22 SES 11 A, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
The educational question addressed in this theoretical paper is concerned with learning and some conditions for learning grounded and viewed from the Bildungpotential . We partly draw from a privies case study and points to implications on a practical level in learning situations. A follow-up interview study is in preparation. Results will be of interest to government agencies, higher education institutions, teachers, students, and others who seek ways to promote Bildung in education.
Background and European dimension
Ideals based on a Bildungpotential has been associated with the emergence of modern notions of democracy. Although society has evolved since the days of Humboldt, these fundamental issues remain. Bildung is underlined in documents, as the European framework of key competences (Eu Commission 2007; Eu Parliament, 2010). New challenges have arisen, that again bring a Bildungpotential to the fore. In Scandinavia, as in other parts of Europe, framing education in a discourse of economic productivity tends to lead to alienation (Hansen), depriving both teachers and students of the dimension of personal meaning. Capacity to adapt to changing circumstances, find solutions in new situations, builds on a number of abilities which need to be developed. These include the capacity to decide on relevant actions in a particular situation, reflecting and thinking independently, accurately judging one’s own capacity for action, managing one’s own learning, assessing further needs for knowledge. Other key capabilities include engaging in constructive dialogue with others from a variety of cultures, considering values and ethical implications, handling complex or uncertain situations and, relating elements of a situation to a larger context (Avery & Wihlborg; Biesta & Säfström). Intrinsically, acquiring such capabilities supposes an approach of continuous self-development and the kind of holistic reasoning advocated in Bildung.
In terms of theoretically defining the scope for development and learning, it must be stressed that critical reflection in the Bildung tradition has several dimensions. One of these is self-development. Biesta has elaborated on the term ‘speaker’ in education. He distinguishes between speaking in the sense of “taking up an existing identity, an existing place within the existing order” and the possibility to challenge this order and be creative. Matusov et al., have outlined possible forms which expansive learning could take, talking of an Ontological Community of Learners. Learning is seen as a communal concept, including the opportunity to transform target practices, to become competent participants in these practices and discourses, through transformation of their subjectivities and through shaping/reshaping their knowledge. We argue that the possibility to develop, individually and collectively, beyond a predefined set of identities or positions can be seen as the most open form for self-development, and will make use of Biesta and Matusov et al., in our analysis and focus on questions as; How is learning achieved in relation to a Bildungpotential, what are framing the important/central conditions for teaching and learning situations? What are the conditions for developing competencies such as critical thinking and reflection in learning situations in HE in relation to a Bildungpotential? What are the obstacles?
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