Philosophers of education seek to contribute to the ethos of how people conceive and talk about education. They endeavor to show how this talk is bound up with notions of justice, of goodness, and of beauty. In an era of ‘alternative facts’ and unprincipled assaults on reasoned communication, their task has become all the more important. In this presentation, David Hansen proposes to counter harmful distortions about the practice of teaching and about what it means to be a teacher, whether of children, youth, or adults. He will reimagine the familiar, if poorly understood, idea of teaching as a calling. A vivid sense of calling, Hansen will suggest, positions teachers at all levels of the system to experience a deeply meaningful life while making a very real contribution to society. He will contrast this image of teaching with problematic conceptions that obstruct if not undermine the work of teachers and teacher educators. His animating concern is that accounts of teaching and of what it is to be a teacher matter: teachers live, work, suffer, and flourish under particular accounts. Hansen will argue that the idea of teaching as a calling speaks directly to the passion of teachers, while also constituting an enduring philosophy of education that can inform, sustain, and inspire them to work together in the name of education itself.
David Hansen is the John L. & Sue Ann Weinberg Professor in the Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education, and Director of the College’s Program in Philosophy and Education. His research over the years has addressed the philosophy and practice of teaching, the relation between cosmopolitanism, democracy, and education, and the educational thought of figures as diverse as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. He is a Past-President of the John Dewey Society and of the Philosophy of Education Society, and is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association.