Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Living with “Competency at Lacking Competency”

There can be a considerable gap between aspirations and reality, a gap that you as a lecturer cannot bridge. Yet you can try to acknowledge it and live with it. Non-discrimination functions as an affirmative norm that can never be fully attained but that guides our actions. In view of the high demands on their time as well as structural inequalities that exist outside teaching, teaching professionals sometimes find themselves in the paradoxical position of seeking to challenge the very circumstances in which they participate.

Here, the educational scholar Paul Mecheril recommends cultivating the skill he playfully calls “competency at lacking competency” (Kompetenzlosigkeitskompetenz). This is an acknowledgment that “there are no ‘easy,’ once-size-fits-all professional courses of action. Within our professional practice, we are obliged to take a fundamentally reflective stance towards our own professional practices, their contributing factors, and their consequences. But this should not be simply explained as a norm for individual practices. It is therefore a matter of creating structures for professional practice in which self-reflection is not only possible, but also sensible, desirable, and systemically supported. Reflectiveness is especially associated with the limits of professional practice, its lack of influence, and its paradoxical and problematic primary and secondary implications” (Mecheril 2008: 25).

When such permanent structures for colleagues to discuss their experiences are lacking, you as a lecturer can take steps towards their establishment.


Mecheril, Paul. 2008. „Kompetenzlosigkeitskompetenz“. Pädagogisches Handeln unter Einwanderungsbedingungen. In Interkulturelle Kompetenz und pädagogische Professionalität,Hrsg. Georg Auernheimer, 15–35. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Version April 2017. Unless otherwise stated, this content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence.