Editorial Damijan Štefanc
This issue of the Journal of Contemporary Educational Studies, the last in 2022,
brings together seven diverse scientific and professional articles.
In the first article, Igor Bijuklič analyses Drucker’s managerial newspeak in education.
The author starts by describing the origins and contemporary meaning of the
term newspeak and then, in the main part of his text, he demonstrates its implications
in the context of Drucker’s managerial revolution, which has fundamentally redefined
the meaning and role of knowledge, education and literacy, as evidenced by some of
Drucker’s central theorems, such as »economy of knowledge« or »knowledge societies«.
Since even elementary and general education is increasingly subject to pragmatism and
instrumentalisation in contemporary society, Bijuklič remarks that if education no longer
has its own objectives, it is also bereft of its own existence: as he writes, its purpose is
increasingly sought and justified externally, and its existence is substantiated in the pursuit
of objectives that are not its own. Such instrumentalisation sooner or later results
in a shrinking of the field’s capacity to invent a language to articulate fundamental educational
goals and the complexity of pedagogical dilemmas and relationships (including
the school–world relationship) that arise from them. The current situation, the author
writes, calls for such reinvention, since a significant part of the discourse on education
has become virtually stuck in irresolvable contradictions and nonsense – allowing the
language of instrumentalisation to continue unproblematically along with the remnants
of the humanist tradition, which we are not yet ready to give up at the superficial level,
but which we no longer seem to be serious about.
At least in terms of its fundamental critique of contemporary trends in education,
Bijuklič’s paper can be linked to the article by Andreja Hočevar, Mojca K. Šebart
and Mojca Lukan, who discuss some comparative aspects of preschool education in
Slovenia and Serbia, especially with regard to attitudes towards measuring the learning
outcomes of preschool children. In their study, the authors critically analyse some
of the influences of key international education policy actors – such as the OECD, the
World Bank and EU institutions – on preschool. They argue that these institutions are
primarily concerned with educating people who will respond quickly to the demands of
the labour market, while the process level and the educational objectives leading to an
autonomous and optimally developed personality do not feature prominently in their
considerations. They examine whether Slovenia and Serbia have followed similar or
different paths in the systemic and curricular development of preschool education since
the countries’ independence, and whether they have adhered to the expectations, recommendations
and initiatives expressed by the above-mentioned international institutions.
The answer is predictable: having analysed curricular documents and systemic changes,
Hočevar, K. Šebart and Lukan conclude that in both countries the documents and systemic
changes have at least partly fulfilled the expectations of the institutions, and there
is no sign of this changing in the future. This is problematic especially because of the
growing global tendency to increase the effectiveness of preschool education, which is
measured by children’s achievements in preschool education, and because of the quality
evaluation models that neglect process quality.
The following text addresses ethics in educational research. Žan Korošec outlines
how ethics has come to be established in pedagogical research, noting that its roots are
in the biomedical field. The author shows that sensitivity to the ethics of empirical re107
search has led to the establishment of ethics committees, which are now found in almost
every research institution. However, he is critical of these committees, particularly for
their excessive bureaucratisation, adherence to managerialism, avoidance of accountability,
and rigidity in assessing the merits of research proposals.
The next article, which deals with developing students’ competence for business
meetings in a foreign language, is perhaps a bit atypical for the Journal of Contemporary
Educational Studies, but it is certainly relevant. Mateja Dostal asks how foreign
language teachers can develop their students’ competence to interact correctly and appropriately
in business meetings conducted in a foreign language through appropriate
simulation. Based on her qualitative research, the author believes that the opportunities
in this area lie in the careful combination of activities that take place in virtual spaces
with those that take place and are tried and tested face to face. Despite the similarities
between face-to-face and virtual simulations, Dostal argues that the new virtual environment,
with its diverse possibilities, requires a lot of adaptation and expertise, including
technical skills, on the part of the teacher. This means that, in addition to all the
other preparation, he or she has to keep investing time and effort in the technical side
of the interaction in the virtual language classroom – which can be either an additional
incentive or an additional stress.
The Slovenian section of this issue is rounded off by a professional article by Tatjana
Kovač, who reflects on a new paradigm of school quality. The author starts by asking
whether the criteria for assessing quality capture all, or at least most, quality levels
in today’s and tomorrow’s higher education, and whether the lessons from research on
quality in primary and secondary school can be applied to higher education. The author
stresses that assessing school quality at all levels of education is a challenging and responsible
task that needs to encompass diverse perspectives on quality and understand
quality broadly enough. In doing so, both objective and subjective conditions of quality
need to be guaranteed: objective conditions ensure the formal functioning of the institution,
while subjective conditions are created by the people in the form of the institution’s
culture and climate, that is, its atmosphere and the way the institution operates.
The English section of the issue contains three contributions: in addition to the
translation of Bijuklič’s article mentioned above, there are texts contributed by authors
from Slovakia and Croatia.
In »Through Teachers’ Eyes: An Eye-Tracking Study of Classroom Interactions«,
Lenka Sokolová, Miroslava Lemešová, Patrik Hlaváč and Silvia Harvanová
write about the selective attention teachers pay to classroom events, which has an impact
on their classroom management as well as the pedagogical and didactic decisions
they make. The article by Zrinka Barić and Jasna Šulentić Begić inquires into the
pedagogical competences of teachers of theoretical music subjects in Croatia. According
to the authors, the choice of appropriate teaching methods, procedures and strategies,
which should be in line with the function and nature of theoretical music subjects, depends
mainly on the teacher’s competence and willingness to improve the educational
process. The findings of the empirical research study carried out by the authors also
highlight the importance of maintaining quality relationships with students and providing
support, which is even more pronounced in more experienced teachers.