Spring Seminar 2017

Wednesday March 8th

Professor Matthew Clarke, York St John University, UK
Time: 4.00pm - 5.30pm
Location: G.17, Brooks Building, MMU

Beyond reproductive futurism and cruel optimism: Teaching-learning as world spectatorship

As in other areas of life in contemporary capitalist society, schooling, teaching and teacher education have been colonised by a discourse that justifies present sacrifice in the name of future returns. Moreover, an avowedly meritocratic ethic underpins the distribution of these returns, which are deemed to be available to anyone on the basis of effort and/or talent alone, with no distinctions drawn along (purportedly) out-dated lines of age, class, ethnicity, gender or sexuality. The logic of this worldview is neatly captured in the title of the UK Government’s March 2016 White Paper – Educational Excellence Everywhere. The current paper draws on conceptual resources from psychoanalytic theory, including disavowal, sublimation and world spectatorship (Silverman, 2000) – a view of human subjects as worldy spectators, looking from a “there” which is not our own (p. 73), but rather a space of partnership between the world and the human in which we are co-implicated in the perpetually incomplete, yet perpetually renewed, generation of care, meaning and beauty – to consider ways in which teachers and teacher educators might resist their co-option into the cruelly optimistic, reproductively futuristic and ultimately fantasmatic logics of contemporary education policy and practice.

Reference: Silverman, K. (2000). World spectators. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Short Biography
Prior to taking up his current post as Professor of Education at York St John University, Matthew taught and researched at universities in Australia, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. He has also taught in schools and language centres in England and Australia. His undergraduate studies were in politics and philosophy, and his research and writing are characterised by enduring concerns with issues of politics and questions of identity in relation to education and teaching. His work has appeared in a range of journals, such as the Journal of Education Policy, Critical Studies in Education, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education and the Cambridge Journal of Education. In recent years he has been grappling with the complexities and challenges of psychoanalytic theory and seeking to draw on its insights in order to analyse and critique education policy. His latest book, published by Routledge in January 2017 and co-authored with Anne Phelan of the University of British Columbia, Canada, is Teacher Education and the Political: The Power of Negative Thinking.