Aspects of Educational Transfer

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There has always been much agonising and disagreement about the definition, purpose, and methods of comparative education. But there might be general agreement on one thing, namely, that among the aims of comparative inquiry in education should be the intention to learn from the foreign experience, to identify aspects of educational provision ‘elsewhere’ that might serve as lessons for the ‘home’ situation, that might be ‘borrowed’ or ‘copied’, ‘emulated’, ‘imported’, ‘appropriated’ — the vocabulary is both diverse and in various ways problematic — that might result, in Michael Sadler's words, ‘in our being better fitted to understand our own [system]’ (Sadler, 1900, in Higginson, 1979).

The idea that policy and practice might be ‘borrowed’ or ‘transferred’ from other locations has, then, been a continuing theme — both enthusiastically embraced and dismissed as a simplistic notion — since the early days of comparative inquiry in education.