Monday, 11 July 2011

PISA Under Examination: Bob Cowan's Closing Speech

Bob Cowan closed the Symposium with a speech called, "Currencies, contexts, and Cassandra: whose truths are true and where do we go from here?"

The notes:

Currency - what counts as good exchange value
Cassandra - following (not) what seems to be good policy

PISA - an attractive topic:
  • We have positioned ourselves in PISA in a number of roles
  • error in curriculum thought
  • political science problem
  • a comparison of political power into forms of governance
  • state-of-the-art empirical work
  • media event
PISA - loosely speaking, is "comparative education"
  • it compares one with the other
  • 50 tears out of date - comparative education is not doing that anymore
  • is Big Science -- asks a question and makes it as powerful as it can
  • costs money
  • politics of the birth of PISA -- what are they?
  • politics of its death
Jullien (1817) - A [positivist] Science of Comparative Education
  • PISA part of the trajectory of comparative education
  • the motif of the diffusion of best practice
Rashomon PISA:
  • Japanese fable of two different stories of a death in the woods
  • admiring the technical skills of PISA
  • historical perspective and connections and disconnection with Sputnik, Cold War, politics of governance
  • disciplinary technology of PISA -- Foucault
  • Weber -- rationalization of the world
  • upsetting quality of PISA e.g. Gerry Mac Ruiarc
  • issues of immigration -- why are the Turks not improving?
  • "result riddles" -- e.g. deciphering the Finnish result riddle
  • political positioning by Education Ministries of PISA as irrelevant as a GPS
  • positioning of PISA by identity politics
  • PISA as an ideology (at the international level)
The scientification of policy
  • Jullien's motif
  • the motif from the political plea (in neo-liberal discourses) e.g. USA, Australia
The politicization of science
  • numbers
  • cultural significance and magic of numbers
  • as political resistance
  • as victory

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