School Curricula between Global Isomorphism and Local Idiosyncrasies: The Example of Luxembourg

Friday, 20 July 2018: 10:42
Oral Presentation
Thomas LENZ, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Today, educational questions are discussed on an international level, and, indeed, the different national school systems are adjusting to each other on a formal level. This isomorphism has led to a neglect of the cultural idiosyncrasies of the different school systems and thus to marginalization of the question of how the successful process of institutionalization of the modern school system came about in different nation states. However, dominant theories about the process of globalization in education argue that the global affinities are on a formal level only, and that the inner activities of education are hardly affected by these global developments. Other theories try to explain why encompassing reforms fail as soon as they change the inner logic of the school.

Against that background the desideratum of a sound cultural reconstruction of the institutionalization process of the national school systems becomes evident. The general hypotheses of my paper is that when educational policy successfully transfers formal structures of one system to another, it will first be in tension with the idiosyncratic convictions of the local culture and then it will affect primarily the formal structures, with little effects on the inner activities of the organization.

I will try to support these theoretical considerations with a historical reconstruction of the development of the Luxembourgish school curriculum. I will argue that while Luxembourg has tried to keep track with the “scientification” and rationalization of the curriculum as promoted by supranational policy agents (like the OECD), this attempt to follow international reform patterns was contradicted by national and local traditions inscribed into the curriculum and classroom practices prevalent at least since the founding of the Luxembourgish nation state. The case of the luxembourgish curriculum will demonstrate how international curricular discussions shift and change when they are applied on a national level.