Pedagogical relation

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The pedagogical relation refers to special kind of personal relationship between adult and child or adult or student that is different from other personal relationships. The pedagogical relation is described by Hermann Nohl, Klaus Mollenhauer, and others in the humanistic European pedagogical tradition. It has been discussed more recently in English by Max van Manen, Norm Friesen and Tone Saevi.[1]

The pedagogical relation is marked by a number of characteristics:

  • In the pedagogical relation the adult is directed toward the child. The relation is asymmetrical, unlike many other personal relationships (e.g. friendship). The adult is "there" for the child in a way that the child is not "there" for the adult.
  • In the pedagogical relation the adult wants or intends what is good for the child's future. This relationship is oriented to what the child may become, but without being determined by adult plans or goals.
  • The pedagogical relation comes to an end. The child grows up and the asymmetry of the relation (if it is still maintained) dissolves. As Klaus Mollenhauer explains, "upbringing comes to an end when the child no longer needs to be "called" to self-activity, but instead has the wherewithal to educate himself."
  • In the pedagogical relation the adult is tactful. As Max van Manen and Jakob Muth explain, tact in this context often consists of holding back and waiting or maintaining a certain distance so that the child may act for him- or herself.


  1. ^ "Sisifo Resources". 22 January 2011.