Table of contents(23 chapters)
Research has established that reflective practice is a key to professionalization, but reflective practice requires data upon which to reflect. This research provides a two-year synthesis of data on comparative and international education scholarship, and the institutional, relational, topical, and methodological characteristics of the field producing this scholarship. By examining the scholarship published in comparative and international education journals in 2014 and 2015, analyses empirically examined the researcher characteristics, content coverage, and methodological approach of this published work. The analyses reported here find that about half of the publications in CIE in 2015 were by single authors and focused on single countries. The dominant methodology in the published scholarship continues to be overwhelmingly qualitative. This suggests that scholarship in comparative and international education over this two-year period may be characterized as single-author, single-country, qualitative case studies.
Part I Comparative Education Trends and Directions
Comparativists have been struggling with understanding the field of Comparative and International Education (CIE) for over 60 years. Analyses of CIE knowledge production meet at least three limiting factors: questions of what should be constituent themes of the field (or “nodes” to structure analysis); how to code individual manuscripts as belonging to one comparative field and not another (e.g. should a manuscript be coded according to its geographic focus, its methodology, educational focus, or all three?); and then finally, how to deal with knowledge production that is not published through recognized Journals or publication outlets. I use 100 submissions to the Comparative Education Review (CER) in 2015 as a way to deal with the latter constraint, suggesting that such analysis may reflect new trends in the field. Further, to deal with other constraints, I have coded each manuscript according to its methodology, geographic focus, theme, type of manuscript (e.g. single case or comparative), and author characteristics (location of author). In reviewing the submissions, I find that the field as seen from the perspective of the CER submissions is dominated by single case studies (58%), and that quantitative studies (41%) are becoming increasingly more prominent. The studies mostly are focused on higher education (32%) and secondary education (21%). Authors in majority (61%) are based in the area studied. As regards themes, there seem to be no unity or grand narratives in the field. Despite interesting new trends as related to location of authors, CIE appears dominated by fairly traditional and conservative discourses as related to themes and epistemologies.
This chapter seeks to explore the continuities and changes in the aims and scope of Compare over the past 46 years. While making explicit its development focus, and concern for human wellbeing in a context of growing inequalities, it has nevertheless remained open to the diversity in research questions, problems, methodologies and approaches in the study of educational policies, practices and systems, within a comparative framework. While describing the changes in the aims and scope of the journal, in light of emerging priorities, the chapter also focuses on innovations that have sought to make the journal inclusive of a multitude of different voices, breaking to some extent artificially imposed hierarchies of ‘whose voice counts’ within the academe.
As a field, comparative and international education has received a wash of attention in recent times. It is a field that is not easily defined, but beneath its fragmentations lies a vigorous, relevant, and determined foundation. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in particular the re-dedication of the international community to equitable education by 2030 present comparative and international education with a unique opportunity: to further define its nature and its purpose – against the backdrop of the current, highly volatile economic and socio-political environment; and to fulfill an important, concretely transformative role, with regard to the post-2015 global education agenda. The article provides a brief review of the journal Prospects over the past few years in terms of criteria it has set for itself; identifies directions that have emerged from the themes of its articles and the work of the International Bureau of Education (IBE), which can enrich comparative and international education; and concludes with suggestions about the future development of the field of comparative and international education.
In this chapter, we reflect on how we frame our research on international scholarship programs within the field of comparative and international education and identify perspectives that influence our research. We also briefly describe the theories that shape our research: human capital theory and sociological perspectives that emphasize the centrality of context. We discuss emerging research on international scholarship programs and identify fruitful future directions for comparative and international research on higher education.
In the United States and other Anglophone countries in the Global North, there exists a rich and lengthy literature on how white teachers and teachers-in-training can and should begin to recognize, question and challenge their own privilege. Indeed, entire literatures have been developed around problematizing whiteness, and teacher education programs regularly incorporate this literature into preservice courses as an expected part of teacher training. However, despite similar proportions of white educators and researchers-in-training in comparative and international education, a similarly thorough discussion and unpacking of privilege is relatively lacking. Comparative and international education graduate programs rarely (if ever) incorporate multicultural education courses similar to those that have become staples in North American teacher education, and the literature interrogating whiteness in comparative education is still nascent. However, in 2015 several significant steps forward were taken into this dearly needed conversation, opening potential lines of continued inquiry. This essay outlines and begins to explore several of these directions for the future of the field: namely, critical self-studies of comparative educators, ethnographic research of racial dynamics in international education development organizations, and critical discourse analysis of prominent documents in international education and their recognition (or lack of such) of the role of race in sustaining global educational inequities.
In the more than quarter century since commitments were made under Education for All, low- and middle-income countries have made considerable progress in ensuring that more students are enrolled in and completing primary schooling. However, despite lofty promises to improve literacy and numeracy for all, UNESCO estimates that more than 250 million children are not learning the basics. Currently, a limited number of practitioners and policy makers have access to information on how well students are learning to read and perform basic math. As access to technology and globalization continues to expand, we expect increased demand for and democratization of information on student learning, particularly in the Global South.
This chapter describes the influence of reading assessments at the child level on the focus on quality education in low-resourced contexts. Over the past decade, child-level assessment data have contributed to modifications in classroom instruction, teacher support, community engagement, and language policy. These data have led to the refinement of additional child-level and classroom-based assessments to inform and reflect context. Ultimately, the initial questions about child-level learning have facilitated successive improvements in understanding and bettering the results. This chapter suggests a prospective direction that the international education community should take to continue improving child outcomes.
In this chapter, I have attempted to highlight several aspects from two perspectives. The former is the perspective of the researcher who remembers his or her past as a student in a communist country, interpreting her lived experiences in light of their impact upon her education and teaching profession. The second perspective is that of the researcher who looks to the future, initially lacking in resources but willing to connect to the global research in his or her field of interest, educational ethics. The international studies that substantiated and inspired our research in the domain of educational ethics include philosophical works, moral psychology studies, and resources from sociology and organizational psychology as well as from pedagogy. Regarding the trends expected in comparative and international education, I have grouped them into three categories: (1) Trends related to the research themes in comparative education: many major themes of education have already been filtered or will be filtered through the comparative lens (the history of education, philosophy of education, curriculum and didactics, sociology of education, politics and economy of education and psychology of education); (2) Methodological trends – joint quantitative and qualitative methodology will support the research processes in comparative education; and (3) Trends regarding the impact of the research in comparative pedagogy: global models will inspire local initiatives, without being copied.
With increasing globalization and mass migration, nations around the world are facing new levels and new types of diversity. On one hand, increased diversity has prompted global attention to issues of human rights and related discourses of cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism, and cross-cultural tolerance. On the other hand, flows of diversity are sometimes linked to renewed nationalisms and xenophobia, and educational actors engage in new “bordering and ordering” processes (Robertson, 2011). Amidst these shifts, schools continue to be sites where complex global debates about diversity and national belonging play out in localized, “everyday” ways. In the quotidian activities of classrooms around the world, educators are expected to promote equality, build national unity, increase intergroup tolerance, and foster peace. Yet schools are inextricably linked to their sociopolitical contexts, and often reflect the exclusion, inequality, stratification, and xenophobia that exist outside of school walls. Scholars of Comparative and International Education (CIE) are uniquely positioned to examine how these complex dynamics of nation building and intergroup relations are negotiated in local-level curriculum, language practices, and pedagogical approaches. By comparing such dynamics on local, national, and global levels, scholars can interrogate how global discourses of human rights, multiculturalism, and cosmopolitanism play out in different contexts – and how such discourses are circulated, adapted, resisted, and appropriated by global and local actors.
The significant increase in refugees in Europe and worldwide during 2015 challenges the paradigm of refugee education. For many decades, ‘refugee education’ has been primarily associated with the education of refugees in countries far-away as the majority of the world’s displaced persons and refugees are hosted by countries in the Global South. However, the recent European ‘refugee crisis’, that is, the large influx of refugees and migrants in Europe, has definitely turned refugee education into a European issue. As refugee students from all over the world enter European classrooms, policy makers, educators and researchers need to rethink refugee education ‘at home’ in order to ensure quality and equity. As many refugees in Europe are here to stay, the challenge is how education can contribute to their inclusion in school as well as their integration into the host society. There is a great need for rethinking the education of refugees resettling in Europe and their inclusion in national school systems. How can universal principles of quality and equity for all students be implemented in national education policies, schools and classroom practice? The current challenges are complex and call for an interdisciplinary approach. Findings and perspectives from refugee education research as well as comparative and international education research can advance our understanding of these issues. This chapter argues for a holistic, whole-school approach to refugee education, which includes education policy, school structures, classroom practice, curricula, pedagogy and teaching materials, as well as cultural awareness and refugee competence.
The chapter reflects on research that rethinks classic concerns of comparative and international education – the relationships between education and work and the role of education in development. The promises of knowledge-led economic growth have instead yielded increased inequality, poverty, environmental degradation and a decline in the quality of life for the majority, whether in advanced economies of the North, or least developed economies of the South. For education and training systems, the ability to understand these complex social, economic and technological challenges, interpret implications and integrate new practices in response, becomes critical. We reflect on the use of an innovation systems approach in the South, over time, to investigate the ways in which higher education responds to and interacts with, demand for skills from the economy. By highlighting the role of university actors and their interaction in networks, comparative and international researchers can move beyond dominant human capital accounts that focus only on the responsibility of higher education to become more responsive to firms, or on individuals to prepare themselves to be more employable, in a mechanistic reactive manner. This is a promising new emphasis for comparative research.
Part II Conceptual and Methodological Developments
In November 2016, the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) reached a milestone 10 years since it was first developed as a tool to measure and report on student acquisition of foundational literacy skills, particularly in low and middle income countries. Since then, a number of observations have been raised with respect to the appropriateness of the tool for diverse contexts, the process of instrument adaptation, data collection logistics and their potential to affect the quality of the results, and the utility of the assessment in leading to literacy improvement. These issues are not often discussed in formal reports and published articles. In this commentary, the authors address these observations by reviewing the theoretical underpinnings and purpose of the EGRA, providing guidance on key aspects of EGRA design and implementation, and sharing their experience using EGRA in northern Nigeria for multiple data collections. This chapter is based on the direct involvement of the authors in several EGRA exercises conducted in Nigeria, from instrument conception to administration to results analysis.
Most traditional research approaches emerge from the position that all “good” research is “objective.” While this is critical for conducting scholarly inquiry, we contend that it is equally important to acknowledge the significant impact social, cultural, and political contexts have on the research process. That is, research is a malleable process informed and influenced by broader socio-political forces. Because research is not conducted in a vacuum, researchers have a duty to consider the context within which one engages in research. It also requires the researcher to understand their position or status along with their participants’ power and expertise when undertaking research studies, particularly in cross-contexts. In this chapter, we explore the nuances – some overt others subtle – that have informed and influenced how our cross-cultural team navigated our research spaces. The authors of this chapter are a cross-cultural team comprised of a White American and a Black African academic. Both the United States and South Africa have complex histories of race relations and racial identity within their broader socio-political context which must be considered when conducting research. Therefore, to dissociate and compartmentalize aspects of our identity when conducting research in these contexts may in fact compromise scholarly insights which might emerge from these contexts.
This chapter is a response to the article by Straubhaar (2015), ‘The stark reality of the “White Saviour” complex and the need for critical consciousness: a document analysis of the early journals of a Freirean educator’. Taking up a theme developed by Noah and Eckstein (1988) in relation to dependency theory, the paper argues that a Freirean analysis is an inadequate framework for the analysis of international development and intercultural exchanges. The central argument is that, by imposing a simplistic dichotomy of oppressors and oppressed, Freirean theory blinds the researcher to the nuanced interplay and complex power relationships that are involved in even apparently simple interactions. Most importantly, a Freirean analysis focuses attention on who makes a statement, rather than on what that statement is a statement about and whether it is true or not. This argument is developed through a reanalysis of some events Straubhaar documents in his account of his fieldwork.
Rolf Straubhaar’s 2015 article, “The Stark Reality of the ‘White Saviour’ Complex” is the author’s critical self-reflection as a young development worker in Mozambique confronting and developing his understandings of his position and privilege as an upper-middle income, White American. Drawing from his journal entries during a year working as an ethnographer for an education development project, Straubhaar interprets his activities and interactions as a Freirean educator and not surprisingly, finds himself falling short of those ideals. As a similarly situated upper-income White male whose earliest professional experiences were cross-cultural, and then international, many of Straubhaar’s reflections and self-checks rang true to me. But it also made me reflect on how the contexts in which I taught – a proudly community-controlled school on the Navajo Nation, and in public schools in Japan, were profoundly different from that of the author. In this chapter, I argue that Straubhaar’s experience wrestling with this the “White Saviour” necessitates deeper historical and cultural contextualization. In addition, I argue that Straubhaar’s interpretation of his hosts’ actions can be re-conceptualized through a reading of Marcel Mauss’ The Gift, as neutralizing the “White Saviour” by reciprocation. I will finish the article by briefly articulating some principles for pre-departure training for (White) Americans involved in international education and development to neutralize the White Savior.
Part III Research-to-Practice
This chapter provides a critical assessment of an article on higher education and economic development, by analyzing the ways the authors reflect on the importance of building technological capabilities. The need to demonstrate the use of evolutionary economics and innovation systems approach in demonstrating higher education contribution to economic growth motivated the article. The critique begins by examining the dominant theories and reflective pieces used by scholars to explain higher education’s contribution to economic development, and then situate the evolutionary economics and innovation systems approach used in the article in this discourse. This critical assessment also delves into how the article approaches the subject matter of higher education; and, the methods used to gather evidence for the case of higher education in South Africa. The chapter then condenses popular views on the role of higher education in economic development and assesses whether “building technological capabilities” is one such view or it is an emerging role. In conclusion, the chapter synthesizes the various sections in the article and isolates the key issues that underpin each of the sections and how each issue is manifested in the higher education sector. The conclusion unloads the overall construction of the article to succinctly knit the bigger argument advanced by the article and provide reasons for the viewpoints supported by this assessment.
Given the backdrop of a global influx of refugees and high numbers of youth under the age of 18 among counts of forcibly displaced persons, this chapter examines the literature on educational experiences among resettled refugees in Western countries. Young refugees typically face a complex set of unique challenges and adversities including disruptions in their schooling, displacement, exposure to potentially traumatic events, and resettlement stressors. Youth and parent interactions with schools are influenced by linguistic and cultural differences, which can make it difficult to communicate and advocate for young refugees' educational needs. The chapter provides a review of educational literature on resettled refugee youth. We use a socioecological framework and offer a protective and promotive lens, including psychosocial issues, to consider for school-based prevention and intervention programs. The chapter builds upon Pastoor (2015), who advocated a holistic approach with refugee students in school-based settings.
Part IV Area Studies and Regional Developments
Viewing the global movement for inclusive and equitable education through the lenses of the social construction of childhood and world culture theory, this chapter explores the normalized cultural conceptions of children and childhood, once situated on the periphery of policy landscapes, that have in recent years become increasingly shared by contemporary global society. I assert that a “global ideology of childhood” reflects a global consensus on the nature and needs of children, underscoring the widely held belief that all children are entitled to similar rights, protections, and childhood experiences. The overarching question addressed by this research is: How are global ideas reproduced and interpreted in national contexts? Through a case study of Nepal’s National Framework of Child-friendly Schools for Quality Education, I examine how the global ideology of childhood is reflected in a national education policy and how multilevel policy actors, and international, national and local non-governmental organizations (I/NGOs) in particular, envision the sustainability of the child-friendly school model – and broader socio-cultural ideas concerning children and childhood – in Nepal. Drawing on interviews with these actors and content analysis of policy documents, this chapter aims to provide a rich, descriptive account of how global culture is appropriated in one national context.
Part V Diversification of the Field
Taking Moland’s article as a starting point, the chapter suggests that debates about “exporting” and “importing” concepts like multiculturalism need to be realigned with new theoretical and practical understandings of how identities work. We offer two primary categories of concerns. First, focusing on “exporting” multiculturalism inadvertently obscures complex intersectionalities between and among various identities, including ethnic and religious identities, gender and sexuality, and issue of power in state, local, and global North/South hierarchies. Second, multiculturalism’s focus on outcomes – in particular, achieving an appreciation for “other” cultures – is an outdated approach to addressing difference. Taken together, we argue that multiculturalism is an outmoded framework that does not map neatly onto the lived experience of identity or on how conflicts are resolved and is thus ineffective as a framework for conflict-prevention work. We suggest that research on reconciliation and conflict prevention instead could be situated in ways that view identities as porous, complex, contradictory, multiple, and varied. In this light, identities are messy rather than clear-cut; they can surge and retreat in relevance for individuals and communities at any given time, such that their value for an individual at any one point may not be easy to consciously articulate. Understanding identities in this way has implications for pedagogical interventions. Rather than pursuing interventions designed to promote an outcome of equal and celebratory acceptance of defined “others,” we call for interventions focused on process, thereby equipping individuals with the skills to continually work toward co-existence in communities where conflicts are marked by repeated fractures, tension, and messy identities.
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