Martin Buber: Educating for relationship

Ethics, Place and Environment 8 (3):285 – 307 (2005)
Abstract
This paper proposes that contained within Martin Buber's works one can find useful support for, and insights into, an educational philosophy that stretches across, and incorporates, both the human and non-human worlds. Through a re-examination of his seminal essay Education2, and with reference to specific incidents in his autobiography (e.g. the horse, his family, the theatre and the tree) and to central tenets of his theology (e.g. the shekina, the Eternal Thou and teshuvah) we shall present a more coherent understanding of Buber's notion of relationship which is developmental in nature and posits intrinsic, necessary and unavoidable relational ties to both the human and non-human worlds. This understanding of Buber's view of relationship as a developmental process will add new meaning to his central ideas of 'bursting asunder' the educational relationship and the educator who is cast 'in imitatio Dei absconditi sed non ignoti'.3 Ultimately this paper wants to suggest that, for Buber, the infant is unable to become fully adult without being immersed in relationship and then coming to full awareness of it, and it is the educator who can play a pivotal role in supporting the development of this adult relationality through encounters with both individual humans and the larger non-human world.
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