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Global perspectives on primary education
Global perspectives on primary education

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1.1 Schools from around the world: a closer look

Now you’ll look through a series of photographs of 25 classrooms around the world. You will recognise many of these scenes from the video you just watched, and there are more classrooms in different countries.

Activity 2

Have a look at the photographs on the Guardian website: Schools around the world: in pictures [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Read the information for each photograph. After you have looked at the photos and read the information about each one, answer the following questions:

  • What single image inspires you the most, and why?
  • Which two countries do you think show the greatest differences in classroom organisation, and what are these differences?

You can, if you wish, make your own notes to answer these questions in the text box below. Your notes will be saved for you, so you can use them again at the end of this course.

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The information with each photograph allows you to better interpret and understand learners and teachers, and what their classrooms are like. You learn, for instance, that the school in Minas, Uruguay, is a rural setting where children learn about milking cows, planting crops and cooking. You learn that the setting in Manacapuru, Brazil is a tribal school for Indigenous children. The school in Harrow-on-the Hill in England has some famous former students including Winston Churchill and the poet Byron. These social, cultural and historical factors all influence the ways children learn and how teachers teach.

In comparative education studies it’s important to keep an open mind, to reserve judgement of what’s ‘better’ or ‘worse’ in favour of taking a clear look at what is similar and what is different. Key questions in any comparison are what makes education different in different contexts, and what makes it the same for all learners.

Now that you have had a look at some classrooms around the world, in the next section you will look at the different purposes of comparing education systems.