Teaching as a way of bonding: a contribution to the relational theory of teaching

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The general discourse on education stresses either the teacher’s or the student’s position. This article aims to contribute to a relational theory of teaching by discussing three significant concepts of teaching from the standpoint of Martin Buber’s relational philosophy. Feldman suggests that teaching implies being human in a particular way and in a particular context; Kelchtermans shows that a teacher’s ‘personal interpretative framework’ plays a crucial role in teaching and is constantly modified through interactions; Biesta defines the essence of teaching in terms of the relation between the teacher’s address and the student’s personal response. Although they all contribute to the relational theory of teaching, they also seem to neglect a vital dimension found in Buber’s philosophy – the exceptional moment when a teacher and a student turn to each other as ‘this particular other person’. As a supplement to the other concepts, this article outlines the concept of ‘teaching as a way of bonding’ and makes three suggestions: (1) bonding is a prerequisite for teaching; (2) there are qualitative differences between ‘social bonding’ and ‘relational bonding’; and (3) the teaching is ultimately best understandable in terms of ‘relational bonding’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-596
Number of pages8
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Issue number6
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Pedagogy (50301)


  • Martin Buber
  • relational bond
  • relational theory
  • teaching


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