Social education – the evolution of an idea. What is social education and how has it evolved as a practice and as a theory? We explore the emergence of social pedagogy and the different strands of thinking that developed in Britain and the USA.
This page explores the development of the notion of social education using materials from the encyclopaedia and the archives. Starting with the emergence of the notion of social pedagogy – as education for sociality – in Germany in the 1840s, the idea migrated to north America via such forms as socialized education and social education (Scott). We will also examine the idea of social education as education through social life in the Britian in the 1860s (via writers like Hole); social education as learning about society (in both North America and in Britain by the Charity Organization Society); and its use by youth workers in the early 1900s to refer to education for social relationships.
Debates around the significance and nature of social studies reflected a renewed interest in education for sociality in the 1940s – but it was with the activities of UK youth workers and trainers in the 1960s (following the Albemarle Report) that the notion became a central organizing idea within UK youth work. The particular forms that the idea took (especially through the work of Davies and Gibson) will be explored – as will some of the issues that arose in practice. The article will then look at attempts to breathe new life into the term in the late 1970s (Butters and Newell, Leigh and Smart, Smith) and the way in which it subsequently fell into relative disuse as a way of describing practice. It remains in use as a partial description as a curriculum area – PSHE (personal, social and health education).
Further reading and references
Acknowledgement: Knowledge is power. Uploaded by Tobias Higbie. Image from title page of “You and Your Union,” ILGWU Education Department, 1935. Reproduced from Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) licence. http://www.flickr.com/photos/47388075@N00/415252362/
© Mark K. Smith 2002