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Non-affirmative Theory of Education and Bildung

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  • Open Access
  • © 2023

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  • Avoids the pitfalls of functionalist and traditional counter hegemonic critical theory
  • Contributes to the discussion of non-affirmative education theory
  • Aims at advancing research on curriculum, leadership and teaching
  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access

Part of the book series: Educational Governance Research (EGTU, volume 20)

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Table of contents (17 chapters)

  1. Non-affirmative Education Perspectives on Governance and Policy


About this book

Interpreting the modern heritage of ‘Bildung’ in connection to education theory, this open access volume explores non-affirmative theory of education and ‘Bildung’ as a language of education for the 21st century. In this ‘Bildung’-centered view of education, discerning thought on knowledge and values are critical objectives of education. To promote these aims, education practice must recognize but not affirm existing conditions or future ideals but instead pedagogically summon the student to self-directed critical treatment of the contents. Drawing on contemporary developments of modern education theory, especially as developed by Dietrich Benner in Berlin, the volume highlight how ‘educative teaching’ aims at supporting the growth of the individual as a person and citizen.

The volume shows how it is possible to identify a position beyond education either as a mere transformative or a reproductive power. Instead of such an instrumentalism, education is seen as a critical societal practice, necessary for reflexive action and democracy. In different ways, the chapters demonstrate how non-affirmative theory offer an alternative to contemporary neo-liberal and conservative policies. The non-affirmative approach offers a strong education theory, relationally connecting the interactive level of teaching, studying and learning with the societal level and educational governance. Non-affirmative theory on education and ‘Bildung’ provides an elaborate point of departure for empirical research on teaching and educational leadership, teacher education and policy making.

In five sections, the volume highlights how non-affirmative education theory relate to Didaktik, educative teaching, school didactics, democratic education and social justice. The approach is also analysed in relation to phenomenology, sociology, hermeneutics, cultural-historical activity theory, discursive institutionalism, empirical research, educational leadership and governance and 21st century competencies.

Chapter “On Affirmativity and Non-affirmativity in the Context of Theories of Education and Bildung” is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License via

Editors and Affiliations

  • Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies, Åbo Akademi University, Vaasa, Finland

    Michael Uljens

About the editor

Michael Uljens is Chair professor of education at Åbo Akademi University in Finland as of 2003. Since the 1980’s Michael Uljens has published on sociology, phenomenology, theory and philosophy of education, Didaktik and educational leadership. He has worked with non-affirmative education theory since the late 1990’s. His books in English include School Didactics and Learning (1997, Psychology Press) and an edited volume (with R. Ylimaki) Bridging Educational Leadership, Curriculum Theory and Didaktik (2017, Springer). Michael Uljens previously worked as researcher, visiting professor and chair professor at universities in Finland, Sweden, Germany, USA, and China.  

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Non-affirmative Theory of Education and Bildung

  • Editors: Michael Uljens

  • Series Title: Educational Governance Research

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Education, Education (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2023

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-30550-4Published: 15 July 2023

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-30553-5Published: 15 July 2023

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-30551-1Published: 14 July 2023

  • Series ISSN: 2365-9548

  • Series E-ISSN: 2365-9556

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XIV, 377

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Educational Policy and Politics, Curriculum Studies, Administration, Organization and Leadership

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