The Skilled Teacher: A Heideggerian Perspective on Teacher Practical Knowledge

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The concept of teacher Practical Knowledge, with its emphasis on the intuitive and situated nature of teaching practice, has provided a compelling approach to understanding what underlies teaching practice. However, much of the literature around Practical Knowledge focuses on teacher reflections on their practice and leaves unexplored the question of how the situation elicits particular practices from teachers. Moreover, there is a tendency to focus on individual Practical Knowledge, and this means that the social dimension, and particularly the socially normative element, of teaching practice is perhaps underappreciated. This article develops what I call the Skilled Teacher Approach to teaching practice, which shifts the focus from teachers’ individual cognitions about practice, to what teachers directly perceive as possible in their fundamentally social teaching environment. The Skilled Teacher Approach is rooted in Heidegger’s phenomenology but also draws substantially on Enactivist literature and argues that what teachers do in practice is largely a product of the affordances they directly perceive in their practice environment. It also argues that much of the landscape of affordances that a teacher perceives is socially constructed. Consequently, a significant part of Practical Knowledge relates to a sensitivity to the socially given affordances and knowing intuitively ‘what one does’ as a teacher. This perspective offers a new understanding of teaching practice and suggests new ways of engendering positive change in practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Nov 2022


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