O.F. Bollnow: Theory and Practice in Education

A deeply insightful presentation on theory and practice in education that I just had to translate, from O.F. Bollnow:

“The discipline of teacher education has long been controversial. Some complain about its inadequate academic status and believe it urgently needs reform. Others, however, find that teacher training has already become too theoretical, alienating teachers from their practical responsibilities. This issue can only be solved by first understanding what it means to be a discipline, and by speaking of pedagogy not in terms of sociology or psychology, but as a specifically educational discipline.”  Bollnow (1989) Theory and Practice in Education

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Failure as the Essence, the Dignity of Education?!

“That failure may have a far deeper foundation, that it is actually founded in the essence, even in the dignity of education itself, has never been considered. In reality, however, risk is an innermost essential characteristic of education as long as education is considered a form of association with free beings, who are basically unpredictable in their freedom because they do not act mechanically.”

O.F. Bollnow 1959/1972. Read the full text.

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Colloquium: Human Science Pedagogy

Human Science Pedagogy: An International Colloquium 
June 11, 12:30-4:30 University of British Columbia, Koerner Library, RM216 (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

What is Human Science Pedagogy?

As educated & educating beings, we are not simply homo sapiens—a biological “type” determined by physiology and evolution. We are instead social, cultural and above all relational beings—capable of rising above & beyond our biological nature to freedom & responsibility.

It follows that teaching and learning, are not managerial or psychological endeavours to be known through the natural sciences. They are instead interpretive, hermeneutic and above all, ethical in nature—and are to be investigated through a science that is explicitly human.

The ways of being, thinking and acting as a teacher, understood through this hermeneutic and ethical science, are called human science pedagogy.

This afternoon colloquium brings together international researchers in human science pedagogy a multi-generational “movement.” Each presenter explores one or more of its central themes. Continue reading

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It’s out! The Textbook & the Lecture is published

Here’s a blog post about the book just posted by the publisher, Johns Hopkins U.P.

I went to school at the dawn of the microcomputer. These were expensive, immobile boxes that only responded to coded commands. Today I hold a smartphone in my hand that is over 10,000 times more powerful and infinitely more flexible. This incredible technological revolution, however, is all but invisible when I now go back to schools as a Prof. in Educational Technology. Yes: There are teachers using interactive whiteboards, and students sneaking peeks at their phones or using a tablet. But I still see teachers covering material via lectures and students using textbooks—just as they do in my own university. I can’t help but ask: “Why has education changed so little when media and technology have changed so much?”

I wasn’t satisfied by the standard explanations: That we’re at the cusp of an educational revolution (we always are) or that educators are “laggards” (they work very hard).

Continue reading

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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

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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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