Argue for my cause and redeem what means

Thinking framework of German didactics

Marcus Steinbrenner

"The linguistic nature of people as an educational task in time" - and as a framework for German didactics

"Human language as an educational challenge over time" - and as a theoretical framework for German didactics

Abstract: Drawing on Humboldt’s and Coserius ’ideas about language, this paper uses Hubert Ivo’s notion of“ human language as an educational challenge over time ”to propose an alternative theoretical framework for the didactics of German. Challenging current approaches in the field, Steinbrenner discusses nine aspects of how to teach language and literature in the light of the “freedom of poetic speech” (Jürgen Trabant).

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The following article consists of five parts: In the first part, I will show how the linguistic nature of the human being is established as an educational task for Wilhelm von Humboldt, how it is received by Hubert Ivo as a "framework" for German didactics and updated by Jürgen Trabant as a contemporary linguist. In doing so, I will primarily pursue the question of how important literature is in this framework of thought. Then I will investigate how this thinking of language and literature relates to current German didactic theoretical approaches (2.), selected educational and socio-theoretical drafts (3.) and the perspectives of students and teachers on literature lessons (4). In the final fifth part, as a conclusion and as a stimulus for further thinking, I will outline nine aspects of a concept of linguistic-literary education.

1 Human language as an educational task

The title of this article goes back to Hubert Ivo's 1999 monograph Deutschdidaktik. Human language as an educational task in time. Here Ivo is developing the building blocks of a theory of German didactics, the educational task of which he derives from human language and is focused on ← 95 | 96 → based on current school discourses. Wilhelm von Humboldt's linguistic thinking forms the central theoretical point of reference. However, this attempt at a theoretical foundation for German didactics was hardly received or further developed. After the turn of the millennium, as a result of the 'Pisa shock', the increasing pressure of topicality and the increasing importance of empirical research in the German didactic discourse, the main focus was on competence orientation, which Ivo is rather critical of (cf. Ivo 2000). In his likewise programmatic text, Jakob Ossner relates elements of a thinking style for didactic decisions to Ivo's theoretical foundation and states: “Ivo called for a 'thinking framework' for German didactics and formulated it in 'German didactics'. This makes the anthropological foundations of the discipline clear ”(Ossner 2001, p. 21). “A thinking framework establishes the outer lines and thus the inner field within which one should think in a discipline. Ethical and anthropological considerations establish a framework of thought ”(ibid., P. 29).

I cannot present Ivo's proposal for a framework for thinking in detail, but I would like to illustrate his line of thought by starting with the title of his monograph: German Didactics. Human language as an educational task in time (Ivo 1999). This formulation refers to a linguistic, anthropological and educational theory dimension and also to the historicity and the reference to time, with which Ivo clearly turns against essentialist and naturalistic conceptions. Language theory or philosophy, anthropology, educational theory and, last but not least, time (the history, current present and anticipated future of language) are the central points of reference for German didactic theory formation. In simplified terms, the following thesis can be formulated: How we think of people as linguistic beings (to be educated and to be educated) has a decisive influence on our German-didactic theory formation. With Ivo, I advocate a certain framework of thought that is itself theoretically and always theoretically founded - which reference theories it should be based on, of course, remains controversial. This brings with it the danger of eclecticism, at the same time anthropological, educational theory and language theoretical references (especially in this combination) are always connected with normative statements, which gives them a special explosiveness.

For Hubert Ivo, Wilhelm von Humboldt's linguistic thinking represents the foundation for the German-didactic thinking framework he formulated, not least because he thought anthropology, educational theory and language theory together in a way that is still unique and unconsidered. In the following ← 96 | 97 → I will try to outline this in the necessary brevity, whereby I want to let Humboldt himself have a say in particular:

Language is ultimately determined only in the individual. Nobody thinks exactly what the other thinks when they hear the word, and the slightest difference trembles, like a circle in water, through the whole language. All understanding is therefore always at the same time a non-understanding, all agreement in thoughts and feelings at the same time a divergence. In the way in which language is modified in every individual, a man's power over it reveals itself in relation to the power presented above. [...] In the influence exercised on him lies the lawfulness of language and its forms, in the reaction that comes from it there is a principle of freedom. For something can arise in man, the ground of which no understanding can find in the preceding states; [...] But if freedom in itself is indeterminable and inexplicable, its limits may nevertheless be found within a certain scope granted to it alone; and the examination of language must recognize and honor the appearance of freedom, but at the same time carefully trace its limits. (Humboldt 1998 [1830–35], p. 190 f.)

Anthropology: Humboldt speaks here several times of human beings, his language thinking is always closely linked to human thinking, which is particularly concise in his dictum "The human being is only human through language" (Humboldt, first academy speech 1820, quoted in Trabant 2009 , P. 7). Central to anthropology and educational theory is the human individuality, which is also conceived from language. Language sets “boundaries” for people, it exercises influence, yes, power over them with its regularity and forms - but at the same time it also opens up a space for maneuver, a moment of freedom, because “only in the individual does language receive its last Certainty ”. Here, as in many other places, Humboldt's dialectical, even antinomic thinking is evident, which is not least a reason for its topicality. It also shapes his language theory and philosophy, which is particularly clearly expressed in this quote in the dialectic of understanding and non-understanding, agreement and divergence, the power of language over people and the power of people over them. For Jürgen Trabant, the antinomy, the tension between two contradicting and yet valid language conceptions, is at the center of Humboldt's linguistic thinking: on the one hand, language can be thought of as

[…] Arbitrary sign, references to universal concepts and things in reality, designation of objectivity […]. In order for us to cope in the world, so that science and technology can successfully access the world, we have to give precise presentations. That is how language has to work in science, and that is how ← 97 | 98 → philosophy (logic) likes language. On the other hand, however, language [...] is also a very special sound-cognitive creation, a subjective understanding of the world, a historical-particular view of the world that lets it appear in a very special light (Trabant 2008, p. 177) .

At this point I would like to summarize the interlinking of anthropology, educational theory and language theory in Humboldt's work in five theses, whereby the reference to German didactic issues becomes clear in some of them, which is what is at stake here:1

• Language is central to human education (“Man is only human through language”)!

• Language is both a general requirement and an individual task: people grow into a linguistic community, of which they have to become an individual member. Linguistic education thus includes on the one hand knowing and complying with given norms - on the other hand, this also involves the task of appropriating these norms individually. H. enter into a reflexive relationship with them and also be able to change and transcend them. In this sense, “standardization” and “allegory” constitute human language and are therefore also fundamental categories for German-didactic thinking (cf. Ivo 2001).2

• Language must not only be thought of as an (external) sign / instrument, but must also be thought of as a view of the world and an educational organ with which the human being articulates himself physically and sensually. This turns against conceptions of language that are unilaterally pragmatic, instrumental and cognitive.3

• Language is by its nature dialogical. Dialogicity as an anthropological determination means that language acquisition processes, in particular, must be understood as being largely dialogical, personal and affective.

• Diversity and, in particular, multilingualism are fundamentally viewed as an opportunity and potential - at the same time, the importance of the mother tongue and the vernacular or national languages ​​as creating identity are used ← 98 | 99 → de linguistic communities (in particular the last two aspects can only be mentioned here and not further developed with argumentation - I can only refer to the numerous writings by Hubert Ivo and Jürgen Trabant).

It becomes clear that we are dealing here with a certain conception of language that cannot be "proven" and also not or not only derived from empirical evidence (although Humboldt also carried out extensive empirical language studies). It is about certain, theoretical conceptions and ways of thinking of language, which are always connected with normative propositions (“This is how language should be”). According to Humboldt, it is precisely what distinguishes people and one of their highest and most important skills is that they are able to think language and that language is not only given by nature, but at the same time given up: what language is is always also determined by it how we think language.

Following this, I would now like to show the importance of literature and the poetic at Humboldt and first of all let Humboldt himself have his say:

For the pleasure in articulated sounds gives them richness and variety of connections. [...] Often, as with adverse sensations, distress expresses him; in other cases it is based on intention, in that it entices, warns, or calls for help. But it emanates from the joyful feeling of existence, even without need or intention, and not only from raw pleasure, but also from the more tender pleasure in the more artful blaring of tones. This last is the poetic, […]. (Humboldt 1998 [1830–35], p. 195)

The poetic and above all its origin, the history of its origins, are shaped by orality and sensuality, freedom from purpose and voluntariness, lust and joy. These moments are central to Humboldt's determination of the poetic, and the poetic, in turn, also has a fundamentally anthropological meaning:

The words flow freely from the breast, without need or intention, and there may not have been a wandering horde in any wasteland that had not already owned their songs. For man, as an animal species, is a singing creature, but connects thoughts with sounds. (Humboldt 1998 [1830–35], p. 187)

Because that is the case, according to the Berlin novelist Jürgen Trabant, poetry and poetry are “not the other of language, they are not a deviating linguistic action, but rather language itself. In it, humans come to themselves as 'animal species', speaking , that means singing, combining ideas with sounds, articulating, in every utterance of the individual speaking ← 99 | 100 → people, but most beautiful and free in poetry ”(Trabant 2009, p. 90 f.). Jürgen Trabant's works (including 2008; 2009; 2012) are one of the many examples that Humboldt's linguistic thinking is topical and productively received. The last chapter of his basic work Was ist Sprache ?, which is based heavily on Humboldt and on which the whole argumentation boils down, is entitled “From the freedom of poetic speaking” (Trabant 2008, p. 276 ff.). Here, too, Trabant opposes a definition of the poetic as a deviation from any kind of “normal” use of language. In addition to Humboldt, he refers to the work of Eugenio Coseriu, who, following the tradition of Humboldt and romantic language thinking, thinks of poetry as the “place where the functional perfection of language unfolds”, because

poetic language use is not a deviation from 'normal' language use, exactly the opposite is the case: all other modalities of language such as B. everyday language or scientific language [...] represent deviations from total language, from language par excellence. If one may speak of reduction, so in the case of the various types of non-poetic language use, because there many language functions are canceled, 'de-actualized', which are completely present in poetic speech (Coseriu 1994, p. 148).

I quote Coseriu so extensively here because he plays a central role in the following argument. Mind you: literature, poetry, poetry (the terms should, strictly speaking, still have to be differentiated) can follow Humboldt, Coseriu, Ivo, Trabant and others. be thought of as a “place of functional perfection of language” - they don't have to be. However, if you decide for (or against) this framework, this has didactic consequences.

The fact that Coseriu does not regard poetic speech as deviant and that for him it is the actual speaking, language in its “functional abundance”, has first and foremost ethical consequences for Trabant. The aesthetic area of ​​language is the only area in which speaking can be free from constraints, “where generosity reigns, where (almost) 'anything goes'. And this freedom is its ethical meaning. Where else, if not in poetic speech, can people experience what life could and should be ”(Trabant 2008, p. 280) and

therefore and in this new sense - not in the sense of a somehow higher social standard in a society full of constraints - poetic speaking is distinctive: it is the distinction of the species (ibid., p. 294) 101 →

2 The linguistic nature of people in German-didactic theoretical approaches

2.1 Reading socialization in the media society (Norbert Groeben, Bettina Hurrelmann)

The DFG Priority Program Reading Socialization in Media Society is not a genuine German-didactic theoretical approach, but rather an approach of basic research in the field of reading socialization. For my topic, however, it is of interest because one of the central questions of the research group around Nobert Groeben and Bettina Hurrelmann was the question of the functions of reading and how these functions are related to the norms of society. At the starting point of her "research overview", Norbert Groeben asks the pointed question:

Doesn't it make sense then, in the concept of reading competence, primarily to start with informational texts and to concentrate on the cognitive sub-components as competence dimensions [...]? And not primarily for test-economic reasons, but because empirically and normatively this concentration best corresponds to the functions that reading can and should have in our media society in the long run! Or is it a matter of preserving certain emotional-motivational functions that are only or primarily associated with reading [...]? (Groeben 2004, p. 21)

Behind the question is the tendency associated with the PISA studies and often problematized in the meantime, to reduce reading competence to its cognitive subcomponents, its instrumental-pragmatic character and thus more generally to reading factual and informational texts for two reasons: Because the cognitive subcomponents can be measured more effectively in terms of test economics and because instrumental-pragmatic reading clearly belongs to the competencies of a “socially active subject” (Hurrelmann 2004, p. 282) in the media society, which is not possible with other types of reading can easily claim. So Norbert Groeben and Bettina Hurrelmann come to the conclusion:

Overall, it becomes clear that the "radiation" of reading information on manifest action orientations of the person is empirically better substantiated than the corresponding effect of reading fiction.This gives a concept of reading as a training field, from which effects on cognitive-instrumental and socially pragmatic dimensions of social participation are to be expected, the great persuasive power, recently strengthened again by PISA. (Groeben / Hurrelmann 2004, p. 452) ← 101 | 102 →

However, Groeben and Hurrelmann oppose this reductionist model with a “cultural model for reading”, which they describe by means of a triad of reading-related educational norms that are in tension with one another

firstly, about the norm of rational self-determination that came from the Enlightenment. In this way, the cognitive-pragmatic subsequent functions of reading information and, on the part of fiction, the development of moral awareness can be easily combined. Second, the norm of existential personality development through reading, which comes from the idealistic-humanistic tradition and is anchored primarily in formal educational contexts, must be taken into account. The subsequent functions on the literary side, from imagination to cultural memory, correspond to this goal idea. Finally, the third norm is the experience and enjoyment orientation, which has been considerably strengthened by the development of the media and, above all, is reflected in the direct function of entertainment in the sense of relief and stimulation effects. And while experience needs and enjoyment of life can be realized more easily for most of the recipients through the offers of the visual media, the danger cannot be denied that aspects of existential personality development come under pressure in the media society, of which contributions to a cognitive- instrumental or economically reduced rationality are not to be expected without further ado (Groeben / Hurrelmann 2004, p. 452).

Rational self-determination, existential personality development and experience or pleasure orientation as educational norms related to reading - at first glance a reading model that is very broad. At second glance, however, a crucial area is missing or is only very implicitly taken into account: the area of ​​language education. This is inter alia. because the theoretical aspects of language play practically no role in the construction of the theory and therefore literature as language cannot come into view. In the construction and reconstruction of the educational norms, the Enlightenment and v. a. the idealistic-humanistic tradition is also referred to (especially in Hurrelmann 2004, p. 283 ff.), but this is received in a one-sided and strongly abbreviated manner. The close connection between language, literature and education in Herder, Schleiermacher, Humboldt and others. hardly comes into view and is not used at all for the reconstruction and updating of the educational norms for the present.

Existential personality development and experience and enjoyment orientation, which are primarily associated with literary reading, are already controversial as educational norms because of their difficult verifiability and their tension with the prevailing school-institutional and social norms. If literature is not thought of based on its linguistic character, one quickly comes to the conclusion that these educational norms ← 102 | 103 → can be implemented with any other media. In this way, literature becomes interchangeable and ultimately threatens to become obsolete as an educational subject. The question remains whether a sociologically and historically derived and ultimately quite unspecifically contoured “socially capable subject” alone is sufficient as a framework for the construction of educational norms for German didactics. Or to put it simply and pointedly: Do you really need literary reading in order to be “socially capable of action”?

2.2 Educational language (Helmuth Feilke)

More recent examples of the construction of linguistic quality can be found in the version published by Michael Becker-Mrotzek et al. (2013) edited volume Sprach im Fach. Linguistic and professional learning. In the essay Educational Language and School Language using the example of literal argumentative competencies by Helmuth Feilke, the following graphic is shown to illustrate the construct "Educational Language":

Fig. 1: Written language - educational language - school language (see Feilke 2013, p. 118).

What is striking is that there is no area of ​​overlap between “literary language” and “educational language”. This is certainly not an intention, nor is it the thematic focus of the essay. But a quotation points to a ← 103 | 104 → similar direction: “The language of education belongs to the written language, as well as literary language, legal language, scientific and technical languages ​​and possibly also other varieties” (Feilke 2013, p. 119). So is literary language on the same level as legal or scientific language, is it even a variety? The graphic allows for several possible interpretations, but it is obvious that literary language is thought differently here than in Trabant and Coseriu. If you follow the discourse about the language of education in German didactics, it is also noticeable that, with the exception of work related to elementary school, there is practically no reference to literature / literary language. Educational language is primarily thought of in terms of linguistic and cultural sociology - a framework of thought that, viewed from a distance, appears to be one-sided and determined by others.

2.3 Literary aesthetic judgment and communication (Volker Frederking et al.)

In another article from the same anthology with the title Literary Aesthetic Communication in German Lessons by Volker Frederking et al. The following definition can be found right at the beginning: “Poetic language can be understood as a specific expression of technical language” (Frederking et al. 2013, p. 131). This understanding of poetic language also obviously contradicts the conception shown in the first chapter, according to which literature is not a technical language, and this has considerable didactic consequences here.

A central initial question of the research group around Frederking is: “But what makes the specifics of a literary text that […] constitutes literary aesthetic communication?” (Frederking et al. 2013, p. 133). The question is answered primarily with Roman Jakobson and the semiotic aesthetics of Umberto Eco, in which