New special issue: Exploring the History of Knowledge and Education

A new special issue of the Nordic Journal of Educational History, devoted to the history of knowledge and education, has been published. Edited by one of LUCK’s affiliated researches, Björn Lundberg, the purpose of the special issue is to bring the history of knowledge and the history of education in close dialogue, developing new perspectives that may enhance our understanding of knowledge and education in the past.

The issue consists of six original research articles, an introduction, and concluding remarks written by Heather Ellis. The original research articles are written by Marcelo Caruso, Jona T. Garz, Fanny Isensee, Daniel Töpper, Karen Egedal Andreasen, Annette Rasmussen, Daniel Andersson, Joakim Landahl, and Rosalía Guerrero Cantarell. The articles deal with different geographical settings over the past two hundred years, from Colonial India and nineteenth-century Prussia to late-twentieth century Sweden.

In the introduction, Lundberg argues that the concepts of knowledge and education are tightly interwoven. Perspectives from the history of knowledge can be employed by historians of education to direct attention to the importance of knowledge in society:

“If we adhere to a definition of education as ‘the entire process by which a culture transmits itself across the generations’, it is clear that knowledge – tacit and explicit, practical and theoretical, concrete and abstract – forms the content of what is valued not only as true but also as important for future generations to learn, regardless of educational institutions or formalised curricula. Knowledge has such an important part in educational processes that it may seem superfluous to stress this relationship. To explore the history of knowledge in society is, by definition, to also approach the history of education.”

Lundberg suggests three fruitful approaches to the study of the history of knowledge in education: by analyzing educational arenas, forms and formats of knowledge, and finally the various actors involved in the circulation of knowledge in educational arenas. According to Lundberg, these factors can help clarify the relationship between knowledge and power in education, encompassing elements of discipline and empowerment. In the Concluding Remarks, Heather Ellis writes:

“Focusing on the intersection between the history of knowledge and the history of education helps to refine what we mean by the ‘history of knowledge’ as a term; it forces us to be more precise in our definitions and sharpens the idea of ‘knowledge’ as a conceptual tool for understanding the past. In particular, it brings into focus the crucial relationship between knowledge and power.”

The special issue, titled “Exploring the History of Knowledge and Education”, is published open access on the journal’s website.

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