© 2018

Understanding Education

History, Politics and Practice


  • Explains the theory and practice of education to those students studying education

  • Includes a concise history of education

  • Demonstrates how to use the theory of practice architectures to understand schooling


Part of the Springer Texts in Education book series (SPTE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XIII
  2. Stephen Kemmis, Christine Edwards-Groves
    Pages 1-30
  3. Stephen Kemmis, Christine Edwards-Groves
    Pages 65-114
  4. Stephen Kemmis, Christine Edwards-Groves
    Pages 115-158
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 159-164

About this book


This short book provides an introduction to the study of education, outlining the dual purpose of education – to help people live well and to help develop a world worth living in. It argues that education initiates people into forms of understanding, modes of activity, and ways of relating to each other and the world that not only help individuals to live good lives, but also help secure a culture based on reason, productive and sustainable economies and environments, and just and democratic societies. Subsequent chapters address the history of education in the West; explore how education reproduces the practices and forms of life in societies and groups, and also how it transforms them; and introduce the theory of practice architectures to explain what practices are composed of, and how they are enabled and constrained by local and more general conditions and circumstances. The book closes by showing how the theory of practice architectures unfolds to offer a theory of education – a theory that underpins the definition of education offered at the start of the book. Understanding Education is essential reading for anyone interested in the theory and practice of education.


educational formation Progressive education mass compulsory education educational theory critical educational science practice theory education and society Aristotle and education intersubjectivity mathematics education Education Complex control of curriculum Education versus schooling curriculum development correspondence theory of reproduction Indigenous education disadvantage and marginalisation practice architectures professional learning action research

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationCharles Sturt UniversityWagga WaggaAustralia
  2. 2.School of EducationCharles Sturt UniversityWagga WaggaAustralia

About the authors

Stephen Kemmis is Professor Emeritus, School of Education, Charles Sturt University. He is the co-author, with Wilfred Carr, of Becoming Critical: Education, Knowledge and Action Research (London: Falmer); with Robin McTaggart and Rhonda Nixon, of The Action Research Planner (Singapore: Springer); and, with Jane Wilkinson, Christine Edwards-Groves, Ian Hardy, Peter Grootenboer, and Laurette Bristol, of Changing Practices, Changing Education. His current interests include practice theory, action research, and reflective practice. Especially today, when education is besieged by the institutions of schooling at every level, he remains fundamentally curious about the nature, the study, and the conduct of education as it is reinvented in changing times and circumstances.

Christine Edwards-Groves is an Associate Professor (Literacy Studies) in the School of Education at Charles Sturt University. Her current research and publications involve two intercon

nected fields: i) the nature and role of interaction for excellence in education practices in contemporary literacy classrooms and professional development; and ii) examining exemplary educational leadership, professional development practices and classroom pedagogy and their effects on students’ academic and social practices. Christine’s involvement in empirical ethnographic research in these fields has led to ongoing professional activity and research at international, national and state levels. She is currently a leading national literacy scholar in the specialised field of classroom interaction, dialogic pedagogies and explicit literacy teaching. She contributes regularly at number of international, national and state literacy and educational research conferences. A/Prof Groves is member of the NSW Education Ministers Advisory Committee for Literacy and Numeracy, and co-chair of the Global Assembly for Knowledge Democracy focused on participatory action research.

Bibliographic information


“The book is recommended for graduate students, educational practitioners, educators, and educational researchers. … Stephen Kemmis and Christine Edwards-Groves, have made some remarkable contributions to the educational literature on the history of education, its politics, and the theory of practice.” (Khalaf Mohamed Abdellatif, Malta Review of Educational Research (MRER), Vol. 12 (2), December, 2018)