Network 17: Histories of Education

Picture This: A Visual Conversation on Education across Europe through a Temporally-Inflected Lens

Initiator: Geert Thyssen

NW participants: Helena Ribeiro de Castro, Béatrice Haenggeli- Jenni, Iveta Kestere, Marta Padovan-Özdemir,  Elena Tabacchi, Pieter Verstraete

Network 17 proposes to organise at the ERC a workshop centred around audio-/visual materials as entranceways into current debates to do with education in (and beyond) Europe. That is, through a temporally-inflected lens the workshop aims to investigate what the analysis of such artifacts could add in terms of surplus value to cross-/inter-/disciplinary European dialogue concerning education. Concretely, it would offer participants a selection of essays on images analysed in NW 17’s e-/book "Education across Europe: A Visual Conversation”  for them to discuss in groups of five.

Each group would receive a different set of visual essays and report their findings (reflections, ideas for further research, critical feedback, and the like) back to the whole group. In order to facilitate discussion, all groups would be given a series of questions which could (but need not) inspire their analysis. Among such questions would be the following: what could careful scrutiny of the images used for the essays in “Education across Europe” offer to contemporary reflection on issues relating to education in (and beyond) Europe today and on challenges for European education/educational research of tomorrow? How do the images and essays relate to your own research and could they possibly help produce new avenues of research? What aspects touched upon in the essays or observed in the images deserve to receive (more?) attention in educational research? What theoretical and methodological frameworks underlie the analysis of these visual essays; do you find them entirely adequate; if not, what novel or other theories and methodologies would be required to paint a picture that does more justice to the complexities of education/educational research touched upon therein? In the conversation following the reporting back in the whole group, aspects and approaches of research around which NW17 has acquired notable experience and expertise would then be highlighted (e.g., underexplored research “data” like “materialities” and related routines and technologies of education).


Geert Thyssen is a senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, a research associate at the University of Liège and a visiting scholar at the University of Sassari. He is also a convenor of the European Educational Research Association’s Network 17 Histories of Education. His interests are in education and early childhood studies and in particular in the social and cultural history of education, with a focus on health, bodies, nutrition, and educational reform initiatives, as well as the visual, audio-visual, material, spatial, sensual and emotional.

Helena Ribeiro de Castro is a Professor at Instituto Piaget, Portugal, in Teacher Training since 1995, teaching Pedagogy and Research Methodology. She is also a researcher in both RECI (Research in Education and Community Intervention, Instituto Piaget) and Instituto de Educação (University of Lisbon). To obtain her PhD in Education - Pedagogy, she wrote a thesis on a Portuguese History of Education's topic, which is partly published in a book. Her publications, mainly articles and book chapters explore History of Education topics and discuss new research methodologies in this area, especially the use of new sources such as visual and other cultural materials. She coordinates a local research project that aims to study the elementary school in Portugal and has recently contributed to an international project concerning the influence of UNESCO in inter and post world wars.

Elena Tabacchi has obtained a Ph.D. in modern history at the University of Florence, defending a thesis about the nationalization of primary school in Liberal Italy. She has been DAAD fellow at the University of Hamburg. Her work has been published in renowned journals such as History of Education and Children's Literature. Currently, she is working as a special needs teacher.

Iveta Kestere is a Professor at the Faculty of Education, Psychology and  Art, University of Latvia and an expert in the history of education at the Latvian Council of Science. Her current academic interest is in the research methodology for the history of education and education under dictatorship, including history of school reality and history of teaching profession. She is the author of more than 100 articles devoted to the history of education and the author or co-editor of nine books, among them 'The Visual Image of the Teacher' (2012) and 'History of Pedagogy and Educational Sciences in the Baltic Countries from 1940 to 1990: an Overview' (2013).

Pieter Verstraete: Since 2012 Pieter Verstraete works as an assistant professor at the Research Unit Education, Culture and Society of the KU Leuven (Belgium). In his research he focusses on the history of education for persons with disabilities as well as the role played by contagious diseases and emotions in the history of education. He is author of different academic books and co-editor of several scientific volumes. For some of his publications he received international awards like the DHA Best Book Award and the Mauritz De Vroede Award. He is also co-founder of the annual disability filmfestival in Leuven, the Disability History lecture Series and the Public Disability History Blogjournal.

Future ECERs

ERC'21, Geneva
ECER'21, Geneva
ECER'22, Yerewan
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The aim of the ‘European Conference on Educational Research’ is to create an inclusive platform for initiating, reporting, discussing and promoting high quality educational research ...
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