Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl


Pedagogical Tact or Tact of Teaching

Luc Stevens

The quality of the teacher-pupil interaction has often been proven crucial to the well-being and the achievement of pupils (Hattie, 2009). Teachers are able to create moments of optimal performance and behaviour in their interactions with pupils: They do exactly the right thing at the right moment, also in the eyes of the pupils. In our work we focus on this optimal teacher behaviour, referring to it as Tact: “The expression of thoughtfulness that involves the total being of the person, an active sensitivity toward the subjectivity of the other” (Van Manen, 1991).

In an effort to understand and develop ways of stimulating ‘pedagogical tact’ we draw upon the tradition of attachment research (Belsky, 1998), the work of Csikszentmihalyi (1990) and the SDT model (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

We presuppose that the occurrence of ‘pedagogical tact’ requires teachers to use and invest inner resources to allocate and regulate their attention and awareness towards the situation at hand and its significance with an open mind, open heart and open will (Scharmer, 2009). This condition of openness includes the ability to be ‘mindful’ (Brown & Ryan, 2003) and present (Scharmer, 2009).

With our presentation we report a.o. on a training course focused on building teachers’ energy resources and making them available for tactful behaviour. The course uses the teachers’ own practice as the point of reference and poses two central questions: “What teacher will I be” and “What teacher am I”. We use critical friends and the teachers’ pupils as main resources of (guided) dialogical reflection on critical incidents in classroom practices as well as narratives, images and methaphors.


  • Belsky, J. (1998). Paternal Influence and Children’s Well Being. In Booth (Ed). Men in Families, p.279-294).
  • Brown, K.W. & Ryan,, R.M. (2003). The Benefits of Being Present: Mindfulness and its Role in Psychological Well-Being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822-848.
  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow. New York: Harper and Row.
  • Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.
  • Ryan, R.M. & Deci, E.L. (2000). Self Determination Theory: An organismic dialogical perspective. In L.Deci & R.Ryan. (Eds.), Handbook of Self-Determination Research (p.3-33). Rochester NY: University of Rochester Press.
  • Scharmer, O. (2009). Theory U. Learning from the future as it emerges.  Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
  • Van Manen (1991). The Tact of Teaching. London, Ontario: The Althouse Press.

Mindfulness in Schools

Kevin Hawkins

Mindfulness in Schools Project has been training teachers to teach introductory courses in mindfulness to teenagers since 2010 and to primary school children since 2013.  In recent years there has been an upsurge in interest in mindfulness from many sectors of society in the UK, including the government.  With concerns growing over mental health, especially for young people, MiSP is currently exploring how best to respond to this increasing demand whilst maintaining both the quality of teaching and the integrity of curricula.

This workshop will give participants the opportunity to experience firsthand  how the  “.b” [dot-be] program is taught to teenagers.  In addition we will look at the “paws b” program for younger children and the “.b Foundations” course for teachers. Through the .b Foundations course for teachers we aim to recognize the importance of teachers modeling awareness and self-care as vital components in establishing engaged and caring learning environments.

The principles and philosophy of Børns Livskundskabs work

Helle Jensen and Steen Hildebrandt

How is a quality learning environment established? How can the development of both the individual pupil and the class as a learning community be secured? In these processes, relational competences, mindfulness and empathy play a core role.  Pedagogy and psychology have taught us about the importance of relations for pupils’ learning and development, and centuries of contemplative practices have taught us about the importance of staying connected to so-called natural competences: heart, mind, body, breath and creativity. We present our take on these perspectives.

School leadership is part of establishing a quality learning environment. We explore the essential attributes of schools/organizations that mimic life from the perspectives of their existential awareness that they are living systems, their organizational structures, their cultures, their behaviors, their openness to learning, their goals, and their levels of consciousness.

Transforming the Heart of Education: Training Empathy

Helle Jensen and Steen Hildebrandt

Remembering Fritjof Capra saying in The Web of Life: "Whenever we look at life, we look at networks", we explore the network structure and quality of schools and education systems; we present ideas and concepts from the areas of resilience and sustainability which are of importance to schools and school leadership, and we look at how to stay connected – in the outer network to other people as well as in the inner network to ourselves – by using dialogue in developing a personal language that is able to create and stabilize this contact.