Educational Space in Time: Reflections on Limits and Options for Educational Ambitions in History


  • Jeroen J.H. Dekker University of Groningen



educational space in time, educational ambitions, life stages, Ariès, Foucault


This article studies educational ambitions in the context of the time-bound limits and possibilities offered by the educational space in order to better understand people’s educational mindsets and behaviour across time. The concepts of educational space and educational ambition, as well as their application across time, are elaborated by distinguishing four indicators that appear to determine the limits and conditions of the educational space in the history of early modern and modern Europe. These are the demographic situation, the socio-economic circumstances, the power balance between private and public, and the time-bound manifestation of the educational mindset. The article also explores how some classic educational concepts—here, the sentiment de l’enfance coined by Philippe Ariès and the concept of “discipline”—could be used in the history of childhood and education by relating them to time-bound limits and positive conditions of the educational space.

Author Biography

Jeroen J.H. Dekker, University of Groningen

Honorary professor and former full professor of history and theory of education at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands