Mindful Practice & Hope for the Future

Paper introducing the “human” education of Friedrich Schleiermacher.

In a field increasingly dominated by managerial terminology and constructs of the psychological and neurological sciences, this paper presents education as an explicitly human “science”—as integral to human projects such as individual and collective self-definition as well as cultural reproduction and transformation. This paper undertakes the initial steps toward this human way of thinking about education by introducing the educational work of Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768-1834). Schleiermacher, virtually unknown in English-language educational scholarship today, can be said to have been one of the first to seek to establish education as a rigorous but consistently human way of understanding. I show how Schleiermacher worked towards this in his 70-page introduction to his recently reissued (and soon to be translated) Lectures on Education from 1826. I begin with a short biographical introduction to Schleiermacher and then focus on his treatment of three basic, closely interrelated themes—or rather, pairs of opposed elements:  1) Theory and practice; 2) teacher and student (also parent and child); and 3) education as preparation or as “life itself.”

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The Catechism and the Textbook: A Genealogy of Instructional Interactivity

This presentation traces the origin of Luther’s catechism and its impact on later educational methods, materials and instructional interactivity, using German and American examples from the 16th to the 21st centuries. Continue reading

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Lecture & Textbook: Education in the Age of New Media

Forthcoming from Johns Hopkins University Press.

Why are the fundamentals of education apparently so little changed in our era of digital technology? Is their obstinate persistence evidence of resilience or obsolescence? Such questions can best be answered not by imagining an uncertain high-tech future, but by examining a well-documented past—a history of instruction and media that extends from Gilgamesh to Google. Norm Friesen looks to the combination and reconfiguration of oral, textual, and more recent media forms to understand the longevity of so many educational arrangements and practices. Continue reading

Posted in Bildung, Friedrich Kittler, History, Lecture, Media Theory, Michel Foucault, Textbook, The Self, Writing | Leave a comment

Klaus Mollenhauer’s late philosophical text, Forgotten Connections: On Culture and Upbringing (2014) deals in a highly original and accessible way with education in its most basic human and cultural constituents. Continue reading

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Good Teaching is about Tact, not Interaction or Scaffolding

Pedagogical tact has been a topic of significant international interest in educational discourse since it was initially defined by J.F. Herbart in 1802—specifically as a “quick judgment and decision” able to address “the true requirements of the individual case.” This paper begins by tracing the conceptual roots of pedagogical tact in Kant’s description of “logical tact” from 1789, and brings these into connection with more recent accounts, particularly those that stress importance of reserve, of holding back for the sake of the student’s independence. Continue reading

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Eugen Fink and Education beyond the Human

Eugen Fink (1905-1975) earned his doctorate under Husserl and Heidegger and remained Husserl’s loyal assistant, even when the latter was abandoned by Heidegger and persecuted by the Nazis for being Jewish. Regardless, the influence of Heidegger is much more evident in Fink’s work in education than that of Husserl. Like both Husserl and Heidegger, Fink held a chair at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg—although Fink’s was in philosophy and education. Fink saw the two disciplines as being inextricably intertwined. After the end of metaphysics, according to one commentator, Fink saw education not simply one of many possible topics for philosophizing; instead, he saw human becoming in its imminence as the concern par excellence for both philosophy and philosophical anthropology (Graf, 2005).

Ferdinand Graf. Einführung in die Pädagogik Eugen Fink. In Anselm Böhmer (Ed. 2005) Eugen Fink: Sozialphilosophie – Anthropologie – Kosmologie – Pädagogik – Methodik. Pp. 72-84. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. Eugen Fink and Education beyond the Human

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Marshall McLuhan: Playboy Interview

I thought I’d one of the most famous of McLuhan’s texts: His interview with Playboy Magazine from March of 1969. He is at his most exuberant and outspoken throughout, especially in describing his vision of a “new society” of “mythic integration” that will emerge through new electronic media. So here it is with original pagination, even advertising (which McLuhan celebrated as the greatest art of our time–you be the judge).
I’m not sure why this hasn’t been done before, but better late than never!

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The Lecture is Dead; Long live the Lecture!

Recent interview with Dr. Chris Haskell, Boise State University.

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The Pedagogical Relation @ AERA 2017

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Here’s the abstract for a paper that I’ll be giving in the Philosophical Studies in Education SIG at AERA coming up in April 2017:

The pedagogical relation, the idea of a special relationship between educator and educand, has long been a central theme in interpretive and philosophical studies of education. Broader concern with “student-teacher relations” and “pedagogies of relation” is also common across educational discourses. German educationist Herman Nohl was the first to define the phrase “pedagogical relation” in 1926. Others have followed in his wake, with Max van Manen introducing the concept into English some 65 years later, and Gert Biesta drawing attention to it more recently. Despite ongoing interest, Nohl’s original characterizations have yet to be translated and their subsequent development reviewed. This paper inaugurates this task, while also taking time to hesitate—to point out its problematic moments and challenges.

See the complete text here.

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What is it like to learn? An introduction to "Learning-as-Experience"

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Learning-as-experience, learning as it one lives or undergoes it everyday, exposes the Achilles heel of any learning “theory:” Namely, that we have almost no quantifiable, empirical access to learning as a phenomenon, and that the only thing of this kind we can grasp—however tentatively—is the supposed result of it, its “outcomes.” Even with advanced MRI technologies, the moment of learning and the exact way it takes place are unclear: all we know is which parts of the brain are active at which times.  The best teacher, of course, can neither cause nor guarantee the learning of his or her students. Even students can say that they actually “learned something” only after the fact. This notoriously evasive nature of learning remains an open secret among “learning scientists” and other researchers and theorists claiming to have learning as their central focus.

So what does it mean to live or undergo learning?  What is elusive experience of learning actually like? See this paper  (a draft submitted for review) for more.

Posted in Bernhard Waldenfels, Learning, Martin Heidegger, Phenomenology, Students | Leave a comment