Thinking with Jacques Rancière about education: an adventure on the borders of possibility

van Dijk, Daniël Thomas (2022) Thinking with Jacques Rancière about education: an adventure on the borders of possibility. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In the last decade or so, considerable attention has been given by educational theorists to the works of Jacques Rancière. Most commentators on Rancière’s educational thought, which is based on the writings of Joseph Jacotot, believe that it provides us with a novel way of thinking about emancipatory forms of education that can serve to confront the forces of oppression, inequality, nihilism, and compliance we find ourselves confronted with today. The general purpose of this study is to assess whether and, if so, to what extent this belief is justified. This task is approached by taking up and testing out Rancière’s adventuring method of contingency, which is interpreted to be a form of education and a form of research simultaneously. Style is a central aspect of the argumentative force of Rancière’s approach. Following this, a characteristic of the thesis is the development of three stylistic forms of writing: connecting scenes, spiralling, and weaving. The point of departure for the adventure is Rancière’s book The Ignorant Schoolmaster. This book then functions as a portal into the world of Rancière’s works as a whole, which in turn function as a portal to the world beyond Rancière’s works yet implicitly present in those works. In order to test the educational value of the adventuring method, an attempt is made to understand Rancière’s works. Reflections on this process further allow for the development of a way of thinking about research adventures as a form of education. The argument made in this thesis lies partly in its aesthetic and stylistic force, but several conceptual claims are also developed. One claim entails the problematisation of the dichotomy between will and intelligence maintained by Rancière. Another claim is that the concept of emancipation – which is fundamentally political in nature – is not applicable to education. As an alternative, a way of thinking about education is developed, infused by a reading of Spinoza’s Ethics, as sensible configurations of space and time which urge children to persevere and increase their power to express and to think under the mark of equality. Two notions play a central role in these configurations: fascination and the demand to persevere. The first is developed through the reflections on the thesis’ adventure and coupled to Rancière’s understanding of the will as a power to be moved. It is a way to think the self, that is, the will, as fundamentally relational in nature. The second relates to Rancière’s notions of unconditional exigency and equality of intelligence. A prevalent interpretation of that latter notion is problematised in the observation that understanding Rancière cannot be done without having prior knowledge and understanding. Finally, the concept of the weight of words is developed as a reformulation of Rancière’s reading of Aristotle’s distinction between expression and noise. Overall, the stance is taken that Rancière’s conceptual framework is not without its flaws, but that it does hold powerful potential for developing egalitarian forms of education that allow children to increase their power of understanding, and to confidently assign immanent justification to their will to express and to confront injustice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Hedge, Professor Nicki and Davis, Professor Robert
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-83191
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2022 10:44
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2022 10:46
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83191

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