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Imagining school as standards-driven and students as career-ready! a comparative genealogy of us federal and european transnational turns in education policy

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This chapter maps in a comparative perspective the complex genealogies of the US federal and the European transnational turns in school and education policy. It maps how particular truth regimes of comparability were gradually produced, which discursively linked school and education to the performance of the economy by means of discursive imaginaries and associated ideas about optimization of human capital. Hereby, discourse about the purpose of school and education and what counts as public good were fundamentally transformed. It identifies the driving discursive force at work on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in the form of Knowledge Economy discourse. This discourse motivates by telling the story about fierce global competition where a nation and a region will fall behind if it does not optimize its human capital, that is, produce “employable” or “career-ready” subjects for the economy.

The chapter aims at identifying the genealogies of the new relationships between federal and state levels in the United States as well as the more recently created relationships between transnational organizations (the OECD, EU, and the Bologna Process in particular) and European nation states in relation to school and education. In both cases, the federal and transnational levels have traditionally mainly dealt with economic cooperation, whereas school and education have until recently been issues that were taken care of in the United States by the state and in Europe at nation state level.

Consequently, imaginaries about school, education, and their purpose are increasingly negotiated according to a format of comparability in and between the United States and Europe, as national economies become increasingly interconnected in so-called global Knowledge Economies. This format has brought about a proliferation of power technologies, parameters, and procedures by which these two globally influential regions mutually compare and rank their constituent member subjects (i.e., states and nation states) in order to determine who is in the lead and who is lagging behind internally, as well as who is the most successful among the two regions.

The chapter mainly draws on Foucauldian and post-Foucauldian theoretical approaches with a focus upon genealogy, discourse, and governmentality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of education policy studies : school/university, curriculum, and assessment
EditorsGuorui Fan, Thomas S. Popkewitz
Number of pages33
Place of publicationSingapore
Publication year2020
ISBN (print)978-981-13-8342-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-13-8343-4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

John Benedicto Krejsler (Ph.D. & M.Ed.) is a professor at the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Copenhagen, Denmark. His current research centers on new conditions for (pre-)school and teacher education—in a transnational perspective and brings together three key themes: the transnational turn in education policy; evidence and new conditions for producing “truths” about “what works”; social technologies such as comparative surveys or testing. His research blends empirical, ethnographic, and comparative education research with an explorative theoretical interest (poststructuralist theory and critical theory in particular). Krejsler is the President of the Nordic Educational Research Association (board member since 2006) and was
member of the council of the European Educational Research Association (2009–2018). He was a visiting professor at Kristianstad University, Sweden, in 2009 and 2010, and at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2015. Krejsler participated in a large number of international research projects, including projects dealing with US versus European school policy, Formation of National Teachers in a European Educational Space (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway), Danish university reform in an international perspective, the IEA International Citizenship Education Study, the IEA SITES-m2 study, and a SOCRATES-EU Citizenship education project among others.
E-mail: jok@edu.au.dk.

    Research areas

  • Comparative education policy, European transnational education policy, United States education policy, School policy, Governmentality

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