We explain what pedagogy is, its history, what it studies and how it is classified. Also, what are its characteristics and importance.

Pedagogy studies teaching methods and their results.

What is pedagogy?

The pedagogy is the social science that studies teaching methodsthat is, the training mechanisms with which a society tries to train citizens based on a pre-established objective, from their early childhood.

The pedagogy is based on the idea that the educational process can be standardized to achieve certain objectives in the formation of future generations. He maintains that there are ideal or, in any case, more convenient methods and procedures to obtain more satisfactory results in educational matters.

It is applied when designing study plans, to evaluate or reformulate the educational system, or to investigate scientifically in the ways of acquiring knowledge, especially by children and young people. Those who dedicate themselves to this type of knowledge are known as pedagogues. It is a discipline close to psychology.

See also: Distance education

Etymology of “pedagogy”

The word pedagogy is the result of the union of several Greek words, such as paidion“son, child”, and agogós“guide, driver”. It used to refer to the people in charge of leading the children to their places of study (the arena or the didaskaleia), taking them by the hand. It is distinguished from andragogy, which is the study of adult learning.

Origin of pedagogy

Pedagogy - Socrates
Socrates had his disciples walk beside him while they debated a topic.

Pedagogy has a different beginning than education, despite the fact that their histories go hand in hand. The pedagogy born at the moment in which the process of transmission of knowledge or tradeseducation, becomes relevant enough in ancient society to become the very object of reflection.

The first objectively thought out and designed teaching methods arose in the Ancient East (India, China, Persia or Egypt) and soon had their counterpart in Ancient Greece. The teaching was planned from religion and the preservation of local traditions.

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In the Greek case differed in different philosophical schools, by distinguished teachers such as Socrates, Plato or Aristotle. Each of them proposed his particular teaching methods.

Socrates, for example, relied on dialogue and he made his disciples walk with him, while they debated some subject. Hence Plato, one of his students, later wrote the Socratic dialogues as a way to remember the teachings of his teacher.

History of pedagogy

The Roman Empire proposed one of the first and best-known pedagogical regimes in the West, known as the Trivium and Quadrivium, with an emphasis on rhetoric, grammar, and dialectic. At that time the role of the teacher as an official of the polis is established, being Marco Fabio Quintillano the main Roman pedagogue. This was repeated throughout the Empire.

Then, the Muslim conquest of southern Europe and North Africa imposed Muslim schools. So the first university in the West was founded in Córdoba, Spain. When it was administered by feudalism, it allowed access to formal education only to the children of nobles, aristocrats and kings, or to the clergy, who exercised control of the letter.

during the middle ages the universities were designed from the exercise of religious faith. The education of the peasants and the lower classes was in charge of their own parents or in workshops and popular schools, where they basically learned a trade.

Traditional pedagogy began in the 17th and 18th centuries, in France, thanks to the consolidation of the Jesuits in the school institution, and to the efforts of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. He started from the idea that the child should be separated and protected from the adult world until he was formed. That is why boarding schools were created, in which young people from different social strata lived together.

Since then reflection on the way of educating was common currency in the work of thinkers such as René Descartes, Jean Jacques-Rousseau or Immanuel Kant.

modern pedagogy

Modern pedagogy seeks collaboration between student and teacher.

The modern facet of pedagogy born in the 19th century and revolutionized educational concepts. He incorporated women into educational work and established the idea that learning could take place through the friendly collaboration of the student and the teacher. She proposed teaching in an outdoor environment, which progressed at the student’s own pace, and not the teacher’s.

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But the foundation at the beginning of the 20th century of modern disciplines such as psychology, sociology and psychoanalysis forever altered the existing idea of ​​pedagogy, thanks to the contributions of A. Pavlov, J. Watson and E. Thordike, BF Skinner, Jean Piaget, or the Belgian educator Ovide Decroly.

Regarding contemporary trends, pedagogy ventures into much more liberal areas of the science of teaching. It uses methods ranging from self-learning to teaching through artistic forms or other similar models.

Object of study of pedagogy

The object of study of pedagogy it is the education itself. On the one hand, his interest lies in understanding its processes in order to train new generations.

On the other hand, notice how they can evaluate, modify and improve the dynamics of the process. In this way, it is expected to obtain results that are more in line with the educational objectives that a nation, a group or a series of individuals have set for themselves.

Types of pedagogy

Early childhood pedagogy focuses education on the first years of life.

There are the following types of pedagogy:

  • descriptive. It aspires to propose the methodologies and approaches to the educational fact that better allow understanding its real, concrete dynamics, without considering the previous or hypothetical guidelines regarding what education should or should not be.
  • Normative. It aspires to philosophically define what the ideal education should be like, evaluating theoretical and hypothetical considerations and defining basic concepts. These serve to set goals and strategies to follow.
  • Childish. It is one that focuses its interests on education during the first years of life, when human beings are more sensitive to the environment and more susceptible to formation (or deformation).
  • Social. It studies the cases of risk in society that would require preventive, corrective or urgent actions or measures to lead society towards better formal and informal learning patterns. For this reason, it is very close to the public administration.
  • Psychological. It has a psychological, scientific approach to the learning processes in the human being, taking into account the tools proposed by the science of the mind.

What is pedagogy for?

The pedagogy is a vital tool for the educational planning of the States. It makes it possible to evaluate how students are trained in the entire educational system and to make the changes that are necessary or convenient in time to correct or tackle a current or future problem.

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Pedagogues are essential for:

  • Evaluate the operation of educational institutions.
  • Design or update the curricula and teaching methods they propose.
  • Evaluate cases of learning difficulties and offer them a solution.
  • Investigate and innovate in educational matters and propose new educational forms.
  • Study the educational method and relate it to other social or political phenomena.

Importance of pedagogy

Pedagogy is also important for learning outside of school.

The pedagogy is a human science applicable to virtually any field of life, since learning occurs in many instances, not only in the confines of the college or school.

The family, the city and other environments they also affect the formation of future generations, who are the ones who will take charge of the world tomorrow. Without good pedagogical management, we will not be able to help them to be as well prepared as possible for the challenge.

Outstanding authors in pedagogical matters

Jean Piaget - Pedagogy
Jean Piaget is considered the father of educational psychology.

Some of the main authors of texts on pedagogy are:

  • Jean Piaget (1896-1980). Father of educational psychology.
  • Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Philosopher and writer, who reflected a lot on education as a form of social control.
  • Ovid Decroly (1871-1932). Belgian doctor who focused on the study of children’s perception and their grasp of reality.
  • Lev Vygotsky (1896-1924). Scholar who opposed Piaget’s theories, emphasizing the importance of the environment in child development.
  • Celestin Freinet (1896-1966). French creator of the “new school”, where he proposed a teaching that placed children in an active role, not a passive one.
  • Paulo Freire (1921-1997). He proposed a political pedagogy in which children could be trained in everyday life, and which he called the liberating pedagogy.

It can help you: Piaget’s theory

The pedagogy career

The teaching career is a bachelor’s degree in most western countries, which usually requires 5 years of continuous training. It draws on many other disciplines such as psychology, linguistics, sociology and other meaningss.


  • “Pedagogy” on Wikipedia.
  • “Pedagogy” in Ministry of Education of Colombia.
  • “What is pedagogy?” (video) at the University of Navarra.
  • “What is studied in the pedagogy career?” at Universia Spain.
  • “Pedagogy” in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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