Gert Biesta’s scholarship traverses everything from adult education to lifelong learning, citizenship education to educational policy, and educational theory to teacher education. What I enjoy most about his work is the attention he pays to foundational issues in education. One of his more provocative and insightful treatments is the (critical) attention he gives to the idea of learning in Chapter 1 of Beyond Learning (Biesta, 2006).
One of the most remarkable changes that has taken place in the theory and practice of education over the past two decades has been the rise of the concept of “learning” and the subsequent decline of the concept of “education.”
– GERT BIESTA, Beyond Learning: Democratic Education for a Human Future (2006)
More recently, I’ve enjoyed the way(s) in which Biesta brings the notion of risk into education (e.g., see Biesta’s The Beautiful Risk of Education (2014)). Finally, I appreciate that Biesta has worked tirelessly throughout his career to explicate the notion of pedagogy. Too often in education (in my opinion), pedagogy is simply used as a synonym for ‘teaching,’ but Biesta–along with others such as Tom Popkewitz and Lynn Fendler–has made it possible to see pedagogy as something more than (just) teaching. This possibility is important for educators, I think, because it imputes at least some measure of complexity to–not to mention respect for–educational acts which, as its practitioners know all too well, are inherently complex endeavors.