Gert Biesta’s paper calls upon the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas to explicate his argument that students are not served by adaptive teaching in spite of the rhetoric surrounding such ‘prevailing educational imaginary’ (p.378). He contends that this type of auto-didacticism means that the student remains ‘in her own mind’, able to make meaning of the world as she perceives and learns about it, yet,
“the self … can never out of its own generate a criterion with which to evaluate that which it is adjusting to” (p.388).
Biesta, arguing with Levinas, states that the student in this situation crucially lacks an intervention or, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say considering Levinas’ philosophy, an intercession, from another, an exteriority, who addresses her and in so doing, makes revelation. Without this,
the very ‘thing’ that cannot happen, the very ‘thing’ that can never ‘arrive’ in their universe, is the event of being addressed, that is, the event of being taught (p.388).
Levinas’ philosophy and Biesta’s explication is far more complex than can be summarised in this short comment, but I believe it revolves around an understanding of the teacher as generously and without expectation of return, interceding for the student by providing something akin to Sartre’s ‘look’ which reveals her to herself and awards her proper subjectivity and apprehension in and of the world and without promoting his own view of it.
I need to read this again to gain a better understanding of it.
Biesta, G. (2016). The Rediscovery of Teaching: On robot vacuum cleaners, non-ecological education and the limits of the hermeneutical world view. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 48(4), pp.374-392.
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