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What are Educational Sciences?

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Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.
G. K. Chesterson

What do they involve?back to top

Educational sciences are a range of disciplines that use a various approaches to tackle the complex subject of education.
The term educational sciences (in the plural) was first used in the second half of the 20th century, and reflects the complexity of education and, at the same time, the expansion both of pedagogical knowledge and the concept of education itself. It provides more direct and in-depth study of the individuals involved (of all types and all ages), the contents, the duration (all stages of life) and the setting (not only within the family and at school, but also extracurricular education). This led to UNESCO’s division of education into the categories of formal, non-formal and informal as early as the 1960s.
The various expressions currently in use, such as “educational sciences and/or training sciences”, “education science”, “pedagogical studies”, “pedagogy” and “pedagogical sciences” have different meanings depending on the individuals or universities that use them.

The origin of Faculties of Educational Sciences in Italyback to top

The institutionalisation of educational sciences was a gradual process, and varied greatly between countries. In Romance-speaking countries the concept of a Faculty of Educational Sciences first appeared around the 1970s , and therefore a long time after the creation of the renowned Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Geneva, which in 1929-30 took on the name Institut des Sciences de l'Éducation.

I In Italy, the first Faculty to be given this name was the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences «Auxilium» , founded in Turin in 1970 and transferred to Rome in 1978, which from the start offered five-year courses (3 years + 2 years).
This was followed by the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the Salesian Pontifical University (1973).

The reform of the Italian university system under Law no. 341/1990 introduced the Degree in Educational Sciences. Since then, the majority of Italian universities have created a Faculty of Educational Sciences; some, however, use the title Faculty of Educational and Training Sciences.

The Degree in Educational Sciencesback to top

Currently, having signed up to the Bologna Process, all university academic courses follow the 3+2 formula, incorporating a first-cycle Degree lasting three years and a two-year Specialisation Degree, approximately equivalent to a Master’s Degree.
The type and number of Degree and Specialisation Degree Courses show the diverse range of specialist areas in the education profession and, consequently, the varied organisation of the courses offered and professional opportunities available.

In the UK and USA the university structure in the field of education still retains the concept of a Faculty (College) of Education, with various courses and training types; few universities have introduced the term "Educational Sciences".

Future developmentsback to top

If we want to maintain education that fully respects humans as individuals, the position of pedagogical sciences within educational sciences needs to be restated and unanimously recognised, to avoid it becoming lost or marginalised.