Attention, please! Conceptualizations of attention and the psychologization of primary education, 1842-1980.
Starting from the contemporary problematization of 'attention deficit' (ADHD) in educational settings, this research project investigates the conceptualization of attention in philosophies of teaching between 1842 and 1980. Rather than starting from a theoretical and/or institutional perspective, as is the dominant trend within the existing scholarship, this study focuses on the attitudes of three educational actors (i.e. teachers, teacher trainers and school inspectors) towards (in-)attention in schools. Via its particular focus on historical actors that shaped educational practice, this project aims to complicate the predominant scholarly assumption that the psychologization of education was a one-way and top-down process. It takes Belgian primary education, characterized by linguistic-regional and ideological tensions, as a case study to uncover the potential factors, such as religion, that might have hindered or accelerated the proliferation of psychological concepts and methods in schools. To do so, this project combines a thorough literature review with the analysis of published source materials (such as educational journals), and archival materials (such as inspection reports).