09 SES 03 JS, How to Tame Monsters: Encounters Between Standards and Deviants
Symposium Joint Session NW 09 and NW 28
Standardisation processes seek to overlay bumpy, contoured terrains with grids of smoothness and precision and make the dynamic turmoil of life amenable to tidy mathematics. Standardisation projects are getting ever more ambitious and pervasive (Lampland & Star, 2009), especially in education.Yet a close look shows that such projects are never complete; non-standard monsters continue to roam the planet, albeit sometimes subdued and disguised, defying classification and standardisation (Latour, 1993).
The ubiquity, invisibility and reach of standards have made standardisation an important focus of sociological attention. Studying standards as technosocial hybrids of science and politics (Law, 1991), scholars in ANT and more broadly in STS have developed a range of concepts to study how standards successfully become part of our world or disassemble and fade away.
The four authors in this symposium use these resources to direct their ANTish attention to encounters between monsters (i.e. the non-standard) and theexpanding projects of standardisation in education. They trace the negotiations and the translations that attend the mobilisation of standards, and explore how entities resist and escape such efforts. Their empirical sites are not geographical; instead, their ‘sites’ are the processes of standardisation in international assessments. Escaping methodological nationalism, they offer no ‘national perspectives’. Instead, they describe the thorough intermingling of politics, nature, science and culture involved in international assessment. They collectively ask: how can European scholars respond to the growing confrontations between standardisation and the social and cultural diversity so valued in Europe? The Discussant will comment on the critical possibilities offered by the approaches explored in the four papers.
Gorur examines how the monsters of difference, diversity and uncertainty are tamed by mathematics in the OECD’s efforts to develop international education indicators and to produce annual comparisons ‘at a glance’. She concludes that this annual standardised account has itself become an out-of-control monster, variously used and misused around the world.
International assessments such as PIAAC and the UNESCO LAMP programme seek to examine the extent to which students are able to apply what they know about ‘real life’ contexts and problems. However real life and real people are irreducible and are reluctant to be standardised. The paper by Bryan Maddox explores the dynamics of testing situations, and how human and non-human actors interact to produce standardised data.
PISA was originally intended for the OECD member nations, but the OECD now seeks a PISA for Development to encourage more low and middle income nations to comparatively benchmark their progress. Addey explores how PISA will negotiate the always delicate balance between innovation and the maintenance of trend stability in projects of standardisation and how the attempt to manage this balance leads to conceptual contradiction and methodological standardization.
An important by-product of processes of ordering and standardising is the production of the ‘other’ to order: disorder. Examining the media responses to the first PIAAC survey of the OECD, Hamilton explores the extent to which the OECD’s careful efforts to orchestrate and manage the media reporting of PIAAC become unruly and difficult to control as the media – especially interactive blogs and other forms of social media – blur the lines between producers and consumers of news and thus translate the PIAAC project.
The four papers together demonstrate how ANT’s descriptive sociology can also be disruptive, opening up new points of interference and participation. Treating humans and non-humans as analytically symmetrical, they explore how collectives are mobilised and stabilised in standardising projects, and also how these projects are never complete. Together, they hope for a world which may learn to live with – and love – monsters.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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