the history of education and childhood 


The necessity of education and the importance of maintaining pedagogics as an independent discipline

by Daan Thoomes

Dit artikel is er ook in het Nederlands.


1.   Philosophical anthropology and pedagogics
2.   Pedagogics in an era of (post)modern developments
3.   What is 'modern youth'?
4.   Once again: what is education?
5.   A renewed appeal to reason
  About the author


The author takes the position that pedagogics is a normative science with its own subject of research. The historical development of pedagogical thought shows strong relations with philosophical-anthropological principles and with historical-cultural characteristics. Education today is confronted with, among other things, postmodern developments in society ('Hauslosigkeit') and a change in patterns of youth behaviour (from a standard career to a chosen career). For pedagogical analysis, a renewed appeal to reason is advocated. A suitable method is the triadic-pedagogical analysis, which reflects on the parent-child relation in connection with historical-cultural developments.


We can safely assume that everyone is aware that children cannot be left to fend for themselves and that they cannot become adult on their own. However, not everyone is convinced that the process of growing up and gradually growing into society requires an on-going pedagogic relationship based on more or less pronounced concepts of what it is to be a civilized human being. "It can't be allowed!" people cry when they hear that school children are carrying weapons and that they use them on a regular basis. A father will say that his children need a "good education" so that they can come to occupy a "good position" in society. While a mother might say that as far as she is concerned, the most important thing is that her children should be "honest" and that they should learn to be prepared to help one another.

In all of these cases there is clearly some notion of the relationship between education and the socio-cultural environment, of the current state of society and society as it might be, of what should be considered normal or abnormal in terms of human behaviour and of the kinds of things that education can strive towards. But not everyone is willing to accept the practical pedagogic consequences that these notions imply -- in other words, the need to maintain an on-going pedagogic relationship in which educators care for the children in their charge, are aware of their responsibility and are also ethically responsible, relating to the surrounding culture critically and consciously and making every effort to enable children to take part in society responsibly and effectively in their own way.

Consciously or otherwise, educators allow themselves to be guided by all kinds of values regarding human existence on a daily basis and these values are concretized in their dealings with the children they are educating through the setting of various standards. If educators do not allow themselves to be guided by values, there will be no rules or any rules that do exist will be arbitrarily applied. Or there will be a naive faith that with a bit of good will everything will work out all right on its own. This kind of attitude means that the child is indeed left to fend for itself and fails to learn to make choices and to be responsible for them. A child may well be able to grow up in such a situation, but is not given enough assistance in the process of becoming an adult. For, like Langeveld, we are also of the opinion that while growing up the child simultaneously engages in a process in which it determines and shapes the values that it has learned or discovered while growing up increasingly independently (Langeveld, 1979, p.23).

In this respect, to continue to think along the lines of Langeveld's pedagogics, we are concerned with development, education and self-forming within a context of relatively constant personal relationships. However, the pedagogic relationship never exists entirely independently of the historical-cultural context. Thus in this respect we also share Imelman's view that the educator and the child being educated are also affected by the formative influence of the cultural environment. Ultimately, the task of pedagogics is to act as a mediator within this process.

Concerned as it is with the legitimization of pedagogic procedures, theoretical pedagogics has always had to account for the reasons for education and even the necessity for education. Pedagogics per se, that is, for while those who are purely concerned with the therapeutic side of pedagogics -- questioning the effectiveness of certain approaches and strategies, such as how to deal with bed-wetting, eating disorders or social anxiety -- are covering important ground for the practice of pedagogics, they are not obliged to account for their actions from the point of view of cultural pedagogics, nor are they considered to have any responsibility towards the child in question in the longer term. However, the discipline of pedagogics per se -- in other words, the aspect of pedagogics that cannot be reduced to psychology (or any other behavioural science) -- cannot evade the issue of legitimization.

Beekman states it in the following lofty terms "A science of education that does not make any value judgements is a valueless science of education." In 1826 Friedrich Schleiermacher, one of the founders of academic pedagogics, went as far as to characterize pedagogics as applied ethics. It is worth bearing in mind that Schleiermacher conceived of ethics as cultural philosophy as an evolutionary process ('progress'), but all the same! [1]

1. Philosophical anthropology and pedagogics

In the tradition of pedagogics as an aspect of the humanities it is common practice to base pedagogical reasoning on statements regarding the human being taken from philosophical anthropology. Some of these statements have since become such established ideas in pedagogic theory that their origin is no longer known. Here, by way of example, we look at the anthropological ideas expounded by Scheler, Portmann and, above all, by Gehlen, who is so widely quoted in the formulation of pedagogic theory. With reference to Nietzsche, Gehlen describes man as "the not-yet-determined animal". Who and what man is or must become still remains to be seen.

According to Gehlen (1940) this fact, which is an unusual phenomenon within nature, makes man "a creature of discipline". This notion implies a clear task for education, suggesting that without the imposition of discipline the human being will not become a true human being or in any event will not be given his due. Similar ideas had already been voiced earlier, by Kant, for example, in his Vorlesung über Pädagogik [Lecture on Pedagogics] (1776): "We understand by education namely care, discipline and instruction besides cultivation".' (Kant, 1803, p. 697: "Unter Erziehung nämlich verstehen wir die Wartung, Disziplin, Unterweisung nebst der Bildung") [2]

The quotation from Gehlen referred to above is one of a series of statements regarding the human individual that attempt to clarify man's special status within nature and in the world. The human being is considered to differ from the animal in that he comes into the world incomplete and has to act in an open world in order to be able to survive, for, unlike the animal, the human being is unable to rely on the safety of innate instincts. A newborn infant is unable to act on its own. It needs assistance and therefore needs to be educated. Yet even when man is fully grown the task is still not complete, for as an adult the individual is called upon to make something of himself and must continue to act in order to be able to maintain this position.

However, like children, adults do not need to do this on their own. For -- to pursue Gehlen's argument -- human beings are also characterized by the fact that together they create a culture which functions as a second nature within which they can live a human life especially with the aid of institutions (defined as a collection of models of action and/or patterns of behaviour, examples of which include the state, the legal system, the family, school, work and religion). According to this way of thinking the human individual comes into the world unspecialized and finds within himself, as it were, the mandate to act. Initially the child is unable to act independently and until it can act independently it needs help. Pedagogues adopt this anthropological finding as the rationale for educational action. [3] Thus we come to one of the fundamental principles of pedagogic action, which may or may not be explicitly stated. [4]

Gehlen's anthropology does not stand alone. It exists within the context of a series of anthropologies, being preceded by the work of Scheler and Plessner, among others, which also had an effect on pedagogics, and followed by the work of Sartre, Levinas and Derrida, among others. Research into the fundamental principles of pedagogics might seek to examine such a series of anthropologies [5] not only in terms of the way in which they have been received by pedagogics but also in terms of their (practical) utility.

To a certain extent the history of pedagogics is a history of concepts of man in relation to education. But, one might object, isn't all education highly individual and situational in practice, embedded in the historical-cultural environment, which is not derived from all kinds of general anthropological systems? And to pursue this line of thinking still further: Isn't the theory of education excessively divorced from the practice of education which is essentially self-governing and relatively autonomous? The tradition of the humanities goes as far as to speak of theoretical clarification in retrospect, thereby acknowledging the primacy of practice. To some extent the praxis itself determines its own course (Schleiermacher speaks of the "dignity of praxis").

Given that this is the case, the theory of education is increasingly being assigned the task of critically reflecting on what has already occurred and acting as an 'interlocutor' for future practitioners. One thing is certain, when it comes to the discipline of pedagogics the question of theory and practice can never be reduced to the simple application of scientific conclusions in practice. Among other things, scientific opinions are too divided for this to be possible, there being very little consensus from one paradigm to another. As a result, the scientific nature of pedagogics is constantly subject to discussion. The relationship between philosophy and science has yet to crystallize. [6]

To return to the question of the unique and unrepeatable nature of each educational situation.this is another aspect covered by philosophical anthropology that is regularly considered in pedagogics. The various personalistic notions in pedagogics are interesting in this respect. In the twentieth century in particular examples of this kind of thinking can be seen in various countries, in the work of Pascal, Kierkegaard and in the Judeo-Christian tradition (Buber, Maritain), among others.

Personalistic thinking centres on the human individual as a person. As a person-in-the-making the child is charged with the task of realizing its intention in a dialectical relationship with the other. Again this is considered to justify the existence of education, for children need help in order to be able to do this. The process of self-realization, which is less concerned with capitalizing on one's potential than with finding one's specific purpose in life (which may or may not be interpreted in a religious sense), does not really lend itself to empirical research within the context of developmental psychology, nevertheless it has consistently inspired the thinking regarding education. In this case the human being is considered to be the architect of his own destiny and, as a pupil or student, is partly responsible for his own education.

This view has been convincingly elaborated by the Italian pedagogue Guiseppe Flores d'Arcais who is not as well known as he should be in the Netherlands. [7] His life virtually coincides with the twentieth century and during the course of the twentieth century in Italy Guiseppe Flores d'Arcais has played a vital role in reestablishing pedagogics as academic discipline. He deliberately set himself the task of founding pedagogics "juxta propria principia'" (according to its own principles) and in doing so he aimed to give it its own epistemological identity. A pedagogics that had freed itself from bondage to other disciplines.

Above all, Flores d'Arcais saw the unique contribution (the proprium) of pedagogics in the creation of the person. Education was no longer primarily regarded as a process of socialization, but as a creative and value-inspired process of person-making. Indeed, this creation of the person is the true and main principle of pedagogics. However, this does not mean that pedagogics is able to sail its own course. Flores d'Arcais speaks of the necessity of combining anthropology, teleology (axiology and deontology) and methodology in a three-dimensional pedagogic theory.

In addition to elaborating on the education of the individual and the kind of assistance that promotes personal development, triadic pedagogics also elaborates on the process involved in the transmission and renewal of human culture. Thanks above all to Imelman, the transmission and renewal of human culture has been extracted from the relatively obscure and ambiguous atmosphere in the relationship between the educator and the child and subjected to a clear analysis in the triadic model. [8] Something (a certain point of view) is always communicated. The point of view (or aspect of knowledge) in question is partly reflected in the pedagogic analysis.

In this case, rather than focusing on a theory regarding the pedagogic relationship, we are concerned with an analysis of the triangular relationship between the child, the educator and the point of view being communicated. It hardly needs to be emphasized that such an analysis is also likely to include anthropological factors. A rational and objectifying approach to the transfer of knowledge within the context of the teaching-learning process encourages the pupils to process knowledge critically and helps to prevent the unquestioning absorption of knowledge. The anthropological principle that applies in this case is that the human child should be educated as a rational (and responsible) being.

The considerations outlined above are some of the standard issues addressed by programme-oriented theories of education, particularly within the tradition of the humanities. Pedagogues who lean towards conceptual analysis can therefore claim that they have already dealt with this aspect, given that conceptual analysis is concerned with distinguishing between meaning and nonsense, fiction and reality. In the same way, descriptive scientists can question the empirical and practical relevance of the entire anthropological body of thought. In this respect we are all too well aware of the theoretical diversity that exists within the field of pedagogic science (see, for example, Miedema, Pedagogiek in meervoud [Pedagogics in plural], 1995, fifth impression).

So to sum up the ideas set out above:

Pedagogic reasoning is often based on ideas developed by philosophical anthropology. Dominant anthropological principles in pedagogics are man as the not-yet-determined animal and man as a creature of discipline; the human being as an unspecialized being living in an open world; the human being as a rational being. Educational theory is often based on anthropological reflections, seen from the point of view of natural development, cultural philosophy or personalism. An analysis of the central question addressed by pedagogics (what needs to be taught to whom, when, how and why?) is likely to be enhanced by an anthropologically based study of educational reality.

2. Pedagogics in an era of (post)modern developments

In the introduction, taking our lead from Langeveld, we wrote that the purpose of education is to promote development and self-forming within the context of relatively constant personal relationships. In most cases the education that occurs within the context classic family education is conveyed within the home. In traditional pedagogics the kind of education that takes place within the household is adopted as the model for residential forms of education. Pestalozzi uses the terms "Wohnstubenerziehung" (living-room education) and the "Wohnstubengeist" (living-room atmosphere) that should ideally prevail in professional education. Domesticity involves a certain naturalness (Schleiermacher describes education within the home by the child's biological parents as the "natural starting point of education") and also includes emotional-affective factors and a coherent community in terms of concepts and attitudes.

Today -- two centuries on -- the home is still the main scene of action, though there have been a number of essential changes in the intervening period. For one thing, children of a very young age now spend one or more days a week at crèches and day care centres, [9] children are made to start school younger and younger, the large number of divorces and second and third marriages mean that many children grow up in a number of (step) families, older children leave the family earlier to live in lodgings, or, alternatively, they continue to live at home for longer, or leave the family home only to return again and again (the so-called boomerang kids). In other words, the family home is increasingly characterized by huge diversity.

In addition to this, from the point of view of transmission the 'home' represents something far more fundamental. In this respect Buber speaks of Hauslosigkeit (homelessness in a figurative sense) as a characteristic feature of modern culture. According to Buber, the home -- in the sense of a shared ideology -- has gradually been demolished. This has implications for interpersonal relationships and life within society at large. Shared values and standards can no longer be taken for granted.

Tying in with this, many of the French postmodernist thinkers (Lyotard and Derrida among others) claim that the "main storylines" (the grands récits) have lost their credibility. In saying so they are referring not only to the decline of the Christian world view, which was widely upheld in the past, but -- more broadly -- to all secularized forms of Judeo-Christian theology subscribed to in the past, to the myth of human progress being achieved by means of science and technology, and, more generally, to all of the stories that people have used to help make the world and their own lives more understandable. In the postmodern culture the human individual is forced to live without a home, as it were. And "a homeless person is a disoriented person!" (Sperna Weiland, 1999, pp. 347 and 364).

The postmodernists deny that there are any central truths; they emphasize the pluriformity of reality (differential philosophy) and thus confirm what Nietzsche said a century earlier: "There is no such thing as absolute truth." On the other hand, there are countless perspectives from which to examine reality. The same applies to the understanding of text: there is no single meaning or no single truth. Similarly, deconstruction teaches that there is no text, there is only interpretation.

Postmodern principles are not confined to the philosophy of architecture, they also characterize social reality. This is not something that pedagogics can afford to overlook since these principles permeate the "Volk- und Zeitgeist" (Jean Paul). Faced with these postmodern principles we need to ask what are the pedagogic implications of these postmodern developments? Or, in the light of the ideas set out above, how does 'Hauslosigkeit' affect "relatively constant personal relationships" and the child's natural tendency to "determine and shape the values that it has learned or discovered increasingly independent" (Langeveld) and the endeavour to teach young people to think critically and to communicate an awareness of values (Imelman)?

3. What is 'modern youth'?

Before we can answer the key question addressed by this article, we first need to have some idea of the distinguishing characteristics of modern youth. Sociologists concerned with juveniles frequently conduct research studies on this subject. The juvenile sociological research department in Leiden has gained a certain standing in the Netherlands. Below we quote some of the findings presented in the many publications by one of the authors of the department, Manuela du Bois-Reymond. [10]

According to Du Bois-Reymond the juvenile phase is under pressure. This phase now involves the characteristic aspects of individualization and pluriformity, freedom of choice and forced choices, a negotiation culture combined with informalization, and the movement from a standard career to an à la carte career.

Young people now stay at school longer. The longer period of education and increased peer pressure is changing the relationship between young people and their parents. Parents increasingly have to compete with the standards and way of life of their children's peers. The traditional nuclear family of father, mother and child now exists alongside other ways of living: communities of unmarried adults with children, divorced parents, single parents or guardians. There has been a wholesale extension of the youth phase with a distinction being made between post-adolescents and young adults. Young people now have more freedom of choice but have to be able to legitimize their choices.

Compared with a few decades ago juveniles no longer follow a set life pattern on their way towards adulthood. The sequence of status passages (the transition from one life situation to the next, such as the transition from school to higher education or the transition from living at home to living alone) is now unpredictable. There is no longer such a thing as a standard career -- it is now more appropriate to think in terms of an à la carte career. The aspect of choice is also evident at secondary school. Du Bois-Reymond observes that "The compulsory national cultural curriculum [...] is giving way in favour of more choice".'

"The relationship between parents and juveniles is now far more intimate, freer and more congenial than was previously the case." "The present intimacy in families -- call it domestic negotiation -- has an aspect of uncertainty [...] in the sense that future is now an uncertain factor for all members of society, regardless of their age." "This has to do with the labour market which is now unpredictable."

In addition to the research on the juvenile phase being carried out in Leiden, young people themselves have come up with numerous pedagogic insights. Lea Dasberg [11] sees the "boundlessness in all aspects of our culture" as "the main problem encountered by modern-day pedagogics", while Micha de Winter [12] offers an updated perception of "society's pedagogic responsibility" (Perquin), pointing to the fact that young people feel that they have been left out in the cold in all kinds of social situations (the gap in education).

4. Once again: what is education?

Though we may agree that it is helpful and possibly even necessary to educate a child, we are still not sure precisely what kind of education we are talking about. A broad awareness of the need for education does not automatically imply that there is unanimity regarding the content of the educational activity. Above we saw that to some extent the definition of education is based on anthropological assumptions. Conditions, methods and objectives all vary depending on the prevailing view of the human individual, among other things. Arguing that naturalness was primary, Rousseau defended the idea that the child must be educated to become the human being that nature intended him to be since the child was unable to achieve this on its own and cultural influences simply had an adverse effect.

Writing at approximately the same time, Lessing claimed that a child could be educated given that education simply served to accelerate and facilitate the process of becoming a human being that was already underway. [13] As far as Lessing was concerned, the belief in progress that was one of the main tenets of the Enlightenment included the idea of education. For this reason it was important to subject society to constructive criticism (and not to turn away from society as Rousseau advocated), for this would also accelerate the process of society becoming more rational.

Agreeing with the principles voiced by Rousseau and Lessing, Pestalozzi -- who was also writing in around 1800 -- was in favour of a method of education that drew on the natural development of the child and he also devoted a great deal of effort to the creation a better society. Accepting the biologically established incompleteness and unspecializedness of the human child who, in addition to this, also lives in an open world, one-and-a-half centuries later Gehlen felt it necessary to emphasize the need for discipline (see the first paragraph of this article).

However, pedagogics is usually more complex than this tends to suggest. For besides seeing the corruption of nature (which he wished to restore) Pestalozzi also saw an unjust society (which he wished to change) and in addition to this he was also an ardently religious man. As might be expected, all of these different aspects are reflected in his concept of education. The later interpretations of his work sometimes focus exclusively on one aspect, giving the impression that there were several Pestalozzis (or should we acknowledge that these interpretations are all true in the way that postmodernism recognizes the validity of different interpretations).

The confusion got worse still when in 1996 writers in Germany levelled fierce criticism at the way in which Pestalozzi's work had been received by German pedagogics at the beginning of the 20th century, though it was not clear whether the criticism was aimed at the misinterpretation of Pestalozzi's work and the exaggerated personality cult or at Pestalozzi's original ideas. [14] As far as Gehlen was concerned, Pestalozzi not only saw the relationship between biological incompleteness and the need for discipline, he also established a connection between culture (as the second nature of the human being) and the need for education with a view to furthering culture.

And it gets more complex still if we attempt to visualize education under conditions of postmodernity. Postmodernist theory may well help to clarify the issues faced by modern-day education, by establishing a connection between Hauslosigkeit, the sense of disorientation and the teaching of values. Yet it is difficult to conceive of a practice of education deliberately based on the body of postmodernist thought. For what does the educator have to offer the child if the educator constantly points to the wealth of perspectives, denying the existence of absolute truth and relativizing all explanatory associations?

The application of postmodernist theory in educational situations presupposes that any such theory would first be comprehensively formulated as a pedagogic approach before there could be any practical consequences. Generally speaking, leaving aside the question as to whether such an approach would actually be desirable, children are uncomfortable with uncertainty or with a wealth of perspectives and the relativization of values. For the rest, it is possible to conceive of an educational theory that draws on insights expounded by differential philosophy, for example. Even if it is only that on the basis of this philosophy the gender aspect of education can be elaborated in a new way. [15]

If the attempt to define precisely what we mean by the term 'education' and to identify the kinds of assumptions are at issue proves problematic within the context of a single concept of education, it is hardly surprising that it will be even more difficult to arrive at unequivocality and unanimity within the science of education as a whole. History shows a kaleidoscopic picture of standard concepts of education and in our day the science of education is still characterized by a diversity of concepts and methods. The answer to the question "What is education?" gives rise to a picture of diverse activities. However, when it comes to a general description of the terrain, Kant's definition (1803) still stands. Education encompasses the following four aspects: nurture and protection, the teaching of rules (discipline), instruction and training.

5. A renewed appeal to reason

Education is a matter of "cheerful seriousness", but serious all the same. In order to prevent a situation in which pedagogics lapses into unfortunate relativism ("there is no such thing as absolute truth") or degenerates into a supermarket model ("every customer selects something to suit his taste"), it is necessary to establish certain a priori rights of the child being educated (possibly based on the UN declaration regarding the rights of the child, or on other respectable and broadly upheld principles, such as Albert Schweitzer's maxim of "Respect for life" [16]). As far as the science of education is concerned, it is important to state explicitly, as far as possible, the basic principles being subscribed to.

If it is true that young people have never been faced with as much uncertainty as they are in our time (in the sense of 'Hauslosigkeit', looser family ties, unrelenting dictatorship of choice, uncertain expectations with regard to the future, a potpourri attitude towards values and standards, etc.), it is all the more necessary to subject education and training to the critical authority of reason. As formulated by Imelman and Meijer in triadic pedagogics: education in which pupils are taught to ask teachers to account for the subject matter being taught, and teachers are asked to account for what they are teaching by means of the game of reducing uncertainty. [17]The idea is that pupils should be able to gain a thorough command of the subject they are being taught, in other words, that they should reflect on what they are learning and assume responsibility and in doing so create a hold on life. This is a prerequisite for the child to be able to develop into a person. And in a scientific sense a permanently critical outlook that does not shy from criticizing sacred cows in the interest of education.  [18]

Or, as formulated by Bollnow in his anthropological pedagogics, an education in which a permanent appeal is made to the (development of the) inner reason of the child. [19] Education is more necessary than ever, an education that continues to be a true subject of conversation: "Since we are a conversation and can listen to each other" (Hölderlin).

Translated by De Lange & Partners,


1.   Schleiermacher. Texte zur Pädagogik [Texts on Pedagogics] Texts plus commentary published by M. Winkler and J. Brachmann (2000), vol. 2, p.12, Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp.  (back)
2.   Kant, I. (1803), Über Pädagogik [On Pedagogics] in I. Kant, (1998) Werke in sechs Bänden [Collected works in six volumes] published by W. Weischedel, vol. VI: Schriften zur Anthropologie, Geschichtsphilosophie, Politik und Pädagogik [Writings on Anthropology, the Philosophy of History, Politics and Pedagogics], Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.  (back)
3.   By the way: Gehlen pursues this line of thinking a good deal further. He rejects all metaphysical angles of approach and calls for a scientific (defined as empirical) project in which various disciplines contribute to the ultimate description of the human individual. Despite the fact that the project he suggests is debatable in many respects (we agree with the criticism voiced by Sperna Weiland (1999, pp. 132-147) and disagree with his concept of science, which excludes all religious interpretations of the human individual as unscientific), this does not diminish fact that the anthropological aspects 'discovered' by Gehlen have proved useful in pedagogics.  (back)
4.   See, for example, M. J. Langeveld (1979). Mensen worden niet geboren. Inleiding tot de pedagogische waardenleer [People are not born. An introduction to the theory of pedagogic values] Nijkerk: Intro; and H. Giesecke (1979), Praktische pedagogiek. Een inleiding [Practical Pedagogics. An introduction] Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff. The said introduction begins with a chapter entitled "Voor de mens staat de wereld open" [For man the world is open]. Giesecke bases his argument on the biological insights of Portmann and the philosophical-anthropological vision of Gehlen.  (back)
5.   See, for example J. Sperna Weiland (1999), De mens in de filosofie van de twintigste eeuw [The concept of man in twentieth-century philosophy] Amsterdam: Meulenhoff  (back)
6.   According to J. Rispens in the jubilee edition of Kind en adolescent [Child and adolescent], vol. 21, no. 1, February 2000: 'Philosophy, no science'; an article on the scientization of the care provided for young children who are developmentally retarded. In the said article Rispens describes his earlier efforts on behalf of the movement from philosophy to science. After many years of experience he concludes by saying: "It is not a question of 'philosophy' or 'science': in our profession science needs to encompass philosophy!"  (back)
7.   Flores d'Arcais, G. (1987), Le 'ragioni' die una teoria personalistica della educatione. Translated into German by W. Böhm in 1991 as Die Erziehung der Person [The Education of the Person] Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. See also W. Böhm, Giuseppe Flores d'Arcais; Laudatio zu seinem 90. Geburtstag [Giuseppe Flores d'Arcais: Laudation on the occasion of his 90th birthday] and H. Zdarzil, Personalistische Pädagogik; Giuseppe Flores d'Arcais zum 90. Geburtstag [Personal Pedagogics. on the occasion of the 90th birthday of Giuseppe Flores d'Arcais] in Pädagogische Rundschau [Pedagogic Magazine, 2000, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 49-54 and pp. 55-61 respectively.  (back)
8.   Imelman, J. D. (1995), Theoretische pedagogiek [Theoretical pedagogics] Nijkerk: Intro  (back)
9.   Imelman has criticized the practice of childcare from a pedagogical point of view. He has pedagogic objections to the "common combination of dual-income families and child care". In particular, he considers that the development of young children is placed at risk as a result of the fact that they are alternately exposed to two different socialization systems. Institutional childcare on a large scale has not been introduced on the basis of sound pedagogic principles or on the principles developmental psychology, but on the basis of a "recently accepted ideology which says that men and women have the same rights and obligations to take part in the labour market". See: J. D. Imelman (1998), Kinderopvang: een discutabel antwoord op een maatschappelijk probleem [Child care: a questionable answer to a social problem] in: B. Levering et al. (ed.), Thema's uit de wijsgerige en historische pedagogiek. Bijdragen aan de achtste landelijke pedagogendag [Themes from philosophical and historical pedagogics. Contributions to the eighth national Pedagogics Day] Utrecht: Uitgeverij SWP.  (back)
10.   Du Bois-Reymond, M. (1992), Jongeren op weg naar volwassenheid [Juveniles on the way to adulthood] Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff. In an interview with Manuela du Bois-Reymond Ischa Meijer says: "Neither parents nor children know what the future will bring. Historically this is a new feeling." Quoted in Tijdschrift voor de sociale sector [Journal for the social sector], March / April 1998, pp. 33-38.  (back)
11.   Dasberg, L. Grenzen [Boundaries] in Pedagogiek. Wetenschappelijk forum voor opvoeding, onderwijs en vorming [Pedagogics. Scientific forum for education, schooling and training] vol. 20, no. 1, March 2000, pp. 60-62.  (back)
12.   Winter, M. de (2000), Beter maatschappelijk opvoeden: hoofdlijnen van een eigentijdse participatie-pedagogiek [Better social education: the main points of a contemporary participatory pedagogics], Assen: Van Gorcum.  (back)
13.   Lessing, G. E. (1777), Die Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts [The Education of Man] paragraph 4: "Education doesn't give the individual anything he couldn't have realized alone: but it helps him to access that which he could have realized alone sooner and more easily." In G. E. Lessing, Ausgewählte Texte zur Pädagogik [Selected Texts on Pedagogics] compiled by D..J. Löwisch. Paderborn 1969, pp. 111-138.  (back)
14.   See Osterwalder, F. (1996). Pestalozzi -- ein pädagogischer Kult. Pestalozzis Wirkungsgeschichte in der Herausbildung der modernen Pädagogik [Pestalozzi. a pedagogic cult. Pestalozzi's influence on the development of modern pedagogics] Weinheim/Basel: Beltz Verlag, and P. Dudek (1996), Die Pestalozzi-Feiern 1927 und 1946. Skizze einer Klassiker-Rezeption in der deutschen Pädagogik.[The Pestalozzi celebrations in 1927 and 1946. An account of a classic reception in German pedagogics] in Jahrbuch für Historische Bildungsforschung [Historic Cultural Research Annual], vol. 3, 1996. Weinhein/Munich: Juventa Verlag.  (back)
15.   Cf. Irigaray, L. (1977). Ce sexe qui n'en est pas un [The gender which is not one] Paris: Éditions de Minuit.  (back)
16.   See Thoomes, D. Th. (1990). Sinn und Bedeutung der pädagogischen Tätigkeit bei Schleiermacher; Pädagogik auf dem Wege von moderner zur postmodernen Wissenschaft [The sense and meaning of pedagogic action in the work of Schleiermacher, The movement of pedagogics from modern to postmodern science] in H. Oosterling (ed.), Denken Unterwegs. Philosophie im Kräftefeld sozialen und politischen Engagements [Thinking en route. Philosophy in the force field of social and political commitment], Amsterdam: Grüner, pp. 82-83.  (back)
17.   See, for example, Meijer, W. A. J. (1995, fourth impression). Perspectieven op mens en opvoeding [Views of man and education], Nijkerk: Intro  (back)
18.   In the same way that Imelman analyses the practice of childcare, see note 9.  (back)
19.   For example, Bollnow speaks of the role of education in a world full of violence: "Where will we find the authority that will enable us to face up to this threat uncompromisingly? We have to find it in the innermost of the person himself, in reason, which has always seen the core of the individual. In this sense we question the responsibility of reason in our peaceless world." O. F. Bollnow, 'Die Verantwortung der Vernunft in einer friedlosen Welt' [The responsibility of reason in a peaceless world] in O. F. Bollnow (1988) Zwischen Philosophie und Pädagogik. Vorträge und Aufsätze [Between philosophy and pedagogics. Lectures and essays] Aachen: Weitz Verlag, p. 10. (The quotation from Hölderlin is taken from the poem 'Friedensfeier'). D. Th. Thoomes, Vredesopvoeding à la Bollnow [Education in peace à la Bollnow] in Voorwerk, tijdschrift voor godsdienstige vorming in school en kerk [Preliminaries, Journal for religious education in school and church] vol. 16, no. 2, 2000, pp. 50-55.  (back)

About the author:

Daan Thoomes studied philosophical and historical pedagogics and obtained his doctorate with a thesis on the educational philosophy of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1989). Initially employed as a specialist consultant for the social sciences, he now serves as the Head of the Social Sciences Department at the University Library in Utrecht in the Netherlands. In addition to this he also lectures on pedagogics on the part-time course in Pedagogics at the Rotterdam College of Higher Education (previously a teacher training course in pedagogics). Daan Thoomes can be contacted at Bibliotheek Centrum Uithof, Heidelberglaan 2, P. O. Box 80124, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands. Email:

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October 26, 2000