We feel extraordinarily fortunate to have had the
opportunity to collaborate over a long period of time, developing ideas
and publishing on topics in comparative education that were of interest
to us both. We offer here a selection of our individual and joint writings
over the past thirty-five years as a celebration of that good fortune.
Our initial collaboration was not planned, nor
when it occurred could we have imagined that it would continue for so long.
Happenstance and good fortune shaped our scholarly futures in comparative
education. We first met only in the early 1960's at Teachers College, Columbia
University, when both of us were well into work on doctoral dissertations.
Harold was trying to unravel the mysteries of Soviet school finance; Max
was engaged on a comparison of disciplinary practices in English and American
secondary schools. But though we had not previously known one another,
the paths leading to our first meeting had been roughly parallel, even
touching in some respects. We had both been born and educated in London.
Both of us had attended the University of London, at colleges across the
Strand from one another, at the London School of Economics and at King's
College respectively. After graduating with bachelor's degrees, we both
went on to obtain the Post-Graduate Certificate of Education, the professional
qualification for secondary school teaching, and we both taught in London
secondary grammar schools.
It was in the course of that professional training
at King's College (where we were both enrolled, though at different times)
that we were introduced to the systematic study of foreign education systems.
Nicholas Hans was active at King's, Joseph Lauwerys at the Institute. Soon
thereafter, Edmund King and Brian Holmes introduced other perspectives
and approaches. Their work has exerted a life-long influence on our own.
Max came to teach and continue study in the United
States in 1957; Harold in 1958. Quite independently, both of us enrolled
at Teachers College for doctoral study, Max choosing a specialization in
sociology and comparative education, Harold economics and comparative education.
TC had long been a widely recognized center for the study of different
national educational systems, attracting many graduate students from overseas
and sending them home with their degrees, often to become major figures
in the educational systems of their countries. Though by that time retired,
Isaac Kandel, doyen of comparative education in the United States, remained
a presence. In addition, new themes were now being enunciated and contributed
to the formation of our thinking. William W. Brickman at New York University,
George Z.F. Bereday at Teachers College, and C. Arnold Anderson at the
University of Chicago were active in promoting new organizational and intellectual
directions in comparative education. Bereday, in particular, as teacher
and dissertation advisor, watched over our work as neophyte academics in
a field that in the 1960's had suddenly burgeoned in universities across
the United States, as well as elsewhere.
A further set of coincidences led to the beginning
of our lengthy scholarly collaboration and to our long lasting friendship.
We had more than once rehashed the problems involved in teaching comparative
education, and the pedagogical techniques, resources, and approaches that
might be employed. We had both tried a variety of styles and strategies
at our respective institutions, if only with the goal of drastically reducing
the "strange lands and friendly faces" aspect of comparative studies of
education. For one semester, we team-taught a course that was explicitly
directed at having students perform comparative investigations and which
emphasized being conscious of (and conscientious about) methodology, rather
than being based upon descriptions of foreign educational practices. After
repeating this exercise, we found ourselves in adjoining offices at Teachers
College, teaching summer school. Our schedules allowed us blocks of time
each day between classes and we began to review somewhat systematically
what we had done in our teaching to date of comparative education. We quite
quickly found ourselves able to write up what we had done, as well as explain
its rationale. Soon after, under the watchful eye of the late Lawrence
A. Cremin, we developed a history of major contributions to comparative
education, pointing to a succession of changes in perspectives and techniques.
Prompted by George Bereday's own intense interest in matters methodological,
we wrote a text that endeavored to bring the comparative study of education
solidly within the ambit of the social sciences.
The early 1960s were years when comparative studies
in education, as indeed comparative studies in many other fields, were
changing rapidly. Until that time the field had been dominated by historical
approaches and descriptive works, most of them taking the form of studies
of school systems in individual countries. Although there were numerous
examples of excellent reporting, based on intimate knowledge of the foreign
systems described and evaluated, we were concerned by the subjective nature
of the accounts of even the best works we read and the absence of any overt
rules or guidelines for the judgements made.
There was a time when individuals such as Sadler,
Arnold, Kandel, Hans, or Rosselló, working in comparative education,
could hope to comprehend and explain the whole of education, its origins,
present aspects, and future prospects in a host of countries. For the present-day
single researcher this is hardly possible. The sheer volume of data from
more and more countries, the way in which education and training have become
central to national policies, and the need to master or at least understand
many different modes of analysis have all conspired to make the example
of the renaissance men of our immediate past simply not achievable today.
On the macro-level, international organizations wishing to profit from
comparative investigations in education have recognized the need to deploy
and coordinate teams of specialists in several disciplines. On our small
micro-level, as individual researchers, we have had occasion to appreciate
the benefit of long-term collaboration in the face of this ever-growing
complexity of comparative education.
By the end of the 1960s social science methods
had gained a permanent, if still disputed, place in comparative studies
of education. We were wholly in sympathy with this trend, even though we
by no means wished to cast out historical, philosophical, and generally
normative approaches. But we did want to boost the social science approach.
As we observed in the Preface to Toward A Science of Comparative Education:
We are conscious ... that we have sung
a single tune ..., the theme of empirical, quantitative research and that
the problems of education and society also encompass phenomena that are
more amenable to treatment in other ways. Hence, we would not want the
complete comparative educator to discard ... the concerns and techniques
of the humanist, the philosopher, and the artist.
The selection of pieces included here will, we believe,
be evidence of our long-term commitment to both types of work.
In any event, one immediate result of our concern
for greater attention to social science approaches was, as we have indicated,
to introduce into our teaching an effort to instruct students about empirical
research and to turn away from the descriptive and often normative approach
that characterized most comparative education courses at the time. In particular,
we tried to show how it was both possible and enlightening to use comparative
data to test hypotheses about the relation between education and social
phenomena. We asked our students to assemble evidence sufficient to test
the cross-national validity of such statements as: The greater the concern
for political (or religious) orthodoxy, the more centralized the school
system; or, educational revolutions are consequences, not causes of political
revolutions; and, the longer the average length of schooling of the population,
the fewer the external marks of class difference, and so forth. Eventually
this led to our writing Toward A Science of Comparative Education,
as well as editing a companion collection of studies broadly exemplifying
this approach (Scientific Investigations in Comparative Education).
Shortly after the publication of Toward A Science
of Comparative Educationwe were invited by the International Association
for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement to join the group established
in Stockholm to analyze the data from the six-subject IEA study. In collaboration
with A. Harry Passow we were charged to consider how far and in what ways
national social and school system characteristics were related to student
performance in 21 nations -- a formidable task, if ever there was one!
We regarded this as a challenge to apply our newly defined methods. We
emerged from this exercise with only at best a set of tentative conclusions.
In no way could we say that any particular social or educational feature
(or even combination of features) was unambiguously associated with higher
or lower school achievement. But we learned a great deal from the IEA work,
not least that the techniques being developed during IEA investigations
could eventually lead to more confident statements about what works and
what doesn't (in terms of producing school achievement) at different grade
levels in different schools in different countries.
Meanwhile, the Comparative and International Education
Society (USA) was growing and responding to changes in the kind of work
that comparativists were doing. Its journal, the Comparative Education
Review, developed into a leading publication, its contents frequently
cited by authors within and outside the field of comparative education.
Over the years we contributed a fair number of articles to the pages of
the CER, and Harold had a spell editing the journal. We also paid
our dues to our professional organization serving at different times as
its president. Membership in the Society grew rapidly, drawing in a wide
variety of practitioners, some of whom went beyond whatever point we had
reached in extending the methodological scope of the field. These scholars
sought to promote work relying on micro-observations of school processes,
deconstructionist critiques of school systems and educational activities,
reproduction theory, and so on. We chose not to follow the latter, entirely
novel paths, being generally out of sympathy with them. In particular,
while participating in some of the common intellectual and academic developments
of the time, we somehow succeeded in avoiding the contemporary fashion
of viewing the schools as oppressive instruments for maintaining an intellectual
and political status quo.
During the 1970s and 1980s some of the official
international organizations vastly increased their comparative education
activities. UNESCO expanded its global collection of educational statistics,
its promotion of literacy programs, and its journals in comparative education,
International Review of Education and Prospects). We made
substantial use of UNESCO's statistical collections and we published in
its journals. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) in Paris undertook a series of National Education Policy Studies.
Harold was engaged in four of these, as well as in a comparative study
of the financing of elementary schools. The World Bank increasingly saw
a role for itself in lending money and providing advice for the development
of education and training in lower-income countries. It found itself doing
comparative education, without necessarily acknowledging that was what
it was doing. Agencies of the U.S. government (the Department of Education,
the Office of Technology Assessment, and the National Endowment for the
Humanities) and the American Federation of Teachers exhibited interest
in foreign education systems, focussing on standards and assessment in
education, and we were individually as well as jointly enlisted as consultants
in this effort.
Our work can be characterized under a few main
topics: our early and abiding interest in the way research in comparative
education is undertaken; the social context of school systems and practice,
in particular in metropolitan areas; the outcomes of schooling as reflected
in student achievement; and the ways in which education policy is made
in different countries. Although much of our work was deliberately not
locked into events in particular countries, we nevertheless also paid special
attention to educational policies and practices in the former Soviet Union,
as well as the changes taking place since the end of World War II in Western
What to put in and what to leave out of this collection
was governed by a few self-imposed rules. We wanted to make sure that there
was at least one piece for each type of comparative work we had done, for
each issue or problem we had considered, and for each area of the world
that we had studied. We were willing to include articles and book chapters
in their entirety, but we wanted to be strictly economical in the sampling
of our books, on the ground that an interested reader would probably have
an easier job locating a copy of an out-of-print book than a fairly ancient
journal article. We also include several book reviews, which afforded us
the opportunity to comment on broader issues of comparative interest, especially
changing approaches to the field, both methodological and substantive.
Above all, we wanted only pieces of work we still felt happy with -- translated,
that meant pieces which did not make us cringe when we read them again
with the full benefit of two, three, or even four decades of hindsight!
Within these broad categories, the choice of topics
was largely influenced by the issues which from time to time came to the
top of the list of educational policy concerns in the United States, such
issues as: the training and qualifications of teachers; the financing of
education; the special nature of schooling in large cities; the involvement
of business and industry in the work of the schools; and educational standards,
national examinations, and the measurement of educational achievement.
Each of these topics is represented here.
Our research and publication did not follow a
clear linear progression, with one topic or approach neatly finishing and
being followed by the next. Like most scholars, we believe, we circled
around, went back and forth, accepted assignments that happened to come
along. We certainly did not chart out a decisive program of work for three
decades or more. In consequence we have had to deal with repetition in
some of the works by making cuts where necessary. Thus the version of some
pieces presented here is not an exact reproduction of the original. Other
changes are few in number and were made only to correct typographical errors,
or glaring errors of syntax or style.
We acknowledge with thanks the organizations who
have kindly given us their permission to reprint materials to which they
hold the copyright:
Academic Press; Butterworth Publishers; Canadian
Society for the Study of Higher Education; Carfax Publishing Company; Evans
Brothers Ltd.; The Free Press; Georgia State University Press; Kluwer Academic
Publishers; Peter Lang Publishers; OECD; Peacock Publishers; Teachers College
Press; UNESCO; University of Chicago Press; University North Carolina Press;
University of Pennsylvania Press; University of Wisconsin Press; World
Bank; John Wiley and Sons; Yale University Press.