Dewey, Freire and student engagement: a critique of tertiary education policy in Ireland and New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
An interest in the connection between engagement and learning in education has a long tradition from Aristotle to, among others, Dewey and Freire. In recent years there has been increasing discussion of student engagement in the university. Much of this discussion emphasises the importance of economic competitiveness and the development of human capital in tertiary education policy. This thesis explores whether tertiary education policy aims are consistent with student engagement in Ireland and New Zealand. To critically evaluate this area of policy the thesis engages with the work of Dewey and Freire. For Dewey and Freire, engagement, learning and the formation of the student in education are inextricably linked. It is argued that the aims and purposes of tertiary education, in Irish and New Zealand, policies limit possibilities for students to engage in their education. For Freire education is always a political process, and it follows that contemporary policy outlines a particular political and ethical vision of the university. Explicitly, this thesis engages with three neoliberal policy ideas that are inconsistent with calls for student engagement: the market orientation of the aims and ends of education; the prominence of an instrumental form of skills education within tertiary education policy; and, the organisation of the university under managerialism.