Playing the game of IQ testing in England and Denmark in the 1930s–1960s

a socio-material perspective

Frederik Forrai Ørskov, Christian Ydesen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The promotion of performance measurement and international large-scale 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 other metrics 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 pages17
ISSN0305-4985
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology

Cite this

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Playing the game of IQ testing in England and Denmark in the 1930s–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 journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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