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Constellation Analysis

A Methodology for Comparing Syllabus Topics Across Educational Contexts

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Bryan Cunningham

Jason Nicholls’ Constellation Analysis is an important contribution to studies in Comparative Education. From a deeply philosophical perspective (drawing in particular on the work of Hegel, Gadamer and Foucault), the author explores the ways in which topics in history education may be analysed and compared across international contexts. Utilising the Second World War as an «exemplar topic», the depiction of this crucial historical event in three countries, Japan, Sweden and England, is subjected to a highly novel form of interrogation. The book provides the reader not only with important insights into the nature of the books in use in classrooms across these contexts, but also into the educational – and indeed broad socio-political – environments beyond the classrooms.
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Editor’s Introduction and Acknowledgements

Editor’s Introduction and Acknowledgements

Extract

I feel privileged to have been given the task of editing Jason’s Nicholls’ important contribution to Comparative Education. I see the resulting volume as being not only a highly significant addition to the literature of the field, but as a commemoration, and celebration, of the energy and work of a hugely promising scholar whose life was cut tragically short.1

The Oxford University DPhil thesis on which this book is based was completed in 2006; a copy of this is held by the university’s Bodleian Library. For readers who wish to read the original work, it can of course be readily accessed by following the library’s guidelines. It is a relatively lengthy thesis, of approximately 115000 words. Its title is: The possibilities for comparing a syllabus topic in history across cultures: a contribution to method in comparative enquiry in education.

At the time of his death, Jason had written a proposal for a publication based on his work and was just beginning to seek out an interested publisher. From his files, we know that the title he had in mind was the one I have adopted for the book: Constellation Analysis: A methodology for comparing syllabus topics across educational contexts.

Jason Nicholls was a highly reflective writer, who became almost totally immersed in his research; a dimension of this immersion was the way in which he wished to consistently make explicit his own personal perspectives on his scholarly endeavours, and to offer for the reader...

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