Ruhi Tyson. Foto: Christian Habetzeder
Ruhi Tyson. Foto: Christian Habetzeder


The Rough Ground: Narrative explorations of vocational Bildung and wisdom in practice.


Professor Philipp Gonon, Institute of Education, University of Zürich, Schweiz.


Associate professor Hedvig Johannesen, Department of Education, Oslo-Akershus University College, Norway, professor Per Andersson, Institutionen för beteendevetenskap och lärande, Linköpings Universitet, samt docent Petros Gougoulakis, Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik, Stockholms universitet. Suppleant är docent Ingrid Engdahl, Barn- och ungdomsvetenskapliga institutionen, Stockholms universitet.

Handledare och ordförande

Professor Lázaro Moreno Herrera, Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik, Stockholms universitet. 


This compilation thesis, consisting of five articles, focuses on narrative explorations of vocational Bildung and wisdom in practice. It is an explicitly practical and empirical approach to what, for the most part, tends to be limited to philosophical discussions. This is motivated by the relative lack of systematic knowledge about how to enact wisdom in practice and afford vocational Bildung to those engaged in vocational education and training (VET). The absence of such knowledge makes it more difficult to develop VET practice and curricula and also leads to significant parts of the internal goods of practice to remain tacit, personal and local when they need to become articulated and shared. The aim of the five articles has been to explore how Bildung and practical wisdom can enrich our understanding of vocational practice and didactics on a theoretical, methodological and practical level. Conceptually the thesis draws extensive-ly from narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly 1995, 2000), reflective practice (Schön 1983, 1987), Aristotelian philosophy regarding practical wisdom (Aristotle 2009, Nussbaum 1990), MacIntyre’s concept of a practice (2011) and the Bildung-tradition (Rittelmeyer 2012) to create a coherent framework for the inquiry termed vocational Bildung didactics (VBD). It is located in the phronetic social science paradigm articulated by Flyvbjerg (2001) where the main aim for research is to enrich practice rather than generate theory. The methodology for this kind of inquiry is the collection of narrative cases focusing on unusually rich/successful/wise cases of a practice, what Flyvbjerg (2001) terms extreme and paradigmatic cases. On a conceptual level the inquiry has resulted in the framework of VBD that provides the structure for engaging in this kind of research. It has also resulted in some further conceptualizations driven by the interpretation of cases, in particular a differentiation between vocational and cultural practices. On a methodological level it has resulted in a kind of double didactical method: the case narratives function as articulations of practical knowledge regarding vocational Bildung and practical wisdom but also as the didactical tools for teaching this. On a practical level the inquiry has resulted in suggestions for curriculum-development as well as ways in which the case narratives can be used to enrich the understanding of practitioners.

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