Special Monothematic Issue: Historical reflection of education and its significance in (not only) teacher education

History of Education has been integral part of educational science structure as one of the constitutive disciplines. At least that is how this sub-discipline was perceived in the Central-European educational discourse in the era of constitution of educational science as a scientific discipline at the end of the 19th century, when it was thus defined, confirmed and later developed consistently in the 20th century. In the past dispute over the concept of education as a scientific discipline, the Central-European discourse was mostly dominated by the concept of educational science based on speculative axioms of teaching and learning rather than by the concept of analyses of educational processes, structures and behaviours as part of social reality. As a result, History of Education was established as a discipline making the case for the stability of the “educational science system” rather than providing historical reflection and analysis of social phenomena. Moreover, establishing educational science as a scientific discipline took place as part of strongly nationalised discourse, therefore both the perception and national interpretation of the history of educational professional thinking were strongly influenced by this “national reading”. In the first half of the 20th century, numerous review papers as well as History of Education textbooks were published, which indicated the confirmation and consolidation of not only certain content (canon), but also the concept and significance of the discipline in that particular period in time, which was often based on a normative approach to selected personas and ideas of the history of education.

Totalitarian regimes in the first half of the 20th century demanded Educational Science as well as History of Education to justify their ideologies. As a result, narratives reinforcing the theoretical backgrounds and foundations of the totalitarian regimes were constructed (more or less openly) in History of Education. This practice also transpired after 1945 when European educational discourse was divided artificially into two separate mental frameworks.  Social science disciplines in the Central-European and Eastern-European totalitarian regimes were subject to strict ideologisation and instrumentalisation. Consequently, educational theory (more than practice) supported the political and power interests of the “new scientific elites” of that time rather than open reflection of educational phenomena. In simple terms, the free Western-European historical and educational research shifted from the history of educational ideas as axiomatic foundations of educational systems towards historical reflection and reconstruction of teaching and learning practice, deconstruction of the order of institutions of education, as well as towards the analysis of foundations of educational players’ thinking and de-masking the power-role of their practices. On the other hand, History of Education was subject to great pressure of Marxist-Leninist interpretation in the Central- and Eastern-European area and many outstanding papers defying this doctrine found it next to impossible to assert themselves in the scientific discourse even if they were fortunate enough to be made accessible to the relevant professional public.

Historical and educational research developing freely in the second half of the 20th century was able to aim its focus increasingly on the issues of constructing identities, mentalities as well as the role of teaching, learning and education in general. Moving away from the paradigm of educational science as spiritual science (geistesswissenschaftliche Pädagogik), in German-speaking countries in particular, historical and educational research also aimed at historical reflection of social structures, processes and behaviours, thus being integrated in the domain of social history (social history of education) as well as into the cultural history course of study (new cultural history). Such development resulted, amongst others, in weakening the normative canon of educational classics. Instead, emphasis was placed on the importance of critical analysis of the foundations of educational professional thinking, the deconstruction of the “undisputed” concepts and phenomena, and on sufficient contextualisation of the so-called educational ideas or terms in order that their substance may be reconstructed in a given educational concept with regard to inter-disciplinary relations (intellectual history).

This monothematic volume of Pedagogika focuses primarily on the following areas:

  1. In what way was the “normative canon” of the ideas and personalities of History of Education constructed since this discipline had been established until the “disintegration” of this concept in the 20th century in particular European countries? What was the structure of the specialised discourse which shifted the aims, structure and general concept of History of Education towards social- and cultural-science profile? When did the “disintegration” process take place in various countries in the intellectual environment of the second half of the 20th century and what did the process look like? What were the arguments serving as its basis and what research was it based on?
  2. What topics and research areas are opened up in the cultural- and social-science foundation of History of Education? What research methods are used, combined and preferred and what impacts can be detected in terms of establishing fundamental categories in the discipline of Educational Science?
  3. History of Education used to be a discipline exploited heavily as an instrument to the goals of science practised in totalitarian regimes in the 20th We shall ask what the aims this instrumentalisation served were, what its normative concept was based on, and what its impact on historical and educational research was.
  4. History of Education constituted “undisputable” part of teacher education and subject-matter didactics for pedagogues for a very long period of time. The questions are: Why was the significance of this discipline thus emphasised, how was its significance justified and legitimised? What is the role and significance of historical and educational reflection as well as of reflective perspective on history in today’s concept of teacher education and subject-matter didactics for future pedagogues?
  5. What role have the outcomes of historical and educational research been playing in teacher professional practice – either spontaneously or as a result of management processes in education as part of official policies of both national states and supranational political institutions?

 Guarantors of the Volume: Andreas Hoffmann, Tomáš Kasper, Karel Rýdl

The monothematic issue will be published at the end of 2017.