Introduction to the subject area
Education is a multidisciplinary subject informed by a range of foundation disciplines such as
Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, Applied Linguistics, Curriculum Studies, Social and Policy
Studies, Social Anthropology and History. In the case of Teacher Education, various teaching
subjects (e.g. mathematics, languages and literature, science, social sciences, arts, etc.) are also
used to explicate the nature of teaching, learning and assessment for all subjects in a wide variety of
socio-cultural-economic contexts. Because of the human focus of the subject, it is one where moral
and ethical values are highly prioritised.
The subject is divided into two broad but closely linked fields, Teacher Education and Education
Today in Europe all secondary school teachers, almost all primary school and many pre-school
teachers are educated to first degree level or equivalent. In many, if not most, countries the curricular
components and standards of achievement follow national guidelines set by Ministries of Education or
professional bodies such as Teaching Councils, lending a degree of homogeneity to programmes. In
others university autonomy takes precedence and there may be great disparities between courses in
different universities. However, future teachers must acquire a range of competences including the
knowledge, values and skills necessary for achieving the highest academic standards in their subject
or areas of the curriculum, as well as being fully aware of the theory and practice of education relevant
to the age-group they are to teach; of national priorities in education; and of teachers’ roles as
professionals in fast changing and unpredictable social contexts.
Initial teacher education courses at first or second cycle level is also provided for university teachers,
vocational college teachers, nurse tutors, in 50% of the countries represented in the Education
Sciences working group.