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).
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 focus 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 technical pause establishing breakout rooms
16.10 – 16.35
Breakout session 2: Further discussions
16.35 – 16.50
16.50 – 17.00
Thank you for today and closure.
The 2nd Annual Nordic Educational Conversation
Welcome to the 2nd Annual Nordic Educational Conversation! The Conversation will be held virtually on Zoom. Time: September 23rd, 2021, 3-5 p.m. CET. You are hereby invited to participate in an exciting educational conversation (free of charge).
The Annual Conversation will be held in English and is connected to NERA’s journal Nordic Studies in Education (NSE). Note that this is not a traditional conference or seminar. Conversations and dialogues are in the heart of this forum, which sustain conversations taking place in full courtesy and kindness, where the participants manage to have fruitful discussions on the chosen theme and, if possible, engage in projects that reach to a wider audience. The aim is that these conversations will lead to articles and special issues of NSE.
Topic for this year’s conversation:
Is there such a thing as a distinct Nordic dimension in education?
John Benedicto Krejsler, Professor at Aarhus University and President of the Nordic Educational Research Association
Paul Adams, Senior Lecturer University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
The Nordic dimension in education – between myth and reality
John Benedicto Krejsler
Is there such a thing as a Nordic dimension? What is it that unites five small countries on the northern edge of the European continent? (Andersen et al., 2007; Buchardt, Markkola, & Valtonen, 2013; Krejsler, 2020). It is evident that each of the small Nordic countries is highly appreciative of the critical mass that the other countries, with similar – but far from identical – school and education systems and values, offer (Imsen, Blossing, & Moos, 2017; Krejsler & Moos, 2021b; Telhaug, Mediås, & Aasen, 2006). Many researchers thus express that it is often difficult to go ‘international’ in an educational world dominated largely by Anglo-American standards, procedures and values: (1) You have to appeal to ‘myths’ about the Nordic welfare states, progressive pedagogy, gender and social equity; or (2) your research is not easily translatable to an Anglophone audience with central terms like ‘pedagogik’, ‘Bildung’, ‘didaktik’ and so forth (Krejsler & Moos, 2021a)
Is the Nordic dimension exclusive to the existing five Nordic countries, including the Åland Islands, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Sápmi? In one sense, yes, based on centuries of shared cultural and historic experiences; in another sense, no. The Nordic dimension reaches out to our Baltic neighbors. Similar partnerships have arisen with the Scottish and the Irish educational research associations.
The Nordic dimension resists being defined once and for all. In NERA we have thus agreed on English as the official language of the Congress, in order to include all of our Nordic colleagues. On the other hand, Scandinavian languages do occupy an important place, as they are mutually intelligible and include experience that has been historically amassed. Excluding the use of Scandinavian languages would make it difficult to gather the critical mass to explore and translate educational terms (like ‘bildning’, ‘didaktik’ or ‘pedagogik’) and the contexts that they represent into English for a larger international context.
Perhaps it is a trait of Nordic pragmatism that we continue to debate the language issue with intense passion whilst agreeing, implicitly, that it remains at best an issue that can never – and should never – be resolved?
Andersen, T. M., Holmström, B., Honkapohja, S., Korkman, S., Söderström, H. T., &
Vartiainen, J. (2007). The Nordic Model: Embracing globalization and sharing risks. Helsinki: The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA) [Taloustieto Oy].
Buchardt, M., Markkola, P., & Valtonen, H. (2013). Introduction: Education and the Making
of the Nordic Welfare States. In M. Buchardt, P. Markkola, & H. Valtonen (Eds.), Education, State and Citizenship (pp. 7-30). Helsinki: University of Helsinki.
Imsen, G., Blossing, U., & Moos, L. (2017). Reshaping the Nordic education model in an era
of efficiency: Changes in the comprehensive school project in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden since the millennium. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 61(5), 568-583.
Krejsler, J. B. (2020). The Nordic Educational Research Association, the Nordic Dimension
and Challenges of Open Access: President’s opening speech at NERA’s 48th Congress in Turku (Editorial). Nordic Studies in Education, 40(2), 98-102. doi:https://doi.org/10.23865/nse.v40.2275
Krejsler, J. B., & Moos, L. (2021a). Danish – and Nordic – school policy: its Anglo-American
connections and influences. In J. B. Krejsler & L. Moos (Eds.), What Works in Nordic School Policies? Mapping Approaches to Evidence, Social Technologies and Transnational Influences Cham (CH): Springer.
Krejsler, J. B., & Moos, L. (Eds.). (2021b). What Works in Nordic School Policies? Mapping
Approaches to Evidence, Social Technologies and Transnational Influences Cham (CH): Springer.
Telhaug, A. O., Mediås, O. A., & Aasen, P. (2006). The Nordic Model in Education:
Education as part of the political system in the last 50 years. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 50(3), 245-283.
15.00 – 15.10: Welcome and some practical matters (Michael Dal & Herner Saeverot).
15.10 – 15.25: Introduction by John Benedicto Krejsler, The Nordic dimension in education – between myth and reality
15.25-15.35: Response to Krejsler’s presentation by Paul Adams
15.35 – 16.00: Breakout session 1 – Discussion about the introduction.
16.00 – 16.05: A little technical pause establishing breakout rooms.
16.05 – 16.30: Breakout session 2- Further discussion about the introduction
16.30 – 16.50: Plenum discussion
16.50 – 17.00: Thank you for today and closure.
The 1st Annual Nordic Educational Conversation
We are happy to announce that The 1st Annual Nordic Educational Conversation will be held online on Zoom October 23rd at 14.00 to 16.00 central Scandinavian time. You are hereby invited to participate in an exciting educational conversation (free of charge).
The Annual Conversation will be held in English and is connected to NERA’s journal Nordic Studies in Education (NSE). Note that this is not a traditional conference or seminar. Conversations and dialogues are in the heart of this forum, which sustain conversations taking place in full courtesy and kindness, where the participants manage to have fruitful discussions on the chosen theme and, if possible, engage in projects that reach to a wider audience (perhaps as an article in NSE).
To strengthen the conversations, we will divide the participants into smaller discussion groups, followed by a joint conversation at the end. Each Conversation adheres to a unique theme which is relevant to the Nordic countries. The theme, with its problems and challenges, is introduced by one or more experts. The introduction lasts for about 10-20 minutes, while the whole Conversation lasts for approximately two hours.
We have the pleasure of having Associate Professor Jens Erik Kristensen (Aarhus University, Danish School of Education) as initiator of the conversations at the 1st Annual Nordic Educational Conversation. Kristensen will have an introduction on the theme Pedagogy – lost in translation? The Nordic tensions between Educational Sciences and Pedagogy.
Pedagogy lost in translation?
The Nordic tensions between Educational Sciences and Pedagogy
With the spread of global comparisons of national schooling and training achievements under transnational organizations like the OECD, UNESCO, the IEA and the EU, a kind of pedagogical and educational-policy universalism has arisen during the last three decades centred around a series of new global ideas and universal key concepts like ‘learning’, ‘competence’, ‘upskilling’, ‘creativity’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘citizenship’. This universalisation has primarily been borne by economics rather than religion, nation or democracy. Global economic concepts like ‘human capital’, ‘human resource’, ‘employability’, ‘competitiveness’, ‘innovation’, ‘productivity’ etc. have become part of the educational-policy and even of pedagogical vocabulary.
The transnational economic focus on education has been accompanied by a change in the understanding of what ‘education’ is all about and of the relationship between education, pedagogy and educational sciences. Within a very short time, learning and competence has become part of the general vocabulary in educational policies and the key concepts in a new and generalized notion of ‘education’. Recent decades have seen a striking semantic shift in the Nordic (and continental) terms of ‘education’ (uddannelse, utbildning, utdanning) that originally were narrowly reserved for the specialized qualification of an individual’s labour after completion of schooling: One ‘took an education’ with an eye to a specific trade, job or a specific profession. However, from the end of the 1960s onwards, to take just one example, the Danish term ‘uddannelse’ became the official Danish translation of the semantically and institutionally far broader English concept of ‘education’. From then on ‘uddannelse’ was increasingly being used as an umbrella term for everything related to rearing, upbringing, learning, instruction, teaching, qualification, competence and skills development for both children and adults, even though ‘uddannelse’ in Danish still retained its narrower meaning than the English word education. Today practically all pedagogical initiatives and institutions from crèches, kindergartens and primary schools onwards are now referred to as ‘uddannelses-institutioner’ (educational institutions).
In the wake of the semantic generalization of the education concept there followed a new kind of educational thinking called educational sciences, which unlike traditional pedagogical thinking and research primarily is geared towards a socio-scientific (sociological, economic and political) understanding of education in accordance with empirical and quantitative ideals of knowledge and evidence based practice. On the basis of these shifts, ‘uddannelse’ has taken conceptual hegemony and has become the cover term for educational matters while at the same time educational research and science has increasingly liberated itself from the traditionally more normative and ‘humanist’ horizons of pedagogical research and thinking. To quote Herner Sæverot educational sciences has contributed to a “delegitimization of ‘pedagogikk”. Instead, we have acquired a transnational and primarily Anglo-American semantics of education, which take the labour market as their homing point and accentuate the new global-economic significance of educational programmes. Therefore, you might say that the Anglo-American and OECD concept of education has been a cuckoo in the continental pedagogical nest.
Given these global and national developments, I would like you to consider and discuss three questions in the coming NERA-conversation:
- Is it possible to defend a classical concept of pedagogy and of pedagogical science under the described epochal circumstances? Is it, in the words of Gert Biesta, still possible “speaking ‘pedagogy’ to ‘education’”?
- What is it precisely that we want to defend? Pedagogy as an independent scientific discipline in relation to educational sciences or the idea of a general pedagogical science in the wake of the classical German idea of ‘Allgemeine Pädagogik’; the idea of ‘pedagogical judgement’ in the tension between theoretical and empirical research on the one hand and pedagogical action on the other?
- How are we going to initiate a ‘pedagogical (re)turn’ and defend pedagogy scientifically as well as politically?