Today we continue our exploration of Teach for All. Two weeks ago, we explored Teach for All counter-narratives. Now we look at empirical research evidence across contexts where Teach for All operates.

Today we continue our mini-series on global learning metrics during the lead up to the inaugural CIES Symposium, which will take place in Scottsdale, AZ this November.

So far in this mini-series, we’ve heard why international assessments can be valuable for national governments and how many governments have begun to see like PISA. Today, we jump into a case study of the way in which countries learn from one another based on international assessments.

My guest, Professor Bob Adamson, takes us through the case of how England learned from Hong Kong. He unpacks the selective learning of English policymakers on their visits to Hong Kong. He see this as akin to political pantomime. The larger implication of the rise of superficial policy referencing among countries is the challenge it brings to comparative education.

Bob Adamson is Chair Professor of Curriculum Reform and Director of the Centre for Lifelong Learning Research and Development at the Education University of Hong Kong. In December 2015, Bob was named UNESCO Chair holder in Technical and Vocational Education and Lifelong Learning.

Education For All is a global movement led by UNESCO. It began in 1990 when 155 countries adopted the World Declaration on Education For All. The movement was renewed in the year 2000 when countries agreed on the Dakar Framework for Action, which committed them to achieve education for all by the year 2015.

Education For All continues to be a common phrase in educational development. But it has changed over its 26-year existence. It linked into Goals 2 and 3 of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals and was tied closely to the World Bank through the funding mechanism known as the Fast Track Initiative.

The movement has adapted and adopted new elements and has included additional actors, such as non-governmental organization, human rights activists, and philanthropic organizations and individuals.

My guest today, Leon Tikly, argues in a forthcoming article in Comparative Education Review that Education For All is best understood as a regime, borrowing an idea from international relations. He says there are “a set of implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge.” Of course there are tensions within the regime of education for all, and in this article he attempts to think through what these might be.

Leon Tikly is a professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol. His work focuses on education in low income countries and in particular countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. He is known for his theoretical work on how to conceptualize education as an aspect of the postcolonial condition.

His forthcoming Comparative Education Review article is entitled ““The Future of Education for All as a Global Regime of Educational Governance.”

Large-scale assessments such as PISA have profoundly changed the processes of educational policy making. Countries that do well on PISA are turned into reference societies by other countries trying to emulate educational success.

My guest today is Florian Waldow, a professor of comparative and international education at Humboldt University in Berlin.

One of Florian’s main research interests is the study of educational “borrowing and lending”, particularly the ways in which countries point to experiences from abroad as a way to legitimate policy agendas and how educational “reference societies” are constructed.

In today’s show, Florian talks about how the German media has interpreted the PISA success of countries in Scandinavia and Asia. His research shows that reference societies can both be positive and negative — pointing towards education reforms Germany should enact and those it should not.

The research discussed in this podcast was published in 2016 in the journal Zeitschrift für Pädagogik.

Full Citation: Waldow, F. (2016). Das Ausland als Gegenargument: Fünf Thesen zur Bedeutung nationaler Stereotype und negativer Referenzgesellschaften. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 62(3), 403-421.

Photo credit: Eric Lichtscheidt

On today’s show, I speak with Susan Robertson about regionalism. Susan’s newest co-edited volume is entitled, Global Regionalisms and Higher Education: Projects, Processes, Politics. The volume looks at and theorizes regional bodies around the world, specifically looking at the work of regional bodies on higher education. In our conversation, Susan explained the history of regions, their connection to particular political agendas of liberalization, and their work in higher education.

Susan Robertson is a professor of sociology of education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol. She is also co-editor of the journal Globalization, Societies, and Education.

Educational transfer or policy borrowing is one of the major topics in comparative education. When I spoke with Rattana Lao in episode 7 of FreshEd, we discussed the ways in which a culture of borrowing has emerged in Thailand’s educational quality assurance system.

On today’s show, I continue the conversation on educational transfer and policy borrowing with Jason Beech, a professor in the School of Education at the University of San Andrés in Buenos Aires.  Jason critiques the very terms of educational transfer, suggesting the language we use is limited. Why, he asks, is it that the focus is always on policy and not other aspects of education? And has the very notion of globalization lost its cutting edge in terms of theory and method?

Instead of using grand narratives of domination or resistance, Jason uses relational notions of space, which I have talked about on other shows with Marianne Larsen and Jane Kenway. New spatial thinking provides Jason a language to think through new theoretical approaches to educational transfer. In an article co-written in 2015 and published in the journal Globalization, Societies, and Education, Jason uses the case of the one laptop per child scheme in Argentina and actor-network theory to show how material and non-material actors create educational space and new vocabularies for educational transfer.

On today’s show we continue our conversation on PISA. Last week Bob Lingard walked us through the history of the OECDs work in education and compared the main PISA test with the new service called “PISA for Schools.”

Today, Keita Takayama provides a critical reading of the so-called “PISA debate.” This debate started in May 2014 when a group of scholars published an open letter in the Guardian newspaper to Andreas Schleicher, the head of OECD’s education and skills division, criticizing PISA. Two subsequent response letters (here and here) were published in the Washington Post responding to the open letter and critiquing PISA in ways left out of the original letter.

Keita Takayama, a professor at the University of New England in Australia, takes us through the arguments in these various letters. By looking at who wrote the letters, Prof. Takayama scratches the surface of the arguments to locate hidden agendas. In the end, he sees the so-called “PISA debate” as provincial.

Citation: Takayama, Keita, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 19, podcast audio, July 21, 2016.

Transcript, Translation, and Resources: Read more

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.