UCT In­au­gu­ral Lec­ture

The In­au­gu­ral lec­ture on the ‘Posthu­man child: Re­con­fig­ur­ing the hu­man and ed­u­ca­tional re­la­tion­al­ity in all phases of ed­u­ca­tion’ by Pro­fes­sor Karin Mur­ris

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - METRO -

IN her man­i­festo, Pro­fes­sor Karin Mur­ris stirs up trou­ble in var­i­ous philo­soph­i­cal ways. She does this through a po­lit­i­cal read­ing of ‘the’ present (a ge­neal­ogy) of the ways in which con­cepts such as time, child­hood, knowl­edge and ed­u­ca­tion have been shaped (of­ten sub­con­sciously) and con­tinue to be shaped by philo­soph­i­cal the­o­ries and prac­tices. Draw­ing on her book The Posthu­man Child (2016), her fo­cus is on how ed­u­ca­tional the­o­ries and prac­tices as­sume that chil­dren are (still) de­vel­op­ing, (still) in­no­cent, (still) frag­ile, (still) im­ma­ture, (still) ir­ra­tional and so forth. In many ways, ed­u­ca­tion in­volves the sub­or­di­na­tion and dis­crim­i­na­tion of hu­mans who are not re­garded as fully hu­man…yet. They are wild, un­civ­i­lized savages, who are of Na­ture and need Cul­ture to be­come civ­i­lized.

The terms ‘coloniser’ and ‘colonised’ take on a dou­ble mean­ing in the con­text of child­hood. Whether child­hood is con­structed as a phase in the life cy­cle of a hu­man life, or a species, or a na­tion, chrono­log­i­cal im­prove­ment to in­de­pen­dence, au­ton­omy and ra­tio­nal­ity is as­sumed, that is, the logic and tem­po­ral­ity of colo­nial­ism.

The con­cept of progress makes it pos­si­ble to de­scribe, ex­plain, pre­dict and con­trol the ‘lesser’ hu­man and pre­pares them for a cap­i­tal­ist eco­nomic work­force. Mur­ris ar­gues pas­sion­ately for the need to de­colonise ed­u­ca­tion by de­cen­ter­ing the hu­man, re­con­fig­ur­ing sub­jec­tiv­ity, thereby of­fer­ing a dif­fer­ent on­to­log­i­cal adult:child re­la­tion­al­ity. The medium of her man­i­festo is an an­i­mated car­toon, cre­ated by ed­i­to­rial car­toon­ist Bran­dan Reynolds.

In the sec­ond part of the pre­sen­ta­tion, two col­leagues – Rose-Anne Reynolds and Joanne Peers – join her and to­gether they give a flavour of their de­colonis­ing teach­ing at the School of Ed­u­ca­tion at the Univer­sity of Cape Town. They draw on an ar­ti­cle they pub­lished about their work, which can be down­loaded for free and read as back­ground to their talk: https://jour­nals.uvic.ca/in­dex.php/jcs/ar­ti­cle/view/18262

It shows how to put into prac­tice the ped­a­gog­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions of the philo­soph­i­cal dust raised by the an­i­mated car­toon in the first part. Working posthu­man(e)ly and trans­dis­ci­plinar­ily across three foun­da­tion phases, they sit­u­ate their teach­ing within cur­rent en­vi­ron­men­tal pre­car­i­ties.

They show how as teacher ed­u­ca­tors they stirred up trou­ble in and out­side their univer­sity class­room and pro­voked their stu­dents to “make kin” with chil­dren, each other, other an­i­mals, and the more-than-hu­man, but also to stay with the trou­ble, that is, to learn to be truly present in colonised spa­ces.

They thereby also put their own selves as hu­mans at stake through ped­a­gog­i­cal work that as­sumes a dif­fer­ent ed­u­ca­tional re­la­tion­al­ity in­volv­ing the non­hu­man.

They hope that shar­ing their work of­fers an im­agery of what is pos­si­ble when ed­u­ca­tion shifts rad­i­cally to em­brace a re­la­tional on­tol­ogy, thereby cre­at­ing dif­fer­ent epis­temic and eth­i­cal re­la­tion­ships to time, space, truth and mat­ter in teach­ing by trou­bling the bound­aries be­tween adult/child, na­ture/cul­ture and past/present/fu­ture.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.