The concept of the “pedagogical event” in educational discourse

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Clarification of conceptual and terminological apparatus is an urgent task of modern pedagogy, in this connection the paper deals with the concept of “pedagogical event”, as well as its relationship with the main pedagogical categories: education, training and upbringing. Based on the research conducted within the social and human sciences, the integral features of the “event”, such as the significance of changes in the life of the subject and spatial and temporal characteristics were identified, which allowed to define the “pedagogical event” in an interdisciplinary dynamic aspect. One of the main functions of education in the modern world is the transmission of culture from one generation to another, reproduction and development of culture. If the aim of education is understood as the transmission, reproduction and generation of culture, the “pedagogical event” can be defined as a change through adaptation of cultural experience of humanity to the cultural experience of the student, i.e. translation of culture from one person to another.

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Pedagogy of today has a developed terminological apparatus, which reflects the trends of modern education and accumulated pedagogical experience. However, the terminological system is constantly changing: new terms emerge, traditional categories change their content and scope, and some concepts are lost. Many scientists note the problem of methodological ambivalence of terminological apparatus of modern pedagogy [1–4].

However, «terminological accuracy, elimination of uncertainty and confusion in terms and concepts is one of the most important conditions for productive search and mutual understanding of researchers and practitioners» [5, p. 35]. Therefore, clarification of the terminological apparatus of pedagogy, improvement of its language are relevant at present. «Development of pedagogical concept formation models, issues concerning conjugacy of concepts in scientific and pedagogical statements, their association, fragmentation, derivation of terms, is a long expected result of research activities in the field of pedagogical terminology» [6, p. 144].

Taking into account the need to clarify the terminological apparatus of modern pedagogy, it is relevant and necessary to consider such a concept as «pedagogical event» and its relationship with the main pedagogical categories.

Literature Review

Human life is made up of many different fragments — events, so this category is actively used in the social-humanitarian and even technical sciences. However, the concept of «event» itself remains ill-defined.

«Event» is one of the basic categories of human consciousness and is therefore interpreted differently in different sciences and in everyday language. In a broad sense, an event means «something that has happened, a significant phenomenon, a fact of public or personal life» [7, p. 740], «something that happens/occurs: something that someone does (action), or something that happens to someone/something (change of state)» [8, p. 11]. According to N.D. Arutyunova, an event is a dynamic aspect of the world, a part of reality in which the event representation highlights the idea of connections and relations [9]. Z. Wendler defines an event as «the primary element of the ontology of causal relations» [10, p. 266]. According to B. Russell, an «event» takes place in real space: «The name event is oriented to the flow of what happens in real space and time» [11, p. 7].

In modern philosophy, the concept of «event» is associated with the notion of processual images of the world. The event occurs and makes meaningful changes in the field of its own realization [12]. In historical studies the event is considered from the position of change in existing social conditions, as the result of the actions of an individual or social group, which has the character of integrity, independence and significance for the development of the historical process [13]. In physics, an event is something that occurs at a certain point in time and leads to a change in the state of the world [14].

As a scientific category, «event» has been widely studied by researchers working within the logico-philosophical strand. According to them, the most important attribute of «event» is that it is thought of as occurring in people’s lives and related to a person: an event is not just something that has happened, it has been highlighted by someone as something that has happened [15].

According to M. Heidegger, an “event” is defined as a co-existence arising from the presence of a person endowed with consciousness in being [16]. Another important feature of the «event» is the parameter of change, «which includes the change of states through the manifestation by an object of some property in time, or the change in the quantity and quality of objects, properties and relations» [15, p. 288].

In cognitive science, the concept of «event» is defined through such a category as «state of affairs», i.e., something that occurs in time: «an event is something that can be imagined as lasting in time» [17, p. 29]. Unlike events, facts (non-events) do not «happen»; they are achronistic (timeless) and static. Z. Wendler emphasizes the parameter of time, defining events as «temporal entities» [10]. L. Talmy singles out the following components in an «event»: a cognitive subject evaluating the interaction of an agent (active subject of action) and a patient (object of change), which leads to a change in a certain spatio-temporal boundary [8]. J. Barwais and J. Perry defined it as a coherent area of space and time [18], M.M. Bakhtin — as “the regular connection of spatio-temporal coordinates” [19, p. 298], and A.A. Ukhtomskiy — as “the essential interrelation of temporal and spatial relations” [20, p. 11].

V.P. Rudnev singles out such criteria of «event» as the presence of anthropomorphic consciousness of the person with whom it occurs; the significance of the event for the subject [21]. According to E.G. Khomyakova, an event is understood as any change in the state of natural and social reality whose spatial and temporal coordinates are clearly marked, and which is perceived by the subject (event participant, eyewitness, etc.) and evaluated by him as having personal or social significance [22].

Thus, the main characteristics of «event» in logico-philosophical and cognitive linguistics include: presence of a subject, involvement in human life, dynamism, chronotope.

In psychology, the concept of «event» is associated with a change in being and its reflection in the consciousness of the subject [15]. B.G. Ananyev defines «event» as the universal structure of the subjective picture of life, a set of which constructs a real human life [23]. Researchers of «event» in the framework of cognitive psychology consider it from the point of view of wholeness of perception as a unit of ontological level, inclusion of change in it, ability to structure and determine the life experience of a person.

As the concept «event» is interdisciplinary and is included in the scientific apparatus of a number of sciences, it is possible to distinguish integral attributes in it: significance of changes in the life of the subject, spatial and temporal localization. In our understanding, then, an «event» is represented as a significant change in the subject’s behavior or inner world, in the surrounding world, characterized by a certain spatio-temporal localization.

It is important to note a number of characteristics specific to the «event»:

1) An «event» does not exist outside the subject: events not only happen in people’s lives, but people must participate in them;

2) An «event» has an aspect of dynamics, of change;

3) An « event» has a spatial and temporal localisation.

However, these common characteristics can be interpreted in different ways. Indeed, events are associated with the presence of a subject. However, the presence of an agent (an actor possessing the will and controlling the changes and actions taking place) in an event is not obvious. Thus, N.D. Arutyunova regards an event as something occurring spontaneously, as independent or not entirely dependent on the will of a person, who can expect and plan this or that event, but is far from always able to ensure its occurrence or prevent an undesirable event: «Even in cases where an event is ‘man-made’, that is, meets the plans and intentions of a person, he cannot become its ‘sole’ creator» [9]. Not being an object of perception, the event does not correlate with any active actor, but at the same time acts as a sphere of mutual belonging of being and man.

Aspects of dynamics and change are inherent in the «event». But the main characteristic of an event is precisely the significance of the changes taking place, which is understood as the degree to which the event changes the system of conditions, and the value of these changes to the subject. An event is a milestone and sometimes a turning point on the path of life, a notch on the scale of life levels marking the height of ascent or the depth of fall [9, p. 509].

The issue of spatio-temporal localization also requires clarification. Events have a threefold localization: they occur in some human system of relations, in some time and in some space. However, neither temporal nor spatial parameters determine the main domain of event localization [9]. Time is represented in an event as a «representation of presence» which conditions temporal space. Events are characterized precisely by the fact that they do not have any duration: by occurring, they thereby cease to exist. This understanding of an event implies a fundamental non-uniformity of time and the space in which it occurs.

Thus we speak of an event as something that has happened, has happened, has changed in the surrounding reality, in the behaviour or the inner world of the subject. An event can only happen, can only happen in some space, in some time continuum. An event that has taken place is an actual phenomenon, it is embodied, it has happened, it has become a reality, a given.

Materials and Methods

The choice of research methods is determined by the peculiarities of studying pedagogical terminology within the framework of pedagogical semiology. This specificity determined the following methods as the main ones: method of logical analysis of general scientific and pedagogical literature; content analysis; system-structural analysis; method of analysis of dictionary definitions; methods of synthesis, generalization, systematization and comparison; method of interpretation and contextual analysis.

Research results

Having defined the initial positions regarding the concept «event» in the integral interdisciplinary aspect, let us consider how the above-mentioned concept exists in pedagogical discourse.

The category «event» (educational event, pedagogical event) is relatively new for pedagogy [24]. This fact explains the existence of many definitions and lack of unambiguity in the interpretation of this concept in the scientific apparatus of modern pedagogy. Thus, pedagogical event is interpreted as «a moment of reality in which a personally developing, goal-oriented and value-oriented meeting of an adult and a child takes place, their event» [25, p. 50]. According to N.F. Golovanova, a pedagogical event is a special form of organizing joint activities of children and adults, different from the usual ways of organizing the educational process in a particular classroom [26]. V.V. Lobanov views a pedagogical event as a specially organized unique pedagogical fact limited to an educational situation, but not strictly determined by it and taking the educational process beyond the boundaries of commonplace [24].

In all these definitions, the «event» is considered as a static unit, which contradicts the notion of the dynamic nature of the event highlighted as the main one in other sciences. The pedagogical event is not a static category. It is a change that affects and develops a person, which he/she realizes as meaningful and valuable. On this basis, we propose a definition: a pedagogical event is a change, significant for the object of didactic influence (the learner), produced within the framework of the teaching and learning process with an educational and/or pedagogical purpose.

The formation of any field of scientific knowledge is related not only to the definition of concepts and notions that construct the subject of this science, but also to the relationship of these concepts with fundamental categories, their relationship with basic concepts. Several fundamental categories have been defined in pedagogy — education, upbringing, training.

Education in pedagogy is understood as: value; process or social phenomenon; result; system. Education as a process is «a purposeful socio-historical process of transferring by older generations and mastering by younger generations of cultural experience» [27, p. 7]. Education as a process is «a purposeful socio-historical process of transferring by older generations and mastering by younger generations of cultural experience» [27, p. 7]; «the process of directed human formation carried out in educational institutions and social institutions, aimed at the assimilation of human cultural values» [5, p. 35].

In the modern understanding, the process of education has two components: upbringing and education. Both notions are key, as they allow differentiating the interrelated, but irreducible to each other subsystems of the unified process of human education [28]. This distinction between the purposefully organized process into training and education is very conditional, and is determined by the scientific approach to the study of holistic reality [27]. The criteria for this division are the goals of each component in the process of human education, as well as the activities of the forming personality undertaken to achieve these goals [27]. Thus, the main goal of education is to organize the transfer and assimilation of knowledge system through cognitive activity of students, while the goal of education is the formation of certain attitudes and qualities of a person, which is implemented in all types of activities.

Thus, training and education are purposefully organised pedagogical processes of personal development. According to I.Y. Lerner, training and education reflect different characteristics of the same phenomenon, namely the transfer of social experience as a process and as a result [29]. Learning and education are not only interrelated processes, but also mutually supportive of each other [30]. Therefore, we consider the pedagogical process as a holistic process of implementing education by ensuring the unity of learning and education.

Recently, the content of education has been increasingly understood as a projection of the main components of culture: art, science, philosophy, religion, non-scientific areas of knowledge, life experience, values, traditions, innovations. All the abovementioned are the components of education, which makes it possible to introduce the younger generation to culture, to make acculturation, «immersion» of each individual into the culture. According to V.D. Simonenko, education has a «cultural and historical character and is an integral part of culture» [31, p. 44].

Education is one of the most effective mechanisms for the preservation of cultural traditions, development and translation of cultural values in changing conditions [5]. According to M.A. Lukacki, education is «that social phenomenon that provides cultural genesis — the continuity and development of culture — the universality of human existence» [32, p. 8]. The ability to express, preserve and create culture is a specifically human property, hence, the human existence is possible only in culture [33].

One of the main functions of education in the modern world is general cultural, i.e. transmission of culture from one generation to another, reproduction and development of culture. Therefore, education can be defined as the process of transferring and appropriating the patterns of human activity and its results in the form of knowledge, attitudes, values, and modes of activity.

Thus, education performs the function of introducing each new generation to culture. Pedagogical events are an integral part of the educational process. If we understand education as a process of personal cultural development and its goal as transmission, reproduction and generation of culture [34], then a pedagogical event as a significant change for a person can be defined as a change through adaptation of cultural experience of humanity into cultural experience of a student, as transfer of culture from one person to another.

Discussion and conclusions

In pedagogical discourse, there is no universally accepted unambiguous definition of ‘event’. It is seen as a static unit, which contradicts the notion of the dynamic nature of an event, which has been highlighted as the main one in other sciences. Therefore, this paper proposes the following definition of a pedagogical event — a significant change for the object of didactic influence (the student), produced within the teaching and learning process with an educational and/or pedagogical purpose.


About the authors

Victoria V. Dobrova

Самарский государственный технический университет

Author for correspondence.

Cand. Psych. Sci., Associate professor, Head of the Foreign Languages Department

Russian Federation, Самара


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