ABSTRACT

Why comparative studies? All around us we see university departments of comparative law, comparative religion, comparative physiology and anatomy, while commerce and scientific research for their part constantly make comparisons between domestic production or activities and those of other countries. One major field of comparison is in the study of education. But it is impossible to divorce educational trends and needs from comparative studies of society, economics, and technology undergoing rapid change—all with a view to prediction and decision. It will be a major purpose of this book to show why such a divorce is unthinkable,1 and why a study of the evidence which can be brought in from other academic disciplines and fields of experience can help the more scientific penetration of the problems of education itself. Yet, without waiting for this theoretical justification, we can see all around us a growing concern for effectiveness (indeed, relevance) in education. Decisions must be reliable producers of results. These qualities are publicly and privately assessed by judgements or studies comparatively made by governments, commercial houses, industries, and anxious parents, no less than by the academic community itself. That is not surprising when education is already the biggest single item (after defence) in many national budgets, and is in any case relied on as the principal means of shaping the future so as to produce a better world and a more constructive prospect for mankind.