UK ITE Network for Education for Sustainable Development

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Roger Firth and Andrea Wheeler (2009) Sustainable Schools and ITE: Building the Dialogue, UKE ITE Network for ESD/Global Citizenship ConferenceAnnual

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  • Andrea Wheeler
  • Andrea Wheeler What are the implications of current education philosophy that takes inspiration from a phenomenological tradition, and from complexity theory, whether for teacher education, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), for teachers’ practice, for a critique of the current programme of educational building and refurbishment; or for an aim to transform education? And why is it important to include philosophical critiques in our discussions around such themes? We begin to consider these questions in the realisation that as colleagues we have similar theoretical interests. We engage with complexity and phenomenological theory as part of our concern for an analysis of culture interactive with the biosphere/nature. The ‘logic of emergence’ (Biesta and Osberg, 2009, 2007a and b; Osberg, 2007; Osberg and Biesta, 2008) is used to help rethink the practice and purposes of modern Western schooling and initial teacher education. We advance Biesta and Osberg’s notion of an ‘emergent curriculum’ as a central organising concept in the current context of environmental change. Many children entering school in 2009 will live until the end of the century, possibly into the 22nd century – at least on current projections of life expectancy (ref). Other projections are perhaps less optimistic, forecasting possible catastrophic climate change, enormous population pressures on food, water and energy security, the depletion of natural resources and environmental disaster in the oceans and tropical rainforests (refs). In this context, educating young people now for life in the 21st century faces some profound questions. Whilst schools have always needed to address the balance between learning from the past and preparing for the future (refs), the contemporary sense of ‘epochal’ societal transformation (Best and Kellner, 1999) and approaching global crisis, gives fresh urgency to the question of determining the most appropriate education for our times. Indeed the idea that traditional Western schooling may be on the verge of becoming an anachronism (if it has not already become so) has prompted educators to rethink the question, ‘How do we understand and approach education?’ The question is as relevant for initial teacher educators as it is for teachers. Some of the older rationales for education seem less and less appropriate today. We wish to contribute to this debate.
  • Andrea Wheeler For those forging the new territory of eco-phenomenology and complexity thinking, sustainability concerns how we can develop new ways of being-in-the-world (Brown and Toadvine, 2003). And to extend these discussions to a context of sustainable schools, it also concerns how we can build different sorts of community (Lingis, 1994). Such concerns are not guided by a logic of determinism, which is a fundamentally ‘object-based’ logic which understands causality and process in a linear way in terms of a series of individual stages or states that are logically derivable form each other. An alternative to this form of thinking can be derived from complexity theory and the notion of emergent processes. It seems to us that the concept of emergence has a contribution to make to ESD and at the very least deserves further attention in relation to a critical education. If Kant’s notion of ‘rational autonomy’ can be understood as the educational answer that was given to the political question about citizenship in an emerging modern civil society’ what educational response would be appropriate in our time (p. 343)? Like Biesta we emphasise that ‘our time is one in which the idea of a universal or total perspective has become problematic’ (ibid.). We live in a world of difference in which the rational autonomous life is only one of the possible ways to live; and where ‘it is difficult to think of a set of issues more important now to the welfare of us as human beings than those concerning the environment’ (Bonnett, 2007: 707). The problems listed above ‘are now only too familiar – as is the putative remedy of sustainable development’ (ibid.). The need to address the burgeoning concerns about the environment and to reorient education to address sustainability (UNESCO, 2006) has certainly grabbed international attention. In the UK, the DCSF would like all schools to be sustainable by 2020 and to prepare young people for a lifetime of sustainable living (Teachernet, 2009). However, as Jickling (2005) argues, there is a need to be mindful of any uncritical construal of education as an instrument for the implementation of sustainable development. Within the sphere of environmental debate critical questions are being raised about the orthodoxy of sustainable development ‘on the grounds that it can incline educators to pay too little attention to the key issue for environmental education: our understanding of nature and our relationship to it (Bonnett, 2007: 707). Invitations to raise our appreciation of ideas of being in the world (Heidegger, 1954), of relatedness and interdependence between ourselves and nature offer an important perspective on addressing our current environmental predicament (Bonnet, 2009). As Bonnet argues, ‘we need thoroughly to understand this and to shape our actions in ways that truly reflect this understanding – in my view not now simply bio-physically, but also meta physically’ (ibid).
  • Andrea Wheeler Building and learning for change Every aspect of our education system is being urged to declare its support for ESD. The Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, launched in 2004, is described as being set up to improve the fabric of school buildings, either through refurbishment or new buildings, and at the same time, to transform learning and embed sustainability into the educational experience (Blair, 2004). The UK government has created a unique educational opportunity with this programme, and significantly one not restricted to building. However, the policy aim to transform education through new schools has also been criticised as empty of content (Biesta, 2009). Both architects and Head teachers are calling for more guidance from Government, and delays to the programme and a time consuming and costly procurement process has caused suspicion that the Government will not meet its aims ( Building , January, 2009).
  • Andrea Wheeler Since 2005, it has been a requirement that major school building projects achieve a minimum BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) for Schools rating of ‘very good’. More recently, however, the Government has detailed an ambition to build Zero-Carbon Schools and that all new school buildings will be zero carbon by 2016. It has even set up a Zero Carbon Schools Taskforce, headed by the architect and CABE commissioner Robin Nicolson, to explore the technical issues involved in how to achieve this aim (DCSF, 2007, p. 107). However, there is little to suggest that zero or low-carbon schools will address the question of encouraging pro-environmental lifestyle change in any coherent way. Limiting the conversation to technical issues avoids a discussion about how we can really engage with young people to increase their awareness of the consequences of excessive consumption. It also avoids a trans-disciplinary dialogue between educationalists, philosophers and architects. Encouraging people to live pro-environmental and sustainable lifestyles is far more profound an issue than that of energy efficient buildings, providing more smart meters in homes, or indeed, in schools.
  • Andrea Wheeler Some of the suggestions of how schools can be transformed include more participation of children in the design process, and in other decisions that affect their lives (this is in fact a law) leading to more democratic school structures. Other ways that schools may be transformed include through the greater use of technology, and ICT in the classroom. Better links with the community, extended school opening to include adult education or the inclusion of social facilities (churches for example) in schools – bring the school in more contact with the community in general. Asking young people about their school experience has a high potential priority, but consultation practices still drift towards highly managed activities … the danger expressed that children otherwise produce highly unrealistic designs ….(as you might want to suggest is the case in this activity) e.g. pink football pitches and rollercoasters [move on a slide]
  • Andrea Wheeler … its about drama, rest and free time (to play and relax) in school
  • Andrea Wheeler Over the last 15 years, there has been a strong emphasis about the need to reorient teacher education towards sustainability (UNESCO–UNEP, 1990; UNESCO, 1997, 2004, 2005), and accordingly, ITE has been given a significant role in the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD 2005-2014). However, at the same time, ITE in England has been established as a national system, closely controlled by the government, where policy priorities reach down into the finest detail of provision (Furlong et al, 2008: 307). ‘It is also important to recognise, for all its formal achievements, ITE in England, at least in terms of its formal requirements, is now almost entirely practically based. The essential contributions of higher education to professional formation – the consideration of research, of theory and of critique – all of these have been expunged as important components of professional education’ (ibid, 317). While they do remain in some university-based courses, it is difficult to give them the time they require and increasingly beginning teachers are now entering the profession with little engagement with these more complex and challenging forms of professional development. The complexities involved in the professional education of teachers have been simplified.    Arguably a more rapid educational transformation to more sustainable lifestyles might occur if ITT programmes used to educate our future teachers are reoriented towards sustainability. There are, however, no statutory requirements to address sustainability and teacher certification guidelines rarely mention it. In addition, it is widely recognised, that as in schools, efforts to mainstream ESD within teacher education have tended to involve educators already interested in or committed to this area of learning. We are all aware, however, of the limitations imposed by the current policy context of initial teacher education.
  • Andrea Wheeler Complexity theory ‘ Complexity and its precursors have been influential in science, technology and mathematics for some time (Smith and Jenks, 2006: 3). Complexity theory models complex, turbulent systems[1] which demonstrate the possibility of order emerging from disorder through processes of spontaneous self-organisation in the absence of any blueprint. A complex system can be defined as any system comprising a large number of interacting components (participants, ) whose aggregate activity is nonlinear (not derivable from the summations of the activity of individual components) and which is characterised by self-organisation (Rocha, 1999 and where the system, the individual components and the phenomena are interrelated or ‘structurally coupled’ (Maturana and Valera, 1987). In other words systems and components ‘are bringing forth and brought into being because of their relationships to one another’ (Park, 2007: 48). One way of approaching this emergentist shift in thinking is to appreciate the nature of ‘complex systems’, these being systems that show an increasing level of order over time, as is the case with certain physical as well as living systems (e.g. ecosystems, economic systems, knowledge systems etc). The notion of the self , for example, can only emerge in relation to the other . [t1]   The development of these new sciences is widespread and has been popularised in books by Gleick (1988), Waldorp (1992) and Lewin (1992) amongst others, who all talk about a ‘new science’, even a new worldview. The origins of complexity are themselves complex but this is not the place for that discussion. [t2]  The shift in sensibility prompts very different attitudes towards causality and process. The increasing visibility of complexity in the social sciences raises questions about the ability of complexity theories to address educational concerns. Complexity science draws upon themes of emergence, non-linearity and self organisation as common features across physical, biological and social systems. This emergentist understanding is a critique of determinism. Determinism is a fundamentally object-based[2] logic which understands causality and process in terms of a series of individual stages or states that are logically derivable from each other. Each stage of the process is in principle logically determinable, with a distinct beginning and end point and a fixed (determined) trajectory. The situation is quite different with a relational or emergentist understanding of causality and process. The point here is that we should not try to understand complex processes as if they are objects each with their own discrete origin, end point and trajectory. We want to examine the ways in which emergentist logic might be useful in critical thought about education. There are differences within the natural sciences on what these ‘new’ sciences of complexity mean. Some talk of a new dialogue with nature and the end of certainty, or they call for a science of qualities and point to the importance of a participative approach to understanding nature. Others make claims for a new ordering principle in the evolution of life. This is one reason for this paper. We are interested in trying to make sense of these diverse views and in doing so develop our own perspective on the way in which notions from the complexity sciences may be of use in education. In taking up these ‘new sciences’ educational writers mostly claim that they challenge current ways of thinking about the way that we understand and approach education. The way in which complexity can address issues of education is from the perspective of process. Here, we put forward arguments for understanding teaching ‘as an act of responsibility towards an other, rather than as an instrumental act identified through epistemology’ (Safstrom, 2003; 19). It should be pointed out here that the notion of complexity thinking and complex systems does not imply commitment to any conception of ‘systemic wisdom’ or what Bonnett (2009) describes as notions of the ‘greater whole’ that feature in some strands of environmental discourse. Nor do we view complexity ‘as a superior naturalistic metaphysics of ‘life’ which comes complete with a set of metaphors that can be sued to legitmate certain soial arrangements’ (Osberg, 2007: 1). [1] It should be mentioned that the term ‘system’ is misleading as it implies the existence of a discrete entity when in fact none exists. Complex systems have no distinct boundaries, they exist only because of the fluxes that feed them and disappear in the absence of such fluxes. A complex system exists only in the interaction between things and is therefore not itself a thing. The issue of boundaries is a real problem for the concept of complexity. This boundary problem leads us to a different understanding of causality and process (Osberg, 2007). [2] It is an object- based understanding because, for this understanding to hold, the various states that a system can be in must be understood as discrete, separated not only from other things in space, but also each other in time (Osberg, 2007).
  • Andrea Wheeler Architecture, phenomenology and postmodernism Architectural debates within academia which have been influenced by phenomenology have in the past, been keen to take up Martin Heidegger’s approach to architecture. Heidegger argues that our continuous questioning of our way of being in the world, motivates life itself (Heidegger, 1954). The human, he writes, is in the world in a way that this question is an issue for it. It is fundamental to the human. It is the manner by which he or she is . For Heidegger, man is not in the world as an object in space or as substance. Man does not stand in the world as a thing: '[man] stands "in" the world insofar as it stands outside of itself, disclosing the world, clearing things within it, inhabiting it' (De Bestegui, 2003, 16). The human being is in the world in a critical, questioning relationship, in relation of ‘care’ and where that care (which also includes cherishing, protecting, cultivating and building ) discloses a more authentic relationship. But this mode of being has been forgotten. In addition to this perspective on building, Heidegger’s philosophy of place has also been influential to architects. For Heidegger, things are not in space, a model that characterises ‘scientific thinking’, things themselves are places. He writes that we must think 'to place' in the sense of thesis (in the Greek sense), bringing forth what is present, which relates to truth. Place is thought in terms of truth and: 'Truth is the unconcealment of beings as being. Truth is the truth of Being. Beauty does not occur apart from this truth. When truth sets itself to work it appears' (Heidegger, 1993, 207). Building, which is also a mode of place making and care , Heidegger argues, can reveal a more authentic relationship with the environment. As architects, he thus proposes, we first need to understand how we are in the world, and only then can we build (Heidegger, 1971 , 160). This mode of building includes that of more authentic relationships to the world and others as well as schools. However, the problem with much of Heidegger’s thinking for architects is that it is now more than fifty years old and whilst it has inspired many architects in its own right, an often cited and perceived difficultly is that of converting it into practice. Moreover, for current architects working in more socially and culturally complex, and diverse environments, and with trends towards technological innovation in all aspects of culture, his philosophy may not appear immediately attractive. His philosophy is, however, fundamental to more contemporary thinkers that are being accepted by architects. Furthermore, architects generally tend toward the notion that for a philosophy to be useful it needs to be able to be applied – in this sense architects like plans, objectives and guidelines that can easily be put into practice. Nevertheless, in this way, architecture, and the architect, remain within the subject-object relations of 'scientific thinking' or ‘rationality’ that Heidegger’s thought challenges.   [IS1]I have moved this forward to go immediately after the Complexity section – so both aspects of the theory are dealt with sequentially. Hope you agree. How does this relate to complexity or not. Ca you create the links – very briefly.
  • Andrea Wheeler There are many criticisms of Heidegger and architects have now, for example, also adopted the philosophies of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida and French feminist philosopher, Luce Irigaray. Like Heidegger’s philosophy of building and of place, there are direct references to architecture in the work of Irigaray (Irigaray, 2004). There are also books and papers about her significance to architects (Wheeler, 2008a, 2008b). In an early paper 'Où et comment habiter?' (1983), and with reference to Heidegger, she questions her experience as a woman trying to find a way of living not shaped by a Western tradition or by ‘scientific thinking’. In I Love To You, she explores how as men and women, '...belonging to a sexed nature to which it is proper to be faithful', we may be able to change our understanding of what it means to be in the world, so that we can properly co-exist (Irigaray, 1996 , 11). Irigaray’s criticism of Heidegger that he universalises the human subject (this is a criticism she also makes more generally to the whole philosophical tradition). He makes it gender neutral (or more specifically a gender neutral based on a male mode of relationality). Whilst Heidegger argues that all scientific and psychological models of the human subject must be abandoned in favour of an entirely different understanding, Irigaray questions whether this basic constitution of the human subject as relational in Heidegger’s work, in fact avoids the difference between male and female being-in-the-world. Her work thus explores sexual difference in terms of relationally different being-in-the-world.
  • Andrea Wheeler From humanism to qualitative complexity The political and ecological crises that we are witnessing today are an indication that the worldview that underlies the way we think about and understand education might have reached its exhaustion. The most common rationale is of course humanism . ‘Humanism’ comprises a truly complex and immense set of ideas; indeed, it may be said to represent much of Europe’s intellectual history. It stands for an educational ideal that emerged in Greek society and that was adopted during the Enlightenment and has become one of the central notions of the modern Western educational tradition. As Smith and Jenks state: ‘What we understand as ‘humanism’ privileges, isolates, makes central and unique human being’ (Smith and Jenks, 2006: 25). Furthermore, humanism assumes ‘…that it is possible to know and articulate the essence and nature of the human being and to use this knowledge as a foundation for our educational and political efforts’ (Biesta, 2006:5). As Emmanuel Levinas (1990) has put it, in his criticism, this entails ‘the recognition of an invariable essence named ‘Man’, the affirmation of his central place in the economy of the Real and of his value which [engenders] all values’ (p. 277). Such forms of humanism, which claim to know the real essence of the human being, clearly impede different ways of being human. Modern education became based upon a particular truth about the nature and destiny of the human being, and where the connection between rationality, autonomy and education became the ‘Holy Trinity of the Enlightenment project. The most important aspect of this call for rational autonomy (Kant, 1992 [1784]) was that Kant did not conceive of this capacity as a contingent historical possibility, but instead, saw it as something that was an inherent part of human nature. ‘Although for Kant the idea of rational autonomy was a central educational aim and ideal, it was also - and perhaps even primarily - an answer to the question about the role of the subject in the emerging civil society’ (Biesta, 2002: 345). In doing so, Kant provided a conception of citizenship, which remains with a strong presence today, and at the same time provided a programme and a legitimation for citizenship education. The idea(l) of rational autonomy became the cornerstone of not only traditional approaches to education, but of critical approaches that to begin with took their inspiration from Marx and Hegel. Along both lines education became understood as a linear process that helps people to develop their rational potential so that they can become an autonomous and self-directing individual, while rationality became the modern marker of what it means to be human Biesta, 2006: 4). Educational policy, theory and practice are formed within the general discourse of modernity which carries with it such ideas of humanity. What might follow if we try to overcome the humanist foundations of modern education; ‘if we no longer assume that we can know the essence and nature of the human being – or, to put it differently, if we treat the question of what it means to be human as a radically open question, a question that can only be answered by engaging in education rather than as a question that needs to be answered before we can engage in education’ (Biesta, 2006: 4-5). For both modern (humanist) and postmodern (anti-humanist) critics, the educational process is one which necessarily guides the curriculum and learning towards a pre-determined end. ‘Indeed it is the presence of an end point that makes it possible to distinguish education from unguided learning’ (Osberg, 2007: 17).
  • Andrea Wheeler The emergent curriculum ‘ This ends–orientated understanding of the curriculum (made possible by a linear understanding of process) underpins every form of education where the end or intention of the educational intervention is pre-defined . While forms of education (liberal, radical, progressive) may differ from each other they are all founded on the idea that for education to be educational , it has to be for something and that something must be defined before education can take place (ibid, p. 17). In this way educational practices are always configured as practices of socialisation/ enculturation. .
  • Andrea Wheeler Biesta argues that there are three things education can do, only one of which is socialisation (Biesta, 2009). These dimensions of education he defines as: qualification, socialisation and subjectification. Education can give qualification as knowledge, skills and values. It can socialise, helping people to become part of exisiting social, cultural and political orders; and, for example, it can allow children to feel part of family or religious traditions. Education can also contribute to how children become human beings. Whilst good education combines all three, the third dimension is what he argues can really be called education (the others are just ‘schooling’). For Biesta this also clarifies some of the problems with the new school building programmes. The BSF programme uses the language of learning, and specifically the aim of transforming learning, but it does not ask learning for what? For Biesta, it is this dimension of subjectification that is now important for education, both for education (including Education for Sustainable Development) and for the new school building programmes. This third dimension of education, subjectification, is influenced by his reading of the Modern philosophical tradition starting with Kant and where Kant argues that the human being can only become a free thinker through education. There is a problem with this definition of what it is to be human (as many subsequent philosophers have suggested) in that it leads to the question of our relationship to those that are not, or not yet, ‘rational beings’ and the question of difference. Biesta’s educational philosophy thus also draws on the work of Levinas and his notion of uniqueness, and to Alphonso Lingis and his notion of community, to address difference (but not to similarly contemporary French feminist philosophers). We do not argue against the importance of practices of socialisation, or the need to raise questions about and rethink the purposes of socialising curricula, since they equip students with the cultural tools needed for participation in particular forms of life. However, such concern does obscure another kind of curriculum question, whether a linear understanding of the educational process and hence an ends-orientated understanding of education, that is education as socialisation/ enculturation, is the only understanding of education that is possible. The idea of an alternative understanding of the educational process, embodied in the logic of emergence, and in new notions of school community is another possibility.
  • UK ITE Network for Education for Sustainable Development

    1. 1. ‘Sustainable Schools’ and Initial Teacher Education: Thinking in complexity about educationRoger Firth and Andrea Wheeler, The University of Nottingham, School of Education/School of the Built Environment UK ITE Network for Education for Sustainable Development/Global Citizenship Annual Conference London South Bank University, 9 July 2009 1
    2. 2. Starting points and questions We can all adopt sustainable development, respecting both man and nature - and alter our production and consumption habits. Everyone can make a difference, starting right now. (Sustainable Schools National Framework, Teachernet, 2009) If traditional Western schooling is on the verge of becoming an anachronism (if it has not already become so) ‘How do we understand and approach education?’1. What are the implications of recent education philosophy that takes inspiration from the phenomenological tradition and from complexity theory for initial teacher education and ESD?2. Why is it important to include such critiques in our conversations about future education and school building? 2
    3. 3. Problematising and connecting complexity thinking,phenomenology, nature and sustainability• For those forging the new territory of eco-phenomenology and complexity thinking, sustainability concerns how we can develop new ways of being-in-the-world (Brown and Toadvine, 2003). And to extend these discussions to a context of sustainable schools, it also concerns how we can build different sorts of community (Lingis, 1994)• Educators pay too little attention to the key issue for environmental education: our understanding of nature and our relationship to it (Bonnett, 2007: 707). Invitations to raise our appreciation of relatedness and interdependence between ourselves and nature offer an important perspective on addressing our current environmental predicament (Bonnet, 2009). As Bonnet argues, ‘we need thoroughly to understand this and to shape our actions in ways that truly reflect this understanding – in my view not now simply bio-physically, but also metaphysically’ (ibid) 3
    4. 4. ESD• Every aspect of our education system is being urged to declare its support for ESD• ‘There now seems to be widespread agreement that ESD is an important and timely educational policy response if we are to be able to face up to the social and environmental challenges that lie ahead’ (Scott, 2005, p. 1) 4
    5. 5. Sustainable Schools: The SustainableSchools Framework and the 3 C’s • The connection between action and learning, between what the school does, as a community, and what the people in it, its students, teachers and governors can learn; and • The way that schools can model sustainable ways of working for the wider community • However, policy discourses are replete with deterministic and instrumental outcomes- based rhetoric 5
    6. 6. Building and learning for change The Building Schools for the Future programme, launched in 2004, is described as being set up to improve the fabric of school buildings, either through refurbishment or new buildings, and at the same time transforming learning and embedding sustainability into the educational experience (Blair, 2004) 6
    7. 7. • New school buildings are required to have a minimum BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) for Schools rating of ‘very good’.• The Government has detailed an ambition to build Zero-Carbon Schools and that all new school buildings be zero carbon by 2016.• The Government has set up a Zero Carbon Schools Taskforce, to explore the technical issues involved in how to achieve this aim (DCSF, 2007, p. 107).• However, there is little to suggest that low-carbon schools will address the question of encouraging pro-environmental lifestyle change in any wholistic way. Behavioural change, has been translated into a discussion of the technology of user-friendliness of devises for measuring and thereby lowering energy consumption.• Current research avoids discussion of how we can really engage with young people to increase awareness of the consequences of excessive consumption. It avoids a conversation of architects with educationalists, philosophers, political and economic theorists. 7
    8. 8. Where and how do children and young people bestlearn? What do young people think about schoolbuildings? How can we find out? Ask them? Designworkshops? Participation exercises? 8
    9. 9. A documentary about the school we’vedesigned… 9
    10. 10. ITE and Sustainability• Over the last 15 years, there has been a strong emphasis about the need to reorient teacher education towards sustainability (UNESCO–UNEP, 1990; UNESCO, 1997, 2004, 2005), and accordingly, ITE has been given a significant role in the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD 2005-2014)• However, at the same time, ITE in England has been established as a national system, closely controlled by the government, where policy priorities reach down into the finest detail of provision (Furlong et al, 2008: 307). ‘It is also important to recognise, for all its formal achievements, ITE in England, at least in terms of its formal requirements, is now almost entirely practically based 10
    11. 11. Complexity Theory/thinking• The theoretical interest in the local and the concrete is now evident in many areas of the social sciences, drawing attention to difficult issues not only of difference, but also of process, multifactoriality and dynamic flow through time• Though these issues are implied, and sometimes integral to, many constructivist, sociocultural and postmodern/poststructural approaches, each of these groups of perspectives offers a unit of analysis or framing which focuses on only some of these aspects, from their particular position 11
    12. 12. • Davis and Sumara (2006: 30) suggest that ‘complexity thinking takes the discussion to realms that these other discourses often ignore or evade’• They argue that such thinking moves beyond the oppositional extremes of individual concerns and society’s needs, introducing ‘the biological across all phenomena’• Complexity insists that the physical and the biological be brought into discussion of the ‘social’, which otherwise tend to ignore the impulses of bodies and physical elements 12
    13. 13. • Complexity thinking emphasises an attitude of openness• For the complexivist truth is more about interobjectivity. It is not just about the object, not just about the subject, and not just about social arrangement (intersubjectivity). ‘It is about holding all of these in dynamic, co-specifying, conversational relationships, while locating them in a grander, more-than-human context (Davis and Sumara, 2006: 15)• Bonnet (2009) Invitations to raise our appreciation of relatedness and interdependence between ourselves and nature offer an important perspective on addressing our current environmental predicament 13
    14. 14. • As Bonnet argues, ‘we need thoroughly to understand this and to shape our actions in ways that truly reflect this understanding – in my view not now simply bio-physically, but also metaphysically’ (ibid)• It is suggested that complexity theory and the ‘logic of emergence’ may be helpful in rearticulating the project of critical education in the light of current tensions between modern (Marxist, neo-Marxist) and postmodern/ poststructural versions of criticality (Osberg, 2007) 14
    15. 15. Architecture, phenomenologyand postmodernism• Heidegger argues that our continuous questioning of our way of being in the world, motivates life itself (Heidegger, 1954). The human, he writes, is in the world in a way that this question is an issue for it. It is fundamental to the human. It is the manner by which he or she is.• For Heidegger, man is not in the world as an object in space or as substance. Man does not stand in the world as a thing: [man] stands "in" the world insofar as it stands outside of itself, disclosing the world, clearing things within it, inhabiting it (De Bestegui, 2003, 16).• The human being is in the world in a critical, questioning relationship, in relation of ‘care’ and where that care (which also includes cherishing, protecting, cultivating and building) discloses a more authentic relationship. But this mode of being has been forgotten. 15
    16. 16. Architecture, phenomenologyand postmodernism• The problem with much of Heidegger’s thinking for architects is that it is now more than fifty years old, for current architects working in more socially and culturally complex, and diverse environments, and with trends towards technological innovation in all aspects of culture, his philosophy may not appear immediately attractive. His philosophy is, however, fundamental to more contemporary thinkers that are being accepted by architects.• Furthermore, architects generally tend toward the notion that for a philosophy to be useful it needs to be able to be applied – in this sense architects like plans, objectives and guidelines that can easily be put into practice. Nevertheless, in this way, architecture, and the architect, remain within the subject-object relations of scientific thinking or ‘rationality’ that Heidegger’s thought (and broadly also the phenomenological tradition) challenges. 16
    17. 17. Architecture, phenomenologyand postmodernismLuce Irigaray, French feminist philosopher, critical of thisphenomenological tradition questions her experience as a womantrying to find a way of living not shaped by a Western tradition orby ‘scientific thinking’. Her work explores sexual difference in termsof relationally different being-in-the-world. 17
    18. 18. From humanism to qualitative complexity• The political and ecological crises that we are witnessing today are an indication that the worldview that underlies the way we think about and understand education might have reached its exhaustion• Humanism: ‘privileges, isolates, makes central and unique human being’ (Smith and Jenks, 2006: 25)• Humanism assumes ‘…that it is possible to know and articulate the essence and nature of the human being and to use this knowledge as a foundation for our educational and political efforts’ (Biesta, 2006:5) 18
    19. 19. • What might follow if we try to overcome the humanist foundations of modern education; ‘if we no longer assume that we can know the essence and nature of the human being• or, to put it differently, if we treat the question of what it means to be human as a radically open question, a question that can only be answered by engaging in education rather than as a question that needs to be answered before we can engage in education’ (Biesta, 2006: 4-5) 19
    20. 20. The emergent curriculum• The notion of an ‘emergent curriculum’ as a central organisng concept• Moving from an ends-orientated/pre-defined understanding of the curriculum: education to be educational has to be for something and that something must be defined beforehand• Which underpins every form of education (traditional, liberal, radical/critical): education as a process of socialisation/enculturation• Which is made possible by a linear/deterministic understanding of process 20
    21. 21. • 3 things education does: qualification, socialisation, subjectification• Subjectifcation: how you become a human being/coming into presence - the real purpose of education• Coming into presence (Levinas) expresses an educational interest in the human subject in a more open way a more open• We start form the assumption of a radical difference between us: one where each of us is unique and irreplaceable 21
    22. 22. Ideas to think with• Emergent curriculum: a space of complex relationally, where we take seriously our mutuality with students and the world and pay close attention tot eh subtle ways in which we all too readily perpetuate the division between teacher from student, curriculum from lifeworld and our relationships from their context (social and material)• Learning: not the acquisition of something ‘external’, something that existed before the act of learning, and as a result of learning, becomes the possession of the learner. Pursuit of the known• Learning as a response: to what is other and different. Concerned with ‘coming into the world’ which is not something individuals can do on their own. Attentiveness to the unknown 22
    23. 23. • Teaching: an act of responsibility towards an other, rather than an instrumental act identified through epistemology. Taking response-ability for the singularity and uniqueness of the student• Subjectivity: 3rd way to think about subjectivity – beyond identity and universality. Subjectivity as response-ability, how we are coming into the world, the centrality of a subjective being in the world. We cannot know what it is to be human in advance• Sustainable development: the logic of emergence offers a theoretical framework for the long term agenda/education as sustainable development (Bonnett, 2007; Vare and Scott, 2007) 23

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