Educational history, sociology and philosophy

Education is a social process - always. It involves social institutions, culture, and social resources. These are central themes of sociology. Education always involves values and dilemmas, both in making curricula and in designing methods of teaching. It involves science, art and ways of being in the world. These are major themes of philosophy. Education continues over time, linking our society to its past and to its future. It creates capacities for practice that transform the social arrangements that have come to us from the past. These are central issues in history. Education is, therefore, a field that links to, and draws from, knowledge across the disciplines of the social sciences and humanities.

  • History of education

    History of education is a field of inquiry characterised by diversity of topic, method and approach, yet unified by a focus on the making of social systems and practices in the past and over time. Research in this area is frequently directed towards better understanding the origins and operations of current education settings. Areas of inquiry include – but are not restricted to – histories of policy, ideas and institutions, curricula and teaching methods, postcolonial education perspectives, feminism and the profession, transnational and the cross-cultural transferral of ideas, the experiences of the teacher, both past and contemporary, students and their families as well as teaching and learning in non-formal forums. History of education is one of the broadest research fields in the Faculty, with much scope for new work and fresh perspective.

  • Philosophy of education

    Research in the philosophy of education explores the abiding questions of philosophy as they arise in educational ideas, practices and institutions. Because both philosophy and education are complex and diverse domains of human life, the scope of this field is broad, encompassing specialised research in epistemology, ethics and theorising about the nature of the social world and human development, among other things.

  • Sociology of education

    Sociologists of education study learning and teaching as social processes, and the social contexts in which they occur. How schools work as institutions, who gets educated, the educational effects of class inequality, of gender, ethnicity, and relations between generations. Sociologists are also interested in the knowledge that forms the school curriculum, where it comes from and why it takes the form it does, how we test and evaluate learning, and what are the social effects of the way we test. Research projects can involve interviewing, field observation, surveys and a variety of other approaches.