Narrative Reflection in the Philosophy of Teaching: Genealogies and Portraits

Journal of Philosophy of Education 45 (1):125-140 (2011)
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Abstract

How has philosophical reflection contributed to the ways that we think about teaching? In this paper I explore two forms of narrative reflection on teaching—genealogies and portraits. Genealogies tell a story about the origins of teaching; portraits find expression in myths and other narrative forms. I explore two genealogies of teaching—one deriving from the sophist, Protagoras, in which teaching is viewed as a technical skill employing methods of instruction; the other, deriving from Plato, in which teaching is seen fundamentally in terms of a special relationship between teacher and pupil. The Platonic account of the origins of teaching that finds expression in the myth, recounted in the dialogue Phaedrus, gives rise to a tradition of pedagogic portraiture that views the teacher/pupil relationship as foundational and presents the teacher as a wounded healer. This paper explores the grounds of this image and suggests that a tradition of portraiture in which the teacher is represented as a wounded healer can be traced back from Plato to the myth of Chiron and forward to St Augustine, Rousseau, and Nietzsche.

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