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Pedagogy is the discipline that deals with the theory and practice of education; it thus concerns the study and practice of how best to teach. Its aims range from the general (full development of the human being via liberal education) to the narrower specifics of vocational education (the imparting and acquisition of specific skills).

In correlation with those instructive strategies, the instructor's own philosophical beliefs of instruction are harbored and governed by the pupil's background knowledge and experience, situation, and environment, as well as learning goals set by the student and teacher. One example would be the Socratic schools of thought.[1][2][3] The teaching of adults, however, may be referred to as andragogy.


Johann Friedrich Herbart (4 May 1776 – 14 August 1841) is the founding father of the conceptualization of pedagogy, or, the theory of education. Herbart's educational philosophy and pedagogy highlighted the correlation between personal development and the resulting benefits to society. In other words, Herbart proposed that humans become fulfilled once they establish themselves as productive citizens.Herbartianism refers to the movement underpinned by Herbart's theoretical perspectives.[4] Referring to the teaching process, Herbart suggested 5 steps as crucial components. Specifically, these 5 steps include: preparation, presentation, association, generalization, and application.[5] Herbart suggests that pedagogy relates to having assumptions as an educator and a specific set of abilities with a deliberate end goal in mind.[6]

Etymology and pronunciation[edit]

The word is a derivative of the Greek παιδαγωγία (paidagōgia), from παιδαγωγός (paidagōgos), itself a synthesis of ἄγω (ágō), "I lead", and παῖς (país, genitive παιδός, paidos) "child": hence, "to lead a child."[7] It is pronounced variously, as /ˈpɛdəɡɒi/, /ˈpɛdəɡi/, or /ˈpɛdəɡɒɡi/.[8][9] Negative connotations of pedantry have sometimes been intended, or taken, at least from the time of Samuel Pepys in the 1650s.[10]

Academic degrees[edit]

An academic degree, Ped. D., Doctor of Pedagogy, is awarded honorarily by some US universities to distinguished teachers (in the US and UK, earned degrees within the instructive field are classified as an Ed. D., Doctor of Education or a Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy). The term is also used to denote an emphasis in education as a specialty in a field (for instance, a Doctor of Music degree in piano pedagogy).


Douris Man with wax tablet

The word pedagogue was originally used to refer to the slave who escorted Greek children to school.

In Denmark, a pedagogue is a practitioner of pedagogy. The term is primarily used for individuals who occupy jobs in pre-school education (such as kindergartens and nurseries) in Scandinavia. But a pedagogue can occupy various kinds of jobs, e.g. in retirement homes, prisons, orphanages, and human resource management. These are often recognized as social pedagogues as they perform on behalf of society.

The pedagogue's job is usually distinguished from a teacher's by primarily focusing on teaching children life-preparing knowledge such as social skills and cultural norms. There is also a very big focus on care and well-being of the child. Many pedagogical institutions also practice social inclusion. The pedagogue's work also consists of supporting the child in their mental and social development.[11]

In Denmark all pedagogues are trained at a series of national institutes for social educators located in all major cities. The programme is a 3.5-year academic course, giving the student the title of a Bachelor in Social Education (Danish: Professionsbachelor som pædagog).[12]

It is also possible to earn a master's degree in pedagogy/educational science from the University of Copenhagen. This BA and MA program has a more theoretical focus compared to the above-mentioned Bachelor in Social Education.

In Hungary, the word pedagogue (pedagógus) is synonymous with teacher (tanár); therefore, teachers of both primary and secondary schools may be referred to as pedagogues, a word that appears also in the name of their lobbyist organizations and labor unions (e.g. Labor Union of Pedagogues, Democratic Labor Union of Pedagogues[13]). However, undergraduate education in Pedagogy does not qualify students to become teachers in primary or secondary schools but makes them able to apply to be educational assistants. As of 2013, the 5-year training period was re-installed in place of the undergraduate and postgraduate division which characterized the previous practice.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Analysis of Pedagogy". Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  2. ^ Petrie et al. (2009). Pedagogy – a holistic, personal approach to work with children and young people, across services. p. 4.
  3. ^ Aarhus University Department of Education (DPU) - Research
  4. ^ "Herbartianism | education". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  5. ^ "Johann Friedrich Herbart | biography - German educator". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  6. ^ Kenklies, Karsten (2012-02-12). "Educational Theory as Topological Rhetoric: The Concepts of Pedagogy of Johann Friedrich Herbart and Friedrich Schleiermacher". Studies in Philosophy and Education. 31 (3): 265–273. doi:10.1007/s11217-012-9287-6. ISSN 0039-3746. 
  7. ^ "pedagogy". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  8. ^ "Definition of "pedagogy" - Collins English Dictionary". 
  9. ^ "pedagogy noun - definition in British English Dictionary & Thesaurus - Cambridge Dictionary Online". 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  10. ^ "pedagogue". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  11. ^ Taipei Times Learning from Denmark
  12. ^ Educational Guide – Denmark Pædagog –
  13. ^ "Front Page". The Official Site of The Labor Union of Pedagogues. Labor Union of Pedagogues. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "Ezekre a tanári szakokra jelentkeztek a legtöbben [English: These Teaching Areas Proved The Most Popular]". Eduline. 2013-04-19. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bruner, J. S. (1960). The Process of Education, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Bruner, J. S. (1966). Toward a Theory of Instruction. Cambridge, MA: Belkapp Press.
  • Bruner, J. S. (1971). The Relevance of Education. New York, NY: Norton
  • Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum
  • Montessori, M. (1910). Antropologia Pedagogica.
  • Montessori, M. (1921). Manuale di Pedagogia Scientifica.
  • Montessori, M. (1934). Psico Geométria.
  • Montessori, M. (1934). Psico Aritmética.
  • Piaget, J. (1926). The Language and Thought of the Child. London: Routledge & Kegan.
  • Johann Karl Friedrich Rosenkranz (1848) Pedagogics as a System. Translated 1872 by Anna C. Brackett, R.P. Studley Company
  • Johann Karl Friedrich Rosenkranz (1899). The philosophy of education. D. Appleton and Co.
  • Vygotsky, D. (1962). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.