IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Knowledge in education: Why philosophy matters

22 May 2018, 5:45 pm–7:00 pm

Professor Jan Derry

Professor Jan Derry leads this IOE professorial lecture on pedagogic practice and knowledge.

Event Information

Open to



Kate Thomas


Jeffrey Hall
UCL Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom

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In recent years ideas about education have polarised: on one side are those stressing facts and disciplines; on the other, those committed to the encouragement of learners to make their own meaning. By offering a fine-grained account of pedagogic practice and subject knowledge, recent developments in philosophy provide a means of reconfiguring the issue in a manner that transcends this simple opposition. 

Professor Jan Derry will draw on the work of the neo-Hegelian philosopher Robert Brandom, termed 'inferentialism', to re-examine questions concerning knowledge that has preoccupied teachers, educational researchers and policy makers. Considerations about the nature of knowledge and understanding involve conceptions of mind, meaning, and activity.

Common conceptions are challenged by adopting a Vygotskian approach to both pedagogic practice and knowledge, one that emphasises the significance of normative constraints for both teachers and learners. 

About the speaker

Jan Derry is Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE). The mission of the centre is to address practical questions in education. When these questions are pursued rigorously, they invariably lead to philosophical enquiry into the nature of knowledge, the characteristics of the just society, and the nature of the good life.

Jan's own research focuses on philosophical psychology, the connection between epistemology and pedagogy, and the nature of professional expertise and judgment. She has published widely, particularly on Vygotsky and Brandom.

Other research at the centre extends to such topics as language acquisition, knowledge and the curriculum, teaching and learning, race, citizenship, inclusion, disability, anarchist and utopian theory, moral philosophy, new technology, and neuroscience. Jan's own work on inferentialism indicates the way the centre connects with other research centres in and beyond UCL. 

The IOE Professorial Public Lectures series

Our series of professorial public lectures provides an opportunity to celebrate and share the expertise of our professors. This series showcases the cutting-edge research taking place at the IOE. They are free to attend and open to all. The lecture will be followed by a wine reception.

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