The Good Life of Teaching: An Ethics of Professional Practice

The Good Life of Teaching: An Ethics of Professional Practice

by Chris Higgins


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The Good Life of Teaching: An Ethics of Professional Practice by Chris Higgins

The Good Life of Teaching extends the recent revival ofvirtue ethics to professional ethics and the philosophy ofteaching. It connects long-standing philosophical questions aboutwork and human growth to questions about teacher motivation,identity, and development.

  • Makes a significant contribution to the philosophy of teachingand also offers new insights into virtue theory and professionalethics
  • Offers fresh and detailed readings of major figures in ethics,including Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Bernard Williamsand the practical philosophies of Hannah Arendt, John Dewey andHans-Georg Gadamer
  • Provides illustrations to assist the reader in visualizingmajor points, and integrates sources such as film, literature, andteaching memoirs to exemplify arguments in an engaging andaccessible way
  • Presents a compelling vision of teaching as a reflectivepractice showing how this requires us to prepare teachersdifferently

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781444339307
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 12/06/2011
Series: Journal of Philosophy of Education Series , #11
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Chris Higgins is Assistant Professor in the Department ofEducational Policy, Organization and Leadership at theUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he isalso Associate Editor and Review Editor of EducationalTheory. A philosopher of education, his work draws on virtueethics, hermeneutics, and psychoanalysis. His scholarly interestsinclude professional ethics and teacher identity, dialogue and theteacher-student relationship, liberal learning and the humanisticimagination, professional education and the philosophy ofwork.

Table of Contents

Preface (Richard Smith).


Introduction: Why We Need a Virtue Ethics ofTeaching.

Saints and scoundrels.
A brief for teacherly self-cultivation.
From the terrain of teaching to the definition of professionalethics.
Outline of the argument.

PART I. The Virtues of Vocation: From Moral Professionalismto Practical Ethics.

Chapter 1. Work and Flourishing: Williams' Critique ofMorality and its Implications for Professional Ethics.

Retrieving Socrates' question.
Modern moral myopia.
What do moral agents want?
From moral professionalism to professional ethics.

Chapter 2. Worlds of Practice: MacIntyre's Challenge toApplied Ethics.

The architecture of MacIntyre's moral theory.
A closer look at internal goods.
The practicality of ethical reflection.
What counts as a practice: The proof, the pudding, and therecipe.
Boundary conditions: Practitioners, managers, interpreters, andfans.

Chapter 3. Labour, Work, and Action: Arendt's Phenomenologyof Practical Life.

Arendt's Singular Project.
Defining the Deed.
Hierarchy and interdependence in the vita activa.
Praxis in the professions.

Chapter 4. A Question of Experience: Dewey and Gadamer onPractical Wisdom.

The constant gardener.
The existential and aesthetic dimensions of vocation.
Our dominant vocation.
Practical wisdom and the circle of experience.
The open question.

PART II. A Virtue Ethics for Teachers: Problems andProspects.

Chapter 5. The Hunger Artist: Pedagogy and the Paradox ofSelf-Interest.

A blind spot in the educational imagination.
The hunger artist.
The very idea of a helping profession.
This ripeness of self.

Chapter 6. Working Conditions: The Practice of Teaching andthe Institution of  School.

A prima facie case for teaching as a practice.
MacIntyre's Objection.
Schools as surroundings.

Chapter 7. The Classroom Drama: Teaching as Endless Rehearsaland Cultural Elaboration.

Education as the drama of cultural renewal.
A false lead.
Teaching as labour, work, and action.
Education, shelter, and mediation.
Teaching as endless rehearsal.
Teaching as cultural elaboration.

Chapter 8. Teaching as Experience: Toward a Hermeneutics ofTeaching and Teacher Education.

Teaching as vocational environment.
Batch processing, kitsch culture, and other obstacles to teachervocation.
The syntax of educational claims.
The shape of humanistic conversation.
Horizons of educational inquiry.
Teacher education for practical wisdom.


What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The question of the ethical life of the teacher is as old asphilosophy; but in the contemporary world this has been transformedinto a question of professional ethics. In The Good Life ofTeaching, Chris Higgins brings this newer question ofprofessionalism back to its philosophical roots. Anyone whoexperiences teaching as a vocation - in the sense of a calling -but also wants to participate in the vocation of teaching - in thesense of a profession – will want to read this book."
Jonathan Lear, The University of Chicago

‘This is an exemplary book in philosophy of education. Itcombines intellectual rigour, ethical seriousness and imaginativeverve in a finely pitched exploration of the nature of teaching.Philosophers will applaud how its argument for the pertinence toeducation of a wisely chosen group of key thinkers creativelyextends our understanding of their work. More important, teacherswill be deeply confirmed or transformed by its sane vision of whatcan make their work both noble and sustainable.’
Joseph Dunne, Cregan Professor Emeritus in philosophyof education, Dublin City University

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