The OECD, the vehicularity of ideas, “wormholes,” and the 2018 initial teacher education curricular reform in Mexico

Israel Moreno Salto, Susan L. Robertson, Artemio Arturo Cortez Ochoa

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This chapter examines the connections between the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the 2018 initial teacher education curricular reform in Mexico. In contrast to more top-down accounts of the influence of global ideas on national education systems and settings, we argue that McLennan and Osborne’s (Crit Rev Int Soc Polit Philos 6:51–66, 2003) concept of “vehicular ideas” – by which they mean ideas on the move – provides us with a more nuanced understanding of the influence of the OECD in Mexico. By tracing the movement of ideational projects like PISA over time and space, we show the OECD’s influence: (i) can take circuitous routes including via other territorially located projects; (ii) is highly contingent on contexts; and (iii) is constitutive of an assemblage of policy that involves multiplying scaled actors, interests, and projects. To make our argument, we draw upon official policy documents and interview data with well-placed education authorities from the 2012–2018 federal administration in Mexico. A series of distinct, yet related, initiatives are examined. First, in legislative terms, the rise of the 2018 teacher education curricular reform is linked to earlier broader 2012–2013 education reform. Second, against this backdrop, a new curriculum for teacher education was created to train teacher students to meet the needs of the curriculum for basic education that arose as part of the 2016 Education Model, whose provenance was rooted in developments in Singapore that incorporated responses to PISA. Singapore also serves as a central reference for Mexico because of its prominent position in PISA league tables. In sum, our analysis of the vehicularity of the OECD’s ideas suggests they sometimes take surprising routes through space time which, like “wormholes” enabling shortcuts between different universes, these policies can have more circular if not unpredictable trajectories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Teacher Education Research
EditorsIan Menter
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783030595333
ISBN (Print)9783031161926
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Mexico
  • OECD
  • PISA
  • Initial teacher education
  • Education reforms

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