17 SES 09, Paper Session
Public discourse on education nearly always bears a subtext of crisis diagnosis, and this seems to be of special interest in the US, as well as in German-speaking countries. My presentation, therefore, focuses on the public narratives on the state of education in cases when it is said to be in “crisis” or, even worse, in a disastrous condition (e.g. the US report on “A Nation at Risk” or the shock of the German PISA results). While many would believe that this discourse is of recent origin, it is really as old as the emergence of public school systems themselves, i.e. beginning in the late 18th Century and re-emerging ever since every couple of decades or so. From the outset, this discourse had a strong transatlantic dimension, with both sides using the other as the better example of how schooling should be. 19th Century authors in the US would regularly point to Prussian achievements, and Continental authors would praise developments in US education, both at the same time bemoaning the conditions of their own systems. Analyzing popular and widespread works, their argumentation lines and narratives of crisis in education, I aim to re-construct from within these sources a language of crisis in education. The analytical and comparative perspective helps to illustrate the fascinating sides of this story that would seem to show that it is not so much the actual state of schooling which creates such worries and hopes about schooling, but is rather the state of social and political interactions creating anxiety about losing in international competition if something fundamental is not done about a nation’s own schooling, not least by following examples from abroad.
Using a historical perspective, Reinhart Koselleck (1959, 1995, 2000, 2015) helps to work in an analytically differentiated manner with the term “crisis” and a temporal concept of shifting nuances. The respective consequences for talking about the current state of education could then be analyzed with methodological tools developed by Fairclough (2003, 2006) and his critical discourse analysis, while interpretations are led by the concept of languages of education (see Scheffler 1960, Tröhler 2011). This analytical method of language enquiry allows me to work through and compare popular, wide-spread bestsellers on education. Following Hayden White (1994a, 1994b) and his analysis of historical works, narrative archetypes – romance, comedy, tragedy, satire, – it is possible to interpret comments or descriptions of chosen sources. Relevant sources are, for example, Ralph W. Emerson´s “The American Scholar” (1837), Horace Mann´s “First Annual Report of the Massachusetts School Board“ (1837), Friedrich Nietzsche´s “Über die Zukunft unserer Bildungsanstalten“ (1871), Hyman Rickover´s “Education and Freedom” (1959), Georg Picht´s “Die deutsche Bildungskatastrophe” (1964), Ralf Dahrendorf´s “Bildung ist Bürgerrecht” (1965) and Richard David Precht´s “Anna, die Schule und der liebe Gott“ (2013) as well as Amy Chua´s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” (2011), the formal variety of the chosen sources being insignificant due to their discursive power.
A language of crisis in education is, among other things, based on narrative and argumentative elements. The narration of tragedy is shared by all sources as the respective diagnosis operates with acceleration of time and a near catastrophe if something is not done. Argumentative elements frame these narrative and use comparisons, the proposed initial status of the situation, discussions on identity, an illusion of a better future compared to the status quo, personifications of better or worse ideas, aiming to stabilize the situation. The crises in education are always experienced as thrilling and dangerous, and created by narratives, while other parameters would not suggest such a diagnosis. It would be of utmost importance for educators, as well as politicians and the public, to gain a better understanding of these dynamics, if only to avoid repeating mistakes from the past (such as copying policies even if they do not fit).
Fairclough, Norman (2003): Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. London, New York: Routledge Fairclough, Norman (2006): Language and Globalization. London, New York: Routledge Koselleck, Reinhart (1959): Kritik und Krise. Ein Beitrag zur Pathogenese der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft. Freiburg, München: Verlag Karl Alber Koselleck, Reinhart (1995): Krise. In: ders.; Otto Brunner, Werner Conze (Hg.): Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland. Bd. 3. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta; 617-650 Koselleck, Reinhart (2000): Zeitschichten. Studien zur Historik. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp Koselleck, Reinhart (2015): Vergangene Zukunft. Zur Semantik geschichtlicher Zeit. 9. Aufl.; Erstveröffentlichung 1989. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp Scheffler, Israel (1960): The Language of Education. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas Tröhler, Daniel (2011): Languages of Education. Protestant Legacies, National Identities, and Global Aspirations. New York, London: Routledge White, Hayden (1994a): Metahistory. Die historische Einbildungskraft im 19. Jahrhundert in Europa. Frankfurt/Main: Fischer White, Hayden (1994b): Der historische Text als literarisches Kunstwerk. In: Christoph, Conrad; Martina, Kessel (Hg.): Geschichte schreiben in der Postmoderne. Beiträge zur aktuellen Diskussion. Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam; 123-157
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.