The Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), in collaboration with the Nationaal Regieorgaan Onderwijsonderzoek, has awarded Katharina Bauer from Erasmus School of Philosophy with a Comenius Teaching Fellowship for her project ‘Is less perfect just perfect? Coping with perfectionist ideals in arts education’. The aim of the Comenius Teaching Fellowship is to help teaching staff put their ideas to innovate education into practice. The Fellows are distinguished on the basis of their experience and the extent of their impact on education.
Katharina Bauer is an assistant professor of practical philosophy at Erasmus School of Philosophy. She obtained a doctorate in philosophy for her dissertation about the phenomenon of the gift in 2012. In 2016 she completed her habilitation thesis about theories of practical necessity at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum as a research scholar of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). Her areas of specialization are moral philosophy, self-optimization and enhancement, theories of practical necessity, theories of personal identity and character, theories of the gift and contemporary French philosophy.
Short Summary of Katharina Bauer’s Comenius project
Today many students experience increasing performance pressure, often leading to mental health problems like burnout, depression, performance anxiety, or to the use of “smart drugs”. Reasons can be found in demanding societal ideals of perfectionism, high-output and high-performance – a culture of self-optimization, sometimes leading to the impression that we are improving ourselves to death.
As an outsider one could suspect that these problems are less pressing in arts education, which should rather foster creativity and the free unfolding of the students’ individual personalities. Still, perfectionism is deeply rooted in the DNA of performing arts education (for example dancers and musicians) aiming at perfecting technical skills and the capacities to call up the perfect performance at the right moment or to continuously generate creative output.
The Comenius project will collaborate and stimulate a critical debate about perfectionism among students and teachers at the Rotterdam Arts and Sciences Lab (RASL) a collaboration between Erasmus University Rotterdam, Codarts University for Performing Arts and Willem de Kooning Academy Hogeschool Rotterdam.
The project contributes to the development of excellent educational programs that help students and teachers coping with their own ambitions, with the expectations of others and to develop a healthy and complete self-understanding as responsible, autonomous and mature artists, researchers, educators – and unique individuals.