Teachers' interpretation of Bildung in practice: examples from higher education in Sweden and Denmark

Helen Avery, Monne Wihlborg

Abstract


While higher education is expected to prepare students so they can reflect and act in relation with a changing world, many structural forces instead favour procedural learning. There are fundamental contradictions between the aim of independent thinking and standardised evaluation, as well as reasoning/speaking as an emancipatory force, and teaching as explanations. Other contradictions exist between holistic and fragmented learning. An important dimension of these contradictions is who can become a speaker. What are the terms for negotiating meaning? The study builds on qualitative interviews, and the analysis remains close to the narratives. Ways university teachers interpret Bildung are investigated, how they implement their aims in practice, and how their interpretation corresponds to institutional constraints and visions. In this article, three cases are presented, as an illustration of practices that may enhance in-depth reflection, holistic understanding and personal development. The teachers' perception of student learning and other outcomes of a Bildung approach are discussed. In particular, the importance of a space for negotiation and becoming a speaker are stressed.

Keywords


higher education, Bildung, reflection, holistic, teaching and learning practice, speaker, negotiation

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ISSN: 1759-667X