BMCR 2020.03.22

Ethik in der Pädagogik – Pädagogik in der Ethik

Wolfgang Polleichtner, Ethik in der Pädagogik - Pädagogik in der Ethik. Didaskalika, 2. Speyer: Kartoffeldruck-Verlag, 2019. 101 p.. ISBN 9783939526391

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[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

This small, but full book has been edited by Wolfgang Polleichtner as the second volume of the newly established series Didaskalika. It is the result of a one-day workshop, which was organized at the University of Tübingen in May 2018 and contains four papers on ethics and pedagogy which are all centered around the decisive question, to what extent the teaching and learning of languages, particularly of ancient Latin and Greek, provides students with an educational and ethical framework.

The first contribution by Uta Müller addresses ethical issues that students qualifying for teaching at grammar schools may come across during their studies. Müller demonstrates that ethics on the one hand serves as a theoretical framework, but on the other hand also has a practical use. To this end she examines the question, whether moral examples displayed in literature can teach the reader anything and comes to the conclusion that narrations and ethics stimulate each other insofar, as literary examples may either act as a deterrent or give an example to follow.

Irmgard Männlein-Robert demonstrates in her contribution how Plato has portrayed Socrates in the Politeia as a pedagogue. She especially dwells on the cave parable as a culmination of the other parables of the text that summarizes Plato’s former remarks on education, doctrine of virtue and state theory (p. 41). Männlein-Robert gives a close reading of Rep. 7, 541a1-517a7, which is printed both in a Greek version from Burnet’s OCT and in a German translation, and concludes that education in the cave parable has less to do with the teaching of children, but is used here in a broader sense for the liberation of the human soul. Likewise, the task of Παιδεία is seen as a moral obligation for the philosopher and a duty for the ruling philosopher-king.

The editor Wolfgang Polleichtner has contributed a very vivid paper with the title Vitae discimus. Seneca und die Homerlektüre. Following Seneca’s famous quote on the nature of learning he demonstrates how Seneca himself has estimated reading in the context of learning. By analysing several of Seneca’s letters to Lucilius, Polleichtner proves that Seneca has used Homer as a source and has quoted Homer whenever he needed credible support for his own arguments by someone who undoubtedly was regarded as an authority in antiquity. In conclusion, Polleichtner compares the task of Lucilius as the addressee of Seneca’s letters with that of pupils of the classical languages. But unlike Lucilius, who may have known all cited Homeric passages by heart, today’s pupils have to be encouraged by their teachers to read (or listen to) and interpret the ancient texts to make them useful tools of learning.

The volume is concluded by Sebastian Ostritsch’s paper, in which he focusses on the well-known dilemma that strictness as an educational principle may clearly contravene the learner’s autonomy. Immanuel Kant and Johann Gottlob Fichte as outstanding exponents of the philosophical movement of German idealism developed conflicting positions towards this paradox. While explaining their positions persuasively, Ostritsch stresses the important, yet changing role of the educator or teacher in the process of learning.

The two middle papers in particular might be relevant for classicists, but all four contributions provide important insights into the relationship between ethics and pedagogy and are interesting for anyone who is involved in teaching activities.

The volume has been bound with a flexible cover and is available for a very reasonable price, so that it can also easily be purchased by students of the ancient languages, philosophy or the education sciences.

Table of contents

Wolfgang Polleichtner: Einleitung
Uta Müller: Der “moralische Pakt” in der Literatur – und andere Themen der Ethik im Lehramtsstudium
Irmgard Männlein-Robert: Ethik in der Höhle? Platons Sokrates als Erzieher
Wolfgang Polleichtner: Vitae discimus. Seneca und die Homerlektüre
Sebastian Ostrich: Erziehung, Freiheit und Zwang. Zum Erziehungsparadox bei Kant und Fichte
Autorenverzeichnis