1st Edition

Pedagogical Tact Knowing What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

By Max van Manen Copyright 2015
    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    Pedagogical Tact describes how teacher-student relations possess an improvisational and ethical character. The daily realities of educators, parents, and childcare specialists are pedagogically conditioned by sensitive insights, active thoughtfulness, and the creative ability to act caringly and appropriately in the immediacy of the moment. Internationally known educator Max van Manen shows through recognizable examples and evocative stories how good teaching is driven by the phenomenology of pedagogy. His book-refocuses educators and others away from an emphasis on instrumental skills and technocratic programs toward the need for pedagogical tact;-describes how pedagogical actions have latent effects that will influence children throughout their lives;-shows how our actions with young people have pedagogically ethical and moral significance;-gives educators back their original vocational motivation and inspiration.


    1. The Primacy of Pedagogy

    2. Experiencing Pedagogy Vicariously

    3. The Nature of Pedagogy

    4. The Pedagogy of Reflective Practice

    5. Observing with Pedagogical Eyes and Ears

    6. Pedagogical Tact

    7. Pedagogical Con-tact

    8. Pedagogical Regard and Recognition

    9. The Phenomenology of Student Experience

    10. Cyber-Pedagogy

    11. Pedagogical Knowing and Acting

    Appendix A: Ethical Pedagogical Perspectives

    Appendix B: Historical Notes



    About the Author


    van Manen, Max

    In this brilliantly conceived and poetic book, Max van Manen, makes clear that pedagogy cannot be reduced to either an abstraction, a science, a methodology, or a mind numbing form of measurement. On the contrary, for van Manen it is a practice that is as deeply self-reflective, moral and personal as it is imaginative—his is a book that not only inspires, it energizes. 

    —Henry Giroux, McMaster University

    As I read Max van Manen, the cacophony subsides, and I hear the pulse at the heart of teaching. Evading the distractions of method and dogma, van Manen honors doubt and intuition as he celebrates our capacity to be present to our students and to the world we share with them. Finally, a book about teaching that understands why we teach.

    —Madeleine Grumet, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Once again, I am touched by the pathic presencing of Max van Manen’s pedagogical thoughtfulness. As I read the book I considered how it spoke to me as one who will inhabit these experiential descriptions of pedagogy with students. The book offers a powerful call to engage with the depth of our humanness in this cradle of pedagogic being.    

    —Francine Hultgren, University of Maryland

    Van Manen's latest book Pedagogical Tact is a true work of art, elevating classroom pedagogy to an unheralded level of fascination, and revealing the committed teacher as a truly gifted and unique professional.

    —Frank Crowther, University of Southern Queensland

    Having experienced a journey of insights and understandings from Max van Manen’s writings on phenomenology and pedagogy since the mid-1970s, I see Pedagogical Tact as an elegant culmination that weaves together five central themes of his work, beautifully illustrated, and highly accessible for educators, child care workers, and others who are interested in improving education at any level: the meaning and being of child sense, personal pedagogy, interpretive reflectivity, onto-theology, and pedagogical ethics are desperately needed as a necessary antidote to the autocratic, mechanistic, surveillance-oriented policies and practices that dominate schooling today. 

    —William H. Schubert, University of Chicago

    While The Tact of Teaching provided the initial inspiration for our popular Dutch program "Pedagogical Tact for Teachers," Max van Manen’s new book deepens the phenomenon of (con)tact even further—doing so at a pleasant pace and with profound thought, and thus instilling and strengthening the swift in-the-moment-tact that a teacher, parent or school leader needs in everyday situations, and sensitizing our awareness of the truly human, truly vulnerable beauty of the teaching vocation.

    —Luc Stevens and Geert Bors, NIVOZ (Netherlands Institute for Educational Matters)

    Pedagogical Tact is a masterful synthesis of Max van Manen’s explorations of the relational qualities of work with children, the relational work that carries educational experience. It is a critique of much contemporary thinking about schools and an introduction to thinking in ways that go beyond critique. It is a must-read.

    —Ian Westbury, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    This book demonstrates that pedagogy is a powerful practice in the caring contact of the adult-child relations. Children’s lives are not fully visible to us, and yet we live in the same world. Through vocative examples and sensitive experiential reflections Max van Manen shows how pedagogical thoughtfulness and tact are urgently required of all adults who carry caring and formative responsibilities for children and youths.

    —Tone Saevi, NLA Høgskolen, Bergen, Norway