On the Possibility of Novelty: Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity in Teaching


  • Moira von Wright


Abstract. Different conceptions of the subjectivity and selfhood of students scant little attention in teacher education today, yet they are central in any educational situation. The understanding of the condition of human subjectivity makes some educational perspectives and practices more intelligible than others. Still, neither teaching nor learning can be reduced to an anthropology or theory of human growth; education is always a “here and now situation” in a threefold relation between the educator, the student and the world (e g a subject). This article discusses the role of different conceptions of subjectivity, and shows how intersubjectivity plays a role in the experiences that students have in school. It also deepens the question of teacher authority and novelty in teaching. First, three different aspects of human subjectivity are pointed out, and with these in mind, teacher influence and the possibility of novelty in the educational situation is discussed. It is argued that the self, the ego-organism of each student, should not be a target for teacher authority, and that novelty appears in an intersubjective sphere. An understanding of subjectivity as manifold shows how an open and creative environment of teaching and learning with novelty and surprises can come about. Keywords: subjectivity, intersubjectivity, teaching, novelty, authority, the pedagogical rule