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L&T Symposium Report 2018 2018-08-16T11:19:08+00:00

Learning and Teaching Symposium

Oui!Learn Report 2018

Contemporary universities are being called upon to address a wide agenda covering sustainability, society, employability and science, putting pressure on the curriculum. The Oui!Learn learning community seeks to re-shape curriculum design so that balance is restored between the visible curriculum (Bernstein, 1975, 2004) of employability and science and the invisible curriculum of sustainability and society, for example, as discussed in post-humanist [1] pedagogies (Chiew, 2016; Cook, 2016; Ferranta and Sartori, 2016) and in calls for ‘more than human ontologies’ [2] in educational research (Kuby, 2017).

In raising the notion of post-humanism, there is an implicit acknowledgement that the way forward may be through a deconstructive engagement with the past, critically engaging with the historically specific ideas of paideiahumanitas and Bildung, in as far as these have guided the development of thinking about education in the West and in those regions affected by its past imperial expansion.

While accepting current curricular emphasis on employability and science, notably on STEM or STEMM subjects, it is the insistence on seeing sustainability and society solely through the lens of ‘science’ (standing apart or being separate from the world), that Oui!Learn’s curricular intervention questions. Oui!Learn begins from the assumption that students’ and teachers’ are immersed in a common world, and recognises that the societal agenda concerns the formation of ethical, moral and political ‘persons’, but ‘persons’ in the form of an ‘educated public’, who are also oriented to the sustainability of their conditions of existence, the more-than-human world, a relation often occluded by ‘scientific perception’.

This approach begins from an engagement with an Aristotelian conceptual base, rearticulated firstly by Heidegger (1968; 1996) and secondly by Arendt (1998), and given nuance by a later generation of writers such as Derrida (2016), Agamben (1999) and Ranciere (1991, 2004).

While acknowledging the university’s orientation towards employment and science, both as facticity and as government directive, students nevertheless may have to engage in co-creation of the world, not just knowledge, as a matter of concern, a factor that the curriculum will need to accommodate.

Notes

[1] The term ‘post-humanist’ is used to raise the issue of whether the university, particularly the university in the age of the Great Recession, continues to be dominated by such notions as paideiahumanitas and Bildung, which signify a general education of the whole person, but which, in the transition/translation from Greek to Latin to German, indicate different relationships to the political and ‘natural’ contexts in which such persons exist, and different understandings of ‘science’ in conceiving those relationships.

Kahn (2007: 2), for example, considers “paideia to be more or less equivalent to the historical process that is Western civilization’s attempt to build a literacy of (and for) the “human,””. By underscoring the productive nature of paideia and so defining paideia as “the West’s attempt to produce a world that is the proper oikos for its vision of the “human””, Kahn seeks to show that it involves the formation of a particular human ecology.”

Kahn (2007: 2) also poses the question of “whether or not radical educators and socio-political
theorists can now draw upon the historical underpinnings of paideia to provide support for their own future-oriented democratic projects, or if the history of paideia, wholly consonant with the history of Western inequality and social domination, is better evoked as a via negativa to be criticized and overcome.”

[2] Examples of theories and philosophies which develop various aspects of ‘post-humanism’ and ‘more than human ontologies’ are feminist materialism, new materialism, neo-pragmatism, indigenous ways of knowing and being, post-colonialism and post-humanist interpretations of post-structuralist writings, such as those of Deleuze and Guattari (1983; 1987).

References

Agamben, G. (1999). The Man without content. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Arendt, H. (1998). The Human condition. Introduction by Margaret Canovan, 2nd ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Chiew, F. (2016). A posthuman pedagogy with Rancière and Bateson. Critical Studies in Education. Routledge1–16. Available from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17508487.2016.1194301 [Accessed 17 March 2018].

Cook, J.P. (2016). The Posthuman curriculum and the teacher [Doctor of Education thesis]. Georgia Southern University. Available from https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2525&context=etd [Accessed 18 March 2018].

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1983). Anti-Oedipus: capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1987). A Thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Derrida, J. (2016). Heidegger: the question of being and history. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Ferrante, A. and Sartori, D. (2016). From anthropocentrism to post-humanism in the educational debate. Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism, 4 (2), 175–194. Available from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/cb6d/16fb4c3d62275594fce6876f43b7d9841e84.pdf [Accessed 18 March 2018].

Heidegger, M. (1968). What is called thinking? New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Heidegger, M. (1996). Being and time, translated by J. Stambaugh. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Kahn, R. (2007). Toward a critique of paideia and humanitas: (mis)education and the global ecological crisis. In: Roth, K. and Gur-Ze’ev, I., eds. Education in the Era of Globalization. Dordrecht, NL: Springer Netherlands, 1–28.

Kuby, C.R. (2017). Why a paradigm shift of ‘more than human ontologies’ is needed: putting to work poststructural and posthuman theories in writers’ studio. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30 (9), 877–896. Available from http://doi.org/10.1080/09518398.2017.1336803 [Accessed 5 January 2018].

Ranciere, J. (1991). The Ignorant schoolmaster: five lessons in intellectual emancipation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Ranciere, J. (2004). Disagreement: politics and philosophy. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

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