Playing the game of IQ testing in England and Denmark in the 1950s and 1960s - A Socio-Material perspective

Frederik Forrai Ørskov, Christian Ydesen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The promotion of performance measurement and international largescale
assessments (ILSAs) is often explained in terms of the rise and
expansion of the neoliberal thought collective; in other words, testing
constitutes a core component of neoliberal education reform. A less
well-known feature of the neoliberal regime is its numerous precursors
and antecedents in the 19th and 20th centuries. This article provides a
study of such historical precursors in the treatment of children seen as
‘mentally defective’ in two emerging welfare states, namely Denmark
in the interwar period and England in the immediate post-war era.
Based on the records of municipal educational psychology offices
in Denmark and the Birmingham Special Schools After-Care
Subcommittee respectively, we argue that IQ testing and othermetrics
were integral to efforts at universalising treatments in the fledgling
welfare states; but that the nature of such testing, numbers, and
metrics components left them open to being gamed by various
involved actors, meaning that the very instruments which were implemented
to underpin the ideal of the universalistic welfare state to a
certain extent worked to undermine it. In a similar fashion, the contemporary
neoliberal education regime might face challenges from
the metrics so intrinsic to its modus operandi.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOxford Review of Education
Volume44
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)599-615
Number of pages16
ISSN0305-4985
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2018

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Denmark
welfare state
regime
educational psychology
performance measurement
education
promotion
reform
school

Keywords

  • Metrics
  • IQ testing
  • history of education

Cite this

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title = "Playing the game of IQ testing in England and Denmark in the 1950s and 1960s - A Socio-Material perspective",
abstract = "The promotion of performance measurement and international largescaleassessments (ILSAs) is often explained in terms of the rise andexpansion of the neoliberal thought collective; in other words, testingconstitutes a core component of neoliberal education reform. A lesswell-known feature of the neoliberal regime is its numerous precursorsand antecedents in the 19th and 20th centuries. This article provides astudy of such historical precursors in the treatment of children seen as‘mentally defective’ in two emerging welfare states, namely Denmarkin the interwar period and England in the immediate post-war era.Based on the records of municipal educational psychology officesin Denmark and the Birmingham Special Schools After-CareSubcommittee respectively, we argue that IQ testing and othermetricswere integral to efforts at universalising treatments in the fledglingwelfare states; but that the nature of such testing, numbers, andmetrics components left them open to being gamed by variousinvolved actors, meaning that the very instruments which were implementedto underpin the ideal of the universalistic welfare state to acertain extent worked to undermine it. In a similar fashion, the contemporaryneoliberal education regime might face challenges fromthe metrics so intrinsic to its modus operandi.",
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Playing the game of IQ testing in England and Denmark in the 1950s and 1960s - A Socio-Material perspective. / Ørskov, Frederik Forrai; Ydesen, Christian.

In: Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 44, No. 5, 21.09.2018, p. 599-615.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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