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The 'Grand Simulation' and Dreams of Success by Assessment: Baudrillardian reflections on (trans-)national school policy

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Since the 1990s, European school policy has been steered by management
dreams that systematic monitoring and assessment would
guide schools and society toward a future of greater quality, efficiency,
and growth. This article, drawing on Jean Baudrillard,
explores whether it makes sense to rearticulate this dream of optimization
by assessment in terms of a ‘grand simulation’ that brings
into circulation a play of signs in terms of global quantifiable
comparability supported by the aura of objectivity, statistics and
big data. Does this dream of optimization suck us into a virtual
world of ‘ingrowing obesity,’ where an uninterrupted supply of
statistics and digital platforms loosens our grip on the real by the
alchemical use of numbers, algorithms, and signs? The article
argues that by observing school policy as seductive effects of
a larger crisis-producing and competition-motivating (self-)assessment
simulation, it becomes possible to rearticulate a persistent
trend in (trans)national school policies in a language different from
this trend’s own self-referencing logic – and thus to question the
trend itself. Danish school policy demonstrates as a European
national case how the simulation changed local educational traditions
by building up a national curriculum that made schools and
students comparable and hereby amenable to increased

Received 20 May 2019
Accepted 2 September 2019
TidsskriftJournal of Education Policy
Sider (fra-til)24-43
Antal sider20
StatusUdgivet - 2021

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