Crossing Lines: Research and Policy Networks for Developing Country Education

By Noel F. McGinn | Go to book overview

PREFACE

Communication across boundaries and across the seas is so easy today and so widespread that we are tempted to presume that the formation and maintenance of systems of communications, the process called networking, began in our time. We may forget how during the nineteenth century news of advances in philosophy and science, and the arts and humanities as well, traveled quickly through the mails and by the migration of people. Domingo Sarmiento, for example, eager to bring to Argentina all the benefits of civilization, traveled throughout Europe and then the United States examining school systems and meeting leading educators. After returning to Argentina, he maintained his network through extensive correspondence, including more than twenty years of letter writing with the widow of Horace Mann. Information exchanged through the network had a marked impact on education policies in Argentina when Sarmiento was elected president. In the century before, Thomas Jefferson maintained a voluminous correspondence with leading intellectuals and politicians in Europe. Jefferson shared with his European colleagues information about flora and fauna found in what was to become the United States. In return he learned much about political philosophy in addition to the latest scientific theories and principles of engineering. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States owe much to Jefferson's involvement in European networks.

Perhaps in many other centuries we could find one or more figures who stand out for their connectedness with others in their own and in other countries. And for each of those figures we could assume that there were many more who participated in active and widespread communication networks. However, it is characteristic of our knowledge that today we know only about the leading figures in those networks with some connection to our own country. I am ignorant, for example, about examples of earlier networks in Asia and Africa, even though I am certain

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