Culture and Pedagogy: International Comparisons in Primary Education
February 2001, ©2001, Wiley-Blackwell
It reveals how teaching, learning, and pedagogic discourse are
shaped not just by the decisions of the teacher but also by school
values and organization, by local pressures, national policy, and
the balance of political control, by the tensions and ambiguities
of the democratic ideal, and by culture and history.
Winner of the American Educational Research Association Outstanding Book Award and the Society for Educational Studies Best Book Award.
List of Figures.
List of Tables.
Part I: Settings:.
1. The Comparative Context.
Part II: Systems, Policies and Histories:.
2. Primary Education in France.
3. Primary Education in Russia.
4. Primary Education in India.
5. Primary Education in the United States of America.
6. Primary Education in England.
7. Primary Education and the State.
Part III: Schools:.
8. Buildings and People.
9. The Idea of a School.
10. Beyond the Gates.
Part IV: Classrooms:.
11. Comparing Teaching.
12. Lesson Structure and Form.
13. Organisation, Task and Activity.
14. Judgement, Routine, Rule and Ritual.
15. Interaction, Time and Pace.
16. Learning Discourse.
Part V: Reflections:.
17. Culture and Pedagogy.
- Compares educational policies and practices in five
- Probes the relationship between public education and national
- Draws on new data to illuminate the processes of teaching and
- Addresses important questions about primary education in the 21st century.
'This eagerly awaited study of pre-adolescent schooling will
surface quickly as a distinguished, ambitious, comparative analysis
of core classroom and instructional issues. There exist few
genuinely comparative educational studies, because such work is so
challenging and expensive. It is rare for a scholar to take
Professor Alexander's posture towards international work and pursue
so successfully a set of common questions in pressing for
comparable understandings in a diverse group of nations.'
Michael W Sedlak, Michigan State University
'This book is unique in offering thick descriptions of education
in five countries combined with a sophisticated analytical
framework. The uniqueness and boldness of this project thus lies
not only in the fact that the author is dealing with five very
different education systems, but that he aspires to use these five
cases to generate some basic laws or principles of pedagogy which
transcend culture and at the same time are intricately tied up with
culture.' Joseph Tobin, University of Hawaii
'Robin Alexander's vast and wonderful book ... should instantly
become the property of every primary school in the land. Every page
of this strikingly well-written, pungently critical and generously
humane study testifies to the author's stamina as well as to his
intelligence. A work certain to become canonical in many
Book of the Week citation in the TES
'This is an unusually stimulating, well-argued and comprehensive
book, and it deserves a very wide readership. It goes far beyond
the realm of interest of comparative education, and in fact uses
the discipline of comparative studies to express a detailed, cogent
and striking critique of the theory and practice of primary
education in England, while painting a convincing and knowledgeable
picture of primary schools in Michigan, India, France and Russia.
Schools in all five of these parts of the world illuminate and are
illuminated by each other. The research on which the study is based
is truly massive: substantial videotaping of lessons and exhaustive
and perceptive analysis of what went on, interviews with
practitioners and educationalists, study of a bibliography of about
a thousand items. Most striking of all, the presiding intelligence
of Professor Alexander provides a strong, but immensely complex
attitude, a standpoint from which the data are analysed, and a
series of authoritative conclusions which merit very close
'This is a gloriously opinionated book. It subjects the whole
world of education theory, ideology and practice to a withering
analysis. No reader comes out without having his cherished ideas
questioned, or even, perhaps, mocked. For this reason, the book
would be immensely useful to any thoughtful teacher and any
trainee-teacher - and not only in the primary field, either.
Alexander's devastating remarks about certain writers and activists
make enjoyable reading.'
J.Y.Muckle, University of Nottingham, Education in Russia, the Independent States and Eastern Europe, Vol. 19, No. 1, Spring 2001.
'This innovative, important book is on the cutting edge of
comparative education research. Highly recommended for the
intelligent general reader as well as advanced students and
professionals.' Choice, September 2001, Vol 39.
'The book is beautifully written...a fascinating read.' Colin
Richards, St. Martin's College, Journal of Education for Teaching,
Vol. 27, 2001
"Robin Alexander's aspirations for this long book are monumental
[...] his work contributes to our better understanding of the
nature of teaching and learning, and it should be welcomed in that
regard." Marlaine Lockheed, Manager, Evaluation Group, World
Bank Institute, Comparative Education Review, May 2002
"an extraordinarily ambitious book...Culture and Pedagogy
would be an excellent comprehensive text for a variety of
Comparative Education and Anthropology and Education Classes
(particularly methods classes and classes focusing on
globalization). the multi-methodological approach and the emergent
themes informing each chapter expand the possible scope and breadth
for future studies in comparative education." Thuy
Daojensen and Karen Anijar, Arizona State University, Anthropology
and Education Quarterly, Vol. 34, June 2003
"The book offers a good example of how data can be collected and analyzed simultaneously on multiple levels to paint a rich and nuanced picture of how schools work and how the daily work of teachers and pupils links to national policy. It encourages us to realize that, although there may not be 800 distinctive words for school in each culture, there are in fact different grammars of schooling that reflect cultural differences and that strive to deal from those different foundations with essential issues of control, identity, and induction into a larger culture of speakers, readers, and writers." Stephen T. Kerr, University of Washington, APA Review of Books, December 2003
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