Critical discourse analysis identifies how schooling and teachers are represented in the media, and how education policy shapes, or is shaped by media discourse.
Although the book, focuses on the Queensland Curriculum Review, known as the Whiltshire Review (1992-1994), Thomas highlights several national issues regarding the influence of media in education discourse and it is easy to see its current relevance.
Thomas’s investigation adopts the Fairclough approach to Critical Discourse Analysis, analysing the linguistic characteristics of media texts as well as discussing the more complex relationship between governments as producers of education policy, media as distributers and the public as consumers.
Education policy is becoming heavily “mediatised”, as governments have increasingly utilised the media to shape the education debate in the public, to gain support for their policies for education reform. Blackmore and Thorpe (2003) found that in the 1990s it became popular for “governments to manufacture consent for change by mobilising popular opinion about education in ways which support radical reform toward more conservative structures”, therefore much of the media discourse was highly critical of the current education structures.
The media, in the process of these debates, fed into popular (mis)understandings about public and private education (Blackmore & Thorpe, 2003, p.582). Some of the popular misconceptions promoted by the media on the Australian education system are:
Blackmore J. & S. Thorpe (2003) Media/ting Change: the print media’s role in mediating education policy in a period of radical reform in Victoria, Australia, Journal of Education Policy, 18: 6, 577-595.
Thomas, S. (2011) Teachers and public engagement: an argument for rethinking teacher professionalism to challenge deficit discourses in the public sphere, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 32:3, 371-382.
Thomas, S. (2005) Education Policy in the Media: public discourses on education, Post Pressed.
Master of Education Policy (International), The University of Melbourne.