Below is a rather formal description of my research and my academic career and achievements. But what matters a lot to me are my attempts in three monographs I have written (Beyond Learning; Good Education in an Age of Measurement; and The Beautiful Risk of Education) to capture the essence (or if one wishes: the enduring features) of this miraculous phenomenon called ‘education’ – the event where one human being teaches another human being and where one human being is being taught by another human being.


To capture the essence of education is particularly important in a time where the hegemony of the language of learning makes it increasingly difficult to understand and see what education is and ought to be about (see Beyond Learning). It is also important in a time where regimes of measurement have turned education from a life-enhancing event into a rigid system of administration (see Good Education in an Age of Measurement). And it is important in a time where there appears to be little patience, little space and little appreciation for the experience of being taught, that is, for the experience of being addressed by what and who is other (see The Beautiful Risk of Education).


I have responded to the rise of the language of learning through highlighting the crucial role of the question of purpose in education, and have suggested that in education the question of purpose is a multi-dimensional question having to do with qualification, socialisation and what I have termed subjectification. I have responded to the transformation of education into a system of administration by highlighting the necessary – and as I have called it: beautiful – risk involved in all education worthy of the name. And in my most recent work I have tried to articulate a conception of education that is neither child-centred nor curriculum-centred but world-centred, that is, focused on making a grown-up existence in and with the world possible – a process in which teaching, not understood as an act of control but an act orientated towards freedom, plays a crucial role. I am bringing these thoughts together in the book I am currently working on, provisionally titled The Rediscovery of Teaching: Progressive Arguments for a Conservative Idea.

                                                                                         December 2014


And now the more formal story...


I conduct theoretical and empirical research, and am particularly interested in the relationships between education, democracy and citizenship. My work focuses on education in formal and non-formal settings, with a strong intrest in teachers, teaching and teacher education, curriculum, educational relationships, and the emancipatory potential of education. My research falls within four broad domains:

(1) the theory and philosophy of education;

(2) empirical research on

    [a] citizenship and civic learning, particularly in informal settings,

    [b] vocational education,

    [c] adult education and lifelong learning,

    [d] teachers and teaching;

(3) policy analysis;

(4) the theory and philosophy of educational and social research.

So far my work has been published in 16 languages (English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Icelandic, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Chinese and Japanese).


I have a degree in Education (Theory and History of Education) from Leiden University (cum laude, 1987) and a degree in Philosophy (Philosophy of the Social Sciences) from Erasmus University Rotterdam (cum laude, 1989), and obtained my PhD from Leiden University in 1992. I was a Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellow with the National Academy of Education, USA from 1995 to 1997.  I received honorary doctorates from Uppsala University (2004), Örebro University (2007) and Oulu University (2013) and was awarded the Francqui International Professorship by the Francqui Foundation, Belgium (2010) and the Grand Medal of the University of Ghent, Beligum (2011).


In 2008 my book Beyond Learning: Democratic Education for a Human Future (2006) won the 2008 American Educational Studies Association Critics' Choice Book Award. In 2011 my book with Charles Bingham, Jacques Rancière: Education, truth, emancipation (2010), won the American Educational Research Association Division B Outstanding Book Award. In 2014 my book The beautiful Risk of Education won the AERA Outstanding Book Award (Division B). During 2011-2012 I was President of the Philosophy of Education Society USA – the first president from outside North America.


During 2012-2013 I was chair of the Committee for the Evaluation of Teacher Education Reform in Flanders, Belgium, at the request of the Flemish Government. In 2015 I became an associated member of the Education Council (Onderwijsraad) in the Netherlands.


updated 15 October 2015




On 1 January 2015 I became an associate member of the 'Onderwijsraad' -- the Education Council of the Netherlands, the main government advisory body on education (see here for more information). I was appointed for the period 2015-2018. For more information about the Onderwijsraad see here