Page: 32-38 Author: Slavík, J. Key words: personality-based concept of education, didactics, content
This article explores the relationships between the personality-based concept of education, embraced by Prof. Helus in educational psychology, and the contents-concept of education that informs didactics. The personality concept of education and the contents concept of education are often considered to be opposite poles and are counterposed. By contrast, this article tries to show the connections between them, using the support of Plato’s concept of proportion, the mean.
Knowledge of content can be considered a necessary precondition for people to be able to understand each other: a human being must “have content”, i.e. has to know a certain content, in order to be able to express it and share it with another human being. Only when someone knows how to speak coherently about something with another can he himself understand it. This is why the child must be taught among adults how to “have content”, i.e. how to understand something in such a way as to be able to talk about it coherently with others. To understand means to interpret content that in an actual situation can never be reduced to a set of previously given meanings (dependent on rules shared by people and on the encyclopaedia of generally accepted knowledge), but that must always be considered in terms of its openness to new, earlier unsuspected connections of meaning and new discoveries.
This approach to content, characterised in the text as the “open concept of content”, thus entails that in education the emphasis should be on dialogue between children (pupils) and between children (pupils) and teachers – as it is only in dialogue “about something” (i.e. about content) that knowledge and understanding is formed. The fact that content can be shared between people and “meet in them” has been traditionally expressed in European culture by the metaphor of light and sight: to understand something means to clarify or illuminate it for oneself, to “see it”. The origins of this metaphor can be found in Plato’s famous parable about the cave: the people in it can acquire understanding only when they go out of the dark cave into the sunlight, so as together to see the truth − idea.
According to Plato the idea can only be seen when the human being finds its proportion or measure, i.e. when he masters the tension between the “unlimited” and the “limiting”. It is precisely in the joint search for proportion and measure that the connection can be found between the mastery of content and the socialisation of the child – i.e. between the Helusian concept of personality education and the didactic concept of open content.
The concept of measure brings together the demand for understanding with the demand for the capacity to communicate that which needs to be understood. In this way the didactic themes of concept become a part of the key Helusian themes connected with childhood and upbringing; the themes of the development of the human being within social relations. Through this lens the child is understood from the very beginning as a personality in the full sense of this word: a personality capable of seeking and finding the shared sense of action by means of coming to an understanding with other people on the basis of an agreed content.