Professor W A Landman

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W.A.Landman & C.A. Swart

Unity in pedagogics does not imply similarity (sameness) but rather the existence of a number of certainties which can serve as a scientific framework within which various approaches are possible. These certainties are the following: the education reality that is studied and practised in a methodologically accountable manner; critical thinking should be practised in terms of particular categories; education is an exclusively human matter; and the educative aim is proper adulthood.
S. AfrJ.Educ., 1992, 12(4)

Die eenheid van die pedagogiek dui nie op eendersheid nie, maar op die bestaan van 'n aantal sekerhede wat kan dien as wetenskaplike raamwerk waarbinne verskillende benaderingswyses moontlik is. Hierdie sekerhede is die volgende: die opvoedingswerklikheid wat bestudeer word; daar word metodologies verantwoordbaar gehandel; kritiese denke word beoefen aan die hand van besondere kategorieŽ; opvoeding is 'n uitsluitlik menslike aangeleentheid; en die opvoedingsdoel is behoorlike volwassenheid.
S.-Afr. Tydskr. Opvoedk., 1992, 12(4)

Every now and then educationists have discussions with each other about unity in pedagogics, mainly with the presupposition (explicit or implicit) that 'unity' is a special criterion for evaluating scientific character, something which cannot be reasoned or acted away (Van Rensburg, 1987:18-26).

The problem is that the concept 'unity' is mainly used in the sense of 'uniformity' and that all diversity is regarded as violation of the character of science.

The preceding statements compel the thinker who reflects on pedagogics (resp. the science of education) to bring to light that which can be regarded as either unchangeable (similar) or diverse (different).

First certainty
That which remains constant (the perennial) in all aspects of the science of education will, firstly, have to be those aspects of reality which are to be placed under the spotlight and which will become visible or appear as the education phenomenon in the form of an educative occurrence within an educative situation. Thinkers occupied with other phenomena do not qualify as educationists (pedagogicians) (Du Plooy, Griessel & Oberholzer, 1983:1-20).

The various disciplines of pedagogics therefore constitute a unit (whole) since all disciplines each in its own way centre around the education phenomenon (Van Zyl, 1980:4319).

Fundamental pedagogics (the pedagogic an sich) is concerned with the educative phenomenon and this gives it the right to declare and demonstrate that it has a guidance function with regard to the other pedagogical disciplines (Landman, 1984:1-2).

The other disciplines, which are characterized by unity, centres around the education phenomenon which reveals itself as an education occurrence in

  1. teaching-learning situations (didactics);
  2. the actualization of the psychological life of learners (psychology of education);
  3. situations which have not been successful (orthopedagogics);
  4. various education systems (comparative education);
  5. situations in which its realization has to be managed (educational management);
  6. social situations (sociopedagogics); and
  7. various historical periods by various historical figures (history of education) (Landman & Gous, 1969:10).

The following question now arises: What differences, with regard to the field of study just mentioned, can be regarded as permissible because they do not violate unity? The following possibilities deserve consideration:

  1. The presupposition (paradigm) that the observable existence of the education reality (education phenomenon as education occurrence in education situations) summons the educationist to reflective and calculated thinking in this regard.
  2. the conviction (paradigms) that the education reality is a special God-given reality, which the educationist regards himself as being called upon to study (Schoeman, 1980:136).

The above-mentioned exposition corresponds with that which is defined as a science:

  • 'Science is concerned with what is actual and real. The actual is necessarily related to activity. The activity is that something which was not there before has been brought forth and revealed. Now it is actual, i.e. present and out in the open. Science is the theory of the actual.

    Reverence for actuality evokes the care which strives to let something show itself as it appears. Science places reality in a position whereby it can be governed by scientific methods. Method has the decisive priority in such an approach to reality. Method reigns supreme over its scientific themes' (Kockelmans & Kisiel, 1970: 177-179).

The final part of this definition brings one to the second certainty.

Second certainty
Scientific activities with regard to the education phenomenon must be methodical, that is, occur in a methodologically accountable manner (Landman & Beckman, 1986:22-23). That this needs to be so, can be derived from the meaning of the concept 'method'.

    'L. Methodus: G. methodos. meta + hodos - way by which: the scientific researcher (scientist) must select a method permitting access to the phenomenon. The method is determined to a large extent by the nature of the phenomenon or by the sphere of investigation. Method implies a systematic procedure in analysing the phenomenon. After having settled the question of the objectives of scientific practice the scientist's next step is to decide on possible approaches that can be used to attain these objectives. The history of methodology (the theory of methods) has familiarised scientists with, amongst others, the following methods: the inductive, deductive, intuitive, exemplary and the historical methods, to mention only a few' (Van Rensburg & Landman, 1986:370).

Method(s) is/are essential because it (they)

  1. give(s) access to the education reality
  2. make(s) systematic analysis possible (to penetrate superficiality)
  3. bring(s) the investigated reality closer to the science, so that it can be realized (Landman, 1980:1-21).

The person who ignores and rejects methodology is not capable of practising pedagogics.

The last portion of the definition of the concept 'method' indicates that various methods can be distinguished. The question is, do methodological differences amongst educationists violate the unity of pedagogics? This question may be answered by stating that the education reality is an extremely complicated reality. Its complexity compels the educationist to avoid lapsing into a method-monism, but to utilize a variety of methods which are true to reality. Educationists can then, by means of a pedagogical discussion(s) compare the utilization of the various methods with each other, and, among other things, reflect upon whether the knowledge of the education reality which has been brought to light, can be integrated (Gerber, 1990:16-22).

The unity of pedagogics (which should primarily be a unity of pedagogicians) may well be threatened, if

  1. the existence of a number of perspectives (methodologically grounded) on the complex education reality is not acknowledged (Landman, 1961:1-10);
  2. the right of existence of methods other than one's own (chosen) method is denied; and
  3. there is a subjective (and sometimes emotional) denouncement and deprecation of other methods.

This does not mean that educationists should not be allowed to explain and justify their own chosen methodology.

Third certainty
All science is thinking, however, not all thinking is science. The unity of the science of education is served, because the educationist highly values critical thinking.

The educationist exercises critical thinking in the knowledge that thinking is always thinking about something (e.g. the education reality) and of necessity is always in terms of something, because it is impossible to think in terms of nothing. These terms are verbalizations, with a special characteristic, namely, that they allow the education reality, which is being considered in terms thereof, to appear in its essentiality (Viljoen & Pienaar, 1971:27-30).

The obvious question which arises is, what differences are permissible on account of not violating the unity of pedagogics? Meaningful differences exist with regard to the choice of the 'terms' which can also be called elucidating thinking aids (aids to thought) or categories. The unity of the science of education lies in the fact that educational thinking is categorial thinking and the difference lies in the choice of categories (Lemmer, 1987:219-239). In this way some educationists can utilize pedagogic structures and essences categorically while, for others, Dooyeweerd's modalities have categorical status (Van der Walt, Dekker & Van der Walt, 1985:58-72). Both of these groups of thinkers will reject the consideration of education in terms of non-anthropological categories as being unscientific, as human dignity will be violated, preventing man's humanness from being authentically revealed.

The preceding pronouncement brings one to the following certainty.

Fourth certainty
The presence (being) of the education phenomenon, which manifests itself as an education occurrence in education situations, is only possible between human beings. Education is exclusively a human occurrence. This statement means that educationists should adhere to a view of man (anthropology) which makes education possible. It is a view that states that only man educates, can be educated and lends himself to education.

It is therefore not possible for naturalistic anthropological conceptions to be included in the unity of pedagogics (Oberholzer, 1968:132-152).

Permissible differences lie in the fact that some educationists choose universal pronouncements about man, which are called ontological-anthropological pronouncements, with the emphasis on man's ways of being-in-the-world of which education is one (Griessel, Louw & Swart, 1990:36-37). Other educationists demand that their consideration of the education phenomenon can only be successful and fruitful if reflective thinking can be exercised against the background of reformed anthropology (Schoeman, 1979:129-158).

Fifth certainty
Unity in pedagogics demands that there should be a high degree of agreement with regard to an educative aim (Van Vuuren, 1976:89-94).

In the first place, it must be accepted that all educative activities are of a teleological nature. This means that goal directedness (purposefulness) is an inherent characteristic of the pedagogic (Gunter, 1973:105-119).

In the second place, there exists a workable consensus that the educative aim can be described as 'proper adulthood'. As far as the educative goal is concerned, there is sufficient agreement to support the case of unity in pedagogics (Van Zyl, 1975:161-164).

Pedagogicians should (in a series of pedagogical discussions) obtain clarity amongst themselves whether the following differences either violate or not

  1. adulthood as the upper limit of education; and
  2. education from the cradle to the grave.

Associated with this is a decision on the following possibilities:

  1. The science of education = pedagogics
  2. Agogics = pedagogics + andragogics + gerontagogics
    (Oberholzer & Greyling, 1981:25-29).


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