Thoughts on International Education
Some musings on Japanese and Ryukyu Budo
What follows is part of an abstract I wrote back in 2010 for work I was undertaking as part of my EdD studies at the University of Bath, under the guidance of Professor Hugh Lauder. I share it here to help ground what I see as a confusion in intentional schools between what constitutes policy and what constitutes practice. From my experience most of these schools confuse or interchangeably uses these terms. This is most likely a result of their situated ness outride of local educational bodies. I do hope this post proves thought provoking. I have included citations to help with identifying key ideas and thinkers within the field.
“Access”, “Meritocracy”, “Parental Choice”, “Market Economy” are sampling of the catch phrases which abound within education policy over the past four decades as calls for, and encouragement of education democratisation formed the bulk of education reform (Brown, 1990). Ironically coinciding with these calls has been recognition of a growing gap in access to quality education– a gap that is evident both intra and inter national (CfBT Trust 2007), the ‘McKinsey report’, 2007., Lauder et.al. 2011., Lauder and Brown 2001., Tooley 2009., Hirsch 1977 and Collins 1977). Indeed a whole new industry, such as that spearheaded by PISA, has developed which seeks to support stakeholders insure that their young are educated on par with their global counterparts.
Adding complexity to this educational are a new global transient workforce whose skills and knowledge are in such demand that they often live abroad for a protracted period of time only to find that when they return to their host country it may no longer meet their or their children’s needs. Partially in response to these global transients international schools have also shown dramatic growth rates since the 1960’s. While a concise definition of what constitutes an international school is still emergent (Lauder, 2007; Hayden and Thompson, 2000; Gellar, 2002) what is clear is firstly that their on-going growth appears to show little sign of abating as globalisation itself continues to expand and secondly that many of these school operate beyond the educational authority of their host countries. However, such schools have been little explored in relation to their access. While most of these schools claim to promote such universal values as peace (Thomas, 1998), global-mindedness (Allen, 2000; Thompson 1998) and capitalism (Cambridge, 2002) only one study, Wilkinson (1998), explicitly studies access to and concluded they were “very much… the privilege of the rich ” (Wilkinson, 1998, p. 234).
Bourdieu (1984), Foucault (1975), Freire (2005), Brown and Lauder (1998), Weiner (1994), Kumar (1995) and Codd (1988) are but a few of the notable names questioning the traditional rational technocratic/empiricist approach to policy analysis and understanding. While drawing upon various disciplines and epistemes, critics note that policies are rooted in the language, discursive spaces and time/space continuum in which they are constructed and as such are not normatively neutral. Therefore, to understand policy is necessary to not only explore what is said, but how it is understood and enacted; to broaden the discursive lens so it includes statement to praxis in an effort to create a coherent sense-making event.
Policy is the result of a determination which is open to input and will change depending on the time/space in which it is created, in other words policy is more than its stated content, it is a living entity (Codd, 1988; Lasswell, 1955; Gordon et al. 1977; Bourdieu and Passerson, 1977; Popkewitz, 1997; Brown and Lauder 200) and as such carries both explicit and implicit assumptions and aims. Policy therefore has at its core etic and emic actualisations wherein power relations are created and those assigned the policy enactment roles serve as gatekeepers not only to implementation but also to a membership. It is this power-relation enactment and sense making attempts of gatekeepers that the present study is grounded
James M. Hatch
International Educator who happens to be passionate about Chito Ryu Karate. Born in Ireland, educated in Canada, matured in Japan