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Comparative reasoning: curriculum making in the 'grey zone'
Faculty of Education and Natural Sciences, Høgskolen i Hedmark, Norway.
Department of Education and Special Education, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Educational sciences, Educational science.
2017 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Curriculum making concerns the possibility to decide and prescribe purposes, aims, and contents of schooling, but also how these purposes, aims and contents are legitimized. As such, we see curriculum making from the ‘wide’ interpretation of curriculum. We are in relation to curriculum making especially interested in investigating how some important international actors interact with educational purposes, aims, and contents on a world scale level affecting national level, as well as the very local of educational activities. Hence we are interested in investigating curriculum formulation based on comparative statistical reasoning. The actors we are most interested in are those that have been characterized as ‘grey zone’ actors (Lindblad, Pettersson & Popkewitz, 2015). The idea (and term) of the ‘grey zone’ emerged from a previous review of research and organizations using data from international largeVscale assessments (ILSA) (Lindblad et al., 2015) for comparing education systems. These ‘grey zone’ actors have only at best an indirect mandate in education systems, however they still make explicit statements on how to improve schooling and students’ performances; i.e. a form of curriculum making. It is the indirect mandate combined with relatively strong impact on the governing of education that place these actors in the ‘grey zone’.

There are at least three important actors that stood out in terms of activities spread to a world scale level; the McKinsey, the OECD and the Pearson Company, which all have arisen as important nodes for knowledge on what education is perceived as and maybe more importantly, should be. Their position within education is further reinforced by the comparative and data driven aspects of the contemporary society (cf. Pettersson, Popkewitz & Lindblad, 2016). We examine, three,  what we call  ‘grey zone’ activities involved in curriculum formulation and how a specific reasoning (cf. Hacking, 1992) is used and evolves in these activities: i) the McKinsey producing international reports on educational improvements and developments. Within the terminology of McKinsey recommendations are produced for these purposes: ii) the OECD not only producing ILSA and recommendations, but also producing newsletters where the results of ILSA are mediated and communicated to policy, research and practice: iii) the Pearson Company not only the winner of the open tender to perform PISA 2018, but also the producer of a vast amount of websites for school development within the frameworks of The Learning Curve (TLC) and The Efficacy Framework as well as producing school textbooks. Hence we investigate how these activities frame education defining what content curriculum making should focus on and as such making prerequisites on what education is and should be perceived as.

All three of these agencies can be discussed in terms of producing activities important for curriculum making in the ‘wider’ sense of the concept. By analyzing products by the agencies we are in a position to highlight them as important sites for curriculum making on an international level. In our study we especially highlight these products in terms of producing a specific reasoning about education, which creates narratives framing curriculum making on a national as well as on a local school level.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-25199OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-25199DiVA: diva2:1140040
Conference
The 45th Congress of the Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA), 23-25 March 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark
Available from: 2017-09-11 Created: 2017-09-11 Last updated: 2017-09-12Bibliographically approved

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