Why we Believe that Education Solves all our Social Problems

Daniel Tröhler, Institute of Education & Society, University of Luxembourg

Abstract: Today, it seems that any kind of (social) problems are assigned to education. This talk analyzes the historical roots of this mode of thinking in the second half of the eighteenth century. When the construction of modernity, progress, and open future started to depend on an idea of education that promised to be the engine of modernity by means of (new) and broadly disseminated knowledge and technologies and, at the same time, an instance of moral reassurance empowering the individual exposed to these modern conditions and their moral hazards to act morally or virtuously. Several intriguing examples of the educationalization of social problems will be highlighted, such as the reactions to Sputnik 1957, the ecological crises after DDT 1962, or the economic crises in the early 1980s (A Nation at Risk), in order to analyze the phenomenon of the “educationalization of the modern world,” as a key concept for understanding and deciphering the grand narratives of modernity and the modern self, that is ultimately–whether consciously or not–Protestant in its origin. 

About the speaker: Daniel Tröhler is professor of education at the Institute of Education & Society, director of the doctoralschoolin educational sciences at the University of Luxembourg, and visiting professor of comparative education at the University of Granada, Spain. Before joining the University of Luxembourg in 2008, he was professor of education at the Zurich University of Teacher Education and director of the Pestalozzianum Research Institute for the History of Education from 2002 to 2008. Prior to his employment in Zurich, he was visiting professor of education at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Tröhler’s research interests are inter- and transnational developments and trajectories of education and curriculum between the late eighteenth century and today, with some emphasis on the transition from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century and the Cold War era. In his studies, he combines history of ideas and institutional history in a broader, cultural approach focusing on educational and political ideas and their materialization in school laws, curricula, and textbooks, thereby comparing different national/regional developments and their possible transnational influences.

He has published, edited or co-edited over fifty books, nearly ninety journal articles, and nearly one hundred book chapters. His latest publications include Languages of Education: Protestant Legacies, National Identities, and Global Aspirations (Routledge, 2011), which received the AERA Outstanding Book of the Year Award in 2012, and Pestalozzi and the Educationalization of the World (Palgrave, 2013). He also served as guest editor for the special issue, Historicising Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Four ways to commemorate his 300th anniversary (Studies in Philosophy and Education, 2012) and as a co-guest editor for the special issue, The Rise of the Accountability Regime in Education Governance (Teachers College Record, 2014).

Thursday, April 7, 2016 - 4:00pm

Maryland Room, Marie Mount Hall, University of Maryland

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