IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


A far more complex labyrinth: Classical vs modern pedagogies

09 June 2022, 4:00 pm–5:00 pm

Victorian era school (Wellcome Images, CC BY 4.0)

Join this event to hear Professor Michele Cohen discuss the ways in which the classical pedagogies of the day responded to the perceived or real threat from modern pedagogies.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to





Dr Bernie Munoz

Event recording

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Robin Alexander wrote that pedagogy is ‘a window on the culture of which it is a part, and on that culture's underlying tensions and contradictions’. In the 18th century, a principal tension was expressed as the battle between the Ancients and the Moderns. Education was profoundly implicated in this debate, involving a real practice: a classical education vs a modern education, at a time when 'modern' was disparaged. This was not just about curriculum, it was also and fundamentally about pedagogy: what was taught, how and to whom, at a time when there was no overall educational authority.

Michele will argue that to understand power relations in 18th century education, an analysis of the relations between pedagogies - on the premise that no pedagogy functions in isolation from the other pedagogies constituting the educational system - is required. In the 18th century, the competition between pedagogies resulted in the hegemony of Latin pedagogy, with consequences on gender and social class during this period.

This event will be particularly useful for those interested in literacy and history of education.

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About the Speaker

Professor Michele Cohen

Visiting Professor at International Literacy Centre - IOE, UCL