The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 9–42 | Cite as

Can we escape the program? Inventing possible∼impossible futures in/for Australian educational research

  • Noel Gough


This essay brings together two lines of inquiry. Firstly, I revisit research on futures in education conducted during the 1980s and re-examine some of the propositions and principles that this research generated about “the future” as an object of inquiry in education. Secondly, I argue that the language of complexity invites us to rethink education in terms of emergence, and potentially destabilises the instrumentalist rationality that “programs” educational systems to privilege orderly and predictable processes culminating in stable output, a potentiality that may be undermined by a pervasive politics of complexity reduction. I conclude by drawing upon these two lines of inquiry to outline some strategies that might resist complexity reduction and catalyse emergence in Australian educational research as preconditions for inventing possible∼impossible futures.


Educational Research Educational Researcher Science Fiction Complexity Reduction Predictable Process 
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© Australian Association for Research in Education 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noel Gough
    • 1
  1. 1.La Trobe UniversityAustralia

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