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Pedology (paidology, paedology) is the study of children's behavior and development, not to be confused with pedagogy, which is the art or science of teaching.

The origins of this trend in psychology and pedagogy is traced to the end of the 18th century with the separation of a branch of psychology that should be the base of pedagogy, a pedagogic psychology or "experimental pedagogic psychology", "experimental pedagogy", "experimental education".

At the early roots of pedology as a separate study was G. Stanley Hall, who was also instrumental in the development of modern educational psychology. The term "pedology" was suggested in 1893 by an American researcher, Oscar Chrisman. At the end of the 19th century, pedology as a comprehensive study of the child became active in Europe as an attempt to create a study of children in the manner of natural sciences. In 1909 a Pedological Society was organized by Professor Kazimierz Twardowski in Lviv, Austro-Hungary (now Ukraine). In 1910 a similar society was organized in Cracow. In 1911 the first World Congress in Pedology was held in Brussels, Belgium, with attendants from 22 countries.

World War I effectively put an end to the development of this study in Western Europe.

Since the study has never reached its maturity, there is no common established understanding as to the scope and instruments of pedology.

Pedology in the Soviet Union

In Imperial Russia a prominent developer of the field was Alexander Nechayev (Нечаев Александр Петрович) in St. Petersburg, who in 1901 created the laboratory of experimental pedagogical psychology. Soviet pedology is traditionally thought to be founded by the efforts of Vladimir Bekhterev; in particular, in 1918 he founded the Institute of Pedology as part of psychological institutions united into the Institute for Study of Brain and Psychical Activity.

This science was intensively pursued in 1920s-1930s in the Soviet Union. A journal Pedologiya ("Педология") was issued. Lev Vygotsky was one of its prominent supporters.

While many works of pedologists were of considerable value, the approach was severely criticized for over-enthusiastic but poorly grounded approach of testing for predicting a child's mental development, in addition to estimating its status.

It was officially banned in 1936 after a special decree of VKP(b) Central Committee on pedology on July 4, 1936.


  • Depaepe, M. (1985). "Science, technology and paedology: The concept of science at the Faculte Internationale de Pedologie in Brussels (1912-1914)." Scientia Paedogica Experimentalis, 1, 14-28.
  • Depaepe, M. (1992). "Experimental Research in Education 1890-1940: historical processes behind the development of a discipline in western Europe and the United States." Aspects of Education, Journal of the Institute of Education, University of Hull, 42, pp. 67-93.
  • Depaepe, M. (1993). "Zum Wohl des Kindes? Pädologie, pädagogische Psychologie und experimentelle Pädagogik in Europa und den USA, 1890-1940." Leuven: Universitaire Pers/Weinheim: Deutscher Studienverlag.

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