Review Essay: The Reality of Instruction Between Educational Pessimism and Didactical Optimism


  • Aladin El-Mafaalani Ruhr-Universität Bochum



teaching research, action-oriented instruction, training, social inequality, teacher-pupil-interaction, disadvantaged youth, sociology of education


In his book "Educational Pessimism" the sociologist J. TWARDELLA analyses a single German lesson in grade 10 of a Hauptschule (secondary school) class of disadvantaged students. The lesson begins well—with "a beautiful morning," according to the transcript—but soon becomes disastrous. How could this happen? TWARDELLA's detailed analysis shows that the relationship between the teacher and the students as well as between the teacher and her profession is disturbed and contradicted. On the one hand, the instruction is characterized by a negative anthropology of the student, an educational pessimism. On the other hand, the teacher is optimistic and believes in action-oriented instruction as the solution to the problem. Ultimately, it becomes evident that this abysmal combination is like an irreversible ideology based on a self-fulfilling prophecy and at the end there is only the maintenance of the status quo—no matter how senseless it is. The book is set in the context of current debates on educational policy and practice. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1002135


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Author Biography

Aladin El-Mafaalani, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Aladin El-MAFAALANI ist Berufsschullehrer und zurzeit Doktorand und Dozent an der Fakultät für Sozialwissenschaft der Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

How to Cite

El-Mafaalani, A. (2010). Review Essay: The Reality of Instruction Between Educational Pessimism and Didactical Optimism. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 11(2).