Abstract||The notion of Queensland as a ‘Smart State’ is the Queensland Beattie Government’s response to global conditions that require a new type of worker and citizen for a new knowledge economy. The role of education in the success of the ‘Smart State’ is clearly outlined in the Queensland Government’s vision statements and policies, identifying teachers as a key factor in the production of this new type of worker and citizen. In this study I explore the relationship between Queensland’s Smart State policy and the daily practices of teachers as they are implicated in the building of a ‘Smart State’.
The study takes place during what is unquestionably the largest and most comprehensive reform effort to be imposed on Queensland schools and teachers, under the auspices of a ‘Smart State’. The research includes policy analysis of two key Smart State documents, and fieldwork involving semi-structured interviews, observations and artefact collection of the work of two primary school teachers. Using Fairclough’s theories regarding the relationship between discourse and social change, it is possible to show how changes occurring in contemporary organisations are related to changes in discourse, in particular, those surrounding the discourses of a ‘knowledge economy’ or ‘globalisation’.
The ‘Smart State’ is conceptualised in this study as regimes of discourses that may produce new practices and new ways of acting and being (Fairclough, 2001a). The interdiscursive, linguistic and semiotic strategies used in Smart State policy are analysed to show how this discourse is emerging into a hegemonic position, while identifying the dominant discourses reiterated in the policy as necessary skills for a new type of worker. These discourses are mapped onto those identified through the fieldwork of teachers’ daily work practices to determine if Smart State discourses are becoming apparent in teachers’ work.
This study is significant because it makes visible the current relationship between the discourses of the ‘Smart State’ and teachers’ daily work. In this current climate of rapid change and economic survival it is important that the operationalization of a ‘Smart State’ can be attributed to teachers’ work as new ways of acting and interacting become a part of their daily practices.