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A society defines many of its aspirations and its deepest values in the schooling it creates for its youth. Consciously and unconsciously systems are built by which young people will be shaped to assume adult roles. A critical study of schooling can reveal social and economic characteristics, conflicts, and inconsistencies of a society. This course is designed to meet the Comparative Values requirement of the core, and as such will require students 1) to examine the values of another society through its education system and 2) to think about the extent to which their own values are an artifact of their own schooling, and 3) to examine the challenges of national systems of education in times when national borders are especially permeable to economic, social, and cultural issues. In this last topic we will look particularly at how cultures deal with immigrants or minorities.
Comparative education as a discipline has traditionally had many purposes. Researchers and policy makers often study different systems of education in a quasi-experimental mode to determine the superiority of one system over another. Pragmatic educators occasionally examine the educational systems of other countries to learn new ways to approach old problems. Sometimes comparative education attempts to discover universals such as the relationship of economic development and education or the relationship of social class to education. Some people study comparative education to learn what is unique to a particular society or to learn more about themselves, as Lipset observes, “To understand...American religion, American education, American law, or any other institution, it is necessary to know how it differs from the comparable institutions in other cultures. Only when one knows what is unique on a comparative scale can one begin to ask significant questions about causal relationships within a country.”
Comparisons can be made between US schools and schools in a
variety of other countries for a variety of purposes. Most often American schools are compared
somewhat simplistically to schools of other industrialized nations with whom we
compete economically. Comparisons with European school systems have been
popular for a long time and endless arguments have ensued about the lack of
rigor in American schools and the lack of diversity and opportunity for social
mobility in European schools. Such comparisons are frequently made as a form of
advocacy for an educational change. In the past few decades it has become
common to compare American schools to the schools of
Other interesting comparisons can be made with countries
facing similar social challenges. For example the
One of the most fruitful kinds of comparisons is one that is made in order to understand a country through its schools. In this course comparisons will be made with several countries in order to understand 1) the relationship of schools to the culture within which they are embedded, 2) the commonalties and differences across national borders today, especially how cultures deal with minorities, and 3) the influence the student’s own schooling experiences have had on his or her perspective.
Because of the recent attention to the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, first half of the course will focus on a comparison of Japanese and American schools. In the second half of the course we will look at schools in other parts of the world and apply some of the analytic methods we have developed in our study of Japanese schools. The course is designed to address five major questions.
1. Why compare schools? In this section the students will become familiar with some basic concepts, methods and purposes in comparative education and read one popular recent comparison.
2.Schools and socialization: how do children learn to be “Japanese” or “American,” what societal roles are important in education?
3. Schools and intellectual achievement: Are Asian students superior to American students? How does one measure achievement across cultures? What kinds of achievement are valued by each society?
4. Schools and economic productivity: to what extend do economic ends influence the structure of schooling? What are the parallels between a nation’s means of production and schools?
5. Schools and the world: to what extent do global issues permeate cultures? How do countries educate for internationalism vs. nationalism? How do countries deal with immigration and diversity?
Okano, Kaori and Tsuchiya, Motonori
(1999). Education in Contemporary
Stigler, James and Hiebert, James,
(1999) The Teaching Gap.
Coursepack (available from Puget Sound Book Store)
Coulson, Andrew (
Bureau for Policy and Program Coordination. June 2003. Strengthening Education in the Muslim World. USAID. (on Blackboard)
Current relevant newspaper articles will be posted on Blackboard.
Assignments and Evaluation
1. Participation: students will be asked to come to class each day prepared to discuss the material assigned. Both students and teacher must take responsibility for the quality of a class. Students should participate actively, offering ideas for their colleagues to consider and giving thoughtful consideration to the ideas of others. Students may be asked to write short responses to the reading or other course material; these responses will be considered part of participation grade. (10% of grade)
2. Web assignment – see separate handout (10% of grade)
3. Reflective writing following the Teaching Gap worth 10% of grade.
4. Exams: there will be a midterm in class writing (20% of the grade) and a comprehensive final exam (20% of grade). Tests and final exam will require essay responses. I will not give credit for any answer I cannot read. Writing will be judged to standards of “draft stage.” I will consider answers in light of: 1. knowledge of texts, 2. understanding of concepts underlying courses, 3. ability to select appropriate knowledge and concepts and apply them to analyze and discuss problems of schooling, and 4. comprehensiveness of answer.
5. Paper: Students will write one paper of approximately 10-12 pages, (30% of grade each) on topics to be determined between the instructor and student. The paper will be an exploration of one aspect of comparative education that relates to the student’s career plans, area of academic emphasis, or personal interest. Drafts of this paper will be required at specified dates.
(1995) Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women.
Claveria, Julio Vargas and Alonso, Jesus Gomez (2003). Why Roma do not like mainstream schools: Voices of a people without a territory. Harvard Educational Review, 73 (4) , pp.559-590.
LeTendre, Gerald, Hofer, Barbara, and
Levine, Robert, Levine, Sarah, and Schnell, Beatrice (Spring 2001). “Improve the women”: Mass schooling, female literacy, and worldwide social change, in Harvard Educational Review, 71 (1), pp 1-50.
(1995). Educating hearts and minds.
(2001). Anime from Akira to Proncess Mononoke.
Nadeau, Jea-Benoit and Julie Barlow
(2003). Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong.
Shamahara, N. Ken, Holowinsky,
Ivan and Tomlinson-Clarke, Saundra (2001) Ethnicity, race and nationality in
education: A global perspective.
Stevenson, H. and Stigler, James. (1992). The
learning gap: Why our schools are failing and what we can learn from Japanese
and Chinese education.
Tsuneyoshi, Ryoko (2001.) The
Japanese model of schooling: Comparisons with the