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Standardizing and Globalizing the Nation-State

Journal Article
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In the course of comparative research and consulting work, one comes across many examples of local policies and preferences that clearly reflect worldwide fashions. It is a familiar story, and examples can readily be found from any part of the world. For instance, observing schools in rural West Africa, a group of us watched a teacher conducting a language lessons. She was the only teacher present in the school - it was Friday, and as was often the case, none of the other teachers had come. The lesson was problematic. The teacher was barely literate, and no sixth-grade student could read even a simple sentence in English, supposedly the language of instruction. But hte Ministry of Education official who was with me seemed not to notice. He turned to me and said that was was really needed in the region was improved textbooks, materials, and instruction in science. "After all, our children have to compete in the global economy." Of course, he was following a standard story line, coming from the United States perhaps fifteen years ago. It was formed partly in response to Japanese economic success and has now gone worldwide. It is the conventional little story about the need for reform in science education to facilitate economic development.

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