Philosophy and History of Education: Time to bridge the gap?
Article first published online: 31 JAN 2007
Educational Philosophy and Theory
Volume 39, Issue 1, pages 28–43, February 2007
How to Cite
Depaepe, M. (2007), Philosophy and History of Education: Time to bridge the gap?. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 39: 28–43. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2007.00236.x
- Issue published online: 31 JAN 2007
- Article first published online: 31 JAN 2007
In this article, the relationship between philosophy and history of education is delved into. First, it is noted that both disciplines have diverged from each other over the last few decades to become relatively autonomous subsectors within the pedagogical sciences, each with its own discourses, its own expositional characteristics, its own channels of communication, and its own networks. From the perspective of the history of education, it seems as though more affiliation has been sought with the science of history. The history of education, in any event, has in the past few years become more historicizing and less ‘educationalizing’. According to the author, (who is not a philosopher of education) there are signs that indicate that such an analogous line of reasoning, mutatis mutandis, also applies for the philosophy of education. Does this mean that there are no longer any bridges from the one area to the other or that none are possible? Probably not. In the second portion, it is shown that the modern or even postmodern ‘new cultural history of education’, with its often ironical and demythologizing traits uses or can use a considerable amount of ‘grand theory’ (à la Foucault). Indeed, the development of an adequate conceptual apparatus that also has to cope with the problem of ‘presentism’ assumes a constant dialogue with the past and for this a philosophical-interpretative (casu quo, hermeneutic) approach is still the best situated. Inversely, the Foucauldian perspective shows that philosophy in general and philosophy of education in particular equally hardly do without history. Within the reflection on pedagogical praxis, the historical and the philosophical thus probably will continue to rely on each other—if only as allies against the dominance of short-winded empirical-quantitative research. Still, it would be naive to think that, from this possible alliance, the fragmentation of historically developed knowledge systems with their own sociological and institutional foundation of scientific activities can be rectified in a trice.