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Comparative and International Education: Issues for Teachers (second edition released 2017)

Bickmore, K., Hayhoe, R., Manion, C., Mundy, K., & Read, R. (Eds). (2017). Comparative and international education: Issues for teachers (2nd ed.). Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.

Click here to access the list of suggested resources to complement the second edition
Click here to reach the Ask the Authors film series.
Click here to watch guest lectures by the authors.

CIE4Teachers front cover

The Project

The first edition of this anthology grew out of a collaborative effort among faculty in the Comparative, International, and Development Education Centre at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto (OISE, UT). Convinced of the value of introducing pre-service and practicing educators to comparative and international educational research linked to their professional concerns, we produced a text that offers broad exposure to international issues and explores education in diverse cultural settings.

In this second edition, we have expanded our scope, adding nine new authors, including some pre-eminent comparative education scholars from around the world.  All chapters have been updated and revised. We have added two entirely new chapters: one on human rights education (Chapter Eight by Monisha Bajaj); and one examining the internationalization of schooling   (Chapter Twelve by Julia Resnik). Additionally, this second edition includes a more specific definition of the field, addressed to teachers and their interests (Chapter One), more on teachers and their involvement in international education, and a stronger focus on issues of diversity and social justice education.

In this new edition, we have organized the chapters into three thematic sections, to facilitate critical comparative thinking: a) (Re)Forming schooling: philosophy, policy and school organization; b) Justice, knowledges for change, and social inclusion; c) Education in the world system: Globalization and development. Through these in-depth portrayals of educational issues, perspectives and practices in a wide range of world contexts, we hope to stimulate readers to think comparatively and critically about their own educational practices and experiences.

The book is designed as a resource for initial and continuing teacher education and graduate education. Each chapter introduces major issues within the field of comparative and international education, highlighting significant research contributions, educational practices, and implications for teachers within each topic. The authors draw on comparative research from the Americas, Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. We have used the Canadian context as a case study in a few chapters; however, the concepts presented are easily extended to various North American and even global contexts.

Instructors who wish to use this book as a class text may choose to follow the given order of chapters and sections, or to change the order according to their course objectives. There are cross-references throughout the text to link learning across the various chapters and to highlight common themes. At the end of each chapter, key questions for reflection and discussion, along with a list of suggested readings, are intended to stimulate discussion about the chapter contents in relation to learners’ own experience and teaching goals. Each chapter is also paired with at least one suggested audio-visual resource, carefully selected to provide students with an opportunity to “experience” education in other cultures and contexts without having to leave the classroom. You can find the complete list below with links to all resources. In our own courses using this text at OISE, UT, the films provoked animated debate and discussion, offering participants a visceral feeling for the challenges and rewards of exploring educational issues through a comparative lens. 

Suggested Audio Visual Resources for the Second Edition

Chapter 1

Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World’s Most Surprising Education System (2011)

Part 1 of 4 available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhH78NnRpp0

This film comparatively explores the Finnish and US education systems, the former being amongst the highest performing systems in the world. Using observation and interviews with students, teachers, parents, administrators and government officials, the film seeks to highlight the factors of success characterizing the education system in Finland and then use these to suggest gaps or areas where the US may learn and improve. Topics include, but are not limited to, teacher recruitment and training, curriculum, organization of schooling, pedagogy, system reform and vision, and the wider policy, socio-cultural, economic and political context. The film can serve as an excellent resource for studying and thinking about what makes an education “successful” and the challenges of applying lessons learned from one system to another.   [running time is 60 minutes]

Chapter 2

Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education (2012)

The video clips listed below, each about 15 to 20 minutes, were made by the Pearson Foundation. They draw lessons from China, Japan, Korea and Singapore, all Confucian heritage societies, which have been superior performers among all participating countries in the OECD Programme for international Student Assessment (PISA).  It provides the world’s most extensive and rigorous set of international surveys assessing the knowledge and skills of secondary school students. Behind the stunning performance of their students, these superior East Asian performers all share similar Confucian values of education, though they differ from each other in educational applications.

Preschool in Three Cultures: Japan, China and the United States (1991 updated in 2009)

Part 1 available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz6HEcxXq2Q

In this film Joseph Tobin explores the similarities and differences among the three cultures. Viewers watch preschool children go about their daily activities and hear Tobin explain how teachers from the other two cultures responded to the structure, discipline and activities of each class. Part 1 of an updated version done in 2009 can be found on   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz6HEcxXq2Q, while both DVDs (1991 and 2009) can be purchased from the following website: http://www.joetobin.net/videos.html

Chapter 3

Education through Imagination (2002)

Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUgLz8NQX7I

This short film (approximately 20 minutes) explains the non-formal educational programs offered by the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC). BRAC’s creative responses to rural community learning emphasize the power of the imagination through child-friendly, gender-empowered, ethnically integrated, and community participatory schooling. Viewers watch the daily school activities while the narrator explains the philosophies behind the many non-formal educational programs that BRAC supports.

BRAC Education Program (2011)

Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2amWMtIJ-fk#t=19

This short (13:58) video provides a relatively recent overview of the BRAC Education Programme in Bangladesh and includes footage of BRAC classrooms and the activities of teachers and learners. Viewers can learn more about the program’s history, philosophy, and objectives as well as specific details concerning the program’s organization, teachers/teacher development, pedagogy, and learning materials.

Revolutionizing a School System: Vicky Colbert’s Escuela Nueva in Colombia (2014)

Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAlMjJc6_gs

This short video (approximately 5 minutes) presents a brief overview of the Escuela Nueva model, including key innovations in terms of teacher training, curriculum, pedagogy and organization. The experiences and perceptions of current and former Escuela Nueva students and teachers in Colombia are used to illustrate the value and success of the EN methodology.

Maravillas (2013)

Available at: http://vimeo.com/70279241

This documentary presents the story of the Learning Community Project as experienced by students, teachers, and Learning Community Project (LCP) leaders.

Education Innovation in the Slums (2010)

Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/charles_leadbeater_on_education

In this Ted Talk, Charles Leadbeater presents some of the key lessons he learned in his exploration of over 100 education innovations across the world. He offers some examples of these innovations to argue that some of the most powerful innovation in education often takes place in emerging economies, where huge needs, unmet demand open opportunities, and even make it necessary, to depart from conventional solutions, which are too costly and ineffective in serving the needs of historically marginalized populations.

Chapter 4

Almaz (2010)

Available at: http://www.vimeo.com/33583714   

This documentary film reflects rural aspirations and life in Kyrgyzstan by following the story of Almaz, a boy who was forced to leave school to work to help support his family after they moved from a rural area into the city. However, despite many hardships, Almaz does not give up and is able to return to school, ultimately participating in an exchange that takes him to the Netherlands. This inspiring story destroys stereotypes and presents Almaz as a new hero of our time.

Chapter 5

Choosing the Wrong and Right Educational Drivers (2012).

Available at: https://archive.org/details/RSA_Replay_-_Building_a_Teacher-Powered_Education_System

Park Manor Public School (2014).
Available at:www.michaelfullan.ca/ontario-park-manor/

Michael Fullan is Professor Emeritus from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Professor Fullan’s website, www.michaelfullan.ca, contains an archive of short (e.g., three-minute) videos that are accessible for use at no cost on many topics related to educational change. Two videos that we recommend for starters are the three-minute Choosing the Wrong and Right Educational Drivers for productive change, and the 13-minute Park Manor Public School, which features the story of a school in Waterloo, Ontario, that successfully transformed itself from a low-performing to a high-performing school.

Chapter 6

Deepening Knowledge Project OISE's Aboriginal Peoples Curricula Database.

Available at: http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/deepeningknowledge/

The Deepening Knowledge Project seeks to infuse Aboriginal peoples' histories, knowledges and pedagogies into all levels of education in Canada. The project is a part of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, which is located on the territories of Anishinaabe and Onkwehonwe peoples.

On this site you'll find information about the history and traditions of First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Native American cultures, information about the challenges facing Aboriginal communities today, and curricula for incorporating this information into your teaching practice

Hi-Ho Mistahey! by Alanis Obomsawin (2013).

Available at: www.nfb.ca/film/hi-ho_mistahey_en

This documentary tells the story of Shannen’s Dream, a national campaign to provide equitable access to education in safe and suitable schools for First Nations children, which eventually brings Shannen’s Dream all the way to the United Nations in Geneva.

It’s Not an Opinion, It’s a Fact: Aboriginal Education in Canada (2012).

Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tswVV2YkjKA

This YouTube video highlights the impacts of gaps in Aboriginal education and the opportunities to improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

Chapter 7

Girl Rising (2013)

Available at: http://www.girlrising.com  

Directed by Academy Award–nominated director Richard E. Robbins, this documentary on girls’ education highlights the experiences of schooling of nine girls from a wide range of developing country contexts (Sierra Leone, Haiti, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Peru, Egypt, Nepal, India, and Cambodia) within the global discussions of the topic.

Chapter 8

Path to Dignity: The Power of Human Rights Education (2012)

Available at: www.path-to-dignity.org

This open-access film directed by Ellen Bruno offers a global picture of human rights education and offers three case studies, one of which is on the Institute of Human Rights Education/People’s Watch.

The Revolutionary Optimists (2013).

Available at: www.revolutionaryoptimists.org

Learn about non-formal education efforts that seek to empower young people as agents of change in Kolkata’s slums.

He Named Me Malala (2015).

Available at: www.henamedmemalalamovie.com/

This film, directed by Davis Guggenheim, profiles the courageous young Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for advocating for girls’ right to education in Pakistan.

Chapter 9

British Council’s 5 step guide to teaching critical thinking skills and global citizenship (2013).

Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMBnL5HAAJo

Schools from the United Kingdom, Kenya, and South Africa work together to create critical thinking teaching resources in this British Council–funded project. In this 20-minute video, pupils from Jo Slovo Freedom High School, Molteno, Eastern Cape discuss a Guardian photograph of slums next to a hotel in South America.

Teachers TV: KS2 Citizenship—Global Issues (2015).

Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVgrEsHJOo4

This program, directed by Richard Wyllie looks at how resources like those supplied by NGOs, such as Comic Relief, can enhance KS2 citizenship lessons.

Chapter 10

Oasis of Peace (2007)

Available at: www.search.alexanderstreet.com/work/bibliographic_entity%7Cvideo_work%7C1783478

This 27-minute film shows the approaches and challenges of a bilingual bicultural school in Israel, called Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam (Oasis of Peace), where Jewish and Palestinian children are taught together in their own languages.

Peace Process: Belfast Schools (2010).  

Available at: www.search.alexanderstreet.com/work/1782639

In this five-minute video, staff from two Belfast schools, one Protestant and one Catholic, explain how they get their pupils to integrate and bring about a sense of community cohesion between their schools.

Chapter 11

The First Grader (2010)

Available at: www.thefirstgrader-themovie.com/

Set in a remote Kenyan community, this film follows an 84-year-old man fighting for his right to receive education. This true story highlights the complexity of providing free primary education for all in Kenya.

Back to School

Available at: www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/episodes/time-for-school-series/introduction/?p=4340

Back to School, the second part of the Time for School film series, follows the school experiences of seven children in seven different countries, trying to beat the odds and get an education. The series attempted to document the experiences of these children to 2015, the year the international community targeted for universal access to primary education.

FreshEd Podcast # 50 - Setting the stage for the CIES Global Learning Metrics with Karen Mundy

Available at: https://soundcloud.com/freshed-podcast/freshed-50-setting-the-stage

In this podcast, hosted by Will Brehm, Karen Mundy discusses how education fits into the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and how the global community will measure progress towards education for all under the new SDG umbrella.

Chapter 12

South Korea—Robotic Avatars to Teach English (2014)

Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWR7x48AwZk

In order to overcome a shortage of English teachers, South Korea piloted a program in which robotic avatars, “manned” virtually by Philippine teachers, were introduced in elementary schools to assist teachers in the classroom. It has proven to be very popular with South Korean students, and therefore the government will extend its use throughout the country.

Chapter 13

Instead of selecting a film for this chapter, we suggest that instructors explore with students the activities and audio-visual resources provided on international assessment websites. Holding this class in a computer lab would be ideal.

a)     Explore TIMSS questions: www.timssandpirls.bc.edu/timss2011/international-released-items.html  

b)    Explore PISA questions: www.oecd.org/pisa/test

c)     Watch footage of math and science classrooms around the world from the TIMSS 1999 Video Study: www.timssvideo.com

d)    Compare and contrast the videos above with the OECD/Pearson video series “Strong Performers and Successful Reformers”: www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts

Supplemental Resources

We hope to provide further resources for faculty and students using this anthology. Please check this site often as we will continue to upload lectures, Powerpoint presentations, and recommended films, internet sites, etc.

In order to support broader use of the textbook, our centre developed an Ask the Authors film series with matching funds from the University of Toronto's Instructional Technology and Course Development Fund. Each of the authors answered three questions: What are the main themes of your chapter; How does the field of comparative and international education contribute to the discussion of these themes; and What can teacher candidates and current teachers learn from the comparative perspective of your topic? The films are also available as a podcast.

Guest Lecturers

Ruth Hayhoe was invited to give the keynote lecture for the 2008 Monolith Lecture Series, a collaborative lecture series with five universities across the globe. Her lecture was based on Chapter Two "Philosophy and Comparative Education: What Can We Learn from East Asia?". Click here for the lecture; it begins with an introduction to the Monolith Lecture Series. The lecture was followed by a question and answer session.

Ask the Authors Film Series


Chapter One

Chapter One: Introduction to Comparative and International Education: Why Study Comparative Education?

With Ruth Hayhoe and Karen Mundy


Chapter Two

Chapter Two: Philosophy and Comparative Education: What Can We Learn from East Asia?

With Ruth Hayhoe

Chapter Three
Chapter Three: Education for All and the Comparative Sociology of Schooling
With Karen Mundy
Chapter Four
Chapter Four: Comparative Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Learning
With Katherine Madjidi and Jean-Paul Restoule
Chapter Five
Chapter Five: Teaching and Learning to Teach: Successful Radical Alternatives from the Developing World
With Joseph Farrell
Chapter Six
Chapter Six: Understanding Teaching/Pedagogy: Cross-Cultural and Comparative Insights from Central Asia and the Developing World
With Sarfaroz Niyozov
Chapter Seven
Chapter Seven: School Improvement in Comparative Perspective
With Stephen Anderson
Chapter Nine
Chapter Nine: Gender and Education
With Kara Janigan and Vandra Masemann
Chapter Ten
Chapter Ten: Education for Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding in Plural Societies: Approaches from Around the World
With Kathy Bickmore
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Eleven: Educating for "Global Citizenship": Contrasting Perspectives and Practices
With Mark Evans


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