Comparing perspectives: Comparative research in technology education
This paper reflects on a number of different ways by which comparative research in technology education has been undertaken across countries. The history of comparative research in technology education demonstrates that it is possible to identify three major periods in the process of its development. When technology education was established a comparison had been made at the level of curriculum documents, syllabi and State Orders. People involved in the development of technology education were looking around the world for ideas. During this first stage, approaches to the analysis were not very systematic. The second stage in the development of comparative research in technology education could be characterised by a great number of published or presented papers that describe the situation in a particular country. Even though comparison, as such, was not used in this research the underlying assumption was that it should inform the research community about different approaches towards technology education and that it would be beneficial for the field. The third stage involved comparison between two or more countries about one or more specific aspects of technology education. These include for example, the meaning of the major concepts, teaching methods, comparison of goals, comparison of the balance between the global trends and local specificities. In this paper it is argued that it is essential to move towards the next stage - a comparison on the basis of two ideological beliefs about the purposes of general education. These beliefs are: whether education is designed to broaden minds and develop all students in the creation of a better society or is it really about training students to live and work in a market-oriented state, to be 'productive' in seizing the opportunities of the market. These two beliefs and the approaches derived from them have been chosen because they summarize an important issue that divides different social theories in their views on the role of education in society. They can provide a useful framework for analysing historical influences, curriculum theories, documents, and school practices in technology education in different countries.
International Handbook of Technology Education: Reviewing the Past Twenty Years