ERIC Number: ED265254
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983
Reference Count: 0
Comparative Education: Phoenix or Dodo?
Sheehan, Barry A.
The current crisis in the field of comparative education is one of methodology: the quasi-scientific approach, which is widely used and expensively funded, necessarily jettisons a whole range of variables which are not measurable and which may well have more explanatory power. The quantitative studies have not been shown to yield anything which is of much use to teachers, researchers, policy makers, or administrators. At the same time, those researchers who adopt a more naturalistic methodology have had few generalizable insights to offer. Although much of the research has provided feedback for professional and practical education, it has largely failed in getting to the point of actually making comparisons because existing methodologies are inadequate to the task. Another major problem affecting the field has been the way in which Western values have infected the analyses of non-Western educational systems. Researchers (especially those involved with underdevelopment) have not remained scientifically neutral, have too often played advisory and advocacy roles, and have thus helped to perpetuate dependency and exploitative relationships. Comparative education should return to the goals of its pioneers, and approach the systematic study of the educational problems and proposed solutions of other countries and cultures in terms of the difficulties diagnosed in society. The tensions in the discipline of comparative education will be resolved only if it is generally recognized that the question of what can and cannot be done in the study of foreign countries is a moral one. (KH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: In: Comparative and International Studies and the Theory and Practice of Education. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Australian Comparative and International Education Society (11th, Hamilton, New Zealand, August 21-24, 1983). See UD 024 646.