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Education is where a person perceives knowledge and develops their skills in many ways the education is projected. This essay will discuss two topics learnt in European and International Dimensions in Education which are international schools and comparative education. The two topics will be discussed in details separately with some few related links in between.
Through globalisation, people from all parts of the world are increasingly interconnected from one to another as a consequence of international trade and services. Transnational companies are now operating not only in one specific country but have their own branches in other countries all around the world. This phenomenon not only occurred recently but has developing as many countries are moving towards a more global society. Internationalism as to refer those who agree towards the expansion of free trade, welcomes interaction with other cultures and co-operation between countries (What is Internationalism, no date). More people are immigrating to other countries for various purposes, including working and studying. The effect of globalisation has led multinational organisations to send their employees to work at their branches abroad for short-term placements thus requires them to bring along their families to accompany them while their stay during the placement.
The children of these expatriates usually will pursue their education in the host countries especially in international schools as the school fees is also included in the parent's relocation expenses provided by their multinational organisation employer (Hayden and Thompson, 2008, p.20). This thus enables the children to get formal education while accompanying their parents besides their parents need not to worry where to find suitable school environment that could fit their children needs while they are working there.
International school was first established in Geneva in 1924. The school was operated with three teachers and eight students, the children of the expatriate employees of the International Labour Office and League of Nations which was recently formed at that time. It is also said that in the same year the Yokohama International School was found and had six children with one teacher. Hayden and Thompson (2008) note that there were unclear agreed definition on the title of international school thus making it difficult to identify how many of them existed at one time. Over the years, the number of international schools has shown an increase due to fact that more and more diplomats and globally-mobile professionals have to travel away from their origin countries. This hence resulted in children of the employed workers to follow their parents around the world and demand for international schools. Expatriates who were located to work in large cities would have options to send their children in a local international school. However, for those who were not, such schools may only be available after a certain distance of travelling, or probably their children might be sent to international school with boarding facilities where they are allowed to meet their parents on holiday basis (Hayden and Thompson, 2008).
1.1 International school and international education
Initially, international schools were operated to educate children of expatriates who worked in overseas. Therefore the curriculum offered is more or less distinct with the national curriculum of the host schools. One of the most generally curriculum offered in most international schools is the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. IB was founded at the International School of Geneva in 1968. This programme was initially created to provide a diploma level curriculum for international mobile students as a preparation before they enter university (History of International Baccalaureate, no date). The diploma programme enriched the students with international education where it encourage students have a level of understanding and positive reception of different cultures and perspectives. Gradually, the programme has provided curriculum for students of the age from 3 to 19 years old, that includes programmes for middle year and primary year students. Although the IB programme was initially allocated for private international schools, it has been accepted in many state schools due to its policy to encourage openness and international mindedness (History of International Baccalaureate, no date).
Another issue is on its curricular. It has becoming more difficult in the national context to prioritise what kind of curricular that should be taught to prepare the students for the challenge they will face in the future. Hayden and Thompson (2008, p. 38) further explain that the international curricular would be even more difficult due to the changing of nature of today's society. To date, the nature of certain countries especially in the Western has an increasing number of multicultural backgrounds thus international schools need to cater people of different nationality and cultural background especially for schools who offer internationalisms where the difficulties come in constructing the content and skills that should be taught. In my opinion
1.2 Third Culture Kids
Children who accompany their working parents abroad often referred as the Third Culture Kids. These children are exposed to the culture outside their parent's origin culture during their developmental years (Van Reken, 2009). An example of the world leaders who accessed education outside their parents' culture is including Barack Obama, who also grew up in a biracial and bicultural TCK. Adults of TCK (ATCKs) have growing up in different cultures thus they possess to have a much bigger advantage being a TCK compared to non-TCK children.
There are a lot of benefits of being a TCK who live and exposed to different cultures from their parents' passport cultures. The exposure to multicultural environment has led TCKs to see the world more globally and creatively. By living in communities of different cultures, most TCKs are able to accept the difference in the society and thus able to have the cross cultural awareness that everybody is different. They then are ought to be flexible to adapt with their new surroundings in comparison to their own culture. Livings abroad also advantage them to develop a positive enhancement towards their linguistic ability. They get a chance to learn and acquire some other languages spoken in their new surrounding thus adding the ability to use and speak more than one language. This would help them to be able to communicate with the local society and hence creating a more diverse social networking. Kebshull and Pozo-Humphreys (no date) also suggests that this exposure will also enable children who live in third cultures to develop their maturity much younger compared to children who have not live in overseas and be able to interact with people of all ages with integrity. This is due to the difference culture and lifestyles that
In addition, the TCKs who live in different culture and surrounding are more deeply affected to these cultures compared to their parents as they are in their developing stage in developing their own identity (Understanding the World of "Third Culture Kids", 2011). This is because the exposure of multiple cultures these children received during their childhood and early years would mould the characters they will become when they grow up. Therefore parents who are to accept being located in other parts of the world need to consider the long term effect of this factor as this might affect their children's personal development. In my opinion these parents should have a proper preparation and knowledge on how to handle their children if they suffer culture shock or identity dilemma. In contrast to the wider view TCK perceive towards multicultural environment, the non-TCK may not have the same perspectives and might feel resentful towards those who own different cultural backgrounds. This would then let the TCK to be uncomfortable to mix with the crowd especially when they repatriate to their parents' passport country. This uneasy feeling would then lead to a negative development in their adulthood as they might lack of personal problem solving in their social skills and tend to leave and stay away from it rather to deal with the problems (Drake, 2011). This in turn would disadvantage them in their future as problem solving skills are very crucial in their adult life later. Thus it is important for families to have preparation and support for their family members to cater their emotional needs when they are posted to work overseas to ensure their children's experience in overseas worthwhile.
In my opinion being a third culture kids not only benefits the children of the expatriates, but also could make an impact towards the future society of the global world. Globalisation has provides opportunities for people to see the world from global perspectives to see the difference in cultures in creating a diverse community in the future. Considering the fact that the TCKs have the capacity to think 'outside the box' would be an advantage as they can initiate great new ideas and creative thinking for the society today (Van Reken, 2009). This is also means that these children have exposed to the cultures different from theirs; hence they are put to observe the differences on what is going on and try to understand the reasons behind what they have seen. In addition from this knowledge they are able to relate and explains to others more effectively (Third Culture Kids, cited in Richardson, 2010). Moreover, it is also stated in Third Culture Kids, cited in Richardson (2010) that these children not only able to observe the difference in geographical factors, but also learn to understand how people from other places view an issue from different perspectives. This brings to a conclusion that most TCKs are exposed to various observations that would affect their thinking in their future life.
Barack Obama, as an example of adult TCK has gained votes in the United States of America's politics and has been elected twice as a president because his views represents the new America (USA). He understands the situation faced by the multicultural society in the USA based on his childhood experience living abroad and it helped him to be able to have a good negotiating skill when it comes to foreign affairs (Van Reken, 2008). Van Reken also then give example in the aspects of political power, Obama had also appointed some other TCK figures into the new administration as they share similar characteristics and traits for example the White House advisor, Valerie Jarrett once lived in Tehran and London and Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner had his childhood experience in several countries including India and Thailand. In my opinion the idea of the bringing the experience these people have into leadership could benefit the future of global world. With the ability they have would offer better understanding of the differences in the multicultural community and thus creating world peace.
In conclusion, globalisation has enables many expatriates to mobile globally around the world to fill the demands of their transnational employers. As a result the number of third culture kids is increasing thus demanding more international schools to cater their formal education. The experience of the third culture kids with multicultural diversity would open up a new dimension of the world in the future.
2.0 Comparative education
Globalisation has enable people to access almost everything at ease. The advancement of technology helps us to find information from all parts of the worlds within seconds easily. People can browse information for business, education or even leisure without the need to actually go the place where it comes from. This part of the essay will talk about the concept comparative education and challenges that arise.
Comparative education has been practised since the nineteenth century. Comparative educationists felt that they could learn a lot about the educational system by observing other countries' educational system (Holmes, 1985, p. 325). These educationalists wished to borrow ideas on the educational systems abroad and practise it in their own context without throwing away their own system. It is claimed by Mallinson (1975, p.12) that the main idea of education is to ensure the continuity of the culture and each of the people were fostered to develop a sense of common identity to create common purposes that lead to what we called as national character building. However, as the world develops, McLean (1995, cited in Hankin, 2006, p.168) argues that the national identity and social networking has come to dissolve within the society due to the fragmentation of family. This can be explained through the lack of social interactions as the community nowadays can communicate with people from far without the need to meet in person. McLean than continues that the pressure from the global economy that favours well-equipped countries has led government leaders to underestimate their own cultural values and heritage in order to keep up with the global economy. This describes the importance of education in valuing the state of economy of a country and thus the improvement in the sector would help keep their place in the world.
Although the early comparative education was initiated by Marc Antoine Julien in 1817, the idea of making education as a core substance to meet the national needs was initiated by a report on Prussian education by a French Victor Cousin (Jones, 1971, p. 39-40). In the report Cousin was impressed with the centralised control by the schools in Prussian to achieve national goals. Consequently, this report had impacted a centralised reform in the education system in France and America. This in turn was the start of educational borrowing. This is parallel with Phillips (2000, p.299) factors of borrowing where it comes from a scientific research on of the situation, in Cousin's example, Prussia. Phillips also added the reasons for educational borrowing are due to "range from earnest academic ('scientific') examination of discrete features of successful educational practice 'elsewhere', through more or less serious general consideration of, or casual curiosity about, how other countries organise their education systems, to the cheap political expediency of governments and opposition parties anxious for a range of dubious reasons to demonstrate that education in their country is either under- or overperforming in comparison to other nations" (1997, p. 673). This indicates that the concept of education borrowing is based not only on the education system of other countries, but also how the government maintain the system in their countries.
2.2 World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES)
A body of international organisations on comparative education worldwide, World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES) was formally established in 1970 with the goals of promoting and enhancing the study of comparative and international education throughout the world (World Council of Comparative Education Societies, no date). Besides, this organisation also insisting on fostering co-operative actions by specialists from all over the world to bring comparative education as a solution to major educational problems. As an NGO with Operational Relations with UNESCO, this organisation is actively organising World Congresses of Comparative Education in every three years where it gathers all specialists, researchers and administrators to discuss educational issues around the world. Research programmes involving scholars are also being actively promoted by WCCES. Bray (2003) mentioned that in 2002, there were 30 societies that joined the Council and it is expected to fluctuate over the recent years. This shows that many countries are now becoming more aware of the importance of this field in relation to their own national education systems.
The existence of this global body has provided a platform for all comparativists to have effective and organised system in viewing problems in the education issues and applying skills from many angles. With regards to its current progress on the field, it is projected to be able to promote the understanding of education internationally especially in the aspect of peace, cooperation within cultural diversities, and human rights (World Council of Comparative Education Societies, no date).
2.3 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
Besides WCCES, the field of comparative education also benefit from vast researches and study done by theorists including from the (OECD). OECD was established as an international body that encourage the cooperation within countries from the economic perspectives. Today, OECD provides platform for its country members to work together to improve their economic and well being. This includes to the introduction to Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 1997 as a respond to the demands from the member countries for a regulated and reliable data on the performance within their education systems (OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), no date). This test acknowledges them to evaluate their key learning goals in education. It is an international survey that test students of the age 15 on their level of knowledge and skills whereby that particular age in most countries are nearly towards the end of their compulsory education. The results from the survey then will help countries to evaluate the relationship between the students' performance and their external factors and attitudes towards learning.
An example of an unpublished international educational test result, China has shown an incredibly great performance and surpassing most Western countries. Schleicher, mentioned in Coughlan (2012) went to a rural province in China and was impressed by the performance shown by the students. This has showed a remarkable result despite the students' background and the different level of conduct received by the rich and the poor students. This shows that students can still perform well in the test no matter in what condition they are in. There would be no excuse for underdevelopment situation to let the education to have a laid back perception towards the students. Schleicher later continues that most schools he visited in the rural province were remarkable and could be compared to shopping centres in the Western countries. This reflects the effort China has instilled on its citizen where "education is the key to mobility and success" (Coughlan, 2012). China has invested on education where it can bring to improve the development of the economic growth of the country.
Another interesting point to be made from this example is the investment by the society personally or collectively. From the perspective of a local student interviewed, it is said that the success depends on the effort a person puts towards his or her education and it has become their responsibility to make it happen. According to Schleicher, again it showed the difference in the cultures' perspective whereby if the same question was asked to a North American or a European student, the answers might rely on luck and cultural heritage. This can be assumed that the perceptions within the nation might also affect the attitudes towards education.
PISA tests are not only to show which countries are in the best ranking in education. Figazzolo (no date) and Coughlan (2012) agree that it is more to do than just rankings. The students selected for the PISA test were randomly selected from all over the member countries regardless of their proficiency levels. The data from PISA 2006 report in Figazzolo (no date) suggests that countries with higher income have the tendency to perform better in science subject, one of the aspects tested in the survey (Figazzolo, no date). However, higher income is not the only factors that contributed to the results, such as the situation in rural province in China stated earlier where other external factors may also be linked to the performance of the students. This sparked to the policymakers to work out the best ways to attain better results without the need for big investments. Consequently, researchers are able to evaluate and compare strategies and approaches top ranking countries have used in their education system in producing the products to fill the demands of the labour market based on the abundant data and details provided by PISA.
The PISA also provides recommendations for countries with low results as to improve their educational policy based on the data collected through the tests. The result from PISA has impacted some education reforms in some countries as to be seen to improve from their current system. Germany for example, has initiated the new focus in the "seven action areas" in order to improve the learning quality as a respond towards the previous PISA 2000 and PISA 2003 .The priorities of the new action areas of the education system are including improving the language competence for the early year children especially from the immigrants' background. This is because immigrants make up almost half of the children in some cities in Germany (German education: bottom of the form, 2008). This shows that immigrants also make up a significant effect on the educational performance of the Germans. Besides, another priority area to be improved and developed is the quality of the teaching profession and schools. The Germans is now moving towards a "results oriented evaluation" where "testing helps schools more accountable, plus greater autonomy seem to be two of the surest ways to improve schools' performance" (German education: bottom of the form, 2008). In my opinion the results of the PISA tests are able to promote competitiveness among countries to develop and improve their education systems to bridge the gap with the top ranking countries.
Issues arising with PISA
Although PISA has the advantage of bridging the gap in education for the OECD member-countries, there are a number of issues are concerned when comparing the education system internationally. Some of the issues arise are the translations of the materials and student sampling. The assessment materials were originally are mainly produced in English. These are then been translated into more than 40 language for the use of the surveys (Baird et al, 2011, p. 8). The problem is not the quality of the translation itself, but also the difference characteristics of the languages that could initiate some challenges in comparing the survey (Hilton, 2006, as cited in Baird et al, 2011). Another problem that might affect the performance in PISA tests is student sampling, for example the population representation. According to Baird et al (2011, p.8), PISA only target the samples of 15-year-old students for the survey who are schooling at the moment, thus the results might be affected to some of the developing countries who have a number of percentages of non-schooling 15-year-old students. This is probably due to the low socioeconomic backgrounds that lead the students cannot afford to attend schools. Hence, the results of the PISA tests might not represent the actual performance of the 15-year-olds students in comparable to the countries who samples the actual
In conclusion, comparative education has allowed education ministries from all over the OECD members to compare their nation's performance in the PISA tests. This will then lead to the improvement of the education system where necessary as to encourage better achievements in the global scope. Globalisation has caused a positive impact on education systems as nations are able to collaborate with one another in improving the education system thus become more competitive in the global market.