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Producing the ‘right kind of people’: the OECD education indicators in the 1960s


Bürgi, Regula; Tröhler, Daniel (2018). Producing the ‘right kind of people’: the OECD education indicators in the 1960s. In: Lindblad, Sverker; Pettersson, Daniel; Popkewitz, Thomas S. Education by the numbers and the making of society: the expertise of international assessments. New York: Routledge, 75-81.

Abstract

In general, research findings on the emergence of international assessments focus on the time period after 1990. Indeed, after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the internationalization of education policies and particularly the inclination for assessment by so-called international experts became dominant, symbolized not least by the OECD’s publication of the first issue of Education at a Glance 1992: OECD Indicators (OECD, 1992). This is an indication of a ‘comparative turn’, based on international indicators that allow evaluation of the individual educational systems (Martens, 2007). However, this chapter argues that what becomes visible after the end of the Cold War is less the emergence of something new—brainchild of a neoliberal ideology of globalization, for instance—but more a materialized expression of a Cold War grid of thinking. In support of this thesis, after providing some contextual information, the chapter identifies three stages in the development of international education indicators in the 1960s—namely, first, the idea and vision of forecasting (largely quantitative description), then, under the catchwords of development and growth, the commitment to planning with regard to defined (quantitative) benchmarks, and, last, the idea of management, meaning fundamentally changing the whole school systems on all levels, foremost its quality, leading eventually to a quantification of school quality, and by that contributing to overall attempts at social engineering, based upon defined indicators.

Abstract

In general, research findings on the emergence of international assessments focus on the time period after 1990. Indeed, after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the internationalization of education policies and particularly the inclination for assessment by so-called international experts became dominant, symbolized not least by the OECD’s publication of the first issue of Education at a Glance 1992: OECD Indicators (OECD, 1992). This is an indication of a ‘comparative turn’, based on international indicators that allow evaluation of the individual educational systems (Martens, 2007). However, this chapter argues that what becomes visible after the end of the Cold War is less the emergence of something new—brainchild of a neoliberal ideology of globalization, for instance—but more a materialized expression of a Cold War grid of thinking. In support of this thesis, after providing some contextual information, the chapter identifies three stages in the development of international education indicators in the 1960s—namely, first, the idea and vision of forecasting (largely quantitative description), then, under the catchwords of development and growth, the commitment to planning with regard to defined (quantitative) benchmarks, and, last, the idea of management, meaning fundamentally changing the whole school systems on all levels, foremost its quality, leading eventually to a quantification of school quality, and by that contributing to overall attempts at social engineering, based upon defined indicators.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Education
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Language:English
Date:19 March 2018
Deposited On:04 Feb 2019 08:16
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:18
Publisher:Routledge
ISBN:978-1-138-29582-7
OA Status:Closed
Official URL:https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781351586092/chapters/10.4324/9781315100432-8

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