Imagine All the People: The Origins of Education Reform and the Life Trajectories of Low-Skill Youth


PI: Cathie Jo Martin (Political Science, CAS)

This project uses computational linguistics to evaluate the cultural origins of diverse models of education reform – standards-setting versus social investment – and their implications for socioeconomic inequality. National standards to ensure uniform educational opportunities, in fact, increase the drop-out rates of low-skill youth. Conversely, educational pluralism (strong vocational tracks, local variation, and teacher autonomy) increase educational investments in and performance of low-skill youth, because teachers can educate according to the varying learning styles of their student population. The project will use computational tools to analyze the frequency and temporal changes of words in British and Danish coming-of-age novels and poems, which reveal profoundly different cultural assumptions about the two educational models in question.

This work is funded by a Hariri Research Award made in June, 2016.