University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > Schools as Places of Unselving: an educational pathology?

Schools as Places of Unselving: an educational pathology?

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There is a long tradition of seeing education as, at least in part, concerned with the development of the individual. The theme of personal authenticity in education frequently focuses on the idea of an individual self whose thoughts and actions reflect their own beliefs and choices. Here an emphasis is placed on the preservation of a certain space or distance between the individual and the world necessary for the self to resist becoming merely a reflection of the demands and current expectations of others.

Against this background, this paper explores some senses in which the self can be seen as deeply relational, inheres in the world through ecstasis and mutual anticipation, and is necessarily claimed by the places that it inhabits. It is argued that sense of self and sense of place are internally related and that authenticity of the self involves a receptiveness to things themselves in the world beyond the self: a genuine openness to the way that they stand forth or ‘presence’ in their own being. Given this intimate relationship between self and place, the question is raised as to how schools as places can ‘unselve’ the individual and some ways in which educationally this might be either desirable or pathological.

Michael Bonnett has held senior teaching and research positions in the UK universities of Cambridge, London, and Bath. Formerly he was a Visiting Professor at the University of the Aegean. He has published widely in the field of philosophy of education giving particular attention to the character of ideas of learning, thinking, personal authenticity and the teacher-pupil relationship in education. His book Children’s Thinking: Promoting Understanding in the Primary School (1994, Cassell) explored the importance of poetic thinking for education. More recently his focus has been on aspects of sustainability and environmental education. His book Retrieving Nature: Education for a Post-Humanist Age was published in 2004 by Blackwell, and his edited collection Moral Education and Environmental Concern is being published in November by Routledge.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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