Die Vorstellung innovativer, erfahrungsorientierter Forschungsmethodologie und der Ergebnisse innerhalb der phänomenologisch orientierten Innsbrucker Vignetten- und Anekdotenforschung!
Der Band 'Erfahrungen deuten - Deutungen erfahren' bringt jenes Potenzial ans Licht, das die phänomenologisch orientierte Innsbrucker Vignetten- und Anekdotenforschung in zwei geförderten Projekten auf der Suche nach bildenden Erfahrungen in Schule, Unterricht und Lehrerbildung simulierte. Mit dieser innovativen, erfahrungsorientierten Forschungsmethodologie kann in vielseitiger Form gearbeitet werden, etwa im Rahmen von Mentoring oder als Instrument bei der Begleitung von Reformprozessen im Schulwesen. Dort, wo sich Erfahrungen im wechselseitigen Geschehen beeinflussen, ob durch Interventionen von Lehrpersonen oder durch ein unerwartetes Ereignis, helfen erfasste Erfahrungen, Einblicke in die Brüchigkeit pädagogischen Handelns und somit in die eigene Wirkung zu gewinnen.
Langjährige Wegbegleiterinnen und Wegbegleiter aus Wissenschaft, Lehrerbildung und Schulpraxis zeigen die unterschiedlichen Annäherungen an das Lernen, das sich - im Verständnis der Vignetten- und Anekdotenforschung - als Erfahrungen zeigt. Solche Erfahrungsmomente des 'Sich-als-etwas-Zeigens', des 'Sich-als-etwas-Antwortens' werden in prägnanten Narrativen erfasst und in diesem Band aus unterschiedlichsten Perspektiven vielfältig gedeutet.
Beiträge zum Symposium 'Experiential Vignettes and Anecdotes as Research, Evaluation and Mentoring Tool'
Phenomenology as a Philosophy of Experience - Implications for Pedagogy3
In this contribution, the author explains first her understanding of the term phenomenology, regarded as a philosophy of experience in particular in the tradition of Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In a second step, general consequences for pedagogy are reconsidered, followed by a discussion on the unique potential of phenomenology for analyzing and exploring the experiences of children. Herein lies the relevance of phenomenological philosophy for vignette research. Phenomenology as philosophy of experience takes experience as a form of rationality seriously and in doing so it expands the space of reason instead of narrowing it down. The philosophy of experience is not about an alternative to scientific research but rather about interventions, which concede co-determination in concrete experiences.
1. Phenomenology as philosophy of experience
Maurice Merleau-Ponty concludes the preface of his book "Phenomenology of Perception" with the important remark that phenomenology is rather a movement than a system of thought or a closed doctrine. He notes: "The unfinished nature of phenomenology and the inchoative atmosphere which has surrounded it are not to be taken as a sign of failure, they were inevitable because phenomenology's task was to reveal the mystery of the world and of reason" (Merleau-Ponty 2010, p. xxiiis). In this perspective, phenomenology is interested in the meaning of sense in status nascendi. The role which the subject plays in the process of meaning as it emerges is similar to the one it plays in the process of awakening. Waking up is a passage from being asleep to being awake. I am involved in it but I am not indicating it. The I is neither merely active nor merely passive in this process. It is a question of a demand for awareness, a will "to seize the meaning of the world or of history as that meaning comes into being" (ibid, p. xxiv). A phenomenology in this sense is simply not orientated towards results or inventories. Phenomenological philosophy "is not the reflection of a pre-existing truth, but, like art, the act of bringing truth into being" (ibid, p. xxiii). It pays attention to a highly fragile phenomenon, namely the moment in which sense emerges. Maurice Merleau-Ponty quotes Edmund Husserl and his essential postulation in his Cartesian Meditations: "It is 'pure and, in a way, still mute experience which it is a question of bringing to the pure expression of its own significance'" (ibid, 254s.). The clue that experience is "in a way" still mute is important. Husserl had no immediate encounter with the world in mind but rather an intentional relation in which we suppose, perceive, dream, imagine or deal with something as something. The first "something" differs from the second. For example, I can treat a present as a gift or as an attempt ito bribe. In his famous book The Visible and the Invisible, Merleau-Ponty writes about the being which "is silently behind all our affirmations, negations, and even behind all formulated questions, not [.] [because] it is a matter of imprisoning it in our chatter, but because philosophy is the reconversion of silence and speech into one another" (Merleau-Ponty 1968, p. 129). Things are not only objects. They also participate in our perception. "But philosophy is no lexicon", as Merleau-Ponty remarks. "It is the things themselves, from the depths of their silence, that it wishes to bring to expression" (ibid, p. 4). He emphasizes: "We are not asking ourselves if the world exists; we are asking what it is for it to exist" (ibid, p. 96). This solution is at the same time an unsettling problem because speaking about one's experience always transforms the sensual experience into speech. The enigma of an existing world is doubled: You cannot reach the things directly and your words transform your perceptions.
Talking about experiences is embedded in our bodily existence. Our body nourishes our thinking which in turn happens in a quasi secret way. We are used to transform our world into thoughts, ourselves into thinkers and the others into those, whom we can never reach via thinking. However, before we start to think we are always entangled in a concrete lifeworld. We smell, we hear, we touch, we taste and we see. The sensitive world is the element of human beings. Or in the words of Merleau-Ponty: "My body is that meaningful core which behaves like a general function, and which nevertheless exists, and is susceptible to disease. In it we learn to know that union of essence and existence which we shall find again in perception generally, and which we shall then have to describe more fully" (Merleau-Ponty 2010, p. 170). Phenomenology as a philosophy of experience means the attempt to understand the experiences of the world, the other and of myself, even if there is an inevitable distance between my concrete, situated experiences and my return to them while I am talking or thinking about them.
A story perhaps can demonstrate the difficulties to speak about experiences. David Foster Wallace put this into words in his little book "This is Water":
"There are these two young fish swimming along und they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, 'Morning, boys. How's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?'" (Wallace 2009, p. 3s.)4
In the same way as water is the element of fishes, experiences are our element, in which we exist. Only if experience fails we start to pay attention to them, for example, if we are out of step with stairs: In old castles, where stairs do not conform with modern building codes, we have to take special care and prefer a snail's pace. In such a case, we learn anew what it means to climb a flight of stairs. In everyday life, astonishment is usually not viewed as a philosophical act but rather denotes any kind of amazement. However, astonishment means more than being bewildered. It is a specific irreproducible incidence, an occurrence that is comparable to the beginning of a new learning experience. Such an event takes place suddenly and cannot be repeated in the same way under the same circumstances. In the course of being astonished, something that was taken for granted is lost without being replaced by something new.
Like the moment of astonishment, the beginning of a new learning experience can neither be initiated nor controlled, neither be taught nor learned. Both are similar to the process of awakening: One is present, but one cannot cause the act, an act which is, however, not possible without oneself. The only thing one can do is to pay attention to the unexpected in what is familiar to the failure of experience which holds new possibilities at the ready to us. Such phenomenological reflections about human acts are pedagogical in a strict sense. However, in this paper I should not talk for the main part about learning. My task is to discuss the relation between phenomenology and pedagogy in general. Therefore, I will only outline some characteristics of this relation and continue in the last section with the implications of phenomenology for the understanding of the experiences of others, especially of children.
2. Phenomenology and pedagogy
Until now phenomenological theories of education have not yet achieved a consistent definition of their methodology and basic concepts. Not only do these theories originate from different philosophies but also their guiding questions and procedures are diverse and sometimes contradictory. On the one hand, this explains the difficulties of any attempt at a comprehensive account of these theories and on the other hand, this is also the reason why phenomenological theories of education and learning are open and flexible enough to draw upon a variety of traditions and to cooperate with other disciplines.
Phenomenological thinking in pedagogy cannot be described as a homogeneous movement. The beginning date back to the first decades of the last century. Especially Edmund Husserl's conception of phenomenology as strict science has had a considerable influence. Apart from this research, the so-called "geisteswissenschaftliche Pädagogik" integrated some phenomenological elements. For example, Friedrich Copei takes up the phenomenological interest in and revalorization of lifeworld experiences insofar as such experiences form the basis for scientific knowledge. He interprets the processes of education, learning and self-realization as the history of crises in the experiences of concrete individuals. The phenomenological way of thinking enables us to bring those opinions to light on which not only our everyday but also our scientific knowledge rests. The phenomenological position can thus be compared with the famous Socratic dialogues, in which the participants often become aware of their habits of thinking through failing in solving problems they were sure they would be able to solve. In a kind of reversal, one achieves a new perspective not only on the world but also on oneself.
After the Second World War, Martin Heidegger's phenomenology was particularly important for pedagogical thinking. In this context, Otto Friedrich Bollnow's existential phenomenology and his very interesting anthropology should be considered. Eugen Fink and Heinrich Rombach are also deserving of mention, although a...