Education Opinion

Reflection of the 2009 Comparative and International Education Society Conference

By LeaderTalk Contributor — April 05, 2009 3 min read
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I recently returned from Charleston, SC where I attended the 53rd Annual
Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES)
conference. This conference is geared toward educators, practitioners,
researchers, and policy makers interested in issues of comparative education,
international education, and development education. This is one of my favorite
conferences of the year. At this conference, a person can hear lectures ranging
from online leadership training of school leaders in Oman to comparative
perspectives on citizenship to HIV education in Uganda to measuring global
engagement of students who study abroad. In other words, the range of
conversations, the diversity of attendees, and the breadth of topics always

Every year I leave this conference wishing I was more plugged into
international work and more engaged in the field. This year was no
different...but there was a twist. Being that I am a first year assistant
professor at the University of North Carolina
, my thoughts often focused on how I can share all of this great
research and intriguing ideas with my students. My students are probably not
going to leave my institution to be comparativists or development educators or
relief workers: My students intend to be teachers, school leaders, and
district leaders in Southeastern North Carolina. So, how can I bring this ideas,
concepts, and thoughts to practitioners? What role do conferences such as these
have as we work to develop these local school leaders to create 21st Century

To answer my own question, I jotted down a few ideas throughout the
conference. Feel free to add to them:

  • Plug students into my international research efforts. Even if this is
    limited to students looking at the literature and crunching the data, local
    school leaders can benefit greatly from my international research.
  • Infuse my leadership and technology classes with international
    perspectives that includes non-western research and non-mainstream
  • Encourage students to include non-western research in their research
  • Encourage students to engage in their own local international community.
    Most college town have some degree of international folks.
  • As an educator of school leaders, I can encourage my future school-level
    and district-level leaders to look comparatively at research topics thus
    learning from a world community of learners.
  • Weave comparative education themes into my courses. Teaching local
    leaders to look comparatively at problems can be very powerful.
  • Expose my students to digital connections that link the local with the

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned is twofold. First, comparative education
is not synonymous with international education. It can easily be infused into
any school leadership program. In the US we can do a better job of comparing
across classrooms, across schools, across gender, across race, across state,
across nationality, and so on. This comparison is not simply to raise
standardized test score, but to understand and accentuate uniqueness. Second,
taking a comparative approach to studying education is not about global
competition with the end result being to ‘beat the other.’ It is meant as a way
to understand others and have others understand us (whoever your ‘other’ and
‘us’ is). Taking a comparative approach is meant to create a better global
understanding. I am eager to start developing my next semester of courses! It
goes without saying that I eagerly await the 2010 conference in Chicago. I will
see you there!

Jayson W. Richardson, Assistant Professor

University of North Carolina Wilmington

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