27 SES 06 C, Didactics and Subject Matters
According to Gundem (2011), the background for a differentiation between general and disciplinary didactics must be found in the mid-19th century. For a while the didactical field had been challenged by an increased preoccupation with psychological theories that led to a strong method orientation. This created a need for didactical theories linked closely to questions of content, and disciplinary didactics developed.
Since then, both general didactics and disciplinary didactics have developed very much and today, both are extensive disciplines (Ongstad 2006; Nielsen 2012). However, the fields have often been described according to hierarchical disciplinary structures and the relationship between them has often been characterized by conflict. The conflicts have revolved around charges that one field takes over and interferes with the knowledge area or the domain of the other field (Imsen 2006; Gundem 2011). Such conflicts have not been fruitful for cooperation between general didactics and subject didactics (Ongstad 2006).
The paper suggests that general didactics and disciplinary didactics should instead be viewed as independent and complementary perspectives. It argues that the perspectives deal with overlapping domains or dimensions, which however, (often) are assigned different weighting within the two perspectives. The perspectives complement each other in a way that is fruitful these years, where the nature and terms of education and teaching changes due to increased pressure of change.
The paper examines the nature of each of the two perspectives through a theoretical analysis, and it exemplifies the value of the interaction through a case from the Danish upper secondary school.
The theoretical basis for the paper is found in sociological systems theory as described by Niklas Luhmann (Luhmann, 1990, 1995, 2012) and systems theoretical didactcs (Keiding & Qvortrup 2014; Qvortrup & Keiding 2017). This theory belongs to the so-called ‘second generation’ of systems theory, which is devoted to the understanding of the evolution and dynamics of complex units called systems. Luhmann describes modern society as functionally differentiated (Luhmann, 1990, 1995, 2012). Over time, society responds to enhanced complexity by functional differentiation, that is differentiation into societal sub-systems such as economics, law, science and education, each of which manage a specific aspect of the total societal communication.
The paper introduces a model for understanding and analysing didactical work in the intersection between various didactic disciplines. The model constitutes didactical events (both theoretical and practical) as an interaction between general didactics and disciplinary didactics, understanding an event as a meaningful action in a given situation. The constitution of a didactical event as an interaction between general and disciplinary didactics, may tempt one to illustrate the didactic event as the common area of partially overlapping circles representing general didactics and disciplinary didactics, respectively (see, for example, Gundem 2011: 83). However, such an illustration risks losing attention to the very important tension between the fields. As Gundem (2011) suggests the tension must be understood as positive and productive because it helps to maintain the awareness that the ability to produce adequate didactic responses in the light of the current conditions of the education system requires attention to dynamics. The essence of the complementary dialogue between didactic perspectives is discussed, based on Gregersen's article "Good and Bad Eclecticism" (Gregersen 2000) and through dialogue with Niemeyers (1832), Tenorth (1987), Tellings (2001) and Zierers (2009, 2011) contributions to eclectics in pedagogy suggests. The paper formulates a number of principles for both practical and theoretical work in the intersection between general and subject and area didactic perspectives.
Gregersen, F. (2000). God og dårlig eklekticisme. In Motskrift 1, 2000 (p. 19-37). Trondheim. Niemeyer, A. (1832): Grundsätze der Erziehung und des Unterrichts. Reutlingen: Ensslin. Paschen, H. (1997) Pädagogiken. Zur Systematik pädagogischer Differenzen. Weinheim: Deutscher Studien Verlag. Tenorth, H.-E. (1987): Dogmatik als Wissenschaft. Überlegungen zum Status und zur Funktionsweise pädagogischer Argumente. In: Baecker, D. et al. (red.). Theorie als Passion – Niklas Luhmann zum 60. Geburtstag (p. 694–719). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Tellings, A. (2001). Eclecticism and Integration in educational Theories. A metatheoretical Analysis. I: Educational Theory 3: 277–292 Zierer, K. (2009). Eklektik in der Pädagogik. Grundzüge einer gängigen Methode. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik 55(6): 928-944 Zierer, K. (2011). Pedagogical Eclecticism. The Journal of Educational Thought 45(1): 3-19 Imsen, G. (2006). Allmenn didaktikk og fagdidaktikk – mellom dannelse og utdanningspolitikk. I Ongstad, S. (red.). Fag og didaktikk i lærerutdanning. Kunnskap i grenseland (p. 243-257). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget AS Gundem, B. B. (2011). Europeisk didaktikk. Tenkning og viten. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget Ongstad, S. (2006). Fag i endring. Om didaktisering av kunnskap. I Ongstad, S. (red.). Fag og didaktikk i lærerutdanning. Kunnskap i grenseland (p. 19-57). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget AS Nielsen, F. V. (2012). Fagdidaktik som integrativt relationsfelt. CURSIV 9: 11-32. København: Institut for Uddannelse og Pædagogik (DPU), Aarhus Universitet Luhmann, N. 1990. Die Wissenschaft der Gesellschaft. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. Luhmann, N. 1995. Social Systems. Stanford C.A.: Stanford University Press Luhmann, N. 2012. Theory of Society. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Qvortrup, A. & Keiding, T. (2014): Systemteori og didaktik. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag Qvortrup, A. & Keiding, T. (2017). Undervisning mellem hensigt og uforudsigelighed. Frederikshavn: Forlaget Dafolo
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