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History of Vocational Education and Training in Europe

Cases, Concepts and Challenges


Edited By Esther Berner and Philipp Gonon

Understanding today’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems requires a comprehension of the rise and development, i.e. of the foundations of topical VET. This book provides a comparative view of its development in Europe. The contributions of renowned authors give insight into conceptual questions, cases and challenges in this field.

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Every Picture Tells a Story. Historical Research on Vocational Education and Training


1.  Introduction

The histories of vocational education and training (VET) under particular perspectives are as varied as the theoretical and methodological approaches to the field of VET. For a long time studies on the history of VET had to face the prejudice of being either less theoretical or empirically naive. Thus, historical studies on VET were confronted with the criticism that they were reconstructing history in a narrative way without analysis, but pointing out problematic generalisations without sufficient empirical foundation (Pätzold & Wahle 2009). In this context the research field was exhausted in the tendency towards a rather affirming and less critical reconstruction of the traditional comprehension of vocation (Beruf). In addition to this approach, there developed a history of institutions that was mostly characterised by an abstinence of meta-theories (Pätzold & Wahle 2009).

This was greatly challenging. Namely in the beginning of the 1970s the situation changed. Since then historical research in education, including VET, operates with relatively consistent research strategies and continuous activities (McCulloch & Richardson 2000). Over the past 45 years the field has been extended theoretically and methodologically (Heid et al 1980; Zabeck 2009; Wahle 2015). Rather than telling neat stories of the past, historical science has changed its claim with regard to standards of social sciences. According to the idea of a critical analysis of the past, historical research on (vocational) education seeks for an increased understanding of complexities and options in the development of societies, institutions,...

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