International comparisons in the field of education can prove to be an efficient strategy for the educational system’s improvement. What poses a problem is designing a comprehensive universal test for international student assessment, one which would not obscure the results by the bias embedded in its design. There have been a number of efforts to do that, however, the problem may not be within the testing methods, but in the educational system’s design itself.
Studying postcolonial theories becomes of particular interest in regard to the educational system’s history. Gerard and Sriprakash note that our cultures “present taken-for-granted primacy of Western, masculinist knowledge” and its primary tendency to “obscure and sideline” the achievement of women and Southern and Eastern civilizations (2015, p. 1). This phenomenon leads to an obvious answer – the currently prevailing western-style system of education is outdated.
This bias comes from a time of the educational system’s conception. With the growing rates of general school disinterest found in children, it becomes evident that the system is in need of reformation. Robinson pointed out that “we have a system of education modeled on the interests of industrialization” (2010, 00:06:43). Dall draws a detailed portrait of such an educated individual –and calls for a paradigm shift (2011). She explains the inner mechanics by which standardized testing, namely PISA, is operating – and that “performance is assessed by testing students against various sets of measurable goals” (Dall, 2011, p. 78).
However, drawing direct comparisons of student performance cannot be measured without taking into account cultural differences. Chang (2011, p. 72) reveals a possible cause; American students’ below-average performance is rooted in language differences, since “pronunciation of numbers in Chinese” for instance, “helps facilitate its speakers to say and process numbers faster”. During the results’ comparisons, it is crucial to take into account a wide array of cultural differences – which can aid or disable an implementation of foreign educational systems, as well as provide questionable results during the assessment.
First, such collaborative work must produce a more well-rounded approach that is, quite literally, universal. Second, there are certain benefits to the international exchange of ideas because it often leads to unconventional solutions, which is exactly what the current situation calls for. Even in the case of difficulties arising whilst comparison, it is still important to foster global competitiveness among students and their respective countries, as much can be learned from cross-cultural research and communication.
Chang, E. S. (2011). Are international comparisons helpful? Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Educational Psychology. Soka University of America.
Dall, A. Is PISA counter-productive to building successful educational systems? Social Alternatives.
Gerrard, J. & Sriprakash, A. (2015). Gender, postcolonialism, and education. Peters, M. A. (Ed). Encyclopedia of educational philosophy and theory (pp. 1-6). Springer.
Robinson, K. (2010). RSA animate: Changing education paradigms [Video]. YouTube. Web.