Deceptively difficult education: A case for a lifetime of impact
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Bainbridge, A. (2020) 'Deceptively difficult education: A case for a lifetime of impact', in P. Howard, T. Saevi, A. Foran and G. Biesta (eds.) Phenomenology and Educational Theory in Conversation: Back to Education Itself. London: Routledge, pp. 215-226.
This chapter seeks to answer the deceptively difficult education question - ‘Why did Jill learn, or not learn?’ It does so by positioning education within an ancient and current ecology that disrupts human flourishing, leading to a language infused response facilitating the containment of existential anxiety and human world building. The educational act is argued to centre on the desire towards self-activity to provide an existentially meaningful existence by constructing and controlling an ‘open’ external world. The development of language to support ‘communication about communication’ provides the means for semantic dialogue, enabling the self and other to make meaning in an educational giving and receiving of knowledge and skills. A Marxian and Freudian analysis of education and the impact of neoliberal accountability technologies provide the basis to discuss the role of unconscious, or unknowable, processes and the associated unintended fetishized negative consequences of education. Ultimately, it is proposed that the deceptively difficult question can be best answered, not by the application of sociological or psychological syntactic rules, but instead, by considering an education that accepts and manages the anxiety inherent in learning and by focusing on individual semantic particularities.