Socialist pedagogy: Caught between the myth of the fairness of the
dr. Zdenko Medveš

Summary:   The paper explores “socialist pedagogy” on the basis of a differentiation between pedagogy as an educational activity, i.e. as education policy, and pedagogy as a paradigmatically plural (academic) science. In this paper we will illustrate the relationships between education policy and pedagogical science in the former Yugoslavia in the context of education reform projects that were ideologically inspired by the fundamental values of so-called socialist pedagogy or the socialist school. We show that education policy in post-war Yugoslavia was monolithic and directed towards a single educational value: the abolition of educational dualism by means of the unified school. The establishment of the unified school took place in two phases: first with the creation of a unified eight-year school, and secondly with the extension of unified schooling for a further two years into (upper) secondary education and the abolition of the so-called dualism represented on the one hand by secondary schools designed only to prepare students for further study (the gimnazija, the equivalent of the Gymnasium in German-speaking countries) and on the other by schools that prepared them for the world of work (vocational schools). The second phase of the education reform, known as vocationally oriented education, is revealed to be a technically questionable process full of conflicts that began in 1965 and experienced a total collapse in the early 1990s. We attempt to show that the real causes of the collapse of this reform did not lie in technical solutions within the education system, which for the most part were an ideological construct of belief in the fairness of the unified school, but in the conflict between a centralist and unitarist education policy and the intractable resistance to it on the part of those who wished to maintain the educational autonomy and cultural identity of the individual national entities. We shall also present the views of pedagogical science on the currents of reform, in order to show the difference between education policy and pedagogical science and the unsuitability of the term “socialist pedagogy” as a description of education policy and pedagogical science in post-war Yugoslavia. The only way to demonstrate this in full, however, will be through a study of the paradigms of pedagogical science in this period, which we are currently preparing as the topic of a continuation of the present paper.

Journal of Contemporary Educational Studies is
published with support of Slovenian Research Agency.