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Herbartianism and its Educational Consequences in the Period of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy

The Case of Slovenia

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Edvard Protner

Herbartianism is without a doubt one of the most important pedagogic movements of the 19 th century. While quoting J. F. Herbart, his followers – Herbartians – built a pedagogic system which strongly marked educational theory and practice not only in Europe. The book offers a detailed insight into the constitution of teacher training in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy with special emphasis on the situation in Slovenia. Along with the basic didactic principles the foreground is reserved for the understanding of teacher personality. This book contextualises the professional assignments of teachers and their education with the interests of school policy. This historical perspective offers a useful apparatus for the understanding of today’s debates about the professionalization of the teaching profession.
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5. The Attitude of Catholic Pedagogues Towards Herbartianist Pedagogy in Slovenia

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Adl-Amini, Oelkers and Neuman list the political context as one of the reasons for the dominance of Herbartianism in the second half of the nineteenth century:

“Herbart’s pedagogy emerged as the leading paradigm in a noticeable parallel with the decline of the liberal bourgeoisie in Germany after 1848. Ziller’s protestant scientism was basically better adjusted to political-pedagogical self-understanding of the pro-revolutionary period as, for instance, Diesterweg’s anti-clerical, natural-scientific education and school. Although the history of political Herbartianism has not been written yet, it is possible to say that Ziller’s and Rein’s educational and political ideas were reactionary regarding liberal reformist claims from 1848 as well as the later formed social-democratic educational programme. This made their pedagogy acceptable and welcome throughout the long restoration period of political and pedagogic development…Ziller’s scientistic-Christian belief as a whole can be understood as liberal-conservative while Rein’s national-pedagogical tendency pushed Herbartianism more and more towards a conservative and folk block”(1979, 35-36).

We can wholly agree with these findings, but here we have to be careful not to hastily associate Herbartianism with political and ideological conservatism. It seems this connection is very present and rooted in the general perception of Herbartianism. Here we can see an analogy in evaluating Herbartianism with the evaluation of social events in the second half of the nineteenth century. A pattern has been established in pedagogic historiography in which reformist (progressive) pedagogy presents a higher level of the development of pedagogy. The aspirations of reformist pedagogy...

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