Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

October 2001


Published in Teaching and Teacher Education 17 (2001), pp. 885-895.


In this paper, we attempt to address one of the central questions for teachers and teaching: how is it that teachers are able to see and act appropriately in concrete circumstances? To do so, we examine the ontological meaning of experience in teacher education. The discussion is anchored in the concrete particulars of a grade 5 art lesson. Our intent is to show the dynamic processes involved in becoming experienced as a teacher and to draw connections between experience and practical wisdom (phronesis). Thus, we argue that phronesis is not so much a form of knowledge as it is dynamic experience. We argue for the development of what John Dewey called educational experience in teacher education, and in particular its dynamic edge: the making of wise and practical judgments. We assert that such action is made possible, not so much by translating (unsituated) theory into practice through the deployment of specialized technique, or by inducing general, abstract propositions from concrete particulars, but primarily from being mindfully embodied. The primary task for teacher education then becomes to help prospective teachers be in touch, intimately related with the processes of actual experience, such that they learn to be open to their experience, to be radically undogmatic—-in touch with self, others, and the character of the circumstances in which they find themselves.