Comparing Post-Socialist Transformations: purposes, policies, and practices in education

Symposium Books Ltd
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This volume revisits the book edited by David Phillips and Michael Kaser in 1992, entitled Education and Economic Change in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union (https://doi.org/10.15730/books.42). Two and a half decades later, this volume reflects on how post-socialist countries have engaged with what Phillips & Kaser called ‘the flush of educational freedom’. Spanning diverse geopolitical settings that range from Southeast and Central Europe to the Caucasus and Central Asia, the chapters in this volume offer analyses of education policies and practices that the countries in this region have pursued since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This book explores three interrelated questions. First, it seeks to capture complex reconfigurations of education purposes during post-socialist transformations, noting the emergence of neoliberal education imaginaries in post-socialist spaces and their effects on policy discussions about education quality and equity across the region. Second, it examines the ongoing tensions inherent in post-socialist transformations, suggesting that beneath the surface of dominant neoliberal narratives there are always powerful countercurrents – ranging from the persisting socialist legacies to other alternative conceptualizations of education futures – highlighting the diverse trajectories of post-socialist education transformations. And finally, the book engages with the question of ‘comparison’, prompting both the contributing authors and readers to reflect on how research on post-socialist education transformations can contribute to rethinking comparative methods in education across space and time.
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Publisher
Symposium Books Ltd
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Published on
Nov 5, 2018
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Pages
206
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ISBN
9781910744031
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The essays in Globalization on the Margins explore the continuities and changes in Central Asian education development since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Reflecting on two decades of postsocialist transformations, they reveal that education systems in Central Asia responded to the rapidly changing political, economic, and social environment in profoundly new and unique ways. Some countries moved towards Western models, others went backwards, and still others followed entirely new trajectories. Yet, elements of the “old” system remain. Rather than viewing these postSoviet transformations in isolation, Globalization on the Margins places its analyses within the global context by reflecting on the interaction between Soviet legacies and global education reform pressures in the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Instead of portraying the transition process as the influx of Western ideas into the region, the authors provide new lenses to critically examine the multidirectional flow of ideas, concepts, and reform models within Central Asia. Notwithstanding the variety of theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, and conceptual lenses, the authors have one thing in common: both individually and collectively, they reveal the complexity and uncertainty of the postSoviet transformations. By highlighting the political nature of the transformation processes and the uniqueness of historical, political, social, and cultural contexts of each particular country, Globalization on the Margins portrays postSoviet education transformations as complex, multidimensional, and uncertain processes.
Globalization has a profound effect on the mission and goals of education worldwide. One of its most visible manifestations is the worldwide endorsement of the idea of “education for global citizenship,” which has been enthusiastically supported by national governments, politicians, and policymakers across different nations. Increasingly, the educational institutions feel under pressure to respond to globalization forces by preparing students to engage competitively and successfully with this new realm, lest their nations be left in the dust. What is the role of international schools in implementing the idea of “education for global citizenship”? How do these schools create a culturally unbiased global curriculum when the adopted models have been developed by Western societies and at the very least are replete with (Western) cultural values, traditions, and biases? This collection of essays attempts to grapple with these complex issues, while highlighting that culture and politics closely intertwine with schooling and curriculum as parents, administrators, teachers, and students of different backgrounds and interests negotiate definitions of self and each other to construct knowledge in particular contexts. The goal is to examine the complexity of factors that drive the global demand for “education for global citizenship” and deconstruct the contested nature of “global citizenship” by examining how the phenomenon is understood, interpreted, and modified in different cultural settings. The authors provide not only a thick description of their cases, but also a critical assessment of various attempts to initiate and implement educational reforms aimed at the development of globallyminded citizens in various national settings.
This book explores childhood and schooling in late socialist societies by bringing into dialogue public narratives and personal memories that move beyond imaginaries of Cold War divisions between the East and West. Written by cultural insiders who were brought up and educated on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain - spanning from Central Europe to mainland Asia - the book offers insights into the diverse spaces of socialist childhoods interweaving with broader political, economic, and social life. These evocative memories explore the experiences of children in navigating state expectations to embody “model socialist citizens” and their mixed feelings of attachment, optimism, dullness, and alienation associated with participation in “building” socialist futures. Drawing on the research traditions of autobiography, autoethnography, and collective biography, the authors challenge what is often considered ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ in the historical accounts of socialist childhoods, and engage in (re)writing histories that open space for new knowledges and vast webs of interconnections to emerge. This book will be compelling reading for students and researchers working in education, sociology and history, particularly those within the interdisciplinary fields of childhood and area studies.

‘The authors of this beautiful book are professional academics and intellectuals who grew up in different socialist countries. Exploring “socialist childhoods” in myriad ways, they draw on memories, and collective history, emotional insider knowledge and the measured perspective of an analyst. What emerges is life that was caught between real optimism and dullness, ethical commitments and ideological absurdities, selfless devotion to children and their treatment as a political resource. Such attention to detail and examination of the paradoxical nature of this time makes this collective effort not only timely but remarkably genuine.’

—Alexei Yurchak, University of California, USA

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