ERIC Number: EJ821649
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 54
Setting the Normative Boundaries: Crucial Epistemological Benchmarks in Comparative Education
Epstein, Erwin H.
Comparative Education, v44 n4 p373-386 Nov 2008
Historians of comparative education have ordinarily viewed the development of that field as having progressed in stages, from impressionistic traveller tales to systematic investigations, with each stage eclipsing the previous one in rigour and acceptability. In this essay, I show that this common "Darwinian" view is simplistic and distorts the real development of comparative education. Rather than in stages, I contend that the field has developed within three epistemological streams: positivist, relativist, and historical functionalist. These streams, each shaped over many decades, continue to be alive and well and delineate the field's normative boundaries. Indeed, comparativists differ markedly in defining the field, because their definitions arise out of whichever particular epistemological stream they embrace. What we need is a definition that encompasses all normative streams, and the one that I propose is: "comparative education is the application of the intellectual tools of history and the social sciences to understanding international issues of education."
Descriptors: Comparative Education, Epistemology, Educational Development, Intellectual History, Benchmarking, Educational Theories, Educational Philosophy, Educational Principles
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Adult Education
Authoring Institution: N/A