Teori og praksis. Abstract speciale fra 2004.

Fra mit speciale fra 2004:


Abstract (Uddrag fra spaciale ved DPU 2004. Teori og praksis i en kompetenceudviklende læreruddannelse af Hilmar Dyrborg Laursen).


The focus of this dissertation is on the question how we can understand the relationship between theory and practice with reference to the development of competence.

The starting point is that it is problematic when theory and practice exist in different worlds without any influence on each other, and that the concept of competence can contribute to maintaining dialectics between theory and practice.

In connection with teacher training, the limits of educational theory are defined as a theory of practice. This is based on the departmental order of teacher training. The reason for having educational theory as a subject in teacher training is that educational theory is supposed to influence the work of the teacher in school.

It is claimed that educational theory can be a theory of practice partly by:

–          communicating between other sciences and educational practice.

–          constructing drafts of a possible practice.

–          contributing to an understanding of practice through analyses and narratives.

By way of introduction it is here suggested that educational theory can have several functions and can be used in different ways.

It is pointed out that educational theory can be a theory of practice by it being used instrumentally for the solution of known problems, but educational theory has not succeeded in fulfilling this function.

Then it is claimed that educational theory can be used as a critical potential in connection with educational practice by the way of analysis, understanding, and inspiration.

Furthermore, this is unfolded by understanding educational theory in relation to different types of educational problems and the association of these problems with different theories of knowledge.

Here it is claimed that educational theory becomes dependent on the way in which an educational problem is defined, and that e.g. the working conditions of teachers contribute to the fact that many educational problems are defined as technical problems, and therefore attempts of solutions are based on a cognitive form from natural science, but also because the positivistic scientific ideal, view of knowledge, view of the relationship between knowledge and action, and theory and practice lie deeply rooted in the modern project. This view is connected to the beginning of writing which causes an objectification of knowledge and Plato’s contemplative view on truth, and it is enhanced by the causal history of technology.

This understanding of rationality, the relationship between theory and practice etc. is problematised and enlarged e. g. by including:

 – Herbart’s definition of educational theory from 1835 stating that educational theory contains an ethical dimension.

This ethical dimension in educational theory has its source in the educational condition which is a relation between human beings in which power plays a part. Therefore it is the view that the application of educational theory never can become a strictly technical matter, but then it has to be communicated through the judgement of the teacher.

 – Habermas’ attempt of reconstructing sense partly in the form of theory as cognitively leading interests and partly in the form of the theory about the communicative actions. Reason is placed within language.

 – Bordieu’s theory of practice. Human action is led by a practical sense.

 – theories about teachers’ silent knowledge, theory of practice, and competence,

 – Aristotle and his notion of rationality and practice. Fundamentally, teacher practice is decided as being praxis and thereby an area of fronesis.

In other words alternative forms of rationality are being looked for in different theories of rationality, knowledge, and competence. The point that is stressed is that you therefore have to distinguish between different types of knowledge and their relations to different types of actions, and these must come from within the same concept of practice.

The concept of competence is defined by way of Bente Jensen’s matrix of competence that includes a personal dimension and a societal dimension. The personal dimension of competence, and the contextual dependence of competence are unfolded and elaborated on by applying a self-psychological and cultural psychological perspective of competence. Finally the concept of competence is enlarged by adding a critical-didactic dimension to stress that we are dealing with a critical liberal educational project.

The concept of competence can contribute with something essential for instance because different plans are part of the competence (action, reflexivity, and meaning), which can be related to different types of knowledge. Then room is made for a multi-dimensional concept of rationality, including several ways of understanding the function of the theory, at the same time as the societal and cultural roots are maintained in such a way that theory does not “escape” from reality (political practice). Thus the concept of practice contains meaning, action, and reflection in a given context.

Even if the practician apparently does not act against a background of theoretical knowledge based on rules, then theory (in theory) constitutes a necessary part of the teacher’s competence in the form of critical thinking and reflection on practice and in the form of contributions to the teacher’s construction of a dynamic and meaningful narrative about education and upbringing. It is dynamic because it is the expression of a temporarily chosen order. It is meaningful because it is personally rooted and because it can be substantiated in a social and cultural connection.

In this dissertation (which is considered a theoretical piece of work) connections and possibilities between understandings of theory-practice and development of competence have thus been examined and established. One of the perspectives is to empirically examine how an educationally theoretical practice develops when it practices its own conditions of possibilities within forced conduct, so that they are revealed by a critical theory.


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