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