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Forward to the (Common) Roots of Education – 

Pedagogical Terminologies in Different Languages


Workshop series on pedagogical terminologies in different languages, online, with invited guests, start: autumn 2021


1st workshop:
November 9th 2021 4pm – 6pm GMT (winter time), 10am – 12pm Eastern time (winter time)






World Migration Map, source:

In times of accelerated globalization, economic, cultural, political, and social interactions amongst different populations and regions around the globe increase and are promoted. The English language has emerged as a global force, penetrating all other linguistic territories. The workshop series is motivated by the fact that language models the social and cultural tasks of today. More specifically, terminology (in German: Begrifflichkeit) constitutes formats of professional, pedagogical knowledge as taught at the universities. If the aim of the latter is to professionally draw practically useful consequences, timeless communication skills such as critical reasoning, constructing clear arguments, and the logical evaluation of competing opinions are to be combined with cultural and specialized knowledge.

In this workshop series, combined with other spaces for discussion, a transcultural perspective on education will be provided, by working on the terminologies of Bildung, learning, curriculum, Didactic, education and upbringing, educational practice, and methodology. This will be done in relation to social and cultural tasks of today (in German: Weltsichten), identified as `Children’s Perspectives´, `Digitalization, Multiculturality and Glocalisation´`Interdependence and Sustainable Development´,``Reliability, Quality´´, `Governance, Policy, and Leadership´, `Academic Freedom´, `Gender Perspective on Building Knowledge´, `Enculturation, Postcolonial Perspectives and the Art´. This undertaking is grounded in the approach of Educational Anthropology, Curriculum Studies, and the network ‘Tacit Dimensions of Pedagogy’.



The workshop series on pedagogical terminologies (in German: Begrifflichkeiten) in different languages, is based on Wilhelm von Humboldt’s thesis of Bildung as being determined by language and history – as further developed within Educational Anthropology, by putting the same right of all cultures to make statements about humans and education to the fore (Wulf 2003). In a time of increasing globalization, as well as politicization and instrumentalization of education, we work on an ethical and methodical vocabulary and terminology for pedagogy that takes different traditions, and language-bound discourses on education into account. The (non-exclusive) focus is on English, German, Swedish, Greek, and Latin (to represent the Roman languages). Language constitutes formats of professional pedagogical knowledge, which even models social and cultural tasks of today (in German: Weltsichten), here identified as `Children’s Perspectives´, `Digitalization, Multiculturality and Glocalisation´, `Interdependence and Sustainable Development´, `Reliability, Quality´, `Governance, Policy, and Leadership’, `Academic Freedom´, `Gender Perspective on Building Knowledge´, `Enculturation, Postcolonial Perspectives and the Art´.


According to the UNESCO sustainable development goals, adolescents face a future in which profound changes (e.g. world climate, reduction of important life resources such as the fossil energies and species, digitalized and automatized work market) are expected. For dealing with the challenges in a sustainable way, profound knowledge about the properties, the entanglements and the interdependencies of diverse cultures, values, and beings within ecosystems, as well as open and flexible thinking is needed. Not least, should the individual be enabled to react to difficult conditions and situations in a beneficial way? According to Wilhelm von Humboldt ([1793/94] 2000), to take responsibility in a world of challenge presupposes the most harmonious, and complete development of the individual’s forces. Humboldt (ibid.) grasps the ability and willingness to sustainably care for oneself, for others, and for the environment as Bildung. This, by regarding every human; “action is an attempt of the will to become free and independent in itself” (ibid., p. 58). Bildung (with no direct equivalent in English), e.g. in Swedish: bildning, in Latin: formatio, in Greek: εκπαίδευση, etc. refers to the formation and realization of the self, in engagement with the world, and to the relation of the self with itself in depth and intricacy. We will question what can be learned from Wolfgang Klafki’s sentence: “humanity can be realized only in an individual way” (2000, p.93) while a particular value is attached to aesthetic approaches.


In essence, learning is about the challenge to handle challenges, thus in terms of potential obstacles (Greeno & Engeström 2014). The ability to think allows people to create all kinds of relationships, forming concepts, organizing their environment, and solving problems. In thinking, one relates to elementary comprehensive processes, e.g. social bonding, attention, motivation, perception, concept formation, memory, and problem-awareness. Thinking gives rise to all learning and all development of humans. – How to approach this from the different languages? Different language contexts put the subject (in Swedish: att lära sig), or the process and its content (in English: learning, in German: lernen, in Latin: discentia or apprehensio) to the foreground, thereby providing different models for dealing with the elementary comprehensive processes. There are also different scholarly traditions: Within curriculum approaches, learning content is packaged (Tyler 1957) or related to the learner (Pinar 2012).  Within Didactics (formal learning), the content of learning is constructed by the teacher(s) and students together (Klafki 2000). The practice approach regards learning as coming to participate in practices that will influence the actors (Schatzki 2012), related to corporealities. Of special interest is how these traditions meet the Bologna-idea of a ‘transparency of learning goals’ (van Damme 2009).


Education, in the sense of upbringing, relates to a personal bonding for the sake of a child or student with a caring dimension, comparable to familial bonding. The child’s lifeworld and the pedagogical situation are in the foreground. The ultimate goal of educating and upbringing is the enactment of the (young) person to various everyday life and intellectual challenges, and hereby, “awaken and mediate the child’s own goals in relation to the subjects and tasks” (Kraus & Senkbeil 2021). Education and upbringing are ethical in nature. Ethical decisions in the pedagogy are personal, as well as of professional, and broader social concern. Pedagogy has a dignity of its own, outside any theory and evidence (Schleiermacher ([1826] 1957). Reliability and responsibility, integrity and leadership in the field of education refer to a special kind of awareness and artfulness. In this regard, the different discourses on education put either caring and parenting (in English: upbringing, in Swedish: barnfostran, in Greek: ανατροφή), leadership and formation (in German: Erziehung) or the processes and practices of learning (Latin: educatio, in English: educating) to the fore.

Educational Practice:

From the perspective of the ‘non-essentialist feminist standpoint theory’ (Haraway 1991), the traditional self-conception of the Social and Human Sciences are criticized for claiming for themselves to be able to determine what is real (within disciplinary boundaries). The idea of scientifically valid representation is replaced by a ‘theory and practice of objectivity,’ dealing with the question of how objectivity is established. Pragmatic approaches, ‘performativity’, ‘discursivity’, ‘emergence’, etc. describe different forms of relating theory to practice and vice versa. We will decipher Schleiermacher’s ([1826] 1957, p. 11; own transl.) sentence; “the dignity of [pedagogical] practice is independent of theory; practice only becomes more conscious with theory” with the feminist standpoint theory, i.e. by the forms of relating theory to practice. The scientific standpoint involves a withdrawal of the teachers “from their habitual actions [to] gain some distance so that the circumstances in which they live are available to reflection,” in a way in which alternatives can be explored (Bollnow [1989] 2019, p. 11). Tacit knowledge (Polanyi 1966), reflective practioning (Schön 1983), pedagogical tact (Takt) (Herbart [1802] 1969), pedagogical tensions (Spannungsfelder) (Schleiermacher ([1826] 1957), ‘pedagogical meetings and handling’ (Aspelin & Persson 2011) are proposals for modelling educational practices. An outlook will be given to practices bound to virtual resource.

Operative goals:

There have been cross-national dialogues and mutual influences about education in the past. We see the need to renew cross-border ponderings and appreciation of values about common roots of educational terminology in order to move forward amidst contemporary challenges. The principal purpose of the workshop series is to investigate various cultural archives by scholars from different European countries – formal and informal, analogous and digital etc. – in order to map multiple, simultaneous and concurring claims of reality, experience, and meaning that form an idea of pedagogy. For this, different educational approaches (Bildung, learning/Didactics, educating/upbringing, educational practice and methodology on multiculturality, processes of enculturation and art) will be linked to social and cultural tasks, and knowledge formats of today. A particular value is attached to aesthetic approaches. The joint concern is to listen to the various complementary or conflicting claims of different epistemic communities proposing pedagogical terminology. We also focus on methodological and theoretical foundations for empirical studies that seek to map the different concepts of pedagogy.

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