Vocations and Learning

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 229–245 | Cite as

Educating for Vocational Excellence: The Auto/Biographical Exploration of Enacted Craft Pedagogy

Original Paper


The focus of this article is on education for vocational excellence (the combination of virtue and good judgment or phronesis/practical wisdom) through an examination of episodes from the auto/biographical study of master craftsman Wolfgang B. Vocational excellence is an issue sometimes discussed with regard to teacher training for schools and universities, often from an Aristotelian perspective, but less often when it comes to teaching and teacher training in the various models of craft apprenticeship education that exist. Even though there is no lack of arguments made for the excellence one is able to develop in learning a craft there are fewer takes on how such educational aims have been enacted. This is problematic because teaching vocational knowledge, including excellence, thereby becomes a practice that is less articulated than it could to be and more systematic reflection is inhibited. I will be considering these problems through the educational biography of a master bookbinder, gilder and engraver, Mr. Wolfgang B., and two stories he tells, one of his education in Paris and one of his own deliberations in teaching bookbinding. In doing this I am arguing for a systematic narrative approach to research on how to teach vocational excellence and by extension more generally with regard to teaching. This not only does justice to the particularity of practical wisdom but also calls attention to the imaginative character of being able to deliberate wisely.


Aristotle Phronesis Narrative Craft Biography Vocational ethics Schön 



I extend my gratitude to professor Randall Curren for helpful comments on the section discussing Aristotle and to professor Gert Biesta for sharing a forthcoming text as well as helpful comments. I would also like to acknowledge the helpful and thorough work of the three anonymous reviewers who read and reread the manuscript. Their comments, critique and suggestions were greatly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of educationStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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