Education and its borderlines. An essay about the nature of education


  • Herner Sæverot
  • Glenn-Egil Torgersen Norwegian Defence University College, Norway



phenomenology, hermeneutic phenomenology, pedagogical practice


This essay initiates a fundamental discussion about education’s nature and character, and raises the questions: Is education reliant on other disciplines as, for example, psychology, sociology and philosophy? Or may education be thought of independently, without being reliant on other disciplines? These questions are discussed in the light of Theodor Litt’s educational reading of Hegel’s understanding of dialectics, as it appears in the book Phenomenology of Spirit, in order to support that education has a relational and dialectic nature. In the second part, we connect the concept of ‘Hegelian dialectic structure’ with scientific theory. More specifically, we introduce a theoretically oriented concept, based on semantic theory construction; namely, ‘relational parameter bundles’. This concept clarifies the difference between education and other ‘scientific,’ often more empirically based disciplines, such as psychology, on which education, or rather, educational researchers, traditionally rely. Through our theoretical approach we aim to uncover fundamental differences within different disciplines’ scientific thinking, and their use of theories and models, which then manifest themselves in the discipline’s scientific assessments and practical actions. An uncritical integration of other disciplines in education may destroy the ‘true’ nature of education, and thus pose a danger to education’s character, problem areas and ways of conducting research. That does not mean that education shall be isolated from other disciplines, it is rather a question of when perspectives from other disciplines should be included in educational matters. Not before the educational questions are raised and worked through will it be appropriate to obtain knowledge from other disciplines, if, that is, it is deemed necessary based on educational judgment.