Portfolio > 6a > 1. Education Issues > Comparative Education
Search this site

6. A competent scholar with a working knowledge of:
(a) Educational foundations

Comparative Education - McGinn and Pereira

I know I have gone a little overtime in getting online about the final topic in Shirley's reading list. When I read the papers, I was puzzled for a while about why they were in the course. So I went back to assigned readings on the web, and read again the questions Shirley posed for these readings.

"Societal issues affect education in many ways. With these readings we raise your awareness of ways society affects educational decisions. What is the relationship between society and education? How do they influence one another?"

Reading the history of the governance of education, is seems that see-saw or swinging pendulum is the best way to describe the way it has been. Control alternates between private and public. And which way is the pendulum swinging now? In the conclusion to the first paper, (by McGinn and Pereira, comparing Brazil and the United States), the authors say, "States learn that this complexity can best be handled by promoting some policies that are centralizing and others that are decentralizing." The next paragraph says, "For these reasons, decentralisation (and privatisation as 'parental choice' or some other version) is not antithetical to centralisation." So the pendulum is having a schizophrenic attack!

The authors suggest that the state's agenda is to support national economic and political projects. But in their view, there are serious social implications in pursuing decentralization. They state that the conditions required for this to result in "the development of a uniformly high-quality education system" do not exist at present. There is an "increasing disparity between the wealthy few and the majority", and "shifts of management and financial burden will continue to worsen inequalities.

Certainly, the actions of the state in its approach to the governance of education impacts society. And the needs of society have a bearing on polices decided by governments.

Comparative Education - Irving Epstein
Reconceptualizing the Doctorate - Maxwell & Shanahan

The second paper also compares Brazil and the United States, but this time for the specific case of street children. Special programs "operated as popular alternatives to formal educational programs" carry a downside. This seems to cause a "predetermined marginalized separation from mainstream educational practice." The author states that while these programs "occur mainly in the developing world", "it should be stressed that this is a failure that is shared by state institutions in both the developed world and the developing world."

The third paper is not really about education and society at large. I guess "society" in this paper would be referring to the "community of scholars", the "culture of academics" and the tension created by the concept of a professional Ph.D. The authors state in the final paragraph, "It is the recognition that professionals almost invariably know more about their professional context than academics that demands a rethink of the part that the academic and the university play in a professional programme."

I must say that as an Australian and as a participant in an American professional style Ph.D., I find it very interesting to be reading this Australian paper on 'Concern over "US-style" doctorates. But I feel very good about this competency-based program and the IDP process. What it means to me is that I get to write a program for a Ph.D. that I can be proud of.

Comparative Education - my conclusion

"Societal issues affect education in many ways. With these readings we raise your awareness of ways society affects educational decisions. What is the relationship between society and education? How do they influence one another?"

All of the problems that face governments have their source in selfishness and sin. So what kind of solution can be found to address these problems if the underlying cause is not acknowledged? There are evil influences at work in society, and the best intentioned measures by governments can only go part way in counteracting them if they are addressed only indirectly, if at all. At the same time, history has shown us that terrible things happen under a system of state religion.

A society where one sector exploits another or where the separation between the wealthy few and the majority only continues to widen is one with a mortal illness. Equal educational opportunities for all has a marvelous equalizing effect. This places a compelling responsibility on the state with regard to the delivery of education. When you think about it, McGinn and Pereira have it right. The state should pursue every avenue to ensure that all citizens have access to the same educational opportunities, and that may just mean policies that simultaneously centralize and decentralize.


Return to: 6a1 EDUC632 Issues in Education Foundations

Created: Sunday, June 06, 1999 11:36:30 PM
Last Modified Sunday, February 10, 2002 7:59 PM -->