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Title: Who’s afraid of teaching? Heidegger and the question of education (‘Bildung’/‘Erziehung’)
Authors: Biesta, G
Keywords: Heidegger;Education;‘Bildung’ ‘Erziehung’;Teaching;Humanism;Authority;Freedom
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Citation: Educational Philosophy and Theory, 48(8): pp. 832-845, (2016)
Abstract: In this essay, which is a response to five papers on Heidegger and education but can also be read independently, I argue that it is only when we introduce the German distinction between ‘Bildung’ and ‘Erziehung’ that it becomes possible to discuss in sufficient detail the possibilities and limitations of a Heideggerian account of and engagement with ‘education’. Central to my argument is the suggestion that whereas Heidegger provides a radical critique of the humanistic foundations of ‘Bildung’, he nonetheless remains caught in the ‘logic’ of ‘Bildung’ by assuming that education ultimately has to do with the becoming of the self. The difference Heidegger seeks to make is that this becoming of the self does not take place through an engagement with the world of beings—the world of things about which we can have positive knowledge—but rather takes place in the encounter with the Being of beings—an encounter in which Being shows itself to us, and we are receivers and custodians of Being. Against this background I show that what is absent in this configuration is an altogether different possibility, not one where we are listening, but one where we are being addressed or, in other educational terms, where we are being taught. Whereas several authors of the papers under discussion seem to have a certain fear of teaching on the assumption that teaching can only appear as an act of power that limits rather than that it enhances freedom, I explore the opposite option—one where the act of teaching and the experience of being taught are precisely aimed at my freedom, albeit that this freedom is not understood as sovereignty but in terms of authority, that is, in relation to working through the difficult challenge as to what legitimately should have power over me. This altogether different educational possibility brings us from the logic of ‘Bildung’ to the logic of ‘Erziehung’. Whereas Heidegger and some of the authors of the papers under discussion did try to ‘move’ education understood as ‘Bildung’ from beings to Being, the shift from ‘Bildung’ to ‘Erziehung’ seems not to have been considered explicitly, although it is addressed and in a sense enacted by some of the essays. I conclude by arguing that it is only when we are able to overcome our fear of teaching that the humanism that troubles ‘Bildung’ can really be addressed.
ISSN: 0013-1857
Appears in Collections:Dept of Education Research Papers

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