30 SES 01 B, Didactical perspectives in ESE
Current educational and especially didactical approaches are struggling to cope with sustainability and climate change issues. Sustainability issues in education do not respect disciplinary borders, compartmentalizations, and are not reducible to particular subjects of education, agendas on national education policies, nor do they fit into neatly definable categories like environmental or social issues. More significantly, sustainability issues challenge key assumptions underlying educational thought per se, as they not problems which can be solved alone by improving human learning and apprehension. That is, they are not reducible to discourse, practice, and knowledge. The way in which climate change appears to humans does not exhaust the issue or problem at hand, and, as opposed to various social challenges, we cannot simply choose to apprehend or engage with these processes differently and thereby (dis)solve them. Hence, climate change illustrates the inability of an idealist account of education and social response to sustainability issues. The very notion of climate change highlights the idealist anthropocentric fallacy to assume that a thing (the climate) is reducible to human apprehension (for us the climate is changing), as the climate has been there before humans and has been changing before humans are able to account for it (e.g. the ice ages). Education and social responses to global warming struggle for approaches to address those aspects of things that are beyond the possibility of human apprehension (climate without/before humans) and by their exclusion (reduction of climate to a climate for us) can be seen to reproduce structures in human practice that amplify the prevalence of sustainability issues. In this paper, we propose that the educational challenges of addressing issues like climate change a grounded in the subject-orientedness of education; the tendency to reduce an issue to the way in which it appears, affects and is manipulated by the human subject as learner. Hence, the issue is reduced to how it is an issue for the human subject, assuming a somewhat exclusive and self-centred (transcendental) position of the human to know and control an issue in practice. In education, this entails the reduction of an issue to a content of education that is to be engaged with by a student and under the didactical intervention of the teacher. As in the subject-oriented didactical triangle, the sustainability issues is reduced to a content of education that has a determinable educative potential (Bildungssubstanz/Bildungsgehalt) in relation to a human learner as well as to the teachers' disciplinary knowledge.
This presentation aims to introduce an alternate didactical approach, an object-oriented didactics. The axiomatic starting point is here a reintroduction of the Kantian notion of the thing-in-itself that is not reducible to or congruent with a thing-for-us. Consequently, an object-oriented didactical approach differentiates between a content of education (Bildungsinhalt) and object of education (Bildungsgegenstand), where the object of education escapes the learner´s as well as teacher´s attempt to reduce it to a content of education with an determinable educative potential (Bildungssubstanz/Bildungsgehalt).
The establishment of an axiomatic set of premises of an object-oriented didactics is to allow for a re-engagement with sustainability-related objects of education and with what their indeterminable educational potential means for didactical interventions and expected outcomes of education.
This presentation is built upon a theoretical engagement with the axioms of subject-oriented didactics. It translates the ongoing work of object-oriented ontology (Harman 2002, 2011) within philosophy into the field of education and in particular the continental European tradition of didactics (Didaktik). It further aims to outline the foundation for empirical analysis of didactical moves according to an object-oriented didactics.
The presentation will argue that there are a number of crucial consequences of an object-oriented didactics for understanding education and didactical processes in new and alternative ways. First, the educative potential of any object of education, including any sustainability issue addressed in education, is indeterminate and infinite given that the qualities of the object of education are always larger than any attempts to reduce it to a content of education. Second, and because of this, the educative process of constituting the identity of the learner (Bildung) remains open and enmeshed with the unknowable and inexhaustible object of education. Third, and as a consequence of the first two axioms, the teacher finds herself in a situation where she does not have privileged access to the educative potential of an object of education. An object-oriented didactical response of the teacher would entail resensitizing herself and the learner to the object of education and, in particular, to how it appears. The object appears different than the content of education. An object of education appears always differently, undermining any attempt of reducing it to a content, where content suggests the ability to contain something in it. Qualities not seen spill out of that content. Consequently, the aesthetics of the object overflows attempts to give meaning (reduce it to knowledge) to the object and thereby to reduce it to a content. An object-oriented didactics is interested in understanding the consequences of this overflowing with regards to a) how an object of education influences in how it appears student and teacher and b) how it in this appearance undermines attempts to reduce it to a content of education. The presentation will summarize these considerations in an object-oriented didactical model that is to expand and revision the subject-oriented didactical triangle.
Harman, Graham. 2002. Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects. Chicago & La Salle: Open Court. Harman, Graham. 2011. The Quadruple Object. Winchester & Washington: Zero Books.
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