Date: Friday August 17th, 2018

Phenomenology and Education

Please see the recently published article in the Springer International Handbooks of Education (ed. P. Smeyers).

This article provides a historical and thematic overview of the most important contributions to phenomenology in German and English-language educational studies. In this context, phenomenology is important both as a theoretical tradition and a research method, in both cases directing attention to the experiential, relational and intersubjective dimensions of pedagogy, teaching and learning. In Germany, phenomenology as a method and as a philosophy has aimed at redefining traditional theories of education and Bildung (personal formation) in terms both empirical and theoretical. In the English-speaking world, phenomenology has been used primarily as a methodological approach to illuminate lived experience particularly in the caring professions including education; it has also occasionally provided possibilities for articulating theories of teaching and learning in close relation with concrete practice.

Malte Brinkmann

Learning from the Things

Phenomenological approaches and approaches of Gestalt psychology have long focussed materiality within teaching and learning with and from children. Ch. Bühler states in heris phenomenological-psychoanalytic study on the development of children: “The prompting character generates the object altogether, since the child sets direction since it sets direction” (Bühler 1967). The football, rolling across the street, the stairs challegingprompting us to be climbed, the crumb tempting us to be picked up, the building block inviting us to play. The prompting and challeging character of things and the intentions of the person acting are related to each other in “complicity” (Meyer-Drawe). Claus Stieve shows in his older, highly readable study that things not only bear a prompting character but a “demanding” character as well:

“Like putting on a slipper or the now unfamiliar winding up of clockwork, many things demand a necessary, appropriate conduct, be it a corkscrew, the mobile phone, the car, the washing machine, the shirt with its buttons or the bottle for the infant” (ibid. p. 176).

The demanding character of things shows that their significance to us only reveals itself in the context of the concrete situation. As part of the Gestalt-like context they point to something beyond themselves as well.

See the following site for an interview with the author and a reference to his study (in German):

Malte Brinkmann