The Map is the Territory: Educational Evaluation and the Topology of Power

Oct. 01, 2012

Source: European Educational Research Journal, Volume 11 Number 4, 2012, pages 586–600.

In this article, evaluation and testing are analysed as cartography, the art of mapping educational spaces, which both creates and confuses our sense of educational reality.

By using elements from cultural studies of cartography as well as sociology and the philosophy of science, this article claims that the analogy of cartography and evaluation can open novel vistas for contemplating the relationship between the world of education and its scientific representation.

As a case in point, the article uses the construction of Finnish comprehensive basic school reform and the evaluation system pertaining to it.

The analysis shows how evaluation as the mapping of the reality of education brings distant objects near, onto a homogeneous, stable plane.
It also makes certain things visible while leaving others out of sight.

Furthermore, evaluation as cartography actually creates new spaces.
In this way, evaluation practices can profoundly affect how we think and act upon schooling.

Updated: Feb. 27, 2013