Browsing Education by Subjects
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How Can It Be? Nietzsche, the Radical Water Practice of a Looked After Child, and the Established Order of the SchoolThe death of God, announced by Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil (1886), and in his earlier works, has been hailed as a revolutionary turning point, at least in philosophical terms. More importantly, the same philosophical principle, announced in 1886, symbolically, culturally, politically and intellectually has come to represent an incision that fundamentally cuts out any metaphysical justification that ‘the order of things’, including, say, the economic and social order, is necessarily so, that is to say has been metaphysically given, as if ordained by God; and exposes in its place a complex, but at bottom, naked will to power; and also, therefore, that any such order of being is a fabrication of vested interests (Deleuze, 2006). The revolutionary significance of this finding, however, is not one of simply abstract and theoretical moment. Nietzsche’s critique of metaphysics tears apart, for example, as lived experiences, assumptions that divide the very corporeality of our individual and social being from the systems of knowledge and expectations, and of how and where we live from the construction and meaning of our individual and collective identities (Woodward, 2013). And yet there are circumstances, and perhaps this is mostly so when living outside an established order from which you derive your meaning, that render your status, your future, your security profoundly disturbing, with no point of remittance. In such circumstances – and these are the circumstances today most obviously of the refugee, the dispossessed, and the poor – the future is only tenable by being able to belong to whatever established order is necessary. Having the requisite skills, appearance, and basically mode of being to secure a job and somewhere to live are not very mysterious but necessary indications that being part of any such order has been effected. This paper explores these points in relation to an ethnographic study of looked after children over the course of around a year, focussing on one child in her reception year, at her local mainstream primary school. More generally, this serves as an illustration of how schools necessarily do the work of the symbolic order.
The Disgusted Notice the Disgusting: Being Homeless and the Sullied Schooling of the StreetThe brutality of life on the street is explored in this paper with a young homeless couple and the ragged community they are part of. Destitution, prostitution, drugs and crime sculpt their lives and identify them as the symbolic edge of society, the boundary of civilisation, at the cultural margins, where subsistence is in a state of decomposition. Deserving of adversity? Theirs is a bordered being which seems to inspire a remarkable fortitude. They defy their abjected state of being in a Nietzschean determination for a kind of redemption in this life. Paradoxically, however damaged and broken their lives, however pitilessly rejection is dealt, however ravaged they are by what I would describe as the education of the street; this bleak place is often suffused with tenderness and compassion, intensely enacted and understood. How these moments variously unfold, frequently in searingly public places, is offered here and affords a glimpse of a life few could endure.
The future of educational research: has Nietzsche led the way?A peculiar and persistent feeling of enervation accompanies and describes a certain, rapidly predominating place; a place that is an end; the very end; the end of hope; the termination of difference; the triumph of fear; the automatic capitulation of one’s own and others’ being; but most depressingly of all, it is a dreadful place, because it is an end without end. This is a place that is almost featureless; a place that is almost empty, and yet claustrophobic; a place that is reductive, isolated, and inescapable; a place that is determined to forge everything fated to be caught within its limiting space, into its own precisely narrow identity of sparse functionalism. This place is what education, particularly state education, since state schooling led the way, has become. And unsurprisingly, perhaps even predictably, with little or no resistance, this is what educational research has developed into; predominantly, as the state’s supporting mechanism. But worse: for some time, and quite desperate not to see its own shame, this has become, overwhelmingly, the uncritical, blind concern, the stark, empty, dismal future, of educational research.