Didactics versus pedagogy, a personal note

I’m attending ResearchED NY at the moment and during a discussion something popped up that I never noticed before. People were using pedagogy and didactics as almost synonyms. They aren’t.

If you do a Google check on the differences, you’ll get a lot of different possible distinctions. The distinction I learned at university way too long ago is the following:

  • pedagogy is the biggest of the two as it covers the why and how of education, but also talks and thinks about the curriculum, the values, the visions on education, etc. Pedagogy can therefor be more philosophical by moments.
  • didactics focuses on the how. It’s more mechanic, often easier to research.

When I talked with John Hattie a while ago when we discussed inclusive education, he only said something about the learning effect. This was a rather didactical answer. The discussion about inclusive education is more pedagogical than purely didactical.

I have to admit that I learned pretty fast that when I’m in an Anglo-Saxon environment I should call myself educational scientist, while when talking in Belgium or The Netherlands I will describe myself a pedagogue. The kind of education and training I had at university is not really known in the UK or the US. Pedagogy and Educational Sciences is more like studying psychology. Something you can chose to study at the beginning of your university career instead of something you study after studying something else. The kind of education I had, makes it possible to study the broad field of education and the aim of these kinds of university training is to have a good overview.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Didactics versus pedagogy, a personal note

  1. lenandlar

    Without a formal study of it but through my own interpretation from reading etc I always thought of Pedagogy as the whole and didactic as a specific pedagogy; a way of how to teach. Interestingly I think didactics is rarely used here and around my parts. We just lump all as pedagogy.

  2. Luc Van den Berge

    I had the same experience, being a “wijsgerig pedagoog” interested in education in the context of the family, I just didn’t seem to exist in the Anglophone academic world. In that world I’m a philosoper of education who isn’t working in the field of schooling, but investigates (philosophically) issues of parenting and parenting support. I discovered by the way that it is not correct to translate parenting as “opvoeding” as is often done in the Netherlands.

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