gert biesta

Professor of Public Education (0.4) at The Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy, Maynooth University, Ireland
Professorial Fellow in Educational Theory and Pedagogy (0.3) at the Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh
NIVOZ Professor for Education (0.2) at the University of Humanistic Studies, The Netherlands

Visiting Professor University of Agder, Norway

Associate Editor Educational Theory 

Co-Editor British Educational Research Journal  


PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR A LOT MORE, including newsitems

journal articles and books have been updated [18 July 2019] bookchapters to follow soon

Hello and welcome

Welcome. This website provides information about my research, writing and scholarly activities. It has a (almost) comprehensive overview of my publications and additional information about other activities. If you are looking for a copy of any of my publications, please feel free to get in touch by e-mail:

I receive a rather large amount of e-mails and am not always able to keep on top of everything, which I regret. Thanks for your understanding.
For those who read Dutch, here's a poem that contains an important message 
(an English translation is below):

Henriëtte Roland Holst (1869-1952) 
De zachte krachten zullen zeker winnen 
in ’t eind -- dit hoor ik als een innig fluistren 
in mij: zoo ’t zweeg zou alle licht verduistren 
alle warmte zou verstarren van binnen. 

De machten die de liefde nog omkluistren 
zal zij, allengs voortschrijdend, overwinnen, 
dan kan de groote zaligheid beginnen 
die w’als onze harten aandachtig luistren 

in alle teederheden ruischen hooren 
als in kleine schelpen de groote zee. 
Liefde is de zin van ’t leven der planeten 

en mensche’ en diere’. Er is niets wat kan storen 
’t stijgen tot haar. Dit is het zeekre weten: 
naar volmaakte Liefde stijgt alles mee. 

The gentle forces ...
The gentle forces, they will surely vanquish
at last – I hear this as a sincere whispering;
if I kept silent, all light would be darkening;
all warmth in me would certainly extinguish.
The powers that enslave love will be overcome;
they will extrude all evils successively;
the great salvation may begin then surely,
if the hearts' attentive listening is well done.
We'll hear the rustling in all tenderness,
like we do hear in small shells the great sea.
Love is the meaning of the life on planets:
life of men, and animals nothing can oppress
rising to her. This is the certain knowledge:
Perfect Love always transcends entirely.
[Translation, 2016, Geert Nijland,
with suggestions from Jan Zwemer]
Henriëtte Roland Holst-v.d. Schalk

About me

 last updated 12 December 2019

I am Professor of Public Education at Maynooth University Ireland (0.4) and Visiting  Professor at the University of Agder, Norway.  Since April 2016 I hold the NIVOZ Professorship for Education at the University of Humanistic Studies, the Netherlands (0.2). Since August 2019 I am Professorial Fellow in Educational Theory and Pedagogy (0.3) at the Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh

Before this I  worked at universities in Luxembourg, Scotland (University of Stirling),  England (University of Exeter; Brunel University London), and the Netherlands (Utrecht, Leiden  and Groningen) and held Visiting Professorships at NLA University College, Norway, the University of  Orebro, Sweden, Malardalen University, Sweden, and ArtEZ Institute of  the Arts, the Netherlands. 

I have a PhD from Leiden University the Netherlands (1992) and a degree in education from Leiden University and in Philosophy from Erasmus University Rotterdam. I am a former Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellow  with the National Academy of Education, USA. 

From 2015 until 2018 I was an associate member of the 'Onderwijsraad' (the Education Council of the Netherlands), the main government advisory  body on education (see here for more information). Since April 2016 I am a scientific advisor of VERUS in the Netherlands. 

I am currently co-editor of two book-series with Routledge: New Directions in the Philosophy of Education (with Michael A. Peters and Liz Jackson) and Theorizing Education (with Stefano Oliverio). If you are interested in publishing in any of these series please contact me. 

From 1999 until 2014 I was editor-in-chief of the journal Studies in Philosophy and Education (Springer; ISSN 0039-3746). Since 2016 I am associate editor of the journal Educational Theory and since 2018 I am co-editor of the British Educational Research Journal


July 2019
Obstinate Education: Reconnecting School and Society is now available -- click here for more information -- I apologise that the book is rather expensive though there is an option, for those who have access to the e-book version via their institution/library, to buy a print on demand copy for €25 -- more information here

I was also notified that an Arabic translation of the Beuatiful Risk of Education will be available soon. Biesta, G.J.J. (in press). The beautiful risk of education. [Arabic translation.] Riyadh: King Saud University Press

In July presented at the annual conference of the Australian Teacher Education Association and also visited the University of Southern Australia in Adelaide. In June I presented in Seoul, Korea on democracy and citizenship. (More information to follow.)

In August I will be presenting at the WERA conference in Tokyo.

Obstinate Education: Reconnecting School and Society will be out later this month -- see here -- with Brill/Sense
Educational Reserch: An Unorthodox Introduction is all ready to go into production with Bloomsbury for publication later in 2019
I have just presented at the TEPE conference in Krakow -- see here -- and the AULRE conference in Birmingham. Later this month I will be presenting in Brisbane and at the University of Galway.
For June presentations are planned in Seoul and Agder, and in July I will return to Brisbane for the Australian Teacher Education Conference, and after that a brief visit to Adelaide. In August I will be presenting at the WERA conference in Tokyo and in September at the ECER conference in Hamburg.
An update on publications -- some new articles and chapters -- to follow soon. [updated 18 May 2019]

Bookmanuscripts for Obstinate Education: Reconnecting School and Society (Brill/Sense) and Educational Research: An Unorthodox Introduction (Bloomsbury) have been submitted to the publishers.

August 2018
The Japanese translation of The Rediscovery of Teaching came out on 28 August 2018. More details to follow.

June 2018

The Dutch translation of The Rediscovery of Teaching is out!  [Biesta, G.J.J. (2018). De terugkeer van het lesgeven. Culemborg: Phronese.]

May 2018

The Dutch translation of The Rediscovery of Teaching will be out in June -- have a look here -- it looks very nice!

May 2018

On 15 May the Danish translation of The Rediscovery of Teaching was published -- have a look here.

May 2018

I have signed a contract with Brill | Sense for a a collection of my essays on curriculum, pedagogy and democracy, to be published in 2019 under the title Obstinate Education (and by that I do mean that education should be obstinate, that it should not just be a docile servant of the interests of others, be it 'the global economy' be it 'the student-consumer').

April 2018

Together with Dr David Aldridge and Dr Patricia Hannam I was awarded a grant from the Culham St Gabriel's foundation for a project on religious literacy. The project will run in the second half of 2018.

April 2018

On 11 April 2018 I gave my inaugural lecture "Tijd voor pedagogiek" related to my one-day a week Professorship at the University of Humanistic Studies, The Netherlands. The full text can be downloaded from here (in Dutch). 

Here are links to the four monographs that I see as quite central to my thinking.

2017                                2014                                2010                            2006

published in 2017

for more information click here

published in 2014

for more information click here

published in 2010

for more information click here

published in 2006

for more information click here

About my work


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 four monographs I have written so far (Beyond Learning; Good Education in an Age of Measurement; The Beautiful Risk of Education; The Rediscovery of Teaching)  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, 2006).  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, 2010).  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, 2014).  And it is important in a time in which teaching has gained a rather bad reputation for being a matter of control and learning is seen as progressive and liberating; two views which I think are both problematic (see The Rediscovery of Teaching, 2017). 

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.

In addition to these four major titles, I have written monographs that focus on the role and significance of the arts in education (Letting Art Teaching: Art Education 'after' Joseph Beuys, 2017) and on education, citizenship and democracy (Learning Democracy in School and Society: Education, Lifelong Learning and the Politics of Citizenship, 2011). Together with Charles Bingham I wrote a book on the work of Jacques  Rancière (Jacques Rancière: Education, truth, emancipation, 2010); and with Michael A. Peters I wrote a book on the educational significance of the work of Jacques Derrida (Derrida, Deconstruction and the Politics of Pedagogy, 2009). 

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.