Education has been powerfully affected by the rise of a neoliberal political, economic and cultural agenda. The Australian experience since the 1980s is outlined. Educators need to understand neoliberalism, and also to think about the nature of education itself, as a social process of nurturing capacities for practice. Education itself cannot be commodified; but access to education can be. Markets require a rationing of education, and the creation of hierarchies and mechanisms of competition. Hence, the redefinition of schools and universities as firms, and the striking revival of competitive testing, as well as the expansion of public funding of private schools. Teachers are placed under performative pressures that tend to narrow the curriculum in schools, and make the sector's workforce more insecure. Even the knowledge base of education is impacted, with technicization of professional knowledge and a growth of cultural fakery around education. Bases for alternatives exist, but have not yet found institutional articulation.

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