Comparative Studies in History of Education

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSES2012074

Semester and Year Offered: 3rd Semester (Monsoon Semester 2016)

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Manish Jain

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives: Comparative Education, now often known as Comparative and International education is an established field of enquiry within the western academia with various specialized programmes and journals devoted to this field. In contrast, it remains an underdeveloped field in India. In this context, this course has following objectives:

  • Introduce students to the fields of comparative history and comparative education to understand and analyse various educational issues in a comparative historical frame.
  • Examine intersections of colonialism and education, relationship among education, state formation, nationalism, and economic development.
  • Pursue comparative inquiry with reference to questions of social inequality, social transformation, social justice, culture, identity and knowledge/power relations in society.
  • To engage with these questions, use different entry points such as histories of emergence of mass schooling, contestations over ‘curriculum’ and ‘textbooks’, position, training and work of ‘teachers’, experiences of ‘students’ in the ‘school’, educational ‘reforms’ and the meaning of these categories at different historical junctures.
  • It is hoped that through these engagements, this course will develop skills and capacities for international and inter-regional comparisons.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  • Explain the domain of comparative education;
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the key tenets of modernisation and postcolonial theory;
  • Compare development of national education systems in different countries and identify various factors which shaped this development;
  • Examine curriculum as a site of class, racial, gendered, and colonial dominance and resistance to it;
  • Use educational ideas, student’s experiences and bodies, teacher’s roles and textbooks as sources to write curriculum history;
  • Critically analyze and use different concepts and theoretical frameworks in their written work and oral presentations; and
  • Demonstrate critical skills required to read and compare a range of texts and contexts;

Brief description of modules/ Main modules: The course is organised in compulsory and optional units. The first three units are compulsory units. Students and teacher together will decide one unit from unit 4 and 5 on the basis of their interest.

Unit 1: The Domain

This introductory unit would begin with close reading of some comparative education case studies to understand what comparison means, how it is done and how it enriches our understanding by drawing upon insights from one context to a different context.

Unit 2: Colonialism and Education in Comparative Historical Frame

This unit focuses on concepts of colonialism and imperialism and postcolonial perspectives to examine relationship of colonialism and education in the past and present in a comparative manner.

Unit 3: ‘National’ Systems of Education: Emergence and Comparisons

This unit would focus on the emergence of ‘national’ systems of education in the context of histories of state formation, industrialization and urbanization and examines their validity in their own and other contexts. It may also compare the regional trajectories of education in India.

Unit 4: Curriculum in History

How has curriculum been implicated in the processes of establishing class, racial, gendered, and colonial dominance? How have intersecting vectors of unequal power and resources shaped debates about curriculum? How do we write histories of curriculum in the context of society, ‘innovative’ and ‘progressive’ educational ideas and practices, student’s experiences and bodies, teacher’s roles and textbooks? In what ways ‘educational borrowing’ has been shaping curriculum in the past and present. These questions will be discussed with a focus on Canada and British Columbia.

Unit 5: Teachers and Teaching: Across Countries, Social groups and Time

This unit attempts to historically locate meaning of teacher and teaching. Who was the teacher? How did gender and race shape experience of being teacher? What were the anxieties about teachers in different historical period? What discourses govern the idea and roles of teacher? What were the efforts to ‘professionalise’ teaching, with what intentions and with what effects? This unit would also involve historical examination of the texts and institutions to train teachers.

Assessment Details with weights:

S. No.





First assignment


Mid- September


One individual class presentation on reading


August to October


Group work and individual write-up: comparing cases

15 % each, total 30%

Mid- October


End-term examination


Last-week November


Reading List:

Essential Readings for Unit 1:

Dreze, Jean (1999). The Schooling Revolution in Himachal Pradesh.. In Public Report on Basic Education in India. New Delhi: OUP, pp: 115-127.

Snehi, Yogesh (2012). Comparatives within a Region: Exploring Historical Correlates between Sexuality, Plan Outlays and Education. Paper presented at the Annual International Conference of ‘Comparative Education Society of India (CESI) 10-12 October, Jammu.

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita (2009). Comparison: Quo Vadis? In R. Cowen and A. M. Kazamias (eds.), International Handbook of Comparative Education, New York: Springer, pp: 1141–1158.

Sen, Amartya (2009). Lives, Freedoms and Capabilities. In idem, The Idea of Justice. Belknap Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 225-252.

Pandey, Triloki Nath. 2002. 'The Anthropologist-Informant Relationship: The Navajo and Zuni in America and the Tharu in India', in M.N. Srinivas, A.M. Shah and E.A.Ramaswamy (eds) The Fieldworker and the Field: Problems and Challenges in Sociological Investigation, pp. 246-265.

Unterhalter, Elaine (2009). Social Justice, Development Theory and the Question of Education. In R. Cowen and A. M. Kazamias (eds.), International Handbook of Comparative Education, New York: Springer, pp: 781–800.

Essential Readings for Unit 2:

Crossley, Michael and Tikly, Leon (2004). Postcolonial Perspectives and Comparative and International Research in Education: A Critical Introduction. Comparative Education, Vol. 40, No. 2, Special Issue (28): Postcolonialism and Comparative Education, pp. 147-156.

Mangan, J. A. (1988). ‘Introduction: Imperialism, History and Education’, in J. A. Mangan (ed.) ‘Benefits Bestowed?’: Education and British Imperialism. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp: 1-22.

Brown, Godfrey N. (1964). ‘British Educational Policy in West and Central Africa’, The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp: 365-77.

White, Bob W. (1996). ‘Talk About School: Education and the Colonial Project in French and British Africa, 1860-1960’, Comparative Education, Vol. 32, No. 1, March, pp: 9-25.

Jain, Manish (2005). Imagery of the White Man?: ‘Citizen’, ‘Ward’, and the State in Bourinot’s Civics. Paper presented at the Conference in the Honour of Prof. Jean Barman, Green College, University of British Columbia, 18 March.

Essential Readings for Unit 3:

Green, Andy (2000). Education and State Formation Revisited. In Roy Lowe (ed.) History of Education: Major Themes, Vol. 2, Debates in the History of Education, London: Routledge, pp: 303-321.

Larsen, Marianne A. (2011). Victorian Education Reform: Comparative and International Contexts, Chapter 3. In idem, The Making and Shaping of the Victorian Teacher: A Comparative New Cultural History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp: 29-49.

Curtis, Bruce (1983). Preconditions of the Canadian State: Educational Reform and the Construction of a Public in Upper Canada, 1837-1846. Studies in Political Economy, No. 10, pp: 99-121.

Essential Readings for Unit 4:

Thomson, Gerald E. (2000). ‘A Fondness for Charts and Children: Scientific Progressivism in Vancouver Schools 1920-1950’, Historical Studies in Education, vol. 12, no. 1& 2, pp: 111-128.

Cynthia (2001). ‘Inventing the Extracurriculum: High School Culture in Interwar Ontario’, Ontario History, vol. XCIII, no. 1, Spring, pp: 33-56.

Tomkins, George S. (1981). ‘Foreign Influences on Curriculum and Curriculum Policy Making in Canada: Some Impressions in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives’, Curriculum Inquiry, vol. 11, no. 2, Summer, pp: 157-166.

Tomkins, George S. (1986). A Common Countenance: Stability and Change in the Canadian Curriculum. Scaraborough, ON: Prentice-Hall, Canada, pp: 155-176.

Gleason, Mona (2001). ‘Disciplining the Student Body: Schooling and the Construction of Canadian Children’s Bodies, 1930-1960’, History of Education Quarterly, vol. 41, no. 2, Summer, pp: 189-215.

Francis, Daniel (1997). ‘Your Majesty’s Realm: The Myth of the Master Race’, Chapter 3 in National Dreams: Myth, Memory and Canadian History. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, pp: 52-87.

Essential Readings for Unit 5:

Albisetti, James C. (2000). The Feminization of Teaching in the Nineteenth Century: A Comparative Perspective. In Roy Lowe (ed.) History of Education: Major Themes, Vol. 2, Debates in the History of Education, London: Routledge, pp: 489-503.

Marianne A. (2011). The Discourse of the Good Victorian Teacher: The Modern and Moral Teacher, Chapter 5. In idem, The Making and Shaping of the Victorian Teacher: A Comparative New Cultural History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp: 53-73.

Molina, Iván (2006). Women and Teaching in Costa Rica in the Early Twentieth Century. In Regina Cortina and Sonsoles San Román (Eds.) Women and Teaching: Global Perspectives on the Feminization of a Profession, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp: 187-214.

Bergen, Barry H. (1988). Only a Schoolmaster: Gender, Class and the Effort to Professionalize Elementary Teaching in England 1870-1910. In Jenny Ozga (ed.) Schoolwork: Approaches to the Labour Process of Teaching. Milton Keynes: Open University Press, pp: 39-60.

Weiler, Kathleen (1999). Reflections on Writing a History of Women Teachers. In Kathleen Weiler and Sue Middleton (ed.) Narrative Inquiries in the History of Women’s Education. Buckingham: Open University Press, pp: 43-59.