Call for Papers: Contemporary Continental Perspectives on Early Childhood Pedagogies, Volume 7, No. 4, December 2020


Editors: Christian Aabro, Københavns Professionshøjskole (Denmark), and Karen Prins, Københavns Professionshøjskole (Denmark)

When researching historical philosophies of childhood and education in the Western world, one can identify a wide variety of pedagogical theory traditions and inspirations in – and across – different cultures and countries. However, it is possible to identify two dominant streams: the first is often characterized as an Anglo-Saxon Curriculum oriented tradition, while the second is termed as a European continental Bildung tradition (Westbury 2002). Others have made similar distinctions, but with slightly different geographical conceptual notions, eg: OECD identifies an early education and school readiness tradition in France and Anglo-Saxon countries, and a social pedagogical tradition in Central and Northern Europe (OECD 2006:2), while Hopmann and others within the field of curriculum studies distinguish between a Continental-European Didaktik tradition and an Anglo-Saxon curriculum tradition (Hopmann 2015).

As mentioned, the Anglo-Saxon tradition of pedagogy specifically connects to the concept of curriculum. With a starting point in American educational research, this tradition builds on the idea of a centrally defined national curriculum as a political interpretation of society’s present and future educational needs. This ideally defines the pedagogical direction all the way through the system, to the implementation level of practice. Consequently, this tradition leans toward conceptualizing the educator as the intervening agent on behalf of a central system (Hopmann 2015, Westbury 2002).

The continental philosophy of education, on the other hand, frames the German inspired concept of Bildung as its turning point (for def. see Retter 2012). In several European countries, the outline and implementation of this tradition is closely connected to the development of the welfare state after WWII (Einarsdottir et al. 2015), where the necessity of a democratic form of life already from an early age is considered crucial for the development of society (Prins 2019, Rosengaard 2018, Øland 2012). Education in this tradition is regarded as having a far broader and more holistic aim than the narrow perspective of providing children and young people with the right qualifications for their future jobs. Emphasis is placed on the development of a socially and democratically oriented human being, who participates actively and critically in his/her surroundings (Winther-Lindqvist & Aabro 2019). Westbury (2002) frames it as a focus on both inner and outer matters. One key element is that the child's own initiative, enterprise, and experiences are considered to be the crucial onset for any pedagogical practice (Prins 2019, Kampmann 2014). Traditionally, aesthetic expressions also play an important role as a framework for processes aiming at holistic development (the Reggio Emilia tradition is an example).

In recent years, both traditions have been heavily affected by a range of transnational educational policies and management rationales of public education with implications for theory development as well as for educational practices. Consequently, the curriculum-oriented tradition seems to have gained terrain on a global level – also within several European countries traditionally placing themselves within the Bildung tradition. Educational politics has shifted from being predominantly a national issue to becoming a transnational affair focusing on comparability with optimizing benchmarks on school readiness, learning outcomes, and early interventions (Biesta 2006, 2017, Wiberg 2017), often wrapped in arguments of no alternatives (Moss 2015).

Within this context, it seems relevant to revisit the continental tradition of Bildung, in its various forms and transformations, with the purpose of considering possibilities, challenges, and alternatives to global hegemonial ideas and policies within education. For this special issue, we invite scholars to revisit continental pedagogical ideas, strands, and transformation within early childhood education, through theoretical developments, hybrids or reinstallations, and/or empirical contemporary examples of educational practices referencing to this tradition, as well as international, cross-Atlantic examples of extensions and alternations. As we wish to consider historical, political, and social conditions and translations of original inspirations, we kindly ask submissions to establish the working context they are addressing whilst considering some of the following:

• Either theoretically or empirically inspired analyses of contemporary early childhood practice,
within the Bildung tradition.
• Contemporary perspectives on the aesthetical dimensions of early childhood Bildung.
• Examples of hybrids or bridge-building across the two traditions.
• An analysis of the challenges, clashes, or tensions between transnational policies and local early
childhood Bildung contexts.

Please send an abstract in 12-point font of no more than 250 words to Christian Aabro ( and Karen Prins ( by March 15, 2020. Please put “Global Education Review” in the subject line. Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editors and you will be informed if you are invited to submit a full article by March 30, 2020. Full manuscripts are due by June 30, 2020.

Authors of articles invited for review are required to participate in a blind review of two articles submitted for publication in the same issue.


Biesta, G. (2006). Beyond learning – Education for a human future. Paradigm Publishers.
Biesta, G. (2017). The Rediscovery of Education. Routledge.
Einarsdottir, J., Purolab A.M, Johansson, E., Brostrøm, S. & Emilson A. (2015). Democracy, caring and competence: values perspectives in ECEC curricula in the Nordic countries. International Journal of Early Years Education, Vol. 23, No. 1, 97–114.
Hopmann, S. (2015). “Didaktik meets Curriculum” revisited: historical encounters, systematic experience, empirical limits, Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy Educational Studies, Vol 1.
Kampmann, J. (2014). For en (gen)erobring af læringsbegrebet, i Aabro, C. (red)(2014); Læring i daginstitutioner – et erobringsforsøg. Dafolo.
Moss, P. (2015). There are alternatives! Contestation and hope in early childhood education. Global Studies of Education, Vol. 5(3) 226-238.
OECD (2006). Starting Strong II: Early Childhood Education and Care. ISBN 92-64-03545-1 – © OECD 2006Prins, K. (2019). På jagt efter det demokratiske – En pragmatisk kulturanalyse af muligheder og begrænsninger for børns demokratiske erfaringer i daginstitutionen. PhD afhandling. Roskilde Universitet.
Retter, H. (2012). Dewey’s progressive education, experience and instrumental pragmatism with particular reference to the concept of bildung. In Siljander, P., Kivelä, A. & Sutinen, A. (Eds.), Theories of Bildung and Growth, 281–302. Sense Publishers.
Rosengaard, S. (2018). Fremtiden starter i daginstitutionen – Postmoderne analyser af velfærdsstatslige investeringer i det lille barns nationale dannelse. PhD-afhandling. Københavns Universitet, Institut for medier, erkendelse og formidling.
Westbury, I. (2002). Didaktik and/or curriculum: an international dialogue. In Gundem, B. & Hopmann, S.: Didaktik and/or Curriculum studies. American University Studies, Ser. 14, Education 41.
Wiberg, M. (2017). ”Kontinental didaktik og angelsaksisk curriculumtænkning.” Angelsaksisk Didaktik, Liv i skolen, nr 1. februar 2017. VIA-UC.
Winther-Lindqvist, D., & Aabro, C. (2019). Alsidig personlig udvikling. In C. Aabro (red.), Den styrkede pædagogiske læreplan: Baggrund, perspektiver og dilemmaer (p. 43-64). Samfundslitteratur.
Øland, T. (2012). “Human potential” and progressive pedagogy: a long cultural history of the ambiguity of “race” and “intelligence.” Race Ethnicity and Education, 15:4, 561-585.