Education and «Pädagogik»

Philosophical and Historical Reflections (Central, Southern and South-Eastern Europe)

by Blanka Kudláčová (Volume editor) Andrej Rajský (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 328 Pages
Series: Spectrum Slovakia, Volume 19

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the authors
  • About the book
  • Dedication
  • Contents
  • Terminology note
  • Introduction (Blanka Kudláčová and Andrej Rajský)
  • I. Philosophical Reflections of Education
  • 1.1 Conceptualization of Philosophy of Education
  • 1.1.1 What is Philosophy of Education? (Zdenko Kodelja)
  • 1.1.2 Reflection and Action in Anglophone Philosophy of Education: Challenges and Inspirations (Rafał Godoń)
  • 1.1.3 The Idea of Continental Pädagogik (Zvonimir Komar)
  • 1.2 Pädagogik in Relation to the Educational Sciences
  • 1.2.1 Modernity and Education: One or Many Topics? (Giuseppe Mari)
  • 1.2.2 The Cosmic Dimension of Education. Eugen Fink in the Continental Tradition Philosophy of Education (Taking into Account the Tradition of Czech Philosophy of Education) (Naděžda Pelcová)
  • 1.2.3 Uncomfortable Philosophy. Protection of Pädagogik from Itself? (Andrej Rajský)
  • 1.2.4 The Allegory of Learning in Comenius’ Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart (Jan Hábl)
  • 1.3 Specific Philosophical-Educational Topics
  • 1.3.1 The Idea of Education, or What Is Not Visible for the Approach of Objectifying Science? (David Rybák)
  • 1.3.2 Transgression as the Key Concept of Continental Pädagogik: Reflections on the Ukrainian Experience (Iryna Predborska)
  • 1.3.3 Knowledge and Skill Transfer in the Context of Globalized Education (Lyudmyla Gorbunova)
  • 1.3.4 School Moral Education: Does Scholastic Ethical Instruction Need Its Own ‘Morality’? (Dariusz Stepkowski)
  • II. Historical Reflections of Pädagogik
  • 2.1 Pädagogik as an Academic Discipline in Central European Countries
  • 2.1.1 The Philosophy of Education of Pavol Hečko and Its Place in Slovak Pädagogik of the 19th Century (Milan Krankus)
  • 2.1.2 The Development and Status of Pädagogik in Slovakia since the Establishment of Czechoslovakia (Blanka Kudláčová)
  • 2.1.3 Development and Focus of Czech Pädagogik in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries (Tomáš Kasper and Dana Kasperová)
  • 2.1.4 Disciplinary Changes in the Hungarian Pädagogik from the Second Half of 19th Century to the Collapse of Stalinist-type Dictatorship (András Németh and Imre Garai)
  • 2.2 Pädagogik as an Academic Discipline in South European Countries
  • 2.2.1 Pädagogik in the Last Two Hundred Years: The Italian Case (Simonetta Polenghi)
  • 2.2.2 Roots and Developments of Pädagogik in Spain (Gonzalo Jover)
  • 2.3 Pädagogik as an Academic Discipline in South-East European Countries
  • 2.3.1 Pädagogik between Tradition and Modernity: The Case of Macedonia (Suzana Miovska-Spaseva)
  • 2.3.2 Pädagogik in Slovenia before and after Breakup of the Former Yugoslavia (Edvard Protner and Tadej Vidmar)
  • 2.3.3 The Influence of John Dewey on Conceptions of Pädagogik in Yugoslavia (Vučina Zorić, Ksenija Domiter-Protner and Nataša Vujisić-Živković)
  • 2.3.4 Pädagogik in Bulgaria from the End of 19th Century (Albena Chavdarova)
  • Conclusion (Blanka Kudláčová and Andrej Rajský)
  • Contributors
  • Series index

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Terminology note

1.“Pädagogik” (Ger.) – a scientific and academic discipline, its origins are found at a German pedagogue J. F. Herbart

2.Pedagogy (Engl.) – a discipline that deals with theory and practice of teaching (Ger. Bildungstheorie, Didaktik)

3.Educational Sciences (Educology) – Erziehungswissenschaften (Ger.)

4.Educational Theory – a theory of the purpose, application and interpretation of education and learning

5.Education – Bildung (Ger.)

6.Education – Erziehung (Ger.)

7.Education – Bildung and Erziehung (Ger.)

8.History of Education – Geschichte der Erziehung (Ger.)

9.Chair of “Pädagogik” – Lehrstuhl für Pädagogik (Ger.) – a field tied to professorship in pedagogy, which may have been initially linked with professorship in theology, philosophy or aesthetics; originated throughout the 19th century. In the 20th century, the German notion Lehrstuhl für Pädagogik used to denote also departments of pedagogy

10.Pedagogical Seminar – Pädagogisches Seminar (Ger.) – associated with professorship in pedagogy, in connection with which a seminar may have been or did not have to be established; its aim was practical – training of secondary school teachers; the concept originated in the second half of the 19th century

11.Department of “Pädagogik” – Department of “Pädagogik”, Institut für Pädagogik (Ger.) – departments or institutes of pedagogy, originated in the first half of the 20th century; they are a result of the development and enhancement of professorships of pedagogy, they get emancipated by separation from professorships of theology, philosophy or aesthetics and gain an independent professorship of pedagogy. At the same time, the professorships of pedagogy expand in newly targeted professorships, focused foremost on experimental pedagogy, e. g. in the Czech lands, Germany←9 | 10→

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The objective of this book is a philosophical and historical reflection of education and science of education (Ger. Pädagogik) as an academic as well as scientific discipline. The publication is the result of a several-years-long collaboration of philosophers of education and historians of education from the countries of the Central, Southern and South-Eastern Europe. The majority of the countries cover the territory of the former Austria-Hungary, or the countries neighbouring this territory.

Modern Pädagogik in continental Europe has been influenced by the German Pädagogik, which is apparent in individual chapters in the second part of the publication. Its fundamental concepts were shaped in the period of the Enlightenment and neo-humanism. The etymology shows that the term is derived from the Greek words pais – boy, girl, child and agogé – to lead. Similar terms can be found in other European languages, too: paedagogia (Latin), pédagogie (French), pedagogía (Portuguese, Spanish), pedagogia (Italian), pedagógia (Hungarian), pedagogika (Bulgarian, Czech, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian), pedagogie (Dutch, Romanian), pedagogija (Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Macedonian), pædagogik (Danish), pedagogik (Swedish), pedagogiikka (Finnish), pedagogikk (Norwegian), etc.

The horizon of the Greek paideia was significantly broader than the scope of present-day Pädagogik. The term paideia was related to developmental issues for humans that included their entire life – from birth to death. Paidea, according to Heidegger, does not have an equivalent in modern language. Paideia is not the modern education of a human that seeks to transmit knowledge; it is rather a movement inside of a human, a turnover that can be better expressed by the Platonic term metanoia. In this sense, according to Pelcová (2010, p. 45), “paideia is the care for soul – epimeleia peri tés psychés, what keeps a human being in contact with the truth of being, with the idea”.

Modern times bring up the idea of the “educability” of a child and their ability to learn; consequently. Pädagogik is accordingly shaped as a practical educational art of parents and teachers. However, from the European Enlightenment onwards, this practical activity needed to rely on rationally justified reasons; it needed to establish the finality of its own theses scientifically. Pädagogik sought for its own reasoning in philosophical and theological anthropology. Therefore, it was carried out as applied logic and applied ethics at first (late 1700s), i.e. as coordination of the discipline of reason and discipline of will. This theoretically informed practice gave rise to a triangular model of educational disciplines (Ger. pädagogische Disziplinen). Within this discipline anthropology answered the question of who a human is, educational teleology determined what a human should ←13 | 14→become and educational methodology connected these two moments. The triangular model was adopted and developed by an author who is considered the founder of Pädagogik as a modern science, Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776–1841). Herbartian Pädagogik dealt with educational epistemology for the first time. This however remained at the level of “applied metaphysics” – including ethics, which provided Pädagogik with scientific objectives, as well as psychology, which provided Pädagogik with operative means. But both deduced their principles directly from metaphysical anthropology. All in all, Herbartian theory of education represented a new paradigm, thanks to which it was possible to speak of Pädagogik as of a field of cognition that tries to understand its own scientific identity.

The shaping of Pädagogik in individual European countries occurred in different ways throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, reflecting their different paths to national identity. But despite the specific development of individual nations and their cultures, several fundamental joint elements in the field of Pädagogik can be observed. These include the following: the significant influence of the German tradition; the profiling of the so-called basic educational disciplines (see further on); the establishment of similar models of university-based teacher training; the establishment of a similar type of academic and scientific institutions; the establishment of similar types of schools for elementary and secondary education. Pädagogik was gradually shaped as an autonomous scholarly discipline, which started to find its place within university education in the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Already in the first half of the 19th century, so-called chairs of Pädagogik (Ger. Lehrstuhl für Pädagogik), which were still a part of the departments of philosophy, started to be inaugurated. Independent pedagogical seminars1 (small departments, Ger. Pädagogisches Seminar) started to be established later. These were transformed to departments of education (Ger. Department Pädagogik or Institut für Pädagogik) throughout the 20th century. In the last third of the 19th century, Herbartianism was gradually pushed aside by Positivism and subsequently also by American progressivism and pragmatism. Together with a newly emergent experimental Pädagogik, these developments created a space for a broader educational discussion. The turn of the 20th century also witnessed the advent of a reform of pedagogy movement that placed ←14 | 15→the accent on the child. Unfortunately, in the first half of the 20th century, the rise of fascism and nationalism in Europe meant that Pädagogik and education in several countries got into ideological bondage.

In spite of the fact that the theoretical position of Herbart and his followers found critics and opponents from many sides, up to the end of the 1960s the scientific status of Allgemeine Pädagogik (General Pedagogy) was not fundamentally questioned. Pädagogik was gradually structured into constituent educational disciplines, namely: General Pädagogik (Ger. Allgemeine Pädagogik), Theory of Education (Ger. Theorie der Erziehung), Pedagogy/Didactics (Ger. Bildungstheorie, Didaktik) and History of Education (Ger. Geschichte der Erziehung). However, some turbulence for the discipline occurred with a new ascendency of empirical educational sciences during the 1960s (Fr. sciences de l’éducation, Ger. Erziehungwissenschaften). In 1966, the French minister of education appointed a group of educational research specialists (Maurice Debesse, Gaston Mialaret and Paul Fraisse and others) to elaborate a project of creation of courses of teacher training leading to master’s degree at universities. Members of the group used the term “educational sciences” because they wanted to emphasise the scientific dimension of studies, aiming at an identification of Pädagogik (pédagogie in French) with empirical sciences. In 1985, a well-known book by Gaston Mialaret and others educators was published with the title Introduction to Educational Sciences (Introduction aux sciences de l’éducation).2

Representatives of the new conception of educational sciences rejected the then prevailing monopoly of humanistic spiritual-scientific Pädagogik and subjected it to dramatic criticism (cf. Winkler, 1994, but also Brezinka, 1971). The attacks on this “queen of educational sciences” had two prongs. Firstly, it was charged that General Pädagogik originated from a need to provide some academic training to teachers in the 19th century. Secondly, it was alleged that a “general” subject of Pädagogik does not exist (cf. Stępkowski, 2010, pp. 143–146).

The first critical camp pointed out that academic General Pädagogik was devised as a practical course of teacher training at a time of institutionalisation of education in the state system of schooling. It was argued ←15 | 16→that its purpose was “disciplinarisation” of teachers’ training in order to ensure continuity of the system. General Pädagogik, on this account, had a textbook character, not a scientific one. It represented a complex of “educational dogmas”. The second camp of criticism of General Pädagogik accused it of: uselessness (decline in scientific outcomes of this discipline); non-functionality (no direct connection to educational practice); outdatedness (as a result of the decline of speculative sciences) and insubstantiality (it loses its legitimacy with the rise of educational science).

General Pädagogik is even at present often perceived as an obstacle to the development of rationalised education, within which education and formation must be guided by the principle of functionality and effectiveness (e.g. Scheerens, 2000). A strong pressure for technologisation of education, teaching and instruction comes particularly from people with a technicist outlook. General Pädagogik, together with its reflexive role, loses any apparent meaning. Educational technology, productive and reproductive practice, take its place (Cambi et al., 2009, p. 19). However, as several contemporary educational researchers have pointed out (Benner, Heim, Prange, Baroni, Bellingreri, Brezinka, Mari, Kilian, Henz, Ruschke-Rhein, Stępkowski, and others) General Pädagogik is still irreplaceable as metatheory of educational science, a sort of “framework theory”, whose tasks are manifold. These tasks include: to usher to educational thinking; to grasp and interpret main educational concepts; to provide theoretical resources to Pädagogik as a science; to connect research outcomes of educational sciences with educational practice. Scholars who thus defend General Pädagogik see in the criticisms the rejection of a more fundamental understanding of education; a rejection that actually represents an abandonment of the scientific status of educational research. This academic dispute has far-reaching implications for any serious understanding of education. It is an instance moreover of a fruitful discourse through which European continental Pädagogik deepens and enriches scientific educational thinking itself. In this book, mainly in its first part, Philosophical Reflections on Education, several similar fronts of argumentation are opened.

The authors of this book encountered several terminological differences in key educational concepts used in continental traditions, central European tradition in particular and apparently similar concepts in English. An emblematic example is the concept pedagogy itself. Even though the English term “pedagogy” is very similar to the German term Pädagogik, using them interchangeably causes confusion, since the term “pedagogy” is significantly narrower in content. Since there is no English equivalent of the term Pädagogik in the sense of a scientific and academic discipline, we ←16 | 17→decided to keep the term in the original version – i.e. untranslated. Another problem is to find an equivalent for the German notion Erziehungswissenschaften. In this case, we decided to use the phrase educational sciences, which can be found in specialised literature written by continental authors. Also, there occurred a problem with a distinction between the German Bildung and Erziehung and the corresponding theories Bildungstheorie or Didaktik and Theorie der Erziehung. These distinctions do not have real counterparts in English terminology. Both words are regularly translated as Education, or Theory of Education. In case of a need to distinguish their meaning in the text, the authors use the original German versions in italics. In view of incompatibilities in the continental (German) educational tradition and Anglophone traditions, a brief Terminology note is provided at the beginning of the book.

The research perspectives provided in the various contributions in the book help to fill gaps in understanding that arise from contrasting historical paths taken by European countries in recent times. In the second half of the 20th century, Europe was divided by the Iron Curtin into two parts, not only territorially but also mentally. Communication among philosophers, scientific and academic professionals was frozen for several decades. After the Second World War, communism, which was already well-established in the countries of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was implemented into life of the countries of the Eastern Europe too. Together with it, a conception of socialistic Pädagogik and a model of unified education came to be implemented in these countries. In the western part of Europe, where postmodern thinking made advances from the 1970s onwards, Pädagogik started to lose its philosophical moorings and traditional pattern became unsettled. It can be stated in any case that both Western and Eastern European countries experienced strong ruptures in the continuity of educational thinking. This was, however, caused by different factors. In the countries of Western Europe, these ruptures were induced by an evolving postmodern thinking. In the 1960s, the subject and methodology of history of education were questioned by general historians. According to them, the overly optimistic narratives of modernism did not provide answers to serious dilemmas and problems in education in Eastern Europe in the period of the onset of postmodern thinking. It may be claimed that it was a natural developmental crisis. According to Rajský, “the paradigm of postmodernism shook and questioned the scientific status of history as such, placed theoreticians of history in front of a mirror: they were forced to reflect on the question of their own meaning, re-configure their own beliefs, purify themselves from submission to the persisting narratives and ←17 | 18→emancipate themselves from the established schemes of interpretation” (Rajský, 2014, p. 17). A similar statement can be found in the researches of Iggers, according to whom “the postmodern critics have correctly pointed out the ideological premises that were present in the dominant discourse of professional historical scholarship. However, rejection of the possibility of any rational discourse and questioning of the notion of historical truth and thus, historical untruth, resulted into throwing the baby out with the bathwater” (Iggers, 2002, p. 22). In contrast to the Western countries, in the countries of the Eastern Europe, political and ideological influences were the strongest factors. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in the 1990s, we can speak of the loss of continuity in the field of historical-educational research and in philosophical reflection on education in both parts of Europe. At issue here is the loss of the sense of continuity – in thought, in moral life, in ethical traditions, in historical experience – that constitutes any particular civilisation (cf. Kudláčová and Rajský, 2012). Continuity carries the risk of homogenisation, totalisation and exclusivity; however, it also represents a necessary condition for an adequate perception of the past and future, for responsibility for cultural and other inheritances, for consistent work, for building and development. Without the presupposition of continuity, Pädagogik and education, perceived either as a science or art, would not be possible.

Under the influence of rising globalisation at the end of the 20th century, two traditions, “two worlds” of educational thinking, represented by sometimes conflicting terminologies, started to come into contact. This contact opens several questions: e.g. the problem of Pädagogik as a scientific discipline, the problem of educational terminology, the problem of investigating the phenomenon of education itself, the problem of undergraduate teacher training, its focus and content structure, etc. This new contact, or “encountering”, however, may lead to a clearer definition of identity of both traditions of educational thinking. It can encourage a sustained dialogue between them and consequently, their mutual enrichment. It can contribute to a better understanding of humankind itself and its educational possibilities.

The book approaches education from two kinds of perspectives: philosophical and historical. The philosophical perspectives, contained in the first part of the book, explore key philosophical influences underlying the notion of Pädagogik, and also the later notion of Erziehungwissenschaften (educational sciences). Questions are raised about the status of philosophy of education, and of Pädagogik as a field of study. The nature and scope of their contributions in academic workplaces are critically reviewed.

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Concerning the historical perspectives in the second part of the book, these explore key historical moments in the development of Pädagogik as a scientific and academic discipline in individual countries of Central, Southern and South-Eastern Europe. By combining philosophical and historical reflections on continental Pädagogik, we attempted to overcome the fragmentation and limitations of using only a single discipline: so-called disciplinarism. The book goes beyond the horizon of regionalism and creates a more inclusive picture of the development of present-day Pädagogik in the countries examined.

It seems that in the countries of Central, Southern and South-Eastern Europe, Pädagogik, based on the original German tradition, has still a relatively large amount of similar features. It can be observed that problems of a similar character arise in educational theory and practice even at present. This is evident from themes and discussions pursued at international conferences in a number of countries in recent years (e.g. in Maribor 2010, 2012 and 2015; in Prague 2012, 2018; in Smolenice 2010, 2013 and 2016; in Lodz 2012 and 2014; in Belgrade 2014; in Liberec 2013 and 2015; in Warsaw 2016 and 2018, in Sarajevo 2018).

In conclusion, we would like to thank all the authors, with whom we maintained a lively contact throughout the preparation of the book and gradually shaped its final form. We would also like to thank Dr. Pádraig Hogan from Ireland for a careful reading of the manuscript and comments that helped to improve clarity and quality of the text. We believe that the book will represent an enrichment in the field of continental Pädagogik, shedding new light on its foundations and development. We also see it as a valuable opportunity for entering a dialogue with the representatives of the educational research community in Anglophone countries.


Brezinka, W. 1971. Von der Pädagogik zur Erziehungswissenschaft. Weinheim–Berlin–Basel: Verlag Beltz.

Biographical notes

Blanka Kudláčová (Volume editor) Andrej Rajský (Volume editor)

Blanka Kudačova is Professor of Education at Trnava University in Trnava, Slovakia. Her research and publishing activities are focused on the area of history of education. Andrej Rajsky is Associate Professor of Moral Philosophy at Trnava university in Trnava, Slovakia. His research and publishing activities are focused on the area of philosophy of education.


Title: Education and «Pädagogik»