Academic journal article Analysis and Metaphysics

When Praxis Breaks Down: What Heidegger's Phenomenology Contributes to Understanding Miscues and Learning in Reading

Academic journal article Analysis and Metaphysics

When Praxis Breaks Down: What Heidegger's Phenomenology Contributes to Understanding Miscues and Learning in Reading

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT.

Heidegger provides us with a unique view of learning within the context of our meaningful dealings with the use and breakdown of "equipment" and the subsequent revelatory ontological disclosure of "world" and Dasein's Being-in-the-world. I attempt to show that Heidegger's notion of breakdown-and-revelation within our practical modes of learning might be related to a philosophical understanding of the way in which educators understand learning in the reading curriculum, specifically in terms of the reading instruction and view to literacy that we find in Goodman's Whole Language Philosophy of reading. Goodman describes the reader in terms of her Being-in-the-world-of-reading, which, I suggest, shares certain similarities with Heidegger's phenomenology of "absorbed coping," or "circumspective seeing," which might be understood as a whole-parts-whole philosophy of learning.

Keywords: Heidegger, phenomenology, absorbed coping, whole language, reading, curriculum

1. Introduction

In this paper I present Heidegger's (1962) ontological notion of learning within the context of meaningful dealings with the use and breakdown of "equipment" and the subsequent revelatory ontological disclosure of "world" and Dasein 's Being-in-the-world with the intent of intimating how Heidegger's notion of "problem solving" as breakdown-and-revelation within our practical (and original) learning situations might contribute to a philosophically reconfigured understanding of the way in which educators understand and enact problem-solving and learning in the reading curriculum, e.g., as related to reading instruction and literacy as it is expressed in Whole Language (Goodman 1996, 1986, 1976; Kohn, 1999; Weaver, 1990). Goodman (1996) describes the reader in terms of what might be described as Being-in-theworld-of-reading, which, I suggest, shares certain similarities with Heidegger's philosophy of "absorbed coping," or "circumspective seeing," within our practical dealings (Dreyfus 2001). According to Goodman, reading is never simply "recognizing [cognitively representing] words in succession," rather "something propels you forward as you read, helps you to anticipate so well what's coming that you simply use cues [or miscues] from the print to move constantly toward meaning" (40). For Heidegger, meaning is also crucial and ultimately it is the towards-which of our practical dealings, which might be understood in terms of system of relations, or referential totality. Just as there is a world of "absorbed coping" in Heidegger, set within the overarching system of relations that is our world that is lit up or revealed in moments when praxis breaks down, momentary "miscues" in the reading process also hold the positive potential to open up a world, which is as well set within the overarching context of a system of relations {world) that forms the context from out of which things make sense to us, things are interpreted and understood as we ultimately construct and derive meaning for our life and Being.

2. What Disruptions and Breakdowns Disclose about Learning and Being-in-the-world: Heidegger on Dasein's Referential Totality and World

How do we primarily learn and understand within our practical and involved dealings with entities, others, and the world? In response we must first define, or perhaps redefine, praxis in terms of the original Greek sense as involved and concerned dealings with the stuff of the world and others. As Heidegger points out, praxis should never be conceived as being directed by or in service of theory {theoria), as we find in traditional and contemporary empirical-scientific philosophies of education. Praxis is our concern {Besorgen) with the entities we encounter, and beyond, it is a concern for the Being of those entities in terms of their "equipmentality," and the unfolding of their Being occurs and is disclosed in use and their Being belongs to a context, or system, of relations, which Heidegger (1962) terms the 'Totality of Equipment" (97/68). …

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