Well-travelled children need to be well educated also

Journal of Research in International Education
October 22, 2004

The international dimension in education has always been of interest, but rapid and substantial developments in mobility and communication have made it an even more pressing concern during recent years. In the first issue of the Journal of Research in International Education , launched in 2002, editor Jeff Thompson lays out the principal reasons why it was needed.

These include: to foment and sustain a debate about the nature and definition of international education, to strengthen its theoretical basis, to clarify the appropriate methodology for research in the field and to help improve practice.

Two years later, it is fair to say that the journal has made a courageous attempt to live up to these aspirations. The topics covered are relevant and varied. They have included historical surveys; research into teachers, students and parents; case studies; and analysis of individual countries and across cultures. The recommended length of 4,000 to 7,000 words allows contributors to give a fairly thorough account.

Authors are based in several different countries and they address central issues such as culture, language and personality in the context of the internationally mobile child; cross-national online learning; accountability in the international school; emotional intelligence and the curriculum; and international doctoral programmes. The articles, in general, are clearly written in a style that should be acceptable to researchers and practitioners, with technical terms explained in a non-patronising manner.

The international focus produces a number of interesting interpretations of common phenomena and policy matters. The concept of accountability, for example, is widely and disparately applied, and in one issue J. Eric Robertson analyses teachers' perceptions of 20 years of practice in what he calls "Anglophone countries": Australia, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and the US.

International schools usually operate outside the jurisdiction of any one particular national framework, so it is especially interesting to discover that the neoliberal business model, favoured by many recent Anglophone governments and supranational bodies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, is not so easily installed by diktat. In international schools teachers are still able, to some degree, to assert a professional view as to how their work should be evaluated rather than have a system externally imposed.

What is notable about this journal is that there has been no loss of all-round quality since it was launched. The contents remain faithful to the original aspirations, and there is still a healthy variety, with no single preferred stereotype. Although such diversity can sometimes be a weakness, and might have produced flaccid pieces on virtually any topic, I think in this case it is a strength to stay comprehensive in what is a broad field of interests. The actual printed copy itself is well produced, with the text set out clearly, and there are trilingual (English, French, Spanish) abstracts at the start of each article. There is a growing book review section.

The only improvements I would suggest are: the need for an occasional thematic issue in which all the contributors address the same topic, perhaps from different methodological, philosophical or geographical perspectives; greater opportunity for dialogue, when readers can join in and sustain a debate about a particular piece of research; and some more sophisticated quantitative studies that go beyond simple tabulations, as most quantitative methodology to date has been fairly rudimentary. It is not easy to establish a new journal, and these observations are not meant to detract from the positive achievements that this publication has realised in its relatively short period of existence.

Ted Wragg is emeritus professor of education, Exeter University, former president of the British Educational Research Association, and editor of the international journal Research Papers in Education .

Journal of Research in International Education

Editor - Jeff Thompson
Publisher - Sage, published in association with the International Baccalaureate Organisation
Pages - Triannual
Price - Institutions £225.00; Individuals £39.00
ISSN - 1475 2409

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