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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

In this episode I speak to Professor David T. Hansen from Teachers' College, Columbia University about the philosophy of education and the practice of teaching. Among the topics we discuss are the following:

  • What it means to see teaching as an art, as a political activity and as a moral endeavour.
  • Direct lessons about morality/values/ethics versus the continuous enactment of moral values.
  • What hand-raising and turn-taking reveals about classroom culture and establishing dialogue among students (teachers and their students coming closer and closer apart and further and further together).
  • Teaching as a profession? Teaching as vocation, calling, practice, craft? The attraction of teaching for people who want to live a meaningful life.
  • Reworking his original book, The Call to Teach in 2021 as Reimagining the Call to Teach in response to (a) Accountability movement in the United States, linked to No Child Left Behind; and (b) Having learned more about the practice of teaching.
  • How the implementation of No Child Left Behind in the United States was tone-deaf to classroom life. Huge resources benefited private testing companies rather than professional development for teachers.
  • A poetics of teaching: What poetics means (comes from Aristotle trying to figure out why drama on a stage has the kind of effects it has on the spectators long after the play has ended). In this article, Hansen tries to understand the impact of teaching.
  • Recognising the poetics of teaching; teaching is a rhythmic practice where poetics can be found alongside its drudgery/frustration/failure.
  • How we all fail regularly in teaching but we rarely discuss it.
  • What he means when he says that anyone interviewing a teacher for a job wants to know if the teacher loves life.
  • Finding meaningfulness in teaching
  • Programmes for veteran teachers to rejuvenate, reinspire, renew and refresh themselves.
  • One example of such a programme is a “descriptive review” of a child.
  • The importance of working on craft with initial student candidates; more can be done on the art of teaching – draw out a sense of their own humanity, possibly through story, poetry, film or a painting.
  • How teaching is saturated with “why” questions – invitations to philosophy.
  • Philosophy as theory and as an art of living (wisdom tradition)
  • Cosmopolitanism: being reflectively loyal and reflectively open
  • Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke.
  • Plato and John Dewey.


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