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BEREDAY, New York In several countries education is undergoing a face-lifting, and everybody now knows what professors of comparative education are supposed to compare. What everybody does not know is that the art of predicting from successes and failures of foreign educational systems has its own hidden pitfalls. Professors of comparative education are people, and people exhibit human prejudices. Recently we have had interesting evidence alerting us to unconscious ethnocentric and personal bias. This evidence is contained in two sets of articles. In the November 1956 issue of the British Journal o/Education Studies, Edmund King of the University of London published an article entitled "Segregation and American Society".l) In 1958, in Public Education in America (edited b y myself and Luigi Volpicelli and published b y Harper Brothers) I, too, contributed a chapter on "The Race Problem in American Education". The two articles, though both written on the subject of race in the United States, were quite different. The tone of King's article was on the whole pessimistic. He seemed to write from the standpoint of the British high ideal of race equality (this was before the Notting Hill Gate riots). He painted in unambiguous colors the American failures to live up to this high ideal. He was not denying that school integration both in the South and in the North was another example of the "American Dilemma". But he thought that the positive parts of that dilemma, the efforts to resolve the problem, were not free from confusion, obsessions and prejudice. He felt that the crux of the question is that deep down m a n y Americans did not really believe in race equality. He thus foresaw little chance of improvement in race relations. The second article, written in response to King's, was optimistic. It stressed not the ideal, but the historical circumstances which made the race question in the United States, the awkward reality that it is. It showed how the forces for race equality were rallying, and particularly how negro self-help was increasing. It made much of the progress already achieved. It expressed much hope for the future. It referred to King's article and thought it too doubting. It concluded b y reminding the readers (thus, b y the way, repeating the point made b y the English magazine 1) The Editors consider it fair to put on record the dissent of Dr. King himself from a number of the interpretations of his views on segregation, and the American attitude towards it, as they have been attributed to him by Professor Bereday in this article. A fuller discussion of this issue can be found in the Harvard Graduate School of Education Alumni Bulletin, June and Fall, I960.



Encounter) that there are more negro students in the United States than students in Britain altogether. Then another cluster of articles appeared, this time on social class and on England. In the January 1958 Educational Forum I published "Equality, Equal Opportunity, and Comprehensive Schools in England". It was reprinted in the Journal o/Education (London) in February as "Equal Opportunity; an American Viewpoint". This article was followed by "A Comparative Approach to Social Status in English Education" in Liberal Traditions in Education: Essays in Honor o] Robert Ulich (which I edited, and which the Harvard Graduate School of Education published in 1958). In response to this, and partly at my invitation, King presented his "Comprehensive Schools in England: Their Content", in the October 1959 Comparative Education Review. He followed with another article "Comprehensive Schools in England: Their Prospects", in the February 1960 issue of the same journal. Again King's and my opinions differed, but this time almost in reverse. The tone of my articles was pessimistic. They restated the American high ideal of classlessness and social equality (this was before Status Seekers). They painted in unambiguous colors the English failure to live up to this high ideal. I noted that under pressure from Labour the English were engaged in recurrent egalitarian reforms. But I thought that these mostly resulted in lip-service and hypocrisy. I felt that the crux of the question is that Englishmen deep down did not really believe in classlessness. I foresaw little if any chance of progress in that direction. Edmund King's articles were optimistic. He stressed not the ideal but the historical circumstances which made the class problem in Britain what it is today. He made much of the progress already achieved. He expressed much hope for the future. He referred to my work and thought it "overstated the case" (actually he thought it a "caricature", but as editor of the journal in which his articles were published, I persuaded him to soften the blow). He showed how equality in Britain can and has advanced through a series of flanking movements. He pointed out that to advocate a frontal attack on Britain's inequalities would be like attempting to establish a comprehensive school to draw children together from New York's Morningside Heights and West Harlem. He felt the English efforts at classlessness were real and solid even if they failed to satisfy the American "Dewey-eyed democratic purists" (I got him to rescind that too). Here were two sets of articles, the one on race, the other on class problems in education. The authors of these articles are reasonably well "established" in the field of comparative education. They hold doctorates
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in the discipline, travel and write frequently, and teach their subject at large metropolitan universities. Both have had long periods of residence and teaching in each other's country. Both are by conviction social egalitarians. They are also good personal friends. Neither felt justified to dispute the accuracy of facts adduced by the other. They seem both to respect each other's scholarship. Here, in fact, were two men with reasonably similar training, background, and attitudes, addressing themselves to identical facets of social equality. It seemed as if all possible variables were thus eliminated, except the variable of writing about one's own or the other's country. It was in connection with this last variable that there was such unmistakable difference of emphasis in the two sets of articles. The Englishman was severe on the United States but lenient on England. The American (American of European birth, that is, and perhaps all the more zealous American for that) was severe on England but lenient on the United States. Here was a clearly documented and remarkable difference of emphasis with all other factors being as equal as one could humanly wish for. Here was an example of mild and harsh judgment identical in nature and brought to bear on a similar topic, but exactly reversed in the case of each country according to national allegiance and personality of the writer. Why this difference? The answer is obvious: ethnocentrism - the plague of comparative methodology, most tragic in a discipline expressly dedicated to the breaking down of ethnocentrism, at present a serious hurdle to be overcome in a field alive with new and portentous stirrings. Ethnocentrism or even personal bias is by no means our only hurdle. In fact, one might count oneself lucky if all one's difficulties could be reduced to this one dimension. There are three major sources of headache which workers in comparative education face almost wherever they turn: 1) How to collect accurate educational facts; 2) How to apply to them the light shed by basic disciplines; 3) How to compare properly and meaningfully the materials so "processed". But ethnocentrism is not merely the fourth in the row of methodological difficulties. Rather it is a problem of a different order. It is like all other subjective personality states and pathologies of researchers and writers, a "circumstance" in terms of which all activities take place. Unconsciously or consciously most people ~eel as well as act ethnocentrically. They either accept or reject their own culture, and their judgment about comparative evidence is colored by this acceptance or rejection. In simplest cases this produces people who run down everything



abroad and praise everything at home, or vice versa. Most people are justifiably proud, even if boastful of their achievements. But failure is another matter. It is here that crude ethnocentrism and personal bias operate most fully. For it is here that boasters are tempted to pretend that their alleged failures are really achievements, while "jitterers" place the blame not on themselves but on their institutions. But the most usual impact of ethnocentrism in comparative methodology is not in terms of simple megalomania or inferiority of the natives. Rather it is that ready capital of defensiveness which citizens of one country carry poised against possible criticism by citizens from another. At the high level of research in comparative education, however, ethnocentrism is seldom that simple. In fact, it can sometimes be quite subtle b y being tied to personal careers and feelings. Comparative educators, native and foreign, train themselves to observe their cultures as it were from "outside". This "not taking anything for granted" is accepted as resulting in a clearer view of one's culture, but it also is a prompter to appear as its spokesman and champion. As a consequence, national pride becomes identified with personal prestige, and from there it is but a step to scholarly opinion. The present community of scholars in comparative education (if there be such) is very much subject to national conflicts, like a world in miniature. In addition, there is another complication. Two iron requirements of the field are long residence abroad and the knowledge of languages, and these alone bring into the discipline an unusually high proportion of uprooted people, who, through accident of having been "blown across" the world, have acquired the desired competences. Such people cannot help projecting into their comparative work their personal longings and fears. In more ways than one ethnocentrism results in real difficulties and honest differences of perception. It permeates the whole of comparative education. It determines the nature of research undertaken, and the conclusions reached. How it works will best be shown by tracing its presence in the three categories of methodological difficulty, the problem of collection of facts, application of disciplines, and confrontation in comparison, referred to above as major areas of current concern. The technique of collection of factshas always been and continues to be the most formidable first obstacle of the discipline. Part of this difficulty lies in circumstances not related to national bias. The study of education in all countries has long been and still is a social Cinderella. It is not that education as a field has never drawn first-rate men. There were always enough idealists among men of talent and enough high posts in education




to attract some men of ambition. But because education is a Cinderella, along with the few high caliber men, it draws, as it probably must, a goodly proportion of second- and third-rate men, enough to give the institution not only a bad name but chaos as well As a result, solid information about educational systems is usually harder to come b y than any other. It is not uncommon (though less frequent now) to find handbooks, general purpose, or "culture" books featuring chapters on all conceivable social institutions and customs b u t not on education. It is probably inconceivable in any other field based on a sound system of accounting that simple information about percentages of each population age group in attendance at formal schools should be so notoriously lacking. In most countries one has to go to vital statistics for the total age group figure and to educational statistics for numbers at schools. The t w o seldom correspond; if the first breaks down the youth population into, say, 14 to 18, and 18 to 29- age group categories, the latter is all too likely to deal with, say, 11 to 17, and 17 to 23 years of age. Even when educational statistics follow a different age group break-down in order to take into account school population at primary, secondary and higher levels (and sometimes they do not do even that), it is difficult not to level the charge of incompetence at their compilers; after all, they could list each year group separately for purposes of comparability. But over and above inaptitude the collection of facts is also marred b y ethnocentrism. A recent volume, Thoughts on Comparative Education: Essays in Honour o/Pedro Rosselld, 1) carried articles postulating aglobal approach to education and a development of means to assemble truly international statistics. This would be a good thing, particularly if the number of reputable statisticians devoting themselves to comparative education (there are at present four) would increase. For the time being, however, all international sources rely on reports from national governments. Educational information is being distorted not only to present education in favorable light before legislatures, public opinion and other professional groups, but also to suit national pride. The amount of willful misrepresentation is so fantastic that it is a wonder that it continues to go unexposed and that agencies created to train children are allowed to engage in it. In particular, figures about the operation of compulsory attendance laws and about the quality of educational programs are patently untrue. There is also planlessness, or dare one say, carelessness in reporting to international organizations. Any Americans needing an embarrassing lesson can compare the official United States government 1) Internatioaal Review of Education, Vol. V, No. 3, 1959,



report presented to the International Bureau of Education in Geneva in an annual conference, and published in the International Year Book o[ Education, with his own notions as to the important events in U.S. education in that year. Facts are also hard to come by through field research, and paradoxically enough they are harder to come by in centralized than in decentralized systems. In the latter, one has to wander from one local system to another in search of random information later to be welded together into uneasy generalizations. But in the former, and that means in the great majority of countries, one can seldom wander at all. From the point of view of an educational researcher, it is, therefore, the educational bureaucracies with centralized powers and national "fronts" to uphold that are the ethnocentric plague, whatever the massed information they give one quick access to. The study of foundations of education, the second of the enumerated methodological steps, begins if and when the facts have been collected. This is the postulate which the great comparative educators of the first half-century have made their central care. The educational facts must be tested for relevance against broader philosophical and social consideration. As Isaac Kandel put it, the fact that education in science has flowered in Germany in the last hundred years cannot be treated separately from the rise of German militarism. There is an intimate connection between education and society, a cause-and-effect relationship. In schematic terms this means that the comparative educator must ask in turn: what light can history, philosophyl sociology, economics, and so forth, shed on the educational information assembled ? To master so m a n y disciplines is in itself a tall order. In addition here, too, ethnocentrism vitiates the process. To begin with, the stage of development of each basic discipline is different in different countries: For instance, at mid-century, sociological research in the United States was on balance in advance of that in Britain (the situation m a y be reversing now). And certainly the latest advances of British sociology seem, with some noteworthy exception, to be little used by British educators. That means that when American educators apply the latest sociological methods to the study of British education, they run into criticism of being "socially insecure", overdoing the "class angles", or some such dismissal. Conversely, when Engiishmen study American education they tend to minimize the function of the schools as social organisms, to study which one has, of course, to be a sociologist. But since they are thoroughly well grounded in liberal arts, they are quicker to appraise (and criticize) these schools' literary mal-functions. For the


G E O R G E Z. F. B E R E D A Y

same reason the fact that, in 1959, Oxford repealed and a few weeks later readopted entrance requirements in Latin (now again repealed) is likely to be interpreted by an American as a social class problem since the alumni of the prestigeful Engfish public schools are coached better in Latin, while an Englishman will look upon it as an intellectual matter and a vindication of the classicist tradition. But ethnocentrism can be traced not only to the degree of competence in handling particular disciplines. It is also plain in the degree of commitment to such disciplines. Such commitment naturally results from competence, but it m a y also have a deeper, more far-reaching origin. There is a story of Prime Minister Nehru being asked why his government never acknowledged with gratitude the American loans to India. He replied that when a begger gets alms, Indians consider that the greater benefit, namely the spiritual, accrues to the giver, while only money goes to the beggar. Interpretations of the same educational phenomena would tend to be idealistic in the East, pragmatic in the West. An Asian is always likely to test the available educational evidence by spiritual criteria, that is to say, by the resources of theology. A Westerner will be more likely to resort to social sciences (broadly conceived)in his search for the instrumental values as leading to, rather than as apart from, the intrinsic values. Within the Western traditions Americans, who are in a sense extremists, would counter the British historical approach to education, that is the emphasis on the preservation of the established canons of scholarship, by an argument which would point to the future rather than to the past; they would extoll change, abolition of hunger, health, and prosperity as values which are not only instrumental but intrinsic in themselves. But they would join ranks with the British against the argument advanced by the Russians that the concentration OlX those very values justifies materialism and the suspension of an idealistic approach to individualism and freedom. Roughly speaking, the Russians favor an economic approach to problems of education, the Americans - sociological, the English historical, the French - philosophical. It is clear that the proper study of foundations of education requires an application of all these approaches together. But because of national psyche, no less than as an accident of training, each researcher exhibits a penchant malgrd lui for only one-sided interpretations. Thus the latest Russian educational reforms are apt to be characterized in terms of the problems of a technological labor force by the Russians themselves, as an attempt to cut off the overproduction of intellectuals by the Americans, as a revival of the tradition of the twenties by the English, and as proof of the decay of Marxism by the



French. Overdrawn as this example is, since obviously competent comparative educators will stress all these points, there is littie doubt that a paramount approach through only one discipline is responsible for the many distortions appearing to-day, and that the accidents of national commitment to, and excellence in, particular disciplines determine such research results. The third and final step of comparative education is to set the collected and properly interpreted facts side by side for comparison. Here purely methodological difficulties are very real. How does one compare the Russian secondary school, hitherto a ten-year school, with the American twelve-year school, especially since the Russians go to school six days a week, while the Americans go five days a week ? How does one compare the academic performance of these schools when the former graduate 30% of the age group, the latter 60% ; yet owing to different population size, the numbers graduated are roughly equal? We can assemble such information separately in each culture and bring to bear upon it the basic disciplines, both to know its relation to, and to test its importance for, society. But how do we compare such facts in two or more countries ? A graduate seminar at Teachers College, Columbia University, impressed by the post-sputnik representations and misrepresentations, once attempted to make a comparison of American and Soviet teacher scales. The American basic variation from one local system to another, complicated further by special increments, fringe benefits, different length of the school year, and cost of living, was amply matched by the Russian differentiation in salaries by subject taught, number of class hours per week, geographical location, and level of education. We got around the difficulty by creating representative types of teachers (for instance: male, 35 years of age, college diploma, wife and home, two children, teacher of native language in a good metropolitan system) only to stumble next on three different rates of roubles; later on different cost of living; and then on different range of gratifications available for one's money in each country. Finally we seized upon salt, because somebody said it varied little in market value from century to century and from country to country; all we wound up with was the conclusion that for their respective salaries the equivalent American and Russian teachers can purchase a roughly equal number of tons of salt. There is little doubt that, methodologically speaking, cross-cultural comparisons are still in their infancy. To such difficulties ethnocentrism adds a further complication. Problems of national prestige and personal pride impinge continuously to blur one's vision. Should one or should one not grant junior status in American



colleges to holders of the obviously strongly academic French baccalaureat, and if one does, will not the prestige of American High Schools suffer? Can the Russians admit that even a good Kandidat N a u k degree is not quite as good as a good American Ph. D., and if they do, will that not damage the Revolution ? Can the University College of North Staffordshire in England go over to a 4-year pattern without having to acknowledge its debt to the American practice, and can Harvard adopt the Advanced Placement Program (3 years college) and avoid being accused of "aping" the British ? Problems laden with ethnocentric implications abound in comparative treatment now, as they did a century ago when nordic brains were pronounced heavier and hence superior. And as usual they can lead not only to words but to honest differences of perception. "Other-oriented" cultures such as the Polish or Japanese will unconsciously undertake comparisons designed to prove their own western character. "Inneroriented" cultures such as the British or the French will be more concerned to prove the spread of their own ideas. Great powers on the decline will sputter with malice, the weapon of desperation resorted to in describing the competitive educational progress of the new barbarians. New countries on the make will submerge their work in jingoism, or nouveau fiche brashness, or mendacity, which one is most tempted to censor out when called upon to edit their comparative writings. Can such ethnocentrism and personal bias be avoided ? Probably not, though it can be minimized. Since international practice and standards are only just emerging, there is as yet no common cultural denominator against which the educational aspirations and actions of the divergent cultures could be accurately judged. Each country is justifiably left to evaluate foreign experiences in terms of its own criteria, even when warned b y comparative educators that they should be judged on the foreign countries' or on their own (comparative educators') criteria. When all is said and done, there remains the fact, with which this article began, that the same evidence, even when surveyed b y men of similar training and allegiance, appears honestly different from different points of vantage. One can do no more than to hold oneself sensitive to the fact that different "chemistry" is set in motion when one looks at one's own country and at practices abroad. One must increase one's readiness to tolerate and acknowledge some measure of accuracy in the appraisal of one's character as it appears to others. Better still one should strive to join forces with them in research. It is clear that a better understanding of both the race problem in the United States and the class problem in England will be



reached when E d m u n d King's testimony and m y own is read in conjunction. The unanswered question is whether modern comparative work should be team-work (as I have claimed in the Preface to Public Education in America), so that natives and foreigners can, before publication, eliminate each other's acerbities, or (as George Stoddard recommended in a review of that book in the December 1958 Institute of International Education News Bulletin) that it should be separate work on common topics in which clashes are allowed to flourish, thus lending color and zest to comparative writings even though bewildering the uninitiated. The last question raises a still greater problem: whether comparative education is a fundamental discipline seeking the truth or whether it is a method of approach bent on destruction of dogmatism in what is essentially a vast expanse of relativity. Perhaps it could be both, and men who will make it so will justly assume the mantle of their great predecessors.
V E R G L E I C H E N D E E R Z I E H U N G S W I S S E N S C H A F T UND NATIONALE BEFANGENHEIT yon George Z. F. BEREDAY, New York Der Verfasser dieses Artikels und sein englischer Kollege, Dr. E d m u n d King von der Universitat London, haben kiirzlich beide eine Reihe von Artikeln zu den Themen ,,Erziehung und Rassenprobleme in den Vereinigten Staaten" und ,,Erziehung und Klassenprobleme in E n g l a n d " ver6ffentlicht. Obwohl beide Autoren fiber die gleichen wissenschaftlichen Erfahrungen verfiigen, zeigt die Behandlung der beiden Probleme einen auffallendeu Unterschied in den Akzeuten. Der Amerikaner finder Entschuldigungen fiir die in Amerika bestehende Ungleichheit, fibt aber scharfe K r i t i k an der Situation in England. Umgekehrt verurteilt tier Englander die amerikanischen Verhaltnisse und verteidigt die euglischen. Aus dieser Tatsache zieht Verf. den SchluB, d a b bet wissenschaftlichen Untersuchungen auf dem Gebiet der Vergleichenden Erziehungswissenschaft nationale oder pers6nliche Befangenheit in Rechnung gesteUt werden muB. Unter diesem Gesichtspunkt priift er die Hauptgebiete solcher Forschung: (1) das Sammeln yon Einzeldaten, (2) die Untersuchung dieser Daten im Lichte anderer Sozialwissenschaften und (3) die vergleichende Gegeniiberstellung der Gegebenheiten verschiedener Lander. E r stellt lest, dab in allen drei Punkten nationale Befangenheir eine Rolle spielt. Aus dem Bestreben, nationalem Stolz zu genfigen, ergeben sich nicht selten irrefiihrende Tatsachenberichte. Die Erscheinungen auf erzieherischem Gebiet werden im Lichte derjenigen sozialen Disziplinen interpretiert, die in dem betreffenden L a n d besondere Anerkennung gefunden haben. SchlieBlich ist man versucht, objektiven Vergleichen auszuweichen, wenn die daraus gezogenen Schliisse das eigene Land in einem ungfinstigen Licht erscheinen lassen. Der Artikel schlieBt mit dem dringenden AppeU, vor irgendwelchen Ver6ffentlichungen die Unterlagen mit denen auslandischer Kollegen zu vergleichen. Opvoedkundig Tijdsehrift 3



L'auteur de cet article et sou coll@gue anglais de l'Universit@ de Loudres, M. E d m u n d King, ont r@cemmeut @crit Fun et l'autre une s@rie d'articles respective: ment consacr@s ~ " L ' E d u c a t i o n compar@e et les probl~mes raciaux aux Et at s- U n i s" et "L'Education e t les classes sociales en Angleterre". Bien que les deux auteurs aient plus ou moins la m~me formation et les m~mes int@r~ts scientifiques, leurs ~tudes pr6sentent de remarquables diff@rences d'accent. L'auteur am@ricain, inq dulgeut pour la situation qu'il constate chez lui, se montre s@v~re pour les in@galit@s propres au syst@me anglais. Son coll~gue, ~, l'inverse, condamne l'attitude am@ricaine et d6fend son pays. Ce rapprochement conduit l'A. ~ souligner le biais introduit dans la recherche comparative par les pr@ventions nationales ou les pr@jug@s personnels. I1 passe en revue les trois principaux domaines de cette recherche, le rassemblement des donn@es concernant l'@ducation, leur traitement par les m6thodes des divers sciences humaines et leur confrontation entre pays ~ des fins de comparaison; dans chaque cas, les pr@ventions nationales entrainent ~ fausser les perspectives : elles conduisent rapporter les faits d'une mani@re inexacte pour satisfaire l'amour-propre national, interpr@ter les donn@es exclusivement du point de vue des disciplines eu faveur dans un pays donn~, enfin ~ esquiver une comparaison objective quand on redoute que les r6sultats en soient d6favorables. E n conclusion l'A. propose, pour rem@dier ~ cet @tat d'esprit, q u ' a v a n t route publication chacun compare son point de vue avec celui de coll~gues @trangers.