Learning as Development: Rethinking International Education in a Changing World, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Learning as Development

Rethinking International Education in a Changing World, 1st Edition

By Daniel A. Wagner


324 pages

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Paperback: 9781848726079
pub: 2017-10-13
Hardback: 9781848726062
pub: 2017-10-19
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pub: 2017-10-04
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Learning is the foundation of the human experience. It begins at birth and never stops, a continuous and malleable link across life stages of human development. Disparities in learning access and outcomes around the world have deep consequences for income, social mobility, health, and well-being. For international development practitioners faced with today's unprecedented environmental and geopolitical pressures, learning should be viewed as a touchstone and target for those seeking to truly effect global change. This book traces the path of international development work—from its pre-colonial origins to the emergence of economics as the dominant discipline in the field—and lays out a new agenda for policymakers, researchers, and practitioners, from early education through adulthood. Learning as Development is an attempt to rethink international education in a changing world.


"I think this is an excellent text with wide appeal. … I could envision using this text as a foundational volume across my undergraduate and post-graduate courses. … Wagner highlights how the lenses of economics, sociology, political science, psychology, anthropology, and interdisciplinarity frame development programs and problems as well as the possibilities for solutions. [O]verall the text includes a rich description of many foundational ideas and approaches to education and international development. The detailed endnotes at the back of every chapter are very beneficial; some readers may even want to keep one finger in the endnotes to attain as much insight as possible. All things considered, I believe the scope and focus of this text is a remarkable feat for an introductory text." - Matthew A. M. Thomas, University of Sydney, in Journal of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies

"Learning as Development… offers a comprehensive review of major issues related to education indeveloping countries, with a particular focus on lifelong learning among the most marginalized people. Wagner draws on his deep experience in international education research, policy, and practice, proposing a new approach to international development work that centers not on economic growth but on human development, measured through learning. This book is a useful resource for students and scholars of international education and development. At a time defined by rising temperatures and growing inequality, Wagner rethinks international development, centering it not around economic growth but, rather, human development driven by learning. His is a timely message and one with important implications for education development that supports life-long learning for individuals and communities around the world." - Celia Reddick, Harvard University, in Harvard Educational Review

"Wagner achieves an impressive, well-referenced overview of many of the pressing issues related to learning when considered on a global scale… [Learning as Development] appears to be directed at graduate students of international education, offering as it does an overview of a range of related issues together with copious evidence for the arguments made, but it would equally be enlightening reading for policymakers seriously interested in learning equity – within or across nations… The main strength of the book, … is that it repeatedly stresses the need for individual jurisdictions – and communities within those - to develop their own priorities for learning, including through local languages so central to identity, access and empowerment." - Jennie Golding, University College London - Institute of Education, in London Review of Education

"[Learning as Development] is an accessible and highly informative text for those studying education and international development. The extensive use of detailed footnotes provides a wealth of evidence from research, policy and practice that will provide useful starting points for those undertaking their own investigations in this field. This authoritative account, including a foreword by the Director General of UNESCO, reflects Wagner’s significant research expertise and extensive practical experience in the arena of international development… This ambitious book seeks to conceptualize ‘learning as development’ as a foundational approach to international development." - Philip Bamber, Liverpool Hope University, in the British Journal of Educational Studies

"In Learning as Development: Rethinking International Education in a Changing World Wagner strikes the rare balance between breadth and brevity. In just 267 pages, including detailed notes, he weaves a history of international development, a review of research in the learning sciences, and a novel approach to "development as learning." Learning’s title draws comparison to Amartya Sen’s 1999 Development as Freedom, and the two books are complementary. Both writers call for a turn to human development over economic growth. With Learning, Wagner offers a great gift to those of us who believe learning should enjoy pride of place in international development discourses. He also leaves a challenge: to prevent learning from becoming just another international development buzzword and to achieve its promise to transform the very processes by which we work together across lines of privilege and geography for the betterment of humankind."— Jonathan Marino, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Anthropology & Education Quarterly,

Daniel Wagner’s Learning as development is an important contribution… The book is well-written, engaging the readers with perspectives, stories, research and data. According to Wagner, the shift from the "economic growth" models to a human and sustainable development approach has necessitated a need to rethink education in the context of international development, particularly with reference to equity vis-à-vis poor and marginalized communities. … The book carefully avoids romanticizing education and learning. The Western "banking" pedagogy criticized by Paulo Freire and "The World Educational Crisis" of Coombs are referred to readers, calling upon them to introspect their own educational system. [This book] is a highly significant addition to the debate on the role of education and learning in development and has the potential to guide stakeholders such as policy makers and practitioners.- K. Balasubramanian, Commonwealth of Learning, in the Journal of Learning for Development.

"A core dynamic informing the book is Wagner’s view that too much attention has been focused on simply ensuring increases in school participation, and too little on the quality and relevance of what is learned – hence the insistence of the title that we should focus on learning as of tutor absenteeism, the resource gap between urban and rural schools, the impossibility of securing adequate attention for each child when up to a hundred children crowd into a single classroom. He recognises the concern of aid agencies that if money is to be well spent, there needs to be effective monitoring of the learning undertaken." - Alan Tuckett, University of Wolverhampton, in International Review of Education

'This book greatly advances our knowledge and understanding of how to improve learning for all--especially for those who have been most marginalized, such as the poor, girls and women, indigenous populations, migrants and those impacted by climate change. It is especially welcome as the world moves towards implementing the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.' - Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO

'Unparalleled in scope and depth and with case material from numerous cultures in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. This is a long-awaited book on educational development.' - Robert A. Levine, Roy E. Larsen Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

'Learning as Development is a great read. The depth of discussion and the literature it draws on has a wealth of resources. My students really need this. Thumbs up for this excellent book!' - Moses Oketch, Professor, Institute of Education, University College London

'A well-researched and comprehensive volume with critical insights on improving education that will help make a difference in the world today and tomorrow.' - Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, The Vatican

'This is a refreshing, accessible volume that combines scholarship with thoughtful descriptions of learning from many cultures; it humanizes and broadens the discussion of education and development.' - Marlaine Lockheed, World Bank and Center for Global Development

'Excellent! It is time to walk the talk! This incisive and thoughtful book should be read by policy makers as well as those who engage in the everyday critical work of education and development.' - Adama Samassekou, Minister of Education, Mali

Table of Contents

Preface. Foreword by Irina Bokova. Introduction: Towards a New Understanding of Development. Part I. Development 1. International Development 2. Human Development: A Life-Span Approach 3. Learning as Development Part II. Learning 4. Learning in Early Childhood5. Children and the Development of Basic Skills 6. Youth and Adult Learning: Beyond the Classroom Part III. Educational Institutions 7. Schools and Schooling 8. Teachers and Pedagogies Part IV. Trends and Challenges 8. New Technologies: Problems and Prospects 9. Globalization and the Environment 10. Measurement of Learning 11. Learning Equity: A New Agenda for Development. Epilogue: The Challenges Ahead

About the Author

Daniel A. Wagner (Ph.D. University of Michigan) is the UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy, and Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Founding Director of the International Literacy Institute and Director of Penn’s International Educational Development Program. A former Peace Corps Volunteer and Fulbright Scholar, he has served as an advisor to UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank, USAID, DFID and other agencies, governments, and civil society organizations. He was elected Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and was the recipient of the 2014 UNESCO Confucius International Literacy Prize. He is the author or editor of more than 25 books and many other publications. See www.danwagner.org.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
EDUCATION / Comparative
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / Child