23 SES 03 E, Research Policies and the Politics of Research (Part 2)
Paper Session: continued from 23 SES 02 E, to be continued in 23 SES 04 E
In this paper I will explore the characteristics of contemporary educational cynicism, drawing from Sloterdjik and his Critique of Cynical Reason (Sloterdijk 2001). Adopting a critical social science perspective, I will claim that eduational cyncisim is a contemporary governmental formation that transcends national borders, and is the product of a more widespread malaise in the West concerning the failure of education to establish secure normative foundations in modernity (see Allen 2014).
This paper will consider the historical construction of educational cynicism through a genealogy of its formation (building on previous genealogies of education, such as Allen 2013; 2014). It will be argued that a widespread cynicism concerning the value of contemporary education serves as a principal impediment to educational reform, and restrains and conditions the formation and implementation of educational policy across Europe. It has become a key governmental formation, influencing education through practices of cynical self-government (Foucault 2010). This educational cynicism is embedded in a range of educational techniques. As this paper will argue, it is to be found in policies and practices seeking to address the construction of hope (Webb 2013, Allen 2011), vulnerability (Furedi 2008, Brown 2012, Ecclestone & Lewisforthcoming), resilience (e.g. Procter 2013), happiness (Ahmed 2008, Suissa 2008), and emotional wellbeing (e.g. Gillies 2008) in educational settings.
This paper will claim, however, that cyncism is not uniformly negative in its effects. Building on the work of Foucault (2011) in his last lecture series at the Collège de France, I will claim that a specific form of cynicism could be beneficial to education, and should be encouraged. This educational cynicism would pursue a different kind of educational truth, which is defined by its opposition to conventional educational policy, practice and understanding.
Ahmed, S. (2008) ‘Multiculturalism and the Promise of Happiness.’ New Formations 63(Winter), 121-137. Allen, A. (2014 forthcoming) Benign Violence: Education in and beyond the age of reason. PalgraveMacmillan. Allen, A. (2013) 'The Examined Life: On the Formation of Souls and Schooling' American Educational Research Journal 50 (2), 216-250. Allen, A. (2011) “You never will be a rock star’: Britain, social mobility and the exploitation of hope.’ openDemocracy - OurKingdom, 11 November 2011 Brown, K. (2012) ‘Re-moralising ‘vulnerability’.’ People, Place & Policy 6(1), 41-53. Ecclestone, K. & Lewis, L. (forthcoming) Interventions for resilience in educational settings: challenging policy discourses of risk and vulnerability. Journal of Education Policy. Foucault, M. (2010) The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978-1979. Basingstoke: PalgraveMacmillan. Foucault, M. (2011) The Courage of Truth: Lectures at the Collège de France 1983-84. Basingstoke: PalgraveMacmillan. Furedi, F. (2008) ‘Vulnerability - Analytical Concept or Rhetorical Idiom?’ In: Satterthwaite, Watts and Piper (Eds.) Talking Truth, Confronting Power. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books. Gillies, V. (2011) ‘Social and emotional pedagogies: critiquing the new orthodoxy of emotion in classroom behaviour management.’ British Journal of Sociology of Education 32(2), 185-202. Procter, L. (2013) ‘Emotions, Power and Schooling: The Socialisation of ‘Angry Boys’.’ Journal of Political Power 6(3), 495-510. Sloterdijk, P. (2001) Critique of Cynical Reason. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Suissa, J. (2008) ‘Lessons from a New Science? On Teaching Happiness in Schools.’ Journal of Philosophy of Education 42(3-4), 575-590. Webb, D. (2013) ‘Pedagogies of Hope.’ Studies in Philosophy and Education 32(4), 397-414.
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