After a lengthy international flight, we arrived at Munich International Airport. It turns out that between the airport and the Munchen Train Station, Munich is a major transportation hub for much of Europe.
Eichstatt is about an hour’s train ride North of Munich. The town is beautiful. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a church or museum. Plenty of nice cafes, as well. We’ve had a chance to try a number of Bavarian delicacies and by far my favourite (aside from the Weissbeir) is the Brezel with dip.
Right now the town is busy in preparations for the Advent Festival and Christmas Market, which begins Nov 27th.
The centerpiece of Eichstatt is, in my view, the Willibaldsburg. This is a large castle that overlooks the town in all directions. The castle hosts the wonderful Jura Museum, which features many impressive fossils. This is in part because just outside Eichstatt is a large fossil dig and the area is rich in fossil finds.
Teaching Philosophy and Education
I’ve recently taught the first of two sections of the seminar, “Philosophical Perspectives on Education”.
The students are quite enthusiastic. The practice of philosophy is grounded in discussion, and this presented some challenges, at first. I do not speak German, and while the students can speak both German and English, they are understandably more comfortable in German. That said, once things got going we managed alone quite well.
The students in this seminar were especially interested in how philosophical issues in education impact on Canada. So in our time together we took up a number of “Canadian” issues such as education for Canadian Identity, the future of Canadian education post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Rural/Place-Based Education. Of course, there were many interesting links to be made between the Canadian context and the German context with respect to these and other issues.
One instructive difference that has really stood out is the concept of education in the German context. As we know, the German term for education is Bildung. The term more specifically means self-cultivation or a process of personal and cultural development. Interestingly, Bildung can only proceed by way of philosophy and education working together.
So this leads to an interesting cultural difference from the way many Canadian students take up education: student here study in the Faculty of Philosophy and Education (so the two topics are tied together and separating the two would be odd). Further, none of the students (in my section, at least) are training to be teachers. All the students anticipate working in areas where development and cultivation are important (recreation, social work, health care, public service and so on) but none of them see education primarily in terms of K-12 schooling.
This reminded me of how much, in Canada at least, our assumptions about education are often too sharply constrained by “schooling".