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Catching the Knowledge Wave?: The knowledge society and the future of public education in New Zealand

Author(s): 
Jane Gilbert

Over the last six years or so, the New Zealand government main policy focus has been on improving our economic performance. A key aspect of this focus is an emphasis on innovation and knowledge development – in particular, the cross-disciplinary Knowledge Wave and Growing an Innovative New Zealand projects. These projects make it clear that a ‘quality’ education system is seen as being the solution to many of the problems we face as we try to become a ‘knowledge-based’ society.


This chapter argues that the current government’s focus on ‘quality’—that is, improving what we do now—will not produce the kind of education system we need if we are to participate in the knowledge-based societies of the future. Recent education policy has clearly been influenced by some Knowledge Society ideas.  However, it neglects other Knowledge Society ideas, some of which are highly significant for educationists. This chapter explores two of these ideas. It looks at what the Knowledge Society is, focusing in particular on knowledge’s new meaning and its consequences for conventional understandings of identity/individuality. Then it explores the implications of this for our education system. It argues that while these new ideas are deeply challenging to many of the assumptions our education system was built on, they also allow us to ‘think outside the square’ with respect to some of education’s most difficult and long-standing problems—in particular, the problem of educational inequality.


Book Chapter in: Education policy directions in Aotearoa/New Zealand.  J. Codd & K. Sullivan (Eds.). South Bank, Vic.: Thomson Dunmore Press, 2005. p. 53-70

Year published: 
2005
Publication type: 
Book chapter
Full text download: 
not full-text
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Jane Gilbert