haltung

Within informal education and social pedagogy, the character and integrity of practitioners is seen as central to the processes of working with others. Here Mark K Smith  explores how the German notion of ‘haltung’ draws together key elements around this pivotal concern for pedagogues and informal educators.

Introduction

Pedagogy, as I have argued elsewhere, can be viewed as a process of accompanying people, and:

  • bringing flourishing and relationship to life (animation)
  • caring for, and about, people (caring); and
  • drawing out learning (education) (Smith 2012; 2019a).

These processes lead to a focus on the character and integrity of pedagogues and informal educators – and it is here that the discussion of haltung is helpful.

We find this focus right from the start in the distinction made within ancient Greek society between the activities of pedagogues (paidagögus) and subject teachers (didáskalos). The latter, as Kant (1900: 23-4) put it, ‘train for school only, the other for life’. In short, pedagogues set out with the idea that all should share in life and an appreciation of what people may need to flourish.

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