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   Course Title    New Directions in the History of Education - Methodological and Historiographic Overview
Lecturer    Mirela Luminita Murgescu
Institution    University of Bucharest
Country    Romania

I. Aim of the course

The course deals with recent trends in the study of the history of education. It aims to get the undergraduate students acquainted with this dynamic field of scholarship, with the various concepts relevant to education, with the evolution of the education systems and of the attitudes towards education, as well as with the practical aspects of education.

Besides passing to the students a set of information about the place of institutionalized school in the larger framework of social education, about the changing patrons of the school system and the basic features of their patronizing, about the state’s gradual taking over of education and the evolution of modern school politics, and about the social setting of modern educative systems, the course aims also at preparing the undergraduates for a possible career in the education system.


The course stresses on the main directions developed in the last years in the history of education. A special emphasis will be put on the theoretical and methodological aspects of the research of childhood history, school history, textbook analysis. Students will develop their ability to discuss and analyze a historiographical text and to write an essay on a specific theme.


II. Role of the course in the overall degree curriculum

The course New Directions in the History of Education is one of the optional courses with methodological focus, open to history students during the 3rd or 4th year of their study. It is also open for students in other departments, for example Pedagogy, Sociology, Political Sciences etc.


III. Methods used

The course will combine the traditional way of teaching with frequent discussions with students. Some theoretical aspects will be put on discussion during the course, also the various case-studies will help students to better understand the new historiographic approaches developed in the history of education.

During the course students will analyze documents in order to acquire the basic skills on dealing with such sources.


IV. Course content

1. Introduction.

2. Historiography of the history of education. General problems. Research at the crossroads of history, pedagogy, sociology and psychology. The limits of the research field.

Here the accent will be put on the specificity of the field of history of education, explaining the complex significance of the concept, the main problems faced by the researchers in the last years, the methods used and the main bibliographic instruments.

3. Child and childhood. Youth. Directions of research.

The lecture outlines the main directions in studying childhood and youth history. The students will present short reviews on some of the most representative analyzes in the field.

4. State and school. The elementary education.

The lecture analyses the school supply in the 19th century, stressing on the problems of state interventionism, "nationalization" of schools and on the beginnings of school policies as presented in recent research. The mechanisms of school system development, and the evolution of free and compulsory education from cultural and educative desiderata to concrete economic and social implications will also be explained.

5. Secondary education, a laboratory for training elites. Technical education. Women education.

The lecture will outline the evolution of research in the field of secondary education, stressing on the methods used by various researchers. It will also introduce the students in the research devoted to gender studies. As practice, the students will analyze a curriculum and a school regulation.

6. University education

The lecture will present the theory of Lawrence Stone regarding the university education system and the relationship between society and the university population.

7. Educators. Research directions on teachers

The social history of teachers and of the teaching profession is one of the most dynamic fields in the recent history of education. The lecture will emphasize the main problems revealed in the recent studies regarding the educators, the sources taken into consideration, the methods and the main findings of these studies.

8. Alphabetization.

The lecture will discuss the theories of Carlo Cipolla on the relationship between society economic development and literacy. It will also present to the students the recent contributions to this topic, and the main sources on the evolution of alphabetization in modern Europe.

9. Schoolbooks. Research directions.

The lecture will focus on the methodology for textbook analysis. The students will review books containing textbook analysis, thus helping to illustrate the main directions in textbooks analysis.

10. Schoolbook analysis. Practical part.

Students are expected to discuss in-class the way four different schoolbooks present the same event (process).

11. Education and school seen in films. Analysis modalities. Case-study: If (directed by Lindsay Anderson)

The lecture will present to the students the main trends of including school issues as film themes. The discussion will focus on the cultural reflection of the school system in cinematography, on the specific requirements of the film industry, and of the way cinema can be used as a source on the social perception of education.


20 % attendance

20 % discussions

60 % written essay


V. Readings

A. Mandatory

Compere, Marie-Madleine - L’Histoire de l’education en Europe. Essai comparatif sur la facon don’t elle s’ecrit, Bern, 1995.

Murgescu, Mirela-Luminita - Tendinte recente in studierea istoriei invatamântului, in „Studii si articole de istorie", 1995, LXII, p.97-105.

Peter, Catalin (ed) - Beloved Children. History and Aristocratic Childhood in Hungary in Early Modern Age, Budapest, 2001.

Toth, Istvan Gyorgy - Literacy and Written Culture in Early Modern Central Europe, Budapest, 2000.

B. Recommended

Bernard, Claude - L'Enseignement de l'histoire en France, au XIXe siecle, Lille, 1978.

Cipolla, Carlo M. – Literacy and development in the West, 1969.

Deloye, Yves - Ecole et citoyennte. L’individualisme republicain de Jules Ferry a Vichy: controverses, Paris, 1994.

Ferro, Marc - Comment on raconte l'histoire aux enfants a travers le monde entier, Paris, 1986.

Istoria învatamântului din România, vol.II (1821-1918), Bucuresti, 1993.

Karakatsani, Despina - Le citoyen a l’ecole. Manuels d’education civique et citoyennete dans la Grece d’apres guerre 1957-1989. Bern, 1999.

Murgescu, Mirela-Luminita - Între "bunul crestin" si "bravul român". Rolul scolii primare în construirea identitatii nationale românesti (1831-1878), Iasi, 1999.

Myers, E. D. - Education in perspective of History, New York, 1960.

Santoni, R. A. - Storia sociale dell'educazione, ed.2, Milano, 1989.

Scotford Archer, Margaret, Social Origins of Educational System, London, 1979.

Stone, Lawrence (ed.), Schooling ans Society. Studies in the History of Education, Baltimore, London, 1976.

Ulich, Robert - The Education of Nations, Cambridge, 1962.

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