The Diplomatic Teacher: The Purpose of the Teacher in Gert Biesta’s Philosophy of Education in Dialogue with the Political Philosophy of Bruno Latour

Studies in Philosophy and Education 39 (5):533-548 (2020)
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In this theoretical and explorative essay, two issues are discussed, which are based on personal experiences of teaching ethics. The first is what educational purpose does it serve to challenge students as ethical subjects while teaching a class? This issue is mainly discussed through an analysis of Gert Biesta’s works. He argues that an essential purpose for teachers is to enable students to appear as subjects. For this to happen, the teacher must “interrupt” the students by presenting that which challenges his or her basic ethical preconceptions, which in turn forces the student to choose as a subject. However, if the teacher gives priority to such interruptions, s/he risks a conflict with his or her students. That gives rise to the second issue raised in the essay, whether the teacher should express his or her ethical perspectives while teaching ethics. The issue is discussed by analyzing Bruno Latour’s political philosophy. He argues that conflict is an essential feature in any democratic society where everyone’s concerns are presented. For that reason, he argues for the need of public “diplomats,” whose function is to enable an endeavor for peace. As diplomats, both their ethical agency and ability to judge what is worth highlighting is recognized. Thus, the essay concludes that a diplomatic teacher is someone who has the judgement to decide whether his or her ethical perspectives should be highlighted while teaching a class, or if it would disrupt an endeavor for peace.



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References found in this work

Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to the Actor-Network Theory.Bruno Latour - 2005 - Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
We have never been modern.Bruno Latour - 1993 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Politics of nature: how to bring the sciences into democracy.Bruno Latour - 2004 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The open society and its enemies.Karl Raimund Popper - 1945 - London,: G. Routledge & sons. Edited by Alan Ryan & E. H. Gombrich.

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