Edmund J. King (1914 - 2002)


Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Edmund J. King dedicated nearly half of his life to teaching and to comparative educational analysis and research. King was born in Accrington, Lancashire and began his life of scholarship and achievement at the University of Manchester, graduating with a BA and an MA. His many accomplishments include: First Class Honours in Classics, three Open Prizes, a graduate research scholarship, and an Open exhibition to Merton College, Oxford. King progressed through London's educational system as a teacher and a principal before working under the Director of Extra-Mural Studies at the University of London and gaining an appointment to King's College in 1953 (Broadfoot 1994). There he became and remained a Professor of Comparative Education for twenty-six years before retirement (Sutherland et. al, 2002).

Edmund King's contributions to the field of comparative education are extensive. He co-foundedComparative Education with Alec Peterson and Bill Halls in 1964, and from 1978-1992 King was Editor and Chairman of the Board of the journal (Broadfoot 1994). He was strongly committed to professional comparative organizations as co-founder of the Comparative Education Society in Europe, member of the Board of Directors for the Comparative Education Society, and a founding member of World Council of Comparative Education Societies. King authored and co-authored eight books and a generous number of articles on a variety of topics, contexts, and cultures in comparative education (Sutherland, et. al 2002).

In each of his works King stressed a sense of urgency for action and change in education. Though not claiming complete understanding of any one issue, King emphasized the need for comparative research to gain verstehen (i.e the understanding and interpretation of human behavior) and comparative thinking in all areas of education (King 1980). King remained consistently believed in the importance of the contextual implications of education and a humanistic and systematic approach to research. In other words, King (1975) argued that analysis must connect directly with real-life situations. In light of the increased importance of the personal, social, and national influences of education, King demands contextualized comparative research and understanding of local systems (1980). He used his writing as a platform to define the purpose of comparative education and to influence educational policy and decision makers.

Apparent in his conception of comparative educational analysis and in his research, King consistently acknowledged the reforming nature of education and the influences upon it. The numerous editions of Other Schools and Ours and The History of Western Education reveal his dedication to the evolving nature of society and his understanding of the relationship of world events to nations and educational systems (Williams 1994). King research reflects the turbulent yet progressive times in which he lived. He regularly described education and its societal influences in terms of uncertainty. Moreover, increased urbanization, industrialization and technological advancement are recurring themes throughout King's analysis of educational systems. Consequently, his work focusing on post-compulsory education emphasized the immediate need for educational reform due to economical and social change.

King's stress on the immediacy of reform and further research conducted on post-compulsory education has influenced local education authorities in England and Wales. The post-compulsory educational system provided easier access to higher education as well as a variety of choices for young adults regarding vocational education (Williams 1994). King's commitment to the education of young adults through comprehensive research not only influenced policy-makers, but also echoes his call for comparativists to step up and use their research for change and reform. With a greater insight into the social, cultural, economic and political influences on a nation's or a society's educational system, King argued, policy-makers could have the tools to make effective and appropriate decisions regarding the education of children and adults. Leading by example, King lived his interpretation of the purpose of comparative educational analysis and research.

Educational Background

BA and MA, University of Manchester: First Class Honours in Classics, Three Open Prizes

Graduate Research Scholarship and an Open Exhibition to Merton College, Oxford

Teacher's Diploma

PhD, King's College, University of London (1955)

Professional Background

Teacher of Classics, 10 years, London

Assistant, Senior Assistant to the Director of Extra-Mural Studies, University of London

Emeritus Professor, King's College, University of London

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Served on the Board of Directors for the Comparative Education Society (1961-1965)

Co-founder of Comparative Education (1964)

Editor and Chairman of the Editorial Board of Comparative Education (1978-1992)

Founding member of the Comparative Education Society in Europe (CESE) (1963)

Vice-President of CESE (1983)

Selected Publications

Boyd, W. & King, E. J. (1980) History of Western Education. New Jersey: Barnes & Noble Books.

King, E. (1975). Analytical Frameworks in Comparative Studies of Education. Comparative Education, 11(1), 85-103.

King, E. (1963). (Ed.) Communist education. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

King, E. (1975) Comparative Research on Education for the 16-20 Age Group in Western Europe. International Review of Education, 21(2), 149-163.

King, E. (1977). Comparative Studies: An Evolving Commitment, a Fresh Realism. Comparative Education, 13 (2), 101-108.

King, E. (1969) Education and Development in Western Europe. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

King, E. (Ed.). (1979). Education for Uncertainty. London: Sage Publications.

King, E., Moor, C.H., & Mundy, J.A.(1974). Post-Compulsory Education: A New Analysis in Western Europe. London: Sage Publications.

King, E., Moor, C.H., & Mundy, J.A.(1975). Post-Compulsory Education II: The Way Ahead. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.

King, E. (1973). Other Schools and Ours. London: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

King, E. (1983). The Expanding Frontier of Pluralism. Comparative Education. 19(2), 227-237.

King, E. (1962). World Perspectives in Education. London: Butler & Tanner Ltd.


Created: 8/21/2008

Updated: 8/21/2008

Contributed By: Jean M. Neary, Loyola University Chicago