The Idea of Distance in Data-driven Curriculum Policy Making:

A Productive Critique


The aim of this article is to develop a productive critique of the neoliberal idea of distance as it has come to be expressed within the context of data-driven curriculum policy making. The argument is structured around three expressions of distance (spatial, methodological, and relational) related to different levels of policy making. A critical examination shows that the production and use of numerical data have come to influence policy makers at all levels, equating what is of educational value with what can be made measurable and therefore comparable. Furthermore, it shows that standardizing the way education is thought and acted out by policy makers and practitioners according to an evaluative rationale leads to problematic reduction of the educational imagination, distancing educational actors from each other. Non-affirmative educational theory is used to develop a more reflexive position understanding that the answer to what is of educational value emanates from communicative interactions allowing different educational aims to coexist and influence each other. The productivity of the critique developed in this article, therefore, lies in its ability to enrich the educational discourse and to widen the imagination of the alternatives scenarios of educational futures at hand.

Author Biography

Andreas Nordin, Linnaeus University
Andreas Nordin is an associate professor in education at the Department of pedagogy and learning, Linnaeus University, Sweden. His research interests are education policy and politics and curriculum theory with a special focus on the complex interplay between different policy arenas. He is editor of the Swedish journal Pedagogisk forskning i Sverige[Educational Research in Sweden] and co-editor of the book Transnational policy-flows in European education – the making and governing of knowledge in the education policy field published at Symposium books in 2014.


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