Pedagogies in Dissonance

The Transformation of Pedagogical Tact


  • Karsten Kenklies


History of Education, Philosophy of Education, Systematic Pedagogy, General Pedagogy, Intercultural Education, Herbart, Pedagogical Tact


When Herbart in 1802 introduced the concept of Pedagogical Tact in his first lecture on pedagogy, he answered to a systematic problem that had also troubled his predecessor: It was within his theory of judgement that Immanuel Kant attempted to solve the problem of the relation of theory and practice, of theoretical and practical Vernunft. In reference to Kant’s notion of Logical Tact, Herbart proposed the Pedagogical Tact as a way to describe how, in pedagogy, theory and practice could be bound together.

Despite their brevity, those short remarks of Herbart became, and continue to be, a Classic theorem of pedagogical thinking, especially within Continental Pedagogy, while in the Anglophone world, Pedagogical Tact has found only sparse interest until recently.

Both the larger absence of interest, as well as the recent interest are, in themselves, rather remarkable as they represent trends that seem characteristic for the adaptation of especially German pedagogical theories in Anglophone contexts. Concentrating on Herbart’s tact, this chapter will explore the distortions that not only led to an obliviousness towards the fundamental concept of Pedagogical Tact, but also its distorted reception much later.