NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ937938
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 34
ISSN: ISSN-1468-1366
More than a Metaphor: The Education of Joseph Knecht
Roberts, Peter
Pedagogy, Culture and Society, v16 n2 p163-175 2008
Education is a key theme in Hermann Hesse's final novel, "The Glass Bead Game". The book begins with a narrator's introduction, in which the Glass Bead Game is described as a way of playing with the total contents of culture--of drawing connections between disciplines, knowledge and values. The main part of the novel is devoted to the life of Joseph Knecht, who grows up in Castalia, a "pedagogical province" of the future. Knecht excels as a student, joins the Order of the Glass Bead Game and is eventually appointed to the supreme position of Magister Ludi (Master of the Game). Despite his success, Knecht becomes increasingly uneasy with the separation of Castalia from the rest of the world. He makes the extraordinary decision to resign his position as Magister Ludi and takes on the humble task of tutoring the son of a friend he has known for decades. His new pedagogical journey barely begins, however, when he dies suddenly while swimming in an icy mountain lake. Those who have examined the book from an educational point of view have tended to concentrate on the Glass Bead Game as metaphor, relying heavily on the narrator's account of the Game in the first part of the book. Martin Anderson sees a parallel between the Glass Bead Game and the forms of intellectual game playing typical of contemporary academics; Michael Peters relates the idea of the Glass Bead Game to the modernist dream of a universal language and the university in cyberspace; and James Sears depicts the field of curriculum studies as a form of Glass Bead Game in operation. This paper, while acknowledging the value of these contributions, argues that if the fuller educational significance of the novel is to be grasped we must go beyond the Glass Bead Game as metaphor and examine the life of Joseph Knecht. As the book progresses, a profound process of educational transformation becomes evident. Knecht's thoughts, actions and relationships with others allow a more complex picture of the pedagogical province to emerge. Knecht's life prompts us to question the portrait of Castalian ideals painted by the narrator in his introduction and to critique both the intellectual game playing discussed by Anderson and Sears and the universalising modernist discourse problematised by Peters.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A