A sociological analysis of Australia's NAPLAN and my school senate inquiry submissions: The adultification of childhood?

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Growing consensus in popular and academic commentary suggests the lived reality of Western childhood differs considerably from its dominant cultural construction as an innocent period free from adult responsibilities. Sociologically, this disjuncture is conceptualised as adultification. Adopting a critical theoretical lens, we question if Australian high-stakes standardised testing and reporting, National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) and My School, evidences adultification of childhood experience in primary and secondary schools. Qualitative critical analysis of 270 submissions to NAPLAN's 2010 Senate Inquiry demonstrates adultification in Australian schools, with children subjected to developmentally inappropriate expectations, pressure, stress and precocious knowledge in response to NAPLAN testing and reporting. Adultification, we argue, is a side-effect of individualisation, managerialism and neo-liberal government policy played out in Australian schools and exposing children to the harsh realities of political, economic and social life. De-politicalisation and de-marketisation of children is argued as urgently needed to foreground a critically considered 'best practice' when promoting or measuring educational progress and performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-185
Number of pages16
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


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