Session S50a (Tuesday, 9:30am, Thomas 201)

P462: Hermeneutics: Reading texts/reading education/reading the world

Diane Wood (Towson University, USA)

Hermeneutics attempts to shed light on how human beings forge meanings from the flood of their experiences; at root, it is a theory about human understanding. Initially a theory about interpretation of texts, hermeneutics has reached beyond words to lived realities. Applied to education, hermeneutic theories highlight teaching and learning as complex acts of interpretation involving the interplay of autobiography, personality, personal experience, interpersonal relations, context, language, culture, and history in encounters with curriculum—whether explicit, implicit, and/or hidden. Curriculum is itself an interpretation as it is fundamentally an interpretation of what curriculum makers believe to be valuable to learn. Moreover, teachers interpret the curriculum as they design their students’ encounters with it, and learners interpret their curricular experiences in order to create meaning of them. Because these processes can be largely unconscious, greater understanding of the hermeneutic role in education can open opportunities for teachers and students to rethink their present interpretations and consider alternative modes of meaning making.


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