The Challenge of Praxeology in Pedagogy

Symposium at FU Berlin, 17. Sept 2011


Jun.Prof. Dr. Anja Kraus Pädagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg

Prof. Dr. Christoph Wulf, Freie Universität Berlin

Dr. Ingrid Kellermann, Freie Universität Berlin

Prof. Dr. Bosse Bergstedt, Lund Universitet

Ass. Prof. Dr. Anna Herbert, Kalmar Universitet


Pedagogy today mainly refers to the kind of theoretical and empirical research which is based on a concept of objectivity or oriented at the principle of consensus deriving from reading social reality as if it were a text (cp. “linguistic turn”) – it is to say: as if social reality were ruled by completeness, closeness, unambiguity and linearity (Oser 1997, Wulf 2007). The praxeology of pedagogical thinking and practice is then more or less reduced to certain norms, definite interventions in well-defined pedagogical situations. Today in the frame of school, to impart available knowledge and abilities oriented at certain objectives is regarded as the main aim. In general, pedagogical as well as pedagogically intended knowledge and abilities are broadly interpreted as psychometric competences.

In this view, the more tacit side of pedagogical sceneries, such as the implicit meanings of spoken and written statements, modes of body-communication and -interaction, inexplicable knowledge, iconic representations, didactical operations and commodities as well as architectural environments is more or less neglected. These tacit dimensions of pedagogy constitute a sort of incidental scenery. This scenery might open, grant or might also close the significant ways of teaching and learning; it might empower learners and teachers to understand, transcend and create the world or constrain them in doing this.

Diverse phenomenological, constructivist and post-structural perspectives even regard reflection itself as a “secondary experience”, ciphered out from a basic pre-reflexive multiplicity, e.g. of experiences. Thus, finding ourselves in a concrete situation, we tend to complete our actual experiences by interpreting the implicit, i.e. by reconstructing the invisible sides of the situation, realizing the unsaid as it is revealed, and by focussing on issues read between the lines. In doing so we often recur to a corporally conveyed experiential knowledge, and we come back to it whenever we want to decide whether or how something makes sense to us. Thus, there seems to be a tacit side of getting insights, and also in scientific examination.

By taking over an empirical-praxeological perspective our group mainly attends to the question how social practices constitute reality. The question to what extent tacit dimensions are part of this process is of special interest.

As a methodology, praxeology refers to approaches in the field of “Sociology of Culture” (Bourdieu, Reckwitz), “Sociology of Knowledge” (Mannheim, Bohnsack) and the “Chicago School” (Mead, Goffman et al.). It has its roots in phenomenological (Alfred Schütz et al.), in interpretative-hermeneutical approaches (Berger, Luckmann, Geertz, Goffman), in semiotic-structuralistic (Saussure, Eco, Foucault), pragmatical (Peirce et al.) und analytical approaches (Wittgenstein).

In pedagogy, the term praxeology is connected to names such as Josef Derbolav, Dietrich Benner et al. A praxeological theory conceptualizes sociality as an anthropological fact, generated in dynamic and relational processes. In social practices and contextual structures and orders are transmitted, constituted and created/established. The focus lies on corporal, performative and emergent aspects of the practices by which “substantiality” (Wirklichkeit) is generated. “Substantiality” is facetted here e.g. as the logic of practice (Bourdieu), as the meaningful other (Mead), as the social construction of reality (Berger & Luckmann) and as the spaces of common experience (Mannheim). A praxeological approach reconstructs social practices in order to reveal their underlying levels of meaning. This entails the transition of the question from what (happens) to how (reality is constituted) which implicates to leave aside objectivistic claims of truth and presumptions of subjective motives.

Indicative areas of research:

  • What does it mean to take over a praxeological perspective in the field of empirical social research?
  • Methodologies and methods in the qualitative empirical reconstruction of “Tacit Dimensions of Pedagogy”, as questions like:
    • How can praxeological aspects in pedagogy be grasped?
    • What kind of data can be regarded as fitting to an explorative approach, i.e. participant observation (e.g. audio-/videography)?
    • How can the relation between explicit and implicit phenomena be investigated and empirically captured?
    • How can implicit processes of practices be documented?
    • How can implicit processes of practices be analyzed? How can e.g. body-language, body-communication and body-interaction be deciphered?
    • How can implicit relations between several persons be explored?
    • How do iconic representations, architectural and ecological environments, didactic settings, time structures and other tacit aspects of everyday life influence pedagogical practices?


Submissions to the Symposium „The Challenge of Praxeology in Pedagogy“

Diversity in Teachers’ Assessment of Pupils.
Relationship between Implicit and Explicit Knowledge
Jürgen Budde
(Halle, Germany)

The Basic Principles for Prevention. Strategies of Sexual Abuse in Pedagogical Institutions.
Getrud Wolf
(Frankfurt, Germany)

To Draw Attention to the Implicit in a Text
Bosse Bergstedt
(Lund, Sweden)

The Gaze in Pedagogy
Anna Herbert
(Kalmar, Sweden)

Praxeology and Phenomenology – a Difficult Relationship
Anja Kraus
(Ludwigsburg, Germany)

Fundamental Corporeal Competences
Maud Hietzge
(Gießen, Germany)

Schnittstelle Praxis. What Do Children Do When Doing
Nothing and What Do Ethnographs (Not) Do to Find This Out?
Bina E. Mohn
(Berlin, Germany)

Education as a Corporeal Matter. An Agambian Perspective
Joris Vlieghe
(Jeuven, Belgien)

Pedagogy as Practice: Embodied “Negative Capacity”
Norm Friesen
(Kamloops, Canada)

Potentials and Difficulties of Video Production
in the Didactic Settings for Analyzing One’s Own Everyday Practice
Mie Buhl
(Aarhus, Dänemark)

Learning Gestures and Emotions – A Praxeological Approachto the Tacit Dimensions of Primary School Education
Ingrid Kellermann
(Berlin, Germany)

The body and the verbal and not verbal communication in the interaction of girls with cultural ethnic diversity in the school
Stela Maris Ferrarese Capettini

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