Of Chimæras and Trojan Horses—Critical Remarks on Digitalization in Democratic Societies



This chapter aims to (1) differentiate the different semantic levels of digitalization in order to (2) clarify how different education policy measures related to digitalization are disseminated at different policy levels. It turns out that digitalization as an umbrella term is useless for educational theory and praxis, but at the same time provides political actors such as the OECD with a vacuum to implement their political ideas on the governance of education systems. The author presents this figure of the Trojan Horse and places the Chimera against it as a complement as an explanation for why luring but insubstantial concepts prevail in digitalized pedagogical practice. They appear familiar and imply a technical resolvability of the non-technical problem of education, but leave us unclear about the consequences of their use for the addressees and pedagogues. The chapter concludes with a plea for a renewed engagement with theories of schooling and for a stronger involvement of teachers and researchers in education policy measures against the background of digital transformations.


Digitalization Education policy OECD Paul Feyerabend 


  1. Adorno, Theodor, Hans Albert, Ralf Dahrendorf, Jürgen Habermas, Harald Pilot & Karl R. Popper (Eds.). 1976. The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology. London: Heinemann Educational Books.Google Scholar
  2. Arendt, Hannah. 2006 [1958]. The crisis of education. In: Between Past and Future, pp. 170–193. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  3. Ashby, W. Ross. 1956. An Introduction to Cybernetics. Oxford: Wiley & Sons.
  4. Biesta, Gerd. 2007. Why “what works” won’t work: evidence-based practice and the democratic deficit in educational research. In: Educational Theory 57(1), pp. 1–22.
  5. Biesta, Gerd. 2008. Good education in an age of measurement: on the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. In: Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability 21 (12), pp. 33–46.
  6. Bloem, Simone. 2015. The OECD directorate for education as an independent knowledge producer through PISA. In: Hans-Georg Kotthoff & Eleftherios Klerides (Eds.). Governing Educational Spaces. Knowledge, Teaching, and Learning in Transition, eds. Hans-Georg Kotthoff & Eleftherios Klerides. Rotterdam: Sense.
  7. Buck, Marc Fabian. 2017. Gamification of learning and teaching in schools–a critical stance. In: 13(1), pp. 35–54.
  8. Cunningham, Frank. 2010. Theories of Democracy. A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Feyerabend, Paul. 1978. Science in a Free Society. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  10. Feyerabend, Paul. 1980. How to Defend Society Against Science. In: Introductory Readings in the Philosophy of Science, ed. E. D. Klemke, Robert Hollinger & A. David Kline. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, pp. 55–65.Google Scholar
  11. Feyerabend, Paul. 2010 [1975]. Against Method. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  12. Forster, Edgar. 2014. Kritik der Evidenz. Das Beispiel evidence-informed policy research der OECD. In: Zeitschrift für Pädagogik 60 (6), pp. 890–907.
  13. Graves, Robert. 1962. The Greek Myths. Volume One. Mitchham, UK: Penguin.Google Scholar
  14. Hard, Robin. 2014. The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology. Based on H. J. Rose’s Handbook of Greek Mythology. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Helsper, Ellen. 2016. Inequalities in digital literacy: definitions, measurements, explanations and policy implications. In: Pesquisa sobre o uso das tecnologias de informação e comunicação nos domícilios brasileiros: TIC domicílios 2015 [Survey on the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Brazilian Households: ICT Households 2015]. Comitê Gestor da Internet no Brasil, São Paulo, Brasil, pp. 175–185.
  16. Höhne, Thomas. 2018. Educational media, reproduction, and technology: towards a critical political economy of educational media. In: The Palgrave Handbook of Textbook Studies, ed. Eckhardt Fuchs & Annekatrin Bock. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 115–125.
  17. Kultusministerkonferenz [KMK] (Ed.). 2016. Bildung in der digitalen Welt. Strategie der Kultusministerkonferenz. English summary:
  18. Martens, Kerstin. 2007. How to become an influential actor–the ‘comparative turn’ in OECD education policy. In: New Arenas in Education Governance, eds. Kerstin Martens, Allesandra Rusconi & Kathrin Leuze. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Moldenhauer, Anna & Marc Fabian Buck. 2020. The OECD and Digitalisation in Education–A Socioscientific Discourse Analysis of Education Policy Recommendations on Digitalisation. Under review.Google Scholar
  20. OECD. 1999. Education Policy Analysis 1999. CERI Series. Paris: OECD.
  21. OECD. 2000. Knowledge Management in the Learning Society. CERI Series.
  22. OECD. 2001a. Education Policy Analysis 2001. CERI Series. Paris: OECD.
  23. OECD. 2001b. Learning to Change–ICT in Schools. CERI Series. Paris: OECD.
  24. OECD. 2010. Are the New Millennium Learners Making the Grade? Technology use and educational performance in PISA 2006. CERI Series. Paris: OECD.
  25. Parry, Geraint. 2001. Democracies, types of. In Political Philosophy. Theories, Thinkers, and Concepts, ed. S.M. Lipset. Washington, DC: CQ Press, pp. 364–373.Google Scholar
  26. Pongratz, Ludwig A. 1978. Zur Kritik kybernetischer Methodologie in der Pädagogik. Ein paradigmatisches Kapitel szientistischer Verkürzung pädagogisch-anthropologischer Reflexion. Frankfurt/Main, Bern, Las Vegas: Peter Lang.
  27. Pettersson, Daniel. 2014. The Development of the IEA: the rise of large-scale testing. In: Transnational Policy Flows in European Education: The making and governing of knowledge in the education policy field, eds. Andreas Nordin & Daniel Sundberg. Oxford: Symposium Books, pp. 105–122.Google Scholar
  28. Sellar, Sam & Bob Lingard. 2014. The OECD and the expansion of PISA: New global modes of governance in education. In: British Educational Research Journal 40(6), pp. 917–936. Scholar
  29. van Dijk, Johannes A. G. M. 2012. The evolution of the digital divide–the digital divide turns to inequality of skills and usage. In: Digital Enlightenment Yearbook 2012, ed. Jacques Bus, Malcolm Crompton, Mireille Hildebrandt, George Metakides. Amsterdam: IOS Press.Google Scholar
  30. Weber, Max. 1904. Die „Objektivität” sozialwissenschaftlicher und sozialpolitischer Erkenntnis. In: Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik 19, H. 1. S. 22–87.
  31. Wiener, Norbert. 1948. Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universität HamburgHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations