s that what administrators may " f e e l l i k e " or "want to" i s highly organized by f o r them by the changing circumstances of funding and p o l i t i c a l p r i o r i t i e s . So, i f the i n s t i t u t i o n i s getting l e s s money than i t needs to continue i t s present programs, then putting a program on l o c a l p r i o r i t y makes i t a p o t e n t i a l v i c t i m to the wants and wishes which administrators may have i n other program areas etc. I t i s i n t h i s kind of managerial climate that l o c a l administrators need, and w i l l seek, a competency system to a s s i s t them i n making program changes " r a t i o n a l l y " and warrantable. Indeed, a s i t u a t i o n l i k e t h i s arose at the end of my period of f i e l d work, a f f e c t i n g the o f f i c e administration programs. As the department head explained to me: CEIC i s cu t t i n g back.... The college takes the p o s i t i o n that there i s no way that we w i l l s e l l 34 seats [ i n o f f i c e administration] to CEIC, and therefore we are not waiting fo r the axe to f a l l next year. So senior management has made the decision that they are on the chopping block (58:14). These forms of administrative organization i n s e r t into the routine work organization of educational (or other) i n s t i t u t i o n s an i n f r a s t r u c t u r e through which regulation can take place. Local action i s rendered responsive to p r i o r i t i e s at the center, but t h i s i s accomplished by means of an organization of d e c i s i o n -making that w i l l be seen as l o c a l or decentralized. The p r i n c i p l e i s elegant i n i t s s i m p l i c i t y . I t leads to s i t u a t i o n s that administrators c a l l "the crunch": The crunch i s very simple. I t i s the government not giving enough money and then l o c a l administrators t r y i n g to figure out ways of dealing with that (74:12). 236 The ministry has a number of means at i t s disposal to encourage, again i n d i r e c t l y , the adoption of systematic measures such as competency-based curriculum, which are e s s e n t i a l to the smooth functioning of these "arms' length" r e l a t i o n s . For instance, pressure may be brought to bear at several s i t e s i n the governing structure of the college system, such as the Boards of Governors of the i n d i v i d u a l colleges. College Boards i n B r i t i s h Columbia were, at the time of t h i s research, responsibile for ensuring that college p o l i c i e s and practices were i n l i n e with the Mission Goals and Objectives statement ("MGO"), as c i t e d above. So, according to ministry o f f i c i a l s , i f a p a r t i c u l a r i n s t i t u t i o n appeared a l i t t l e slow to adopt the competency approach, the Chair of the Board might be gently proded: What could happen i s that we put a buzz i n the ear of the Chairman of the Board of Governors, which i s reponsible for practices i n the college. 'Mr. Chairman, how come you aren't doing these things?' and he would say 'Oh, aren't we? Oh, well . . . ' And so that way, you know, the i n s t i t u t i o n retains i t s autonomy (64:15). These remarks about "autonomy" warrant close attention i f we are to understand the character and s i g n i f i c a n c e of competency-based curriculum measures. That i s , competency measures have t h e i r impact on the conduct of college a f f a i r s while leaving i n place many of the features of the d i v i s i o n of labour which existed previously i n the college system, taking into account the "almost t r i v i a l " but c r u c i a l modifications explored above. At the same time, what competency measures a l t e r , i s the the manner i n which e x i s t i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s are discharged and reported, 237 and the i n t e r e s t s which are inscribed i n the procedures. Their success i n t h i s regard does not depend upon imposing from the top a p a r t i c u l a r set of ideas about the content of employment oriented courses, nor by imposing a p a r t i c u l a r set of i n s t r u c t i o n a l a c t i v i t i e s . What i s imposed i s s t r i c t l y a method of making curriculum decisions and making them accountable/reportable. Adherence to these required methods and procedures organizes the relevances of action and decision-making of i n d i v i d u a l s at every l e v e l of the educational apparatus. These decisions are a r t i c u l a t e d through bureaucratic, l e g i s l a t i v e and p o l i t i c a l framework to the i n t e r e s t s of those who are neither teachers nor learners, but rather s i t i n the o f f i c e s of industry and government, where t h e i r concern i s with securing "a better return on educational investment" (Gamson 1979). CONCLUSION This chapter has argued that i n the community college s e t t i n g the use of competency-based curriculum procedures r e a l i z e s i t s f u l l "sense" and " r a t i o n a l i t y " as part of an i n i t i a t i v e by the state to reform the r e l a t i o n s of decision making i n public vocational education and t r a i n i n g . Competency measures dislodge i n s t r u c t o r s from the central place of authority over vocational curriculum and replace them with new methods of decision-making which are o b j e c t i f i e d and externalized, and embedded i n a documentary form of governance. In the documentary mode, 238 students and i n s t r u c t o r s cease to appear as subjects of the educational enterprise and come to be viewed instead the objects of a centrally-determined p o l i c y process. S k i l l s and competencies, as the outcome of the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process, come into being not as a property of the performance capacity of i n d i v i d u a l s , but as a s o c i a l construction, the product of a p a r t i c u l a r method of educational "accounting" (Smith, G. 1987) through a process of textual mediation. Through the documentary processes examined here, the accountable form of competence i s a p a r t i c u l a r organization of administering and managing the d e l i v e r y of educational programs. The documents of the curriculum process account f o r those a c t i v i t i e s of administrators which count as "doing t h e i r job" and the performance of college programs which count as s a t i s f y i n g the d i c t a t e s of t h e i r external mandate. In t h i s organization of administrative action, the concept of competence comes to express the r e l a t i o n of i n d i v i d u a l actors to a managerial organization of i n t e r e s t s i n the educational enterprise. I t i s part of a mechanism through which i n t e r e s t s which are exogenous to the work of teaching and learning gain the capacity to "rule the schools" (Wise 1979:xvi). This character of the competency approach i s p i v i t o l to i t s popularity as a management t o o l i n the current economic and p o l i t i c a l climate. F i n a l l y , I want to caution against one p a r t i c u l a r l y seductive conclusion which might be drawn from the views expressed by 239 administrators i n t h i s chapter. That i s the conclusion that competency measures have no impact beyond the question of how administration gets done i n the college s e t t i n g , and that the process of competency-based reform w i l l not make a r e a l d i f f e r e n c e to the practice of vocational education i n the long run. Such a judgment would be contrary to the evidence of the research reported here. My intention i s to argue, by contrast, that educational 'process' cannot be separated from i t s 'product' i n t h i s way: that management and administration cannot be i s o l a t e d from how the educational process i s conceived and organized and enacted on a d a i l y basis; that such an organization of p r a c t i c a l d a i l y action i s part of c o n s t i t u t i n g a s o c i a l consciousness of education for work; and that c o n s t i t u t i n g such a s o c i a l form of consciousness i s not separate from the process of bourgeois r u l e . I t i s to these issues I w i l l turn i n the conclusion. 240 ENDNOTES (CHAPTER EIGHT) 1. See Chapter Two f o r t h i s discussion. 2. On the impact of " r e s t r a i n t " on education i n B r i t i s h Columbia see Muller (1987 and forthcoming), Hartland-Rowe and Stewart-McDougall (1987) Fleming (1985), the College-Institute Educators' Association Newsletter (1986, 1985), Finnbogason (1985), Maanusson et a l (1984), and Witter (1983). 3. According to the ministry, there i s already some discussion i n B r i t i s h Columbia about buying group malpractice insurance as protection against such a development (64:32-3). 4. This view, expressed by some administrators both i n the college and at the ministry, provides a t y p i c a l example of the contradictory opinions and understandings of l o c a l actors. In one breath, they assured me that competency-based curriculum has " v i r t u a l l y no implications at a l l " f o r the way a college i s administered. In the next, they described i n considerable d e t a i l the ways that i t was useful to them i n t h e i r work as administrators. This feature of the r e l a t i o n between understanding and action has important implications f o r how i n d i v i d u a l understandings are used as a resource for i n v e s t i g a t i o n . See t h i s discussion i n Chapter Three. 241 CONCLUSION COMPETENCE AS A SOCIAL RELATION The research reported here suggests that the competency approach to curriculum "makes a difference" i n a v a r i e t y of ways that have an impact on the character of vocational education and t r a i n i n g i n the public sector i n Canada. I t e f f e c t s a fundamental transformation i n the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of the vocational enterprise, with implications for a l l those involved: students, i n s t r u c t o r s , administrators, employers and the state. For the student, the implications of competency measures rest with the character of the educational experiences that are offered as a product of the decision-making and goal s e t t i n g a c t i v i t i e s examined here. [!] That i s , competency measures involve the e x p l i c i t suppression of broad, long-term educational goals i n favour of narrow, short-term ones, i n an attempt to maximize " f l e x i b i l i t y " i n labour supply. [ 2] This p r a c t i c e i s part of an e x p l i c i t p o l i c y of s e r v i c i n g not i n d i v i d u a l learning needs, but the imperatives of economic growth through increased p r o d u c t i v i t y for c a p i t a l , as discussed i n Chapter Two. However, the analysis presented here stresses that competency-based curriculum i s not p r i m a r i l y a classroom-based 242 reform, and that i n order to comprehend i t s power, we must examine the transformation i n i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements which occurs long before the student reaches the classroom. In p a r t i c u l a r , competency measures penetrate and re-organize how both i n s t r u c t o r s and employers make decisions about objectives for vocational learning. For i n s t r u c t o r s , the competency approach l i m i t s the use of educational theory as the basis of curriculum decisions and replaces i t with a form of systematic empiricism, lodged i n a set of i d e o l o g i c a l procedures f o r c o n s t i t u t i n g "needs" and "requirements 1 1 r e l a t e d to job performance. I t also reorganizes and l i m i t s the use of i n s t r u c t o r s ' knowledge of workplace requirements as the basis for t h e i r i n s t r u c t i o n a l p r a c t i c e . A new process of organizational decision-making i s created which displaces authority over such curriculum decisions from in s t r u c t o r s to the i n s t i t u t i o n i t s e l f , thus c o n s t i t u t i n g the " o b j e c t i v i t y " of curriculum for organizational purposes. In t h i s s i t u a t i o n , i n s t r u c t o r s f i n d themselves " l o s i n g c o n t r o l " of the curriculum and becoming implementers of the educational designs of others, as Apple (1986, 1982) and others have argued. Furthermore, those educators who r a i s e questions about t h i s process or about the character of learning opportunities that r e s u l t from competency methods are charged with ignorance and s e l f - i n t e r e s t . Thus, not only the content of i n s t r u c t i o n but also the basis of professionalism i n educational 243 action i s transformed. Instructors become the agents of a course of action which does not r e f l e c t t h e i r own understanding of the educational process, and which remains highly r e s i s t a n t to t h e i r c r i t i c i s m . They are ...caught inside a discourse which i s not [theirs] and which expresses and describes a landscape i n which [they] are a l i e n and which preserves that a l i e n a t i o n as i n t e g r a l to i t s p r a c t i c e . (Smith 1975:366). For administrators and managers within the educational apparatus, competency measures v a s t l y increase the t o o l s a v a i l a b l e to them to orchestrate and monitor the process of decision-making about i n s t r u c t i o n . Decisions are embedded i n a formal and documentary process, making the curriculum i t s e l f accountable to c e n t r a l l y determined p o l i c y through a process of textual mediation b u i l t into the management process of the college. Thus, the competency approach makes a difference not only to what may be taught i n the present, but to the ongoing organization of decision-making about what i s legitimate for i n s t r u c t i o n a l purposes. For employers, competency measures reorganize how the "needs" of t h e i r workplaces may be represented i n the curriculum. They suppress employers' i n t e r e s t s i n employees' "knowledge about" work i n favour of a focus on demonstrable "performance", and d e f l e c t employers' concerns with employees' future performance p o t e n t i a l i n favour of attention to immediate performance at e n t r y - l e v e l . This formula for c o n s t i t u t i n g the "needs" and "requirements" of industry i s imposed on employers by the 244 t e c h n i c a l requirements of the c u r r i c u l a r methods themselves, and serves as the c r i t e r i a of legitimacy for employers 1 demands on vocational education i n the public domain. Expectations of employers which f a l l outside t h i s formula are dismissed as t h e i r "wish l i s t s " . I have argued i n Chapter Two that these l o c a l experiences of in s t r u c t o r s , administrators and employers, engaged i n the process of c o n s t i t u t i n g s k i l l f o r the purposes of i n s t r u c t i o n , a r i s e and derive t h e i r sense as a manifestation of the realignment of educational p o l i c i e s to f i t the changing requirements f o r pro d u c t i v i t y and accumulation. As such, they are part of the enterprise of "comprehensive management of the hegemony of c a p i t a l " (Smith and Smith 1987), a r t i c u l a t i n g educational a c t i v i t y at the l o c a l l e v e l to the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s - o f c a p i t a l . Viewed i n t h i s context, the continuing evolution of competency-based education ceases to appear as a confused and dysfunctional attempt to "improve learning", as argued by the educators c i t e d i n Chapter One, and comes into focus instead as an orderly, r a t i o n a l , and increasingly sophisticated approach to the problem of "good management p r a c t i c e " i n the context of public p o l i c y . I t has served as a powerful i d e o l o g i c a l force and a central t o o l of educational reform i n the post-compulsory sector of education and t r a i n i n g i n the l a s t decade. 245 EDUCATIONAL CRISIS, IDEOLOGY AND REFORM The concepts of s k i l l and competence are c e n t r a l pieces of the " i d e o l o g i c a l currency" of the process of p o l i c y realignment i n education. They tra n s l a t e the requirements of a production process into a form i n which they can be expressed as the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of i n d i v i d u a l s . They have been used to s h i f t the dominant understanding of the goals and objectives of vocational learning from the standpoint of the i n d i v i d u a l to the standpoint of the employer, thus appropriating the enterprise of vocational i n s t r u c t i o n to serve the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of c a p i t a l . In t h i s capacity, competency-based curriculum pr a c t i c e s i l l u s t r a t e the understanding of "ideology" which Marx and Engels point toward i n The German Ideology, i . e . a form of p r a c t i c a l reasoning about society that i s s o c i a l and h i s t o r i c a l and i n t e g r a l to the way i n d i v i d u a l s l i v e and work. In t h i s view, ideology does not occur as ideas which shape consciousness; ideology i s part of an organization of consciousness which i s inseparable from i t s material and s o c i a l dimensions. I t i s a form of s o c i a l p r a c t i c e through which things get done (Smith 1987b). In the current climate of vocational reform, the notion of competence i s well on i t s way to becoming the dominant form of such a s o c i a l consciousness of education for work. I t increasingly provides the images and methods of knowing through which the process of vocational education i s a v a i l a b l e to be thought and expressed (Smith 1975), and i t gives s p e c i f i c i t y to 246 such a s o c i a l imagination at the l e v e l of routine i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements. Competency measures a l i g n the work of l o c a l educators i n the college s e t t i n g to a public p o l i c y process through the mediation of a documentary organization of curriculum decision-making. They provide an o b j e c t i f i e d and externalized mode of i n s t i t u t i o n a l action through which in d i v i d u a l s appear not as the subjects of vocational learning but as the object of vocational p o l i c y and the product of warranted curriculum procedures. Curriculum decisions are removed from t h e i r grounding i n the r e l a t i o n between teachers and learners and lodged i n an organizational process oriented to the imperatives of i n s t i t u t i o n a l management and public p o l i c y . In t h i s transformation, curriculum decisions enter an i d e o l o g i c a l mode, mediated by a documentary process, and a v a i l a b l e to a textual discourse within the state. "Needs" and "competencies" come to be attr i b u t e d to employers and students respectively as c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of t h e i r r e l a t i o n to a work process on the job, but t h e i r status as such depends upon a highly i d e o l o g i c a l process of s o c i a l construction. COMPETENCE AND TEXTUAL MEDIATION In the documentary mode, the i n s t r u c t i o n a l process i s represented as o b j e c t i f i e d and externalized, concealing the presence of i t s various subjects and authors - employers, 247 i n s t r u c t o r s and learners a l i k e - as interested i n d i v i d u a l s i n p a r t i c u l a r s o c i a l locations. In t h e i r place are inserted the abstract e n t i t i e s of an administrative r e l a t i o n . Decisions come forward i n the passive voice, appearing to " j u s t happen" i n a remote but duly authorized process, and learners become "through-puts" i n an accounting system where they remain i n v i s i b l e as active subjects of t h e i r own learning. This abstract r e l a t i o n i s the c e n t r a l achievement of the systematic approach to curriculum. These abstract r e l a t i o n s are inscribed i n the documents of the curriculum process, which become the i d e o l o g i c a l constituents of a bureaucratic course of action. Their power to serve i n t h i s capacity depends not upon t h e i r technical adequacy or accuracy i n r e f l e c t i n g a s o c i a l r e a l i t y , but upon the conditions of t h e i r production as an organizationally warranted account and the basis for i n s t i t u t i o n a l action. The documents themselves come to constitute the "actual" for the purposes of the organizational action which they organize and intend. For example, i f administrators want to e s t a b l i s h that competency-based i n s t r u c t i o n i s i n place i n t h e i r i n s t i t u t i o n , they do not take a s t r o l l through college classrooms to see whether i n s t r u c t i o n i s taking place i n the required form. Rather, t h e i r method of "knowing" about the achievement of competency-based i n s t r u c t i o n i s through a process of textual mediation. Relying on the documents of the curriculum process, 248 Treasury Board "can t e l l " or "can see" that employers are being asked to e s t a b l i s h program objectives, that courses have been reviewed and revised accordingly, and that t h i s process of review and r e v i s i o n i s being conducted on a recurring basis. In other words, they "can see" that the curriculum process i s "competency-driven". These documentary forms of action make the practice of vocational education reportable i n the terms of the l e g i s l a t i v e and p o l i c y mandates of the college system, and make the practice of management and administration accountable on these terms. Through t h i s organization of educational action, the form of 'competence' which i s the product of public p o l i c y i s not a measure of i n d i v i d u a l student achievement nor an i n d i c a t i o n of the capacity of ind i v i d u a l s to perform on the job. Rather, i t i s a p a r t i c u l a r method of administering and managing the del i v e r y of in s t r u c t i o n , i n which "relevance" to the "needs of industry" i s made accountable i n organizational terms. The needs inscribed i n the documents of the curriculum process are not those of learners, but of the managers of both learning and work processes, including the process of bourgeois r u l e . Thus, i n the competency mode, learning i s displaced by managing as the form of praxis which gives shape to c u r r i c u l a r organization. This organization of vocational provision i n the public sector constitutes a l i t t l e examined aspect of the transformation of the pra c t i c e of state r e l a t i o n s i n the sphere of education. The r e l a t i o n s of competency accomplish an extension of the 249 r e l a t i o n s of bourgeois r u l e into new educational t e r r i t o r y by appropriating to the state the work of regulating the form and content of vocational learning, i n the service of c a p i t a l i s t expansion. This process of a r t i c u l a t i o n was previously accomplished within the terms of a professional r e l a t i o n s h i p between vocational educators and employers. Under the competency system, i t i s mediated by the routine management processes of p u b l i c educational i n s t i t u t i o n s . College i n s t r u c t o r s experience t h i s change as a reorganization of control over t h e i r work. In the analysis undertaken here, t h i s experience can be seen more broadly as a manifesation of the changing organization of the state and of the p r a c t i c e of ' l o c a l state' r e l a t i o n s (Cockburn 1977) i n the education sector. [ 3] POLITICAL ECONOMY AND "MICRO-ANALYSIS" This analysis has attempted to approach p o l i t i c a l economy through the advice of Marx and Wittgentstein about the embeddedness of language i n s o c i a l l i f e . [ 4] I have traced the concept of competence to i t s "home" i n a public discourse about educational management and economic performance, and i n a p a r t i c u l a r organization of i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements i n the college s e t t i n g . Using these i n v e s t i g a t i v e procedures, I have found that the primary acting subjects of the r e l a t i o n s of "competence" i n vocational education are i n s t r u c t o r s , employers and administrators, whose actions are organized by the documents of the competency-based curriculum process. 250 This approach to analysis provides a dynamic and m a t e r i a l i s t view of the r e l a t i o n between the "concreta of pedagogic l i f e " and the arena of s o c i a l and economic action. I t begins to reveal how everyday a c t i v i t y i n the sphere of education i s part of the extended organization of the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of c a p i t a l i s t production, i n other words, how i t i s part of a p o l i t i c a l economy of education. However, instead of making i t s subjects disappear behind the broad brush of "structure" and "forces" of history, t h i s approach to p o l i t i c a l economy leaves i n d i v i d u a l s i n t h e i r place as the acting subjects of the s o c i a l ordering which they bring into being. This emphasis notwithstanding, t h i s analysis shares with others i n p o l i t i c a l economy a concern with h i s t o r i c a l struggle and i t s r e l a t i o n to the organization of domination under capitalism. Indeed, the current study explores the continuing contest for control over workers 1 knowledge and readiness to labour, and the impact on that struggle of contemporary forms of state p r o v i s i o n and regulation of vocational i n s t r u c t i o n . Such a study shows a great deal about how domination i s organized i n the current h i s t o r i c a l period through the use of r a t i o n a l / s c i e n t i f i c , objective models of systematic management. The adoption of such an approach to vocational learning has not, as Bobbitt argued [ 5] and contemporary educators may have hoped, mitigated the r e l a t i o n of antagonism between the employer and the worker. Rather, t h i s h i s t o r i c a l antagonism has been i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d by systematic 251 c u r r i c u l u m methods. I t has come t o be embedded i n the procedures f o r r a t i o n a l o b j e c t i v i t y i n i n s t i t u t i o n a l p r o c e s s e s , and thus become p a r t o f the f a b r i c o f v o c a t i o n a l i s m as a s t a t e e n t e r p r i s e . The h i s t o r i c a l concern o f workers t o make the l e a r n i n g p r o c e s s serve t h e i r i n t e r e s t s i s s y s t e m a t i c a l l y suppressed by competency measures and excluded from the i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangements of p u b l i c e d u c a t i o n . Competency-based c u r r i c u l u m measures have a s i g n i f i c a n t impact on t h i s h i s t o r i c a l s t r u g g l e . They enhance the c a p a c i t y o f managerial i n t e r e s t s , both i n i n d u s t r y and the s t a t e , t o d e f i n e how knowledge and s k i l l are d e f i n e d and o r g a n i z e d and how they are a t t r i b u t e d t o i n d i v i d u a l s i n the working p o p u l a t i o n . I n s t i t u t i o n a l i z a t i o n o f t h i s h i s t o r i c a l antagonism has an impact on the t e r r a i n o f s t r u g g l e over v o c a t i o n a l l e a r n i n g and has i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r how r e s i s t a n c e t o these hegemonic forms might be o r g a n i z e d . That i s , a n a l y s i s o f f o r c e s o f change and p l a n n i n g f o r r e s i s t a n c e must take i n t o account not o n l y the l o c a t i o n and a l l e g i a n c e o f i n d i v i d u a l s i n r e l a t i o n t o a c o n v e n t i o n a l m a r x i s t s e t of c l a s s c a t e g o r i e s , but a l s o the way i n which the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s o f c a p i t a l i s t domination are embedded i n i n c r e a s i n g l y complex forms of s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n and i n s t i t u t i o n a l p r o c e s s , such as those examined here. Thus, o p p o s i t i o n must i n v o l v e a s t r a t e g y f o r the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f dominant forms o f i n s t i t u t i o n a l r e l a t i o n s , through a c t i o n s t h a t are s p e c i f i c t o the contemporary o r g a n i z a t i o n o f c a p i t a l . T h i s u n d e r t a k i n g may i n c l u d e r e n o v a t i n g some of our n o t i o n s o f " c o l l e c t i v e a c t i o n " t o f i t our changing circumstance. 252 A c r i t i c a l step toward the p o s s i b i l i t y of a l l such forms of resistance i s for educators to become more c r i t i c a l l y aware of how t h e i r own everyday practice i s implicated i n the larger s o c i a l arrangements of domination and subordination, and to consider how t h e i r own d a i l y p r actice may thus become the ground for more e f f e c t i v e p o l i t i c a l struggle (see Weiss 1985, Everhart 1983, Nunan 1983). I w i l l return to t h i s problem below. IMPLICATIONS: QUESTIONS NEITHER ASKED NOR ANSWERED According to administrators c i t e d i n Chapter Eight, there remain some questions that the competency system "doesn't ask" because i t "doesn't want to know". The i n t e r e s t i n g point to ponder, of course, i s what doesn't i t want to know? According to one i n s t r u c t o r at West Coast College, "most of the most important things we would want to know" about education f a l l i n t h i s category. Obviously the notion of "important things" i s not an absolute or universal category, but t h i s voice does encourage an exploration of what may be lurking i n these b l i n d spots. This involves examining vocational education from outside the standpoint of i t s governance, and l i s t e n i n g to voices that are rout i n e l y silenced. I f we pay attention to s t o r i e s being t o l d at the margins of the competency e d i f i c e , various forms of "trouble" come into 253 focus. They a r i s e from the problem of "disjuncture" i n the "c o n s t i t u t i o n of the actual", which l i e s at the foundation of the competency system as a t o o l of public p o l i c y . [ 6] They begin to reveal the experience of those who are the objects of a p o l i c y process which does not r e f l e c t t h e i r r e a l i t y and does not respond to t h e i r i n t e r e s t s and concerns. For example, there i s some evidence of "trouble" i n the de facto performance a b i l i t i e s of graduates, although t h i s complaint i s hard to assess since l i t t l e or no systematic data i s c o l l e c t e d . A number of anecdotal reports to t h i s e f f e c t came to me during the course of my f i e l d work, including one account of a l o c a l autombile mechanics course organized on a competency basis. The i n s t r u c t o r from t h i s course reported h i s own growing discomfort about graduating students who could perform discrete mechanical re p a i r tasks but had no " f e e l for the engine" (74:23) His assessment of t h i s s i t u a t i o n i s expressed by h i s c r y p t i c assertion, "I c e r t a i n l y wouldn't h i r e them i n my garage!" (74:24). Such reports are suggestive of the legacy of a curriculum system oriented to administrative rather than educational effectiveness. Trouble i s also beginning to appear i n the form of growing uneasiness or d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n among employers, l i k e those c i t e d i n Chapter Six, faced with a system which routinely l i m i t s aspects of t r a i n i n g related to growth-potential beyond entry-l e v e l performance. Such a system jeopardizes the long term 254 v i a b i l i t y of workers' knowledge, which has negative implications fo r employers as well as employees that are overlooked i n the rush to solve short-term p o l i t i c a l problems with educational solutions. These and other forms of trouble come from aspects of the educational process i n which the competency approach "doesn't ask" questions, and indeed, has no answers. That i s , i r o n i c a l l y , the competency approach to curriculum reform f a i l s to address questions and concerns about the v i a b i l i t y , f o r i n d i v i d u a l s or for the society, of the mode of vocational learning which i t champions. This i s because, as an information system, competency methods are designed to do something else, i . e . to produce a "managed form of educational p r a c t i c e " (Nunan 1983:1). Other goals and objectives are systematically excluded by the competency approach, and as such, become unavailable as the basis of i n s t i t u t i o n a l action. Experience with such information systems as the basis of management pr a c t i c e i s not l i m i t e d to education, and the evidence about t h e i r i d e o l o g i c a l character i s mounting, for example, i n s o c i a l and community services, health care, and personnel administration. [ 7] Such systems operate from the standpoint of those who govern and make the s o c i a l processes knowable and actionable only from t h i s l o c a t i o n . This i s central to t h e i r hegemonic character. However, they routinely do not accomplish the kind of transformation i n the everyday l i v e s of ordinary 255 i n d i v i d u a l s which are the basis of t h e i r p u blic promises, such as the popular claim that the "competency" approach to education w i l l make in d i v i d u a l s more "competent" i n adult l i f e . [ 8] In the present study, I have not pursued and explored the moments of contradiction which have become v i s i b l e within the pra c t i c e of competency-based curriculum measures, but t h e i r presence does suggest f r u i t f u l areas f o r further research. One l i n e of in v e s t i g a t i o n would be about how such moments can inform stra t e g i e s of resistance among p r a c t i c i n g educators, who l i v e and work i n these contradictory r e l a t i o n s on a d a i l y basis. For instance, are there ways to magnify and accentuate the marginal "trouble" reported here, to maximize i t s p o t e n t i a l to undermine the competency e d i f i c e from within? How might such a form of resistance be organized? This study has not included an exploration of such a c t i v i t i e s of resistance p r i m a r i l y because at West Coast college, the competency regime was too new f o r such stra t e g i e s to have taken hold. Future research, however, might u s e f u l l y include an examination of whether and how such measures a r i s e and might be encouraged among dissenting teachers i n a competency-based environment. A second pressing l i n e of questioning f o r progressive educators concerns the search for a p o s i t i v e p o l i c y a l t e r n a t i v e , that i s , an approach to vocational/technical learning that s a t i s f i e s r e a l s o c i a l needs. Such an objective would require a p o l i c y undertaking of an e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t kind than the 256 competency regime explored here. Although most of what might be involved i n designing " i n s t i t u t i o n a l arrangments" to serve a broader v i s i o n of vocational learning i s beyond the scope of even the most speculative moments of t h i s t h esis, some implications for t h i s question can be gleaned from the present study. Foremost among them i s the evidence that the enhancement of vocational learning w i l l require a method of "knowing" the educational enterprise that i s more grounded i n and responsive to classroom p r a c t i c e . Nunan (1983:5-6) refe r s to t h i s as a "classroom f l o o r view" of the educational process. Such an approach to organizing the educational process means in e v i t a b l y s i d i n g with the p r a c t i t i o n e r and with p r a c t i c a l contextual knowledge (Nunan 1983:115; Duckworth 1984). I t means accepting the idea that effectiveness i n teaching depends upon in t e r p r e t a t i o n and judgment that cannot be externalized as rules and formulas. I t means giving up the notions that teaching and learning can be adequately represented by abstractions i n the name of e f f i c i e n c y and accountablity (Nunan 1983:5-6,115). In other words, as a handful of c r i t i c s are beginning to argue, we must "cease searching for simple solutions" (Apple, 1979:108) and "easy answers" (Holt 1987), stop "ti n k e r i n g i n s u p e r f i c i a l ways" (Wise 1979:68) with "outcomes" and "through-puts" of the educational process. We must pry the p o l i c y apparatus away from i t s r e l i a n c e on vocational education as a p o l i t i c a l 'quick f i x ' to economic i l l s . The r e a l questions and answers are not easy ones. They l i e at the heart of the 257 educational enterprise: What i s worth teaching and learning? How can we make teaching and learning a v i t a l and rewarding process f o r both teachers and learners? How are we to b u i l d a form of education which contributes to a more democratic society? These unasked questions point to the r e a l dilemmas of public p o l i c y i n the vocational arena. 258 ENDNOTES (CONCLUSION) 1. Of course, there are many other aspects of reform associated with the competency approach, such as self-pacing and i n d i v i d u a l i z a t i o n of i n s t r u c t i o n , which have not been examined here and do have a major impact on student learning experience. 2. The mechanisms of e x p l i c i t suppression referred to here are examined p r i m a r i l y i n Chapters Five and Six. 3. See the previous discussion of the state at the end of Chapter Two, pages 73-75. 4. See Chapter Three for t h i s discussion. 5. Bobbitt (1913) argued that the h i s t o r i c a l antagonism between c a p i t a l and labour could be resolved through a process of r a t i o n a l analysis to determine the one best way fo r production functions to be performed. 6. See t h i s discussion i n Chapter Eight. 7. See Campbell (1988, 1984), Ng (1988), Reimer (1987), Cassin 1988. 8. According to Harold S i l v e r , t h i s character of public p o l i c y i s unremarkable i n h i s t o r i c a l terms. 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