ED5 - Globalisation and Education

This section aims to provide an analysis of globalization and its effects on education. The section is structured into three distinct parts. Initially, we will scrutinize the features of globalization, in order to better comprehend this multifaceted phenomenon. Subsequently, we will examine the implications of globalization on education, with a specific focus on the UK, and assess the positive and negative outcomes of these transformations. Finally, the lecture will conclude by exploring various perspectives on the impact of globalization on education.

Features of Globalisation

Globalization refers to the process of increased interconnectedness between people and nation-states, which has been ongoing for centuries, but experienced an explosion in the last 20-25 years. There are five main features of globalization, the first being technological developments that have led to a time-space compression. For instance, the Internet has made it possible for people to share information, cultures, and ideas instantly across the globe, unlike pre-Internet times when it could take up to a week for a letter to arrive.

The second feature of globalization is economic changes, such as the growth of transnational companies like Amazon, which operate in an electronic economy and employ thousands of people across the world. These changes have led to the emergence of an international banking system, where people can have accounts in different countries and purchase goods online anytime, unlike pre-globalization times when banking and shopping took place during business hours only. The economic changes are also linked to technological advancements, making it easier for people to do business globally and to benefit from tax breaks.

The third feature of globalization is political changes, where globalization and increased interconnectedness have undermined the power of nation-states. Governments must think about how their policies will play on an international stage and their relationships with other countries. Transnational corporations like Amazon have more power than governments in some cases, as they are less susceptible to national regulations.

The fourth feature of globalization is cultural changes, where people from different cultures have greater opportunities to share and interact with each other. This has led to the emergence of a global culture characterized by cultural hybridization, cultural homogenization, and cultural heterogenization. Hybridization is where cultures combine and produce new cultural forms. Homogenization is where cultures become similar and adopt the same cultural practices, while heterogenization is where cultures become different.

Finally, globalization has led to environmental changes, where the increased interconnectedness has resulted in global environmental problems, such as global warming, deforestation, and pollution. These environmental problems require global solutions and cooperation between nation-states to mitigate them.

In summary, globalization has led to the increased interconnectedness between people and nation-states, with five main features of technological, economic, political, cultural, and environmental changes. These changes have both positive and negative impacts on individuals, societies, and the environment.

Globalisation and education

We  now turn our attention to the complex relationship between globalisation and education. The impact of globalisation on education has been subject to much debate, with some scholars maintaining a positive stance while others express reservations. One crucial aspect of this impact is the increased competition for jobs on a global scale. With the emergence of a highly competitive global job market, corporations have begun to recognize that they can cast a wider net to find the most qualified candidates, irrespective of their location. This has put pressure on educational institutions to adapt their curricula and develop the skills necessary for their students to compete effectively at an international level. An illustration of this adaptation can be seen in the introduction of computer science as a subject in the school curriculum. This subject has gained increasing prominence due to the growing demand for coders in the global job market. In this regard, it is evident that education systems must respond to the needs of a changing job market by providing their students with relevant skills that enable them to compete successfully in a rapidly changing global economy.

The increasing presence of global computing corporations, such as Apple and Google, in the creation of educational content and resources is an observable trend. While it may not be accurate to state that they are imposing their way into the education system, it is evident that they are becoming more active within it. Schools now often affiliate themselves with a particular provider, such as Google, Microsoft, or Apple, based on the online services and platforms they offer to support their curricula. The shift toward online curriculum delivery has gained momentum, especially in the last year, as remote learning has become more widespread due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, these corporations have seized the opportunity to create a new market within the education sector, developing resources and programs that are attractive to schools and other educational establishments. The resources and platforms offered by these corporations are not free; schools must purchase them, and their choice of provider can significantly impact their technological infrastructure. Global companies are now influencing not only what is taught in schools but also how it is taught, through the development of features such as the insights app by Microsoft Teams or the file access monitoring of Google Classroom. Additionally, online classrooms such as Oak National have emerged as a new phenomenon, providing lessons remotely and electronically. It is evident that the participation of global computing companies in education is not just significant but also a rapidly growing trend, shaping the face of modern-day education.

There has been a discernible trend towards multiculturalism and decolonization of the curriculum in recent times. This is particularly important given the increasingly diverse student body in academic institutions. The call for a non-ethnocentric curriculum is grounded in the belief that it should not be solely reflective of white British history. Rather, it should provide a more nuanced understanding of the British colonies and the British Empire, delving beyond the traditional narrative that celebrates the glory of British imperialism. This entails investigating the reasons behind colonization and its impact on indigenous populations. Furthermore, the approach to teaching should prioritize diversity by providing exposure to a range of voices, ethnicities, genders, and sexualities.

This shift in pedagogical priorities is a response to globalization, which has enabled students to access a wider array of information and cultural perspectives outside of the classroom. As such, students expect a more inclusive education that represents their own identities and experiences. Failure to incorporate diverse perspectives in the curriculum is regarded as exclusionary, which goes against the core principles of education. Consequently, the decolonization of the curriculum and the adoption of a multicultural approach are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in recent years. Sociologists have contributed to this discourse by providing insights into the nature of imperialism and its effects on colonized peoples, thereby shaping the evolving nature of education in a globalized world.

The current educational landscape is characterized by increased competition between schools and universities to attract students. National rankings such as league tables and Ofsted reports exert significant influence on parents' choices of schools for their children. In primary and secondary schools, various methods are employed to evaluate the quality of education provided, especially since some schools may seek to attract international students. For instance, Windham College, a state boarding school, competes with other international boarding schools to attract international students. Similarly, universities have to compete more vigorously to attract international students because they pay higher fees and promote the institution as an international university. This global competition for students also extends to countries competing against each other, with the PISA system being the primary method of ranking education systems. The PISA tests assess 15-year-old school pupils' abilities in maths, science, and reading. Not every student takes the test, as schools are invited to participate and can choose to accept or decline the invitation. Member states and non-member states can use the PISA system to evaluate their education systems' performance relative to other countries. High-achieving countries are often used as models for education policies by governments seeking to improve their nations' education systems. However, such approaches overlook cultural differences in the way education is viewed and funded in different countries. In the UK, education is subject to a high level of accountability, which may not be the case in other countries such as Asian and Scandinavian countries, where education is highly valued, well-funded, and viewed as extremely important. Therefore, adopting education policies from other countries may not be appropriate or effective in the UK.

Globalisation has presented a range of potential risks and safeguarding concerns for schools. As a result of technological advancements, schools must now consider the issue of E-safety, cybersecurity, and cyberbullying. In addition, the issue of radicalization among vulnerable students has become an increasingly pressing concern. This includes religious radicalization, as well as extremist viewpoints such as those associated with extreme animal rights or political groups. It is important to recognize that exposure to inappropriate content and images online is not limited to religious groups, but affects all students. The concept of E-safety and digital citizenship is a recent development, brought about by the cultural and technological changes associated with globalisation. The introduction of the Prevent policy is an example of how schools are required to take measures to counter radicalization and support vulnerable students, both within and outside of the school environment. This policy is aimed at safeguarding students against potential radicalization and extremist views, and serves as both a counter-terrorism strategy and a safeguarding strategy. It is important to recognize that schools have an expanded role in safeguarding students, both within and outside of the school environment, including their online interactions.

Perspectives Views on Globalisation and Education.

In this section, we shall examine the different perspectives regarding the impact of globalisation on education. As we have observed, some impacts of globalisation on education can be regarded as positive, such as the decolonisation of the curriculum and the increased use of technology in schools. However, it is also worth noting that there are negative impacts, such as increased risks and safeguarding issues.

The first view that we shall explore is the hyper-globalist perspective, as expounded by Japanese Sociologist Kenichi Ohmae. According to Ohmae, globalisation has had a positive effect on the education system, promoting global citizenship and expanding the horizons of students beyond the confines of their school, town, or nation. Ohmae further argues that globalisation has fostered respect for diverse views, religions, and cultures worldwide. While some critics may take issue with Ohmae's use of the term "tolerance," it is fair to say that globalisation has engendered a greater degree of mutual understanding and respect among people from different backgrounds.

Ohmae also contends that globalisation has expanded access to information for students, resulting in higher levels of educational achievement. Some critics have suggested that this may be responsible for an apparent "dumbing down" of exams; however, it is more likely that students now have access to more resources and opportunities for study. While this has undoubtedly enabled many students to achieve higher grades, it is still necessary to ensure that exam standards remain rigorous and reliable. Overall, the hyper-globalist perspective posits that globalisation has had a generally positive impact on education, providing students with new opportunities to learn about the wider world and fostering respect for diversity.

The Marxist perspective on globalization suggests that it has not positively impacted education. According to Joel Spring, a key thinker in this regard, globalization has actually widened the gap between the privileged and the underprivileged, rather than creating greater equality of education. One of the key ways in which this divide has been exacerbated is through the digital divide, as technological developments have created a significant disparity between those who can afford technologies and those who cannot. This issue has become particularly salient in light of the pandemic, which has necessitated remote learning for many students. However, not all students have equal access to the technology required to participate in online learning, which has led to significant disparities in educational achievement.

Spring also argues that globalization has enabled global corporations to set the educational agenda, as they are the ones creating systems for schools and study. This means that these corporations are effectively dictating what schools should teach and how they should teach it. While some individuals have sought to profit from this situation by offering advice on how to deliver online lessons effectively, Spring contends that this shift in the educational agenda is disempowering for teachers.

The neo-liberal perspective asserts that globalization diminishes the role of governments in the education sector. This is because the presence of global transnational corporations assumes a larger role, allowing for reduced funding as online education replaces traditional brick-and-mortar institutions. However, an opposing viewpoint suggests that globalization necessitates an increase in funding due to heightened risk and the digital divide. The neo-liberal perspective further encourages the expansion of private schools and universities to other countries, with universities such as the University of Boston establishing campuses in different regions. These universities offer online courses, which allow students to obtain a degree without attending an on-campus institution.

The new Fordist view, on the other hand, argues that globalization has intensified competition in the job market and thus highlights the need for governments to increase education spending. The new Fordist perspective emphasizes that matching the funding of schools in other countries such as Scandinavia and Asia is essential to compete on a global scale. In conclusion, these three perspectives- neo-liberal, opposing, and new Fordist- provide differing views on the impact of globalization on education, with each suggesting distinct approaches to meeting the demands of a globalized world.