Teaching as an art (rather than a science)

I am just reading an article from Rose Journal. The journal deals with contemporary commentary and academic articles relating to the development of Anthroposophy in pedagogy.

Right now I am reading this article.

Just the other day I was speaking to a parent (also a teacher) about the idea of teaching as an art form rather than a science. I have never heard of Wolfgang Brezinka. Now having a bit of a browse around the internet, I’m not sure that I will follow up much at this stage, but it is good to have bumped into his work.

Brezinka and the writer of the paper (linked to above) are interested in what constitutes a ‘practical pedagogy’; what an educator’s goals, materials and means are for creating a pedagogical practice as one creates an artistic practise (though perhaps I have misunderstood with my rudimentary German knowledge).
This is by no means to discount the ‘science of education‘, that is the knowledge gathered about how to practise teaching (perhaps also see educology); rather it seems that for Brezinka, it is important to distinguish between these different ‘modes’ (the informative and the practical) as they are often confused. I myself feel some ambiguities about the difference, but I have a clear intuition as to the difference between the art of education and the science of education, which I think is very similar to Brezinka’s and Buchka’s ideas.

An interesting exert from the given article is the following describing what makes pedagogy artistic in its practical application:
“• Die Erziehung als Kunst ist nie abgeschlossen. Sie ist immer in Entwicklung und damit auf die Zukunft hin ausgelegt – also dynamisch.
• Die Erziehung als Kunst ist immer individuell. Wie jede künstlerische Tätigkeit eine einzigartige Prägung hat, will der Erzieher, dass das Kind seinen individuellen Charakter zum Ausdruck bringen kann und dasjenige öffnet, was noch als Anlage und Potenzen in ihm ruht.
• Die Erziehung ist wie jedes Kunstschaffen ein tätiger, schöpferischer Akt, der in seiner Ausprägung einmalig ist und immer von beiden Akteuren in Form und Prozess abhängig ist, vom zu Erziehenden und vom Erziehenden als die sich in der pädagogischen Relation gegenüberstehenden Individualitäten.”*(rough translation below)

It is clear from the above that the individual stands at the centre of this conception of education and pedagogical practice. The individual is the giver and receiver, the creator and audience and it is to the end of developing this individuality in the pupil, but also in the teacher, that education as an art-form is geared.

But what is it that is so important about the development of individuality? Is this individuality not simply a construct of western culture in its contemporary state? Perhaps if we had learned to work more as a part of a whole, there would be no need to push for the often anti-social sentiment of individuality?
These points could certainly be argued, and perhaps what such questions are really asking of us is: what is the nature of freedom and morality?
Very big questions – and their link to the topic of education as an art-form is precisely why I am so captured by the literature about freedom and morality.

In the article the author goes on to speak of how R. Steiner focuses on the importance of educational policy and the development of a clear educational principal in a school – where each child is not treated in their individuality, but where certain things pertain to all people (rights) and also that these people (students) not only have a body, but also feel and think (have soul and spiritual aspects). Policy and a school’s mission-statement (or similar) look at what the individuals have in common and what is a right to all. In a school, policy is what is used to treat all students equally and give them an equal opportunity at developing the individuality spoken of above.

Furthermore, these policies or normative statements of a school or educational institution do not apply to the education that one receives as one follows the path of life – and the artistic practice of education expects that one learns throughout one’s life. The teacher is also a learner – for them there may be collegial policies on professional development – and this is where I would like to make my point: that it is imperative that a teacher vigorously pursues their own passions and interests outside of their institution, whether it be in other institutions or not. That which we wish to instil in the children, a life-long love of learning, we must be enthralled with ourselves.

I’m sure I have more to add, but I think it’s time for bed! School tomorrow :)

* rough translation:
– Teaching as an art-form never finished; it is always in its becoming and future-oriented – thus dynamic.
– It is always individual. Just as every artistic act has a unique character, the teacher wishes that the child develops its individual character and potentialities laying dormant within it.
– Just as every active-artistic, creative act, the art of education is a unique expression of an individual and is dependant on the relationship between the ‘artist’ and the ‘audience’ (in this case he who brings forth in a child, and the child who is becoming) as correlating agents in the act performed.

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One Response to Teaching as an art (rather than a science)

  1. Jordan says:

    Nice post. Really glad to learn about the Rose Journal. Looks like a great thing!

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