zoom classroom

In search of profit, the growth of managerialism and marketisation of education crippled the abilities of teachers and destroyed institutions of learning all over the world. The managerialist revolution in education is designed to transform education as a commodity for sale by privatisation. The processes of commodification and privatisation of education is central to the principles of market in education for profit.  Educational institutions are becoming certificate selling supermarkets, which treat students as cash cows and teachers as salesperson.  The introduction of league tables and rankings based on metric driven ‘evaluation of teaching, learning, student satisfaction, and research impact’ promotes the culture of Taylorism, to implement values of efficiency, productivity, and output, which destroys the critical and creative space within teaching and learning.  Management led teaching and learning gives a false sense of democratic space with the idea of peer review culture, where control is exercised in such a way that it looks as if it is a means of professional growth and development for one’s own good. It degrades the moral foundations of teaching and learning as a profession for public good.

Educational environment is further destroyed by managerial culture of command, communication, and control system in which teaching is managed by people who never taught in their life and research is managed by people without any form exposer to research. Such a system creates an incompetent, unethical, unprofessional managerial class in education sector that eats away the soul of education. These incompetent tick box managers are given power to mismanage the place by which they can create their own workload by organising constant useless meetings. These managerial class pretend with confidence as if they know the issues of teaching and research. These manager’s Shakespearean acting skills in the meetings can seriously put professional actors in doubt. The rhetoric, diction and language of the managers sounds as if they care of students and staffs. In reality, they only care about their salary seeking positions and promotions. They run public funded educational institutions like their own family firms.

The growth of managerial parasites in education destroy the collective culture of knowledge, where teaching is a learning process and learning is a process to produce knowledge and skills. Teachers and students learn from each other without thinking about essentialist and functional approach of the managers, and their workload model for staffs, and contact hours for students. Such a profound negative transition in education sector is not only a challenge for students and staffs but also a threat to education itself. It has enormous negative impacts on women, working classes, LGBTQ, and ethnic minorities.  It is becoming an alienating experience for students and staffs working within marketised education sector.

The pestilence of coronavirus spread gives breathing space to managers by shifting the focus from the perils of managerialism and failures of marketisation of education to question of sustainability of market led educational institutions. Instead of addressing the long-standing issues within education sector, the managerial elites find instant solution by offering massive online courses. It changes the very foundation of teaching and learning in a classroom environment. Online classes in the Zoom, Microsoft Team, BlueBotton and other web conferencing applications can never replace classroom teaching. It only further accelerates existing problems of education sector.

The classroom challenges shape teachers and teaching as a profession. The distinctive pleasure of teaching in a classroom comes from the students who shape the art of teaching. It takes long time to internalise teaching skills and develop as a teacher in the laboratory of classrooms. Every class adds new experiences both for the students and teachers. The online platforms can never recreate the teaching and learning environment that a classroom offers. The interactive and participatory pedagogy of teaching and learning dies its natural death in online platforms where teachers look at students as dots in computer screen. The classroom offers limitless possibilities to engage with students, their excitements and their boredoms. So, online teaching and learning is not only short-sighted but also reductionist that destroys the organic space between a teacher and students. In this way, COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a severe crisis within the traditional pedagogy of teaching and learning.

Teachers and students are not zombies. The zooming online is a medium of interactions, and not a teaching and learning method. Any attempt to replace classrooms with online platforms destroy the very idea of teaching and learning. Technology and virtual leaning environment enhance the abilities of a teacher and student. It cannot replace a teacher. The etiquettes of classroom teaching instil qualities like determination, focus, peer interactions, intercultural communication skills, debating abilities, public speaking and engagement skills via eye gaze. These are invaluable skills for the students and teachers. These set of important skills are more valuable in life than curriculum driven skills and certificates. The managerial class is drunk with the bad cocktail of ignorance and arrogance so much, that they failed to understand the importance of these skills.

The managerial stubbornness of market logic in education and its failures are under the carpet of the pestilence infused crisis management. It is disempowering for both students, teachers and few academic leaders. In one hand, this crisis is an opportunity for managerial class to hide their failures. In other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic is also exposing the limits of marketisation of education. It is revealing the thoughtless and distorted managerial response to crisis. It is an opportunity for students and teachers to refuse the culture of business as usual in post pandemic education sector. It is not the individualised, selfish and brutish managerialism but the struggle for alternatives, that comes from collective experiences and understandings. The survival of teachers and teaching as a profession depends on how we steer the struggle for alternatives within and outside the education sector. It can offer a better tomorrow for critical and creative space for teaching and learning in a post pandemic world if we fight against the twin evils of managerialism and marketisation of education. It is important to remember that education is not merely essential for employment but a tool of emancipation.

Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Coventry University, UK


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13 Comments

  1. Vanita Kulkarni says:

    I fully agree with you.In my opinion chalk and talk is the best method,wherein the teacher develops the topic and leaves a visual impact on the minds of the learners.
    Peer interactions build confidence and helps in overall development of the students.

  2. Prof VB Kakade says:

    Summarised the issues in nutshell
    Needs to make a movement

  3. Dr R Devanand says:

    How true!
    It’s a deadly combination of covid 19 and the capitalistic aspirations/priorities of the society that’s augmenting the physical invisibility of teachers…

  4. Siddhartha Pattanaik says:

    Each and every word of expression of the article, is thoroughly realised concern of mine and regularly sensitised through action in and out of the educational settings at present, being away from any political opinion. The distortion of learning experiences itself lead to disempowering both teachers and students.

  5. Anupam Varshney Sharma says:

    Very well articulated write up….my best compliments to you, Dr Nayak. We too have been discussing the issues here in Delhi University, that you have brought to the fore! I hope good sense prevails on the policymakers to save the future of academics and academicians.

  6. Managerialism surfing up under Corona threat and may not vanish even after Corona leaves. More alarming is mass enrollment in higher education inclusive of disinterested students, who might prefer online zombie system. Teacher need to revamp and prepare for balanced IT usage in teaching. No system can be entrusted with a role of teacher giving discourse in presentia.

  7. Neeraj Saxena says:

    There is a polar change happening, education changing from teacher-centric to learner-centric. Online education is catalysing the change and Corona pandemic is going to accelerate it further. Teacher’s role as disseminator of knowledge will be lost to machines and they can have a place in the system, if they are enabler of innovation eco-system.

  8. Prof. M S R Murthy says:

    Nice analysis. Owing to importance given to engineering and management institution, this trend has emerged. In social sciences and other science subjects the class room teaching is best for the students. Here too traditional libraries have been replaced by internet browsing.

  9. Vibha Maurya says:

    Totally agree with you..it is a need of the hour to fight back against manegeralism and marketisation of education.

  10. Ramachandra murthy says:

    Class room environment is fine. How about looking or using online platform as an additional tool?

  11. R Palanivel says:

    The incursion of technology and business driven model of education have been actively promoted by not merely the so called managers but actively colluded by incompetent people who somehow managed to enter the system as faculty and majority of students wanting it easy. The long term immersive nature of learning was sidelined first and then dismissed as traditional stuff devoid of practical value. Such faculty, students wanting only the diplomas, the corporate and owners of self financing institutions constitute a powerful lobby. Most policy makers can be found using the terminology beneficial to that group. In India it has been a losing battle for those having concern for real education. It is difficult to feel optimistic about Covid-19 bringing back sanity. The managers would make this an opportunity for dumping more and more technology and see profit. The tick box methods have already done the damage. One doesn’t get to witness the introspective, contemplative, critical space in learning. A book like Alan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind(1987) often comes to mind.

  12. Rimpi Khillan says:

    It is the harsh reality of today’s time.They have ruined the very essence of education. Teachers have really become sales men
    and women. These days number of publications and research papers are important and quality is not. We are destroying everything around us.

  13. Keith C Dsouza says:

    Brilliant though disturbing point of view! The commodification we see happening in other human service related professions, particularly health care, is now infecting the education sector!