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János Ugrai: A Web of Arguments and Interests: Debate Over Instituting the Subject Teacher System in Vienna

The paper reviews the history of Vienna’s first attempt to introduce a school system centred on subject teachers. An intense debate broke out over education policy at the heart of the Habsburg Empire in the late 18th century, chiefly motivated by the secularisation and modernisation project that formed part of the Enlightened Absolutism of the day. Education became the focal point of political challenges to the dominant power of the church; indeed, it was education through which it was thought possible to reduce the worldly influence of the church quickly. While the Court effected considerable and lasting changes in elementary and higher education, it had almost no success in reforming secondary education and ridding it of church influence. The most important effort of the protagonists of modernisation in this field was the introduction of a subject teacher system. This step could have paved the way for both the restructuring of the curriculum, which was still built on centuries-old Jesuit traditions, and the replacement of clerics in the classroom with professionals drawn from a state-run teacher training system. State control could have assured the long-term prevalence of secular values, yet, after two intensive trial periods, this attempt had completely failed by the 1810s. Nevertheless, it still served as a lesson for both contemporary and succeeding generations alike. First, the split within the Catholic Church and the power of reform Catholics had become abundantly clear, and, second, the case served as an applicable historical precedent at the time of the Entwurf several decades later.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 110. Number 1. 35-51. (2010)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Ugrai János, Miskolci Egyetem Tanárképző Intézet, H–3515 Miskolc, Egyetem u. 1.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia