Education is akin to the ‘tectonic plates’ that are in a state of constant movement and change. In this chapter educational policy and the possibilities for a paradigm shift in education are placed in the context of generic organisational trends that foreground participation and meaning. The argument is not that education should follow changes in the economy and other sectors. Rather, changes in education should be stimulated by innovations elsewhere, because it is both an ideal and an intensely practical activity. This introductory chapter discusses the emergence of a new democratic era that paved the way for institutional changes and new cultural ideas that opened up the possibilities for change. This change particularly resulted in the recasting of central governance. This combined with an admiration of the markets which championed the perceived superiority of private business dynamism and prioritised national competitiveness as the goal of public services, especially in education. The chapter also discusses the discernible signs and signals of change that point towards a progressive paradigm shift in education. It also tackles the concept of democracy which is a rich conception conceived as developmental or holistic democracy. This conception of holistic democracy encourages a particular stance on modernity and encourages a discourse which draws on concepts and ideas such as self-transcendence, creativity and re-integration of human capabilities with the aim of challenging the dominance of instrumental rationality and the alienating character of the social order. In addition to discussing the dominant themes of the book, the introductory chapter also provides an outline of the topics tackled in the succeeding chapters.
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