NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ864745
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Aug
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0030-9230
Transforming Theories of Childhood and Early Childhood Education: Child Study and the Empirical Assault on Froebelian Rationalism
Brehony, Kevin J.
Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, v45 n4-5 p585-604 Aug 2009
This article considers the possibility that one of the defining characteristics of the New Education, as it related to children in their early years, was its epistemological break with rationalist forms of knowledge and its embrace of empiricism and positivism. It considers, briefly, social theories that identify a similar process at a societal level before examining some of the polemics directed against theories of education based on rational forms of knowledge and, in particular, Froebel's system. This theme is then pursued through a detailed consideration of the child study movement in England and its promotion of an empiricist project concerned with the production of knowledge about the child which drew upon the emergent fields of physiology, educational psychology, education and statistics. It is argued that child study helped to create the conditions for these sciences to distinguish themselves from the older philosophical currents from which they emerged. Consideration is then paid to how these transformations reacted on child study and on the Froebel movement. The article concludes that a break did indeed occur in the ways in which education was legitimised and that through the arrival of a new empirically based, scientific approach it became more closely aligned to reforming impulses. Nevertheless, the old philosophical, metaphysical foundations were not vanquished as in a violent rupture but were articulated in a new dialectical synthesis. (Contains 104 footnotes.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)