Planning for the unplannable: Responding to (un)articulated calls in the classroom


  • Tanja Westfall-Greiter
  • Johanna F Schwarz



pedagogical tact, phenomenology, pedagogy


In this paper, the authors explore the pedagogical call as an articulated or unarticulated appeal from children in classroom settings and the many facets of pedagogical responsivity as they in vignettes stemming from a research project, funded nation-wide in Austria. While instruction can be planned, the pedagogical call can be understood as an appeal that occurs in medias res, in the midst of an event in the pedagogical situation, and can at best be anticipated. This dilemma of planning for the unplannable is constitutive of the pedagogical relation and addressed in the discourse regarding pedagogical tact in both North America and Europe. In seeking to gain insight into educational processes and learning through the lived experiences of 5th-grade students in Austria’s “New Middle School” reform pilot, researchers were faced with a similar dilemma: How to capture the experiences of others, of children at school in medias res? The authors therefore provide background to their vignette research as a framework for their readings oriented to the pedagogical call as they arise in two vignettes. While articulated calls, and articulated responses, tend to be more straightforward, the authors address the difficulty of recognizing an unarticulated call of which the student is unaware, as well as recognizing no response as a response on the part of the teacher. Refraining from judgment as to the pedagogical quality of the teachers' actions, the authors conclude by addressing two critical aspects of the discourse on pedagogical tact driven by the principle of individuality: the underlying assumption that the other can be understood and the inherent concept of the pedagogical situation as one-to-one contact, the former ignoring the inaccessibility of the other and the latter neglecting the institutional laws that govern school reality.