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Comparative Education as Science and Storytelling: an inquiry into the construction and advocacy of education 'best practice'

Auld, ED; (2016) Comparative Education as Science and Storytelling: an inquiry into the construction and advocacy of education 'best practice'. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Education reform around the world is increasingly fuelled by economic imperatives and premised on evidence of ‘what works’ in ‘world class’ systems. In parallel, an applied form of Comparative Education (CE) has emerged, promoted by a community of international organisations, consultancies, and entrepreneurs, who use comparative data to identify and promote ‘best practices’. Their approach to comparisons has been described as a ‘new paradigm’ (NP), and though scholars acknowledge their influence, they are less clear about the characteristics of this diverse community, or how knowledge is ‘being done’. This thesis subjects the NP to in-depth analysis, addressing three main questions: (1) What are the NP’s inherent and distinctive characteristics? (2) How does the NP overcome the issues associated with the identification and transfer of education ‘best practices’? (3) How did the NP influence the review of the National Curriculum in England? The analysis is guided by the concept of homo narrans, which asserts that we have an innate tendency to communicate and to make sense of existence through stories. These two aspects open the inquiry into two levels of analysis, which are informed by political science, and the philosophy of history and of consciousness, respectively. To address RQ1, a schema of plot is developed and combined with principles from genre analysis. Its symbolism is then explored through a historical-philosophical review. To address RQ2, the plot schema is combined with move analysis to analyse how advocates construct persuasive narratives that identify straightforward solutions. RQ3 focuses on the role of the NP in the recent review of the National Curriculum. I argue that the NP gains persuasive power as part of a broader storyline about the nature of social reality, and by constructing a conceptual system that is internally coherent, but which fails to overcome the issues associated with education transfer.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Comparative Education as Science and Storytelling: an inquiry into the construction and advocacy of education 'best practice'
Event: Institute of Education
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: comparative education, education policy, narrative, 'best practice'
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1502252
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