European/western tradition

  1. Reflective Essay (2000 words, 50% of overall grade).

Deadline for submission March 31st 2014

The overall aim of the module is to consider education in a historical dimension, embracing a broad timescape within a European/western tradition.  The first five sessions which precede the hand in date for the assignment will involve an initial consideration of history as an academic discipline, and education as a purpose, supported by an overview of some key developments in the understanding and practice of education over the last 2500 years.


(i) What can history of education offer to educational studies? (ii.) Consider ONE historical conception of the purpose and value of education and discuss these ideas with reference to their period, and also consider their presence in education today making reference to reading and to your own experience of education.

Part (i) focus

The assignment consists of two parts.  Part (i) of your assignment essay should discuss the nature of history as an academic subject, the syntactic concepts that define it, and the tensions and arguments within the subject about the relationship between history, as a present-oriented activity, and the past, the object of study.  This will be accompanied by a review of the contribution of the history of education to educational studies in the 100 years of its practice within the university. This should aim at a word length of c. 800 words. The indicative reading in the module handbook should support this discussion.

Part (ii) focus

Part (ii) of the assignment invites you to consider ONE historical conception of education as exemplified a particular writer/thinker and to discuss how they reflect the times in which they lived and the relevance and influence they may or may not have on education today. (Reference to your own experience and thoughts on education is relevant but this must be a considered reflection which relates to the themes of the discussion and not simply an anecdotal reflection or rant.)  The early sessions of the module will have paid particular attention to certain key writers (Confucius, Socrates, Plato, St. Augustine, Bede, Aquinas, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Loyola, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, Arnold, Dewey, Freire) and these can provide the range from which to choose ONE, but there are others that have made contributions to thinking about education which students are free to identify and research if they wish.  This will require some self-directed reading into the chosen writers and their periods. Consider also the syntactic concepts at the heart of history through which you might discuss the ideas (chronology, cause, change, continuity, significance, interpretation).  Your discussion should explore some of these with regard to your chosen focus.  This should aim at a word length of c. 1200 words.

Notes on structure, style and referencing

The essay should adopt academic conventions of structure, style and referencing.  The structure should deploy an introduction paragraph to each part of the essay which helps the reader predict what they will encounter in the essay to come. It should then be paragraphed to provide a coherent development of the ideas and themes being discussed.  Students might consider whether sub-heading might help to add clarity to their discussion.  It is also worth composing ‘sign-posting’ sentences at the end of paragraphs if there is to be a substantial development or change in the trajectory of the discussion.  Each part should end with a conclusion paragraph which reiterates the main points that have been discussed. Referencing should conform to Harvard conventions for which there are detailed guidelines in the programme handbook. In short, if an idea in your discussion is taken from or supported by a published text, the author’s surname and the date of the publication should be stated in a bracket in your text.  If your discussion is supported by a short quotation from a published text then the page number where the quotation is from should be in the bracket in addition to the author’s surname and the date.  Each bracketed reference then should appear as a full reference in the alphabetical reference list at the end, with the surname, initials, date (in brackets) title of publication (in italics), place of publication, publisher.  It is worth just reviewing how module leaders have presented references in their handbooks as a model for the required conventions.



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