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Teaching to Understand
On the Concept of the Exemplary in Teaching

Martin Wagenschein

If you can go to the source
don't go to the water jug


The "Tübingen Resolution"1 suggested that the difficulty in covering large amounts of content could be overcome through the concept of the exemplary in teaching. In recent years this concept has found so much resonance that we must gain as much clarity as possible about it. For on the one hand we notice the concern that the ship, built with much hope but not yet ready, could perish when launched and loaded up too early. On the other hand we know that such a ship cannot be built on land. Its final construction plan must arise out of the experience of many explorations on the sea of educational practice.

The following remarks offer starting points for gaining conceptual clarity, but they are no more than that. My most immediate thoughts concern the field of physics, with which I am familiar. However, they also go beyond physics. I hold back as much as possible, but am also not overly concerned about my competency to go beyond my own field. After all, as educators we can't help going beyond the boundaries o