In research on education the field roughly covered by the concept of Bildung has seen a wide-ranging discussion philosophically but less has been said and done from an empirical and teacher-vocational perspective (Rittelmeyer 2012, Tyson 2015a, 2015b). Bildung includes matters such as: formation of character, ethical and aesthetic knowledge/capability, capacity for wise deliberation and reflection as well as the development of personal autonomy (Rittelmeyer 2012) and is defined here in close connection with the Aristotelian phronesis or practical wisdom (Tyson 2015b) in the sense that to afford Bildung in education, from a practical standpoint, is about a teacher’s phronesis. The theoretical framework for this is phronetic social science as articulated by Flyvbjerg (2001) and Flyvbjerg et al. (2012).
The aim is to present a brief outline of narratively articulated Bildung didactics, a field of research closely related to both Bildungsgangdidaktik (Gessler 1988, Meyer 2009, Trautmann 2004) and reflective practice (Schön 1983, 1987), and then to discuss the first impressions of three multiple- case studies where the form of the inquiry has been scaled to produce a larger number of narratives.
The empirical basis for this draws on four recent studies. One is the biography of craftmaster Wolfgang B. (Tyson 2015a, 2015b) and his paradigmatic narratives of Bildung didactics as experienced over the course of his vocational education. The three other studies have, in different ways, tried to scale the initial results from the biographical study by introducing more specific Bildung didactical question in various teacher education contexts as tasks for the teacher students. One is a study reported at ECER 2015 (Pedagogical imagination and practical wisdom: the role of good narratives in teacher education and professional development) concerned with narratives of successful conflict resolution among after-school care teachers. The second is a study with vocational teacher students and their stories of vocational Bildung experiences during their own vocational training. The third is a study with students at a nursing teacher program and their stories of existential Bildung didactical events in their experience and handling of patients’ suffering and similar matters. Especially the latter two studies will be the focus of some reflection with the aim of clarifying some potentials, limitations and possibilities for VET teacher education in particular.