Such academic field as comparative education can benefit both educators and policy-makers, even though its usefulness and validity is sometimes questioned. This essay will show that the critique of comparative education can be explained by its multidisciplinary nature and the use of various research methods which appear to be inconsistent.
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Nonetheless, the findings derived in such a way can still be of great use for understanding international policy trends in education. Moreover, they can help policy-makers improve the work of educational institutions. This is the main argument that should be explained and illustrated in this paper.
First, one should note that comparative education strongly relies on other academic fields, for instance, psychology, political science, economics, sociology, history, or even anthropology (Cook, Hite, & Epstein 2004, p. 133). Although, these disciplines can be called social sciences, they employ different research methods, and they have different assumptions about the behavior of people and their decisions.
Thus, the question arises whether these methods and assumptions of these sciences can be reconciled and whether these differences undermine the validity of comparative education as an academic field. Moreover, one can say that comparative education does not actually exist as a separate field.
Most likely, it is only a part of other social sciences. However, this multidisciplinary approach is typical of many academic fields, and it can produce good results. One should bear in mind that by relying on different disciplines the researchers can better explain the decisions that people take. Similarly, by using different research methods scholars can validate various theories or hypotheses.
This approach can very fruitful if a researcher wants to examine international policy trends in education. In order to examine such trends, a researcher should be versed in political science, anthropology, decision-theory, history, and other social sciences.
By looking at the same questions from various perspectives, one can better the factors that shape educational policies of different countries and identify common patterns. This is one of the arguments in favor of comparative education.
Additionally, this science is aimed at improving the experiences of students and teachers. This goal unifies various kinds of studies that are conducted in this area (Biraimah 2003, p. 443). For instance, this discipline can identify the factors that shaped education systems in different countries such as England or France (Broadfoot et al 2000).
Moreover, such studies can explain how teachers from different countries approach their tasks and why they act in a specific way. For instance, in some countries such as France, teachers have a more formal attitude toward their duties, while in England teachers tend to establish more personal relationships with pupils (Broadfoot et al 2000, p. 240).
Such a discussion can help educators find those instructional models and approaches that best fit a certain country. This example illustrates one of the questions examined by the researchers who study comparative education.
Furthermore, comparative education can be very useful for identifying the best instructional models, academic standards, and policies of educational institutions that have already been used in different countries. This is why comparative education can still be regarded as a useful tool for examining the international policy trends in education.
Thus, despite some internal inconsistencies of comparative education, it can still be used for examining the similarities and differences between educational policies and standards adopted in different countries. Most importantly, this discipline has the ultimate goal of improving the work of teachers and students. This is why this discipline.
Biraimah, K. L. (2003). Transforming Education, Transforming Ourselves: Contributions and Lessons Learned. Comparative Education Review, 47(4), 423-443.
Broadfoot, P., Osborn, M., Planel, C. & Sharpe, K. (2000). Primary schooling in England and France: The importance of the national context. In Promoting Quality in Learning: Does England Have the Answer? (pp: 38-51). Cassell: London.
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Cook, B. J., Hite, S. J., & Epstein, E. H. (2004). Discerning Trends, Contours, and Boundaries in Comparative Education: A Survey of Comparativists and Their Literature. Comparative Education Review, 48(2), 123 – 149.