The 3rd Annual Nordic Educational Conversation

Pädagogik Meets Education. Comparing Concepts and Traditions

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Nordic Educational Conversation! The Conversation will be held virtually on Zoom. Time: 21 October 2022, 2-4 p.m. CET. You are hereby invited to participate in an exciting educational conversation (free of charge). Please, click here to register.


Teaching and learning appear to be globally similar processes. Nevertheless, teacher education programs are dependent on different concepts all around the world. In the Western tradition, two major traditions stand out offering conceptual frames for the programs. Firstly, the Anglo-American tradition of Education. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary Education is defined as processes of teaching, the knowledge and development resulting from an educational process, as well as the field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools. Secondly, one finds the Continental European tradition of Pädagogik. This concept is mainly defined in terms of research and pedagogic activities, focusing on the concepts of Erziehung and Bildung. As this brief introduction implies, the two concepts are characterized by semantic intersections, sharp differences, and uncertain mutual understandings.

The problem. These characteristics are particularly evident when it comes to translation issues. Here one finds simplifying translations treating Education and Pädagogik as identical. Such a solution tries to avoid running into details and complexities, without taking into account conceptual and semantical differences. Searching Google Scholar for appearances of both ‘Education’ and ‘Pädagogik’ indicate strongly that debates for mutual understandings between the two traditions are missing. When searching on Google Scholar the result is clear: Research journals give no attention to the issue of Education and Pädagogik, only one paper (Biesta 2011) investigates the relation between the two traditions. An identical search on Ngram Viewer (search string Education and Pädagogik, 1980-2008) reveals that there are no traces for a discussion about the two concepts. Only 0,0000000062% of all English language books in the google database contain both search strings.

Relevance. Having these strong indicators for a missing debate at hand, one can argue that there is an urgent need for a discussion between the two traditions, illuminating the tradition of Pädagogik for the Anglo-American world and the tradition of Education for a European audience. Exploring the different traditions and relationships will help to understand how researchers and practitioners in both culturally spheres address similar issues and problems.

As indicated by recent research, teacher education students are increasingly confronted with globalization effects (Trippestad, Swennen & Werler, 2017; Krejsler, 2021). Throughout their studies, teacher education students are confronted with the multiplicity of different traditions and concepts. When reading, as part of their studies, both national as well as international research papers, they must therefore develop a sound understanding of the traditions of Pädagogik and Education. This is urgent, as there are no discussions about touching points and differences between these two traditions in the literature used in teacher education programs.

Purpose. The 3rd Annual Nordic Educational Conversation aims to document and analyse both touching points and differences between the traditions through detailed case-studies that look both at historical and semantical trajectories and at cultural and political dynamics. The ambition is to develop a more coherent analysis of these traditions, to provide a critical and research-informed perspective. The presenters have unique insights into the traditions of Pädagogik and Education and are therefore uniquely placed to deepen the critical analysis of current trends with an eye on developing a special issue of Nordic Studies in Education.


Biesta, G. (2011). Disciplines and theory in the academic study of education: A comparative

analysis of the Anglo-American and Continental construction of the field. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 19(2), 175-192.

Trippestad, T.A., Swennen, A. & Werler, T.C. (Eds.) (2017). The struggle for teacher education:

International perspectives on governance and reforms. Bloomsbury Academic.

Krejsler, J.B. (2021). Skolen og den transnationale vending. Dansk uddannelsespolitik og dens

europæiske og angloamerikanske forbindelser. Nyt fra Samfundsvidenskaberne


Professor Dr Tobias Werler, University of Oslo,

Pädagogik is unlike pedagogy
Abstract: In this presentation, I focuses on the social, political and cultural thought of the concept of Pädagogik. Despite its close semantic relationship to the Standard English translation, pedagogy Pädagogik it does not correspond to it. Stemming from a humanist tradition, Pädagogik can be understood as both a collection of knowledge related to activities of upbringing for practitioners as well as practical science, developing praxis theories. Throughout the presentation, I will outline that the epistemic, social and communicative structures of Pädagogik are directed towards finding historico-social solutions for practical problems. Further, I will briefly explore Pädagogik as a disciplinary science investigating empirical phenomena and building theories on upbringing, teaching and schooling.

Senior Lecturer Dr Jim Hordern, University of Bath, UK,

Education as an idea and a discipline 

Abstract: This presentation will (i) briefly outline some persistent educational ideas in the Anglosphere; (ii) note the tension between educational research traditions, such as the Foundation Disciplines and more “scientistic” approaches to education; and (iii) argue that there is potential for a more deliberative approach to educational thought and practice. 


14.00 – 14.10 

Welcome and some practical matters (Michael Dal & Herner Saeverot). 

14.10 – 14.25

Pädagogik is unlike pedagogy/ Tobias Werler


Education as an idea and a discipline/ Jim Hordern

14.40 – 16.05

Breakout session 1: Discussions

16.05 – 16.10

A little technical pause establishing breakout rooms

16.10 – 16.35 

Breakout session 2: Further discussions

16.35 – 16.50 

Plenum discussion 

16.50 – 17.00 

Thank you for today and closure.

We hope to see you and discuss with you in October!

Best regards,

Michael Dal and Herner Sæverot

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