The work of writers such as F.W.Taylor (1911) and H.Braverman
(1974) dominate sociological debates on deskilling, control of
the workforce and work organisation. Consequently they have been
a focus of much research. Taylor's "Principles of Scientific
Management" has been one of the most influential works concerning
the organisation of the factory shop floor and management
structure for a large part of this century.
For Taylor, controlling and planning tasks during the labour
process was an essential ingredient of gaining the upper hand
over the workforce. If management could devise and initiate the
framework of the labour process, particularly on the assembly
line, then control of the workforce and production would be in
their hands. A further important element was the process of
deskilling, which enhanced control. Before the Industrial
Revolution and during the early days of mechanisation, one is led
to believe that the craft worker had a large degree of autonomy
and discretion over the work he/she performed. One of the
characteristics of Taylorism is to reduce the element of worker
control. Thus the traditional craft skills were broken down into
small, manageable, standardised components, to be carried out by
unskilled or semi-skilled employees.
Writers such as Lane (1985) have taken the principles and
ideas outlined by Taylor and Braverman and applied them to
clerical work, in some cases with contrasting conclusions. The
work of Taylor has been applied in a manufacturing or industrial
context: Braverman (although mainly concerned with the craft
worker) attempted to broaden his theories to the office worker or
white collar worker. Since Braverman there has been a deluge of
research material covering white collar work but with the
exception of writers such as Shaw (1990), little research has
involved the teaching profession.
Teaching is potentially a rich and interesting area of
research and in many aspects it is unlike clerical work. At face
value the teacher seems to display a large degree of autonomy and
discretion, indeed control over the nature of his/her work. A
teacher even in recent times could choose between a variety of
syllabuses when deciding an approach that would best suit his/her
pupils. However, this measure of autonomy is disappearing with
the introduction of the "National Curriculum", and "Standard
Assessment and Testing in Schools". It would appear that
Taylorist ideas/techniques are slowly, perhaps for the first
time, beginning to infiltrate one of the areas of teaching that
has historically been looked upon as the teachers domain, the
In this way it can be argued that management, in the form of
central government (see chapter 2 for structure of management) is
gradually gaining dominance over the labour process, in teaching.
The "technology" of management is being introduced into the
"technology" of teaching. It can also be argued that the skill
content of several subjects is gradually been reduced. For
example, the introduction of "Balanced Science" rather than the
continuation of specialist subjects such as physics, chemistry
and biology is reducing the scope of skills. This draws a
parallel with Braverman's deskilling debate.
We are entering a period when the skills of teachers are
also under attack, with the introduction of licensed teachers
making it possible for relatively unqualified and therefore less
skilled people to enter the teaching profession. One of the
characteristics of Taylorism is to reduce employers requirement
for dependence on skilled workers. As a consequence the wage bill
can be reduced by employing unskilled or semi-skilled workers.
The prospect of licensed teachers raises the question - will this
be the case in teaching ?
Until recently teaching has been relatively untouched by the
introduction of technology and in particular office automation.
With the introduction of Local Financial Management (Local
Management of Schools) schools are solely responsible for
managing their own budgets. To help schools perform this function
there has in some cases been an introduction of computer
technology into the school office. For example, Salford Education
Authority, running LMS as a pilot scheme, have introduced a local
area network, connecting all the comprehensive schools and so
this offers a tool for direct managerial control.
Financial management of schools means that schools are more
likely to be run as a business consequently it is possible that
industrial management techniques will be applied. For the first
time teachers must be cost effective and schools must keep within
budget. To ensure this the management grip or control of the shop
floor workers (in this case the teachers) has to be strengthened.
The aim of this dissertation is to assess whether the
techniques put forward by F.W.Taylor are slowly becoming a
characteristic of the management of teaching. The latter half of
the dissertation is mainly concerned with the National Curriculum
and in particular the new subject Technology. The question is
asked - is the National Curriculum one of the features of a
Taylorist management strategy aimed at gaining control in as many
aspects of the labour process as possible ?