Pedagogy

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From A Cyclopedia of Education, edited by Paul Monroe, Ph.D. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1911, vol. IV, pp. 621-2).

Pedagogy
  • Ernest N. Henderson (Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Education, Adelphi College)

Pedagogy is commonly understood to mean the science and art of teaching. The word is derived from the Greeks, among whom a pedagogue was the person, usually, if not always, a slave, who attended the young boy, going with him to and from school, carrying his materials for study, looking out for his wants and exercising authority over him. It is supposed that the pedagogues were often such slaves as would be useless for other tasks, and that they were not held in much respect even by the children who were placed in their charge. The name thus acquired in ancient times a connotation of lack of esteem, if not of contempt, which it has not entirely shaken off in modern usage.

A somewhat similar meaning became attached to the derived term, "pedagogy." Since the Renaissance educational reformers have drawn more and more attention to the significance of the process of education as contrasted with that of the subject matter taught. The study of this process has been for several centuries referred to as pedagogy. The philosopher Kant denominated his lectures on education as Über Pädagogik. They dealt especially with the formation of habit, and moral training and instruction. Thus defined, pedagogy concerned that aspect of education commonly held to be most childish and least interesting, a phase of life relegated to nurses, mothers, and pedagogues, and felt to have little in it to command the thoughtful attention of the strong in mind or will. In fact, the management and instruction of children was from the fathers' or schoolmasters' point of view thought to resolve itself into an authoritative display of superior power. Learning was treated as a matter of application on the part of the pupil. Application was regarded as a question of will, and will as to be governed by commands. But to command children was held, on account of their weakness and lack of resources, not to require great strength or to merit much thought or esteem.

But while, on account of its derivation from the word pedagogue and its application to an art held in little honor, the term pedagogy at first failed to carry the implication of a profound science, nevertheless the existence of the ideal of such a study and its resolute pursuit by a few reformers eventually gained for it a richer content and a higher standing. In the beginning its practical influence was felt especially in the elementary schools. The nineteenth century brought with it in the more advanced nations of the world an extraordinary expansion of the facilities for elementary education. The preparation of teachers for this work came to be in the hands of normal and training schools. These institutions devoted themselves largely to the pedagogy of the subjects taught in the common schools and to the problems of school management. It came to be an accepted principle that elementary teachers should know not only the subjects they were to teach, but also the art of their craft.

Eventually the idea that the scientific study of education should not be confined to the problems of the elementary school led to the establishment of departments of pedagogy in colleges and universities. The University of the City of New York (now New York University) offered such courses in 1832. The same institution established a School of Pedagogy in 1890 and offered the degree of Master and Doctor of Pedagogy. The New York State Normal College at Albany gives the degree of Bachelor of Pedagogy. Many universities, especially in the western part of the United States created professorships in pedagogy in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. See Education, academic study of.

The introduction of the study into higher education led to new difficulties in regard to the term pedagogy. It was felt to be essentially a normal school subject, concerned especially with the problems of the elementary school and "rule-of-thumb" methods of teaching the subjects of its curriculum. The specialists of the universities were prone to regard the power to teach as due primarily to knowledge of subject matter. In addition to this they admitted the importance of natural aptitude and of experience, but rejected the efficacy of methods. Many ridiculed outright the pretensions of "pedagogy," and resented its injection into the curriculum of higher education. Some even went so far as to criticize the entire influence of pedagogy on elementary education, on the ground that in its emphasis on interest it had demoralized the work of the school, giving us "soft" pedagogy.

Much of this criticism of pedagogy as a university subject had, doubtless, validity, and in consequence it was necessary to modify and expand its content in order to secure for it a permanent foothold and equality of rank. To mark the change there grew up a tendency to substitute the word education for pedagogy as a title for the department and for professorships. Thus the term "pedagogy" has to a considerable extent passed out of vogue. The newer" education" differs from the older " pedagogy" in two respects. First, it includes far more than method in teaching and school management; second, it is more scientific. Taking up the first point, we note that all the educational functions and agencies of society are considered; the history and administration of education are taken into account; the care of the body is brought before the attention as well as the care of the mind, and the education of defectives as well as of the normal child; the educational ideals and the curriculum are treated both in general and in detail and the relation of education to general welfare is investigated. A good illustration of the expansion of the field is seen in the transition from the history of pedagogy such as we find in Compayre's volume with that title, to present-day history of education. Then the subject confined itself for the most part to the ideals and methods that have prevailed in the schools, together with some account of the conceptions and work of educational reformers. Now the historian of education tries to relate the processes and agencies of education to the institutional, economic, social, and cultural movements of history.

The second change that has come about with the transition from pedagogy to education lies in the more thoroughgoing and scientific methods employed to-day. On the one hand, a far wider range of underlying sciences is brought into requisition in the treatment of educational problems. Thus not only psychology and philosophy, but also biology, physiology, sociology, and economics are brought to bear on the work. On the other hand, the propagation of opinions, "armchair" pedagogy, has been replaced by resolute search for facts through historical research, through comparative study, through the use of experiment and statistical methods. The department of education brings to scientific research a set of interesting practical problems and to the schoolmaster a mass of incontrovertible facts and conclusions that cannot fail to prove of practical use.

It is interesting to note that the term pedagogy bids fair to be revived in the title "experimental pedagogy." This science springs not so much from the desire of the schoolmaster or the educational reformer to establish teaching on an unshakable basis, as from the tendency on the part of experimental psychology to reach out into new fields, especially those where its methods and principles can be made to bear on the practical world. But, although somewhat different in its origin from genetic and educational psychology, which began as attempts to get a scientific basis for teaching rather than new problems for science, experimental pedagogy naturally tends to include both these forerunners.

E. N. H.

See Education, academic study of; Experimental education; Psychology, educational; Philosophy of education; also Child study.

The blossom and goal of all true philosophy is pedagogy in its widest sense, the formative theory of man.
Wilhelm Dilthey, Pädagogik : Geschichte und Grundlinie.
(Gesammelte Schriften, Band 9, Stuttgart : B. G. Teubner, 1934) Gallica

In English, pedagogy is a weak, uninteresting concept, generally serving as an inflated synonym for didactics, or teaching methods. The current entry for pedagogy in Wikipedia follows this usage and has little to communicate in comparison to the German Wikipedia on Pädagogik or the French on Pédagogie, in both of which pedagogy denotes the systematic or scientific study and practice of education. Pedagogy in this expanded meaning is an important concept to develop in the academic study of education.

Neither StudyPlace as a whole, nor its components, should be thought of as a compendium of pedagogy in this stronger sense. Nevertheless, as participants in StudyPlace inquire about what educates, they should aspire to draw as fully as they can on the resources of pedagogy, on the resources for the systematic, or scientific, study and practice of education.

This page on pedagogy can serve as the top level for an introductory overview of those resources. Its organization follows, with some adaptation, the organization used on the Portuguese Wikipedia for Pedagogia. It gives an ideal-type organization with respect to which professional schools of education give a spectrum of approximations. All of this points to a huge apparatus, a subset of which is sampled in the StudyPlace Wiki work tools.


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