Right-wing extremism in Germany has made headlines in recent weeks, with the first publication since World War II of Adolf Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf, and the anti-immigrant protests that have peppered the country since a group of immigrants attacked women in Cologne. More broadly, the past decade has witnessed a steady rise of far right politics and social movements across Europe — from the rise of the Golden Dawn party in Greece to the 2011 mass shootings in Norway.

My guest today, Cynthia Miller Idriss, talks about her forthcoming book, “The Extreme goes Mainstream?: the Commercialization of Far Right Youth Subculture in Germany,” which will be published later this year by Princeton University Press. Over the past several years, Dr. Miller Idriss has collected thousands of images from the far right youth subculture and conducted interviews in schools where extremism thrives. She argues “that far from being mere ‘subcultural style,’ commercialized extremist products can be a gateway to radicalization and violence by both helping to strengthen racist and nationalist identification and by acting as conduits of resistance to mainstream society.”

Tests are part and parcel of the schooling experience. If a child goes to school, then I’m sure he or she will, at some point in time, have to take a test. But the nature and purpose testing has changed and seen a rapid expansion in the past thirty years. Tests have become increasingly standardized and connected to high-stake outcomes. Moreover, standardized testing has become the main tool by which policymakers measure education quality.

Standardized tests are both a national and international issue. The rise of international assessments, such as the Programme for International Student Assessment and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, have created a world in which governments at all levels rely on standardized testing. For students, testing — and the preparation for testing — has become commonplace.

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My guest today, Will Smith, calls the worldwide phenomenon of standardized assessment the “Global testing culture.” Will is a senior associate with RESULTS Educational Fund, where he is developing the Right to Education Index. He completed his PhD in Educational Theory and Policy and Comparative International Education at Pennsylvania State University and has worked both as a US public school teacher and a fellow at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

In his new edited collection, entitled, The Global Testing Culture shaping education policy, perceptions, and practice, which will be published this year by Symposium, Will argues that the reinforcing nature of a global testing culture leads to an environment where testing becomes synonymous with accountability, which becomes synonymous with education quality.

Policy borrowing is a major topic in field of comparative education. On the surface the idea is relatively simple: one group of policy makers borrow the ideas of other policy makers to improve a system of education. This usually is described as borrowing “best practices.” But the work of many comparative education researchers has shown that who borrows what policy and for what reason is much more complex. We cannot, as Michael Sadler warned in 1900, assume a picked flower in one part of the world will blossom in soil at home.

Routledge book coverMy guest today, Rattanna Lao, dives head first into the debates on policy borrowing in her new book, A Critical Study of Thailand’s Higher Education Reforms: The Culture of Borrowing, which was published earlier this year by Routledge.

She argues that although the Thai state has always been an active borrower of western ideas, the perseverance of a ‘Thai-ness’ discourse has often been used to suggest its so-called independence and idiosyncrasy.

Rattana Lao received a doctorate in Comparative and International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently a lecturer at Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammasat University in Thailand.

In many parts of the world, students commonly attend and pay for private tutoring classes. Sometimes these extra classes are for remedial purposes, giving students additional help on content covered in mainstream school. Other times students use private tutoring to prepare for school examinations.

The phenomenon of private tutoring is diverse around the world, and researchers commonly use the term “Shadow Education” to describe it. Tutoring is considered a shadow because it often mimics the curriculum of regular schooling – as the content of the curriculum changes in regular schooling, so it changes in the shadow; and as the regular school system expands or contracts, so does the shadow system

On today’s show, Will Brehm speaks with Mark Bray,  UNESCO Chair Professor in Comparative Education at the University of Hong Kong, and Director of its Comparative Education Research Centre. He is also President-Elect of the US-based Comparative & International Education Society (CIES). He moved to Hong Kong in1986, but from 2006 to 2010 took leave to work in Paris as Director of UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning.

CERC 32.Researching PST.coverProfessor Bray has written extensively on shadow education. His latest book, co-edited with Ora Kwo and Boris Jokić, is entitled Researching private supplementary tutoring: methodological lessons from diverse cultures.

Mark Bray speaks about researching shadow education and then turns to the annual conference of CIES, which he is currently planning.

Today’s topic is space in educational research.

My guest is Marianne Larsen, an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario. Dr. Larsen’s recent research focuses on the overall processes and effects of the internationalization of higher education. She has been researching how internationalization policies are taken up ‘on-the-ground’, as well as the role of higher education leaders in advancing internationalization agendas.

Her most recent book, Internationalizing Higher Education: An Analysis through Spatial, Mobility and Network Theories builds upon her work to advance the use of new spatial and mobilities theories in comparative education research.

I spoke with Dr. Larsen in 2016 about how she and her colleague Jason Beech theorize the concept of educational space not as an object of study but as a set of relations between individuals and groups. Their articles on new spatial thinking can be found in the 2014 Spring issue of European Education and the May 2014 issue of Comparative Education Review.

[Updated and re-aired on July 30, 2018. Originally aired on July 21, 2016]

On November 17, the Globalization and Education SIG hosted a webinar on educational privatization. The event was moderated by D. Brent Edwards Jr. and brought together three speakers: Christopher Lubienski (University of Illinois), Frank Adamson (Stanford University) and Tamasin Cave (SpinWatch). The hour-long webinar can be viewed here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1-QEtL6iA0

In many Caribbean countries, students are taught to be so-called “ideal Caribbean persons.” This phenomenon is of interest to some educational researchers because this discourse defines a Caribbean person instead of, say, a Jamaican person or a Haitian person. What this suggests is that a regional social imaginary has usurped the long held need by state governments to cultivate a national imaginary through public schools.

So why has there been an increasing emphasis on regional level collaboration and reform initiatives in education that have resulted in or attempt to build regional social imaginaries?
My guest today, Dr. Tavis Jules, an Assistant Professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University Chicago, argues that the the rise of the Caribbean educational policy space was driven by various regulations constructed by supranational organizations and institutions and then implemented at the national level. He studied this convergence by comparing the discourse in policy documents at the regional and national level.

Tavis’ most recent book, Neither world polity nor local or national societies: Regionalization in the Global South – the Caribbean Communitywas published by Peter Lang Press in 2012. Tavis speaks on FreshEd about his latest article on the Caribbean Educational Policy Space, which was published in the November issue of the Comparative Education Review.

In our inaugural showFrank Adamson, Senior Policy and Research Analyst at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, discusses his new book, Global Educational Reform: How Privatization and Public Investment influence Education Outcomes (Routledge, 2016), which he co-edited with Bjorn Astrand and Linda Darling-Hammond.

Frank's new book cover

Global Educational Reform offers a comparative look at the education policies and outcomes in six countries – Chile, Cube, Sweden, Finland, Canada, and the United States.  Frank and his co-editors selected these countries because collectively they span a range of education policy approaches – from neoliberal approaches that emphasize school vouchers to social democratic approaches that emphasize government’s responsibility for education.