Reflections upon Some Fundamental Issues in Educational Historiography


  • Hongyu Zhou Central China Normal University, China
  • Yuehai Xiao Hunan Normal University, China Words Up Your Way, China



This paper categorizes educational historiography as part of “historiography” because educational historiography is leaning towards historiography in spite of being a fundamental educational discipline with the dual disciplinary attributes of education and historiography. It is argued that the nature of a discipline is partly defined by its researchers and its roles, but more importantly, by its origin, major research topics and objectives, basic research theories, methodologies and paradigms, as well as its relations with cognate disciplines. And each of the above factors is elaborated on to illuminate the dual disciplinary nature of educational historiography. From the perspective of educational science, what reflects the nature of education the best is people’s “educational activities,” which can be defined as the aggregate of specific activities directed to promoting valuable human development, and the various ways educators and learners participate and interact in the educational process. This paper maintains that the history of educational activities constitutes an upside-down triangle relation with the histories of educational thoughts and system. The history of educational activities is the origin, premise and foundation, whereas the latter two are the derivatives and results. Therefore, the history of educational activities must be studied as part of the research on the history of education.


Educational historiography, Dual disciplinary nature, Educational activities, History of education


[1] Anderson, A. (1956). Bases of proposals concerning the history of education. History of Education Journal, 7(2), 37-98.

[2] Burke, P. (2000). A social history of knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot. Malden, Mass: Polity Press.

[3] Butts, R. (1967). Civilization-building and the modernization process: A framework for the reinterpretation of the history of education. History of Education Quarterly, 7(2), 147-174.

[4] Clifford, G. (1976). Education: Its history and historiography. Review of Research in Education, 4(1), 210-267.

[5] Cohen, S. (1999). Challenging orthodoxies: Toward a new cultural history of education. New York: Peter Lang.

[6] Cremin, L. (1955). The recent development of the history of education as a field of study in the United States. History of Education Journal, 7(1), 1-35.

[7] Cunningham, P., Chitty, C., & Robinson, W. (2012). The struggle for the history of education. History of Education, 41(5), 702-707.

[8] Donato, R., & Lazerson, M. (2000). New directions in American educational history:Problems and prospects. Educational Researcher, 29(8), 4-15.

[9] Grosvenor, I., & Lawn, M. (2001). Ways of seeing in education and schooling: Emerging historiographies. History of Education, 30(2), 105-108.

[10] Karier, C. H. (1979). The quest for orderly change: Some reflections. History of Education Quarterly, 19(2), 159-177.

[11] McCulloch, G. (2011). The struggle for the history of education. London, England: Routledge.

[12] Power, E. (1962). Persistent myths in the history of education. History of Education Quarterly, 2(3), 140-151.

[13] Seller, M. (1991). Boundaries, bridges, and the history of education. History of Education Quarterly, 31(2), 195-206.

[14] Sloan, D. (1973). Historiography and the History of Education. Review of Research in Education, 1(1), 239-269.



Article Type

Review Article