Saturday, August 14, 2010

Taylorism in education

Taylorization (or Taylorism) refers to the process of "scientific management" developed by the American engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor, who in the 1880's, "appl[ied] the principles of engineering precision" to the management of labor in factories (Tozer, et. al., 2002, p. 90). His research into "where time, materials, and effort were being wasted" focused on "break[ing] down each complex, skilled task into its component parts-simple moves that could be taught in a short time" (p. 90).

In much discourse, Taylorization is a negative deskilling process in which workplace design insures that few marketable skills are required by workers, resulting in "a greater number of unskilled workers, and a corresponding decrease in workers' wages and power to decide on the conditions of their labor" (p. 90). Critical educational theorists (see Critical Pedagogy) have tied Taylorization to efforts by states and others to prescribe curriculum content and enforce punitive assessment policies, such as those mandated by recent No Child Left Behind education reforms. Such policies are viewed by some as constraining teacher autonomy and professionalism.

Below are some interesting quotes on Taylorization:
  • All possible brainwork should be removed from the shop and centered in the planning or laying-out department. (p. 91) -- Frederick Winslow Taylor, quoted in Tozer et. al.
  • The first implication of this principle is that Taylor's "science of work" is never to be developed by the worker, always by management. -- Harry Braverman, from Labor and Monopoly Capital
  • The Taylorization of the work process, as it is manifested in schools, represents one of the greatest structural constraints that teachers face, i.e., it isolates teachers and reifies hierarchical forms of decision-making and authoritarian modes of control. (p. 242) -- Henry Giroux, from Theory and Resistance in Education
  • Recently, a number of curricular theorists have pointed to the production of curriculum packages that promote what has been called teacher de-skilling (Apple 1981; Buswell 1980). Rather than promote conceptual understanding on the part of the classroom teacher, these curriculum 'kits' separate conception from execution. [ . . . ] Assembly-line control, in this case, parades as the newest insight in curriculumdevelopment. (p. 69-70) -- Henry Giroux, from Theory and Resistance in Education
- Braverman, H. (1974). Labor and monopoly capital: The degradation of work in the Twentieth Century. New York: Monthly Review Press.
- Tozer, S.E., Violas, P.C., Senese, G. (2002). School and society: Historical and contemporary perspectives. New York: McGraw Hill.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...