Pedagogy of the Negative
Pedagogical Heresy for “The End Times”
At its foundation, the field of educational studies remains thoroughly committed to the idea of hope as a privileged pedagogical disposition. Despite the convergence of crises now gathering force and speed across the globe, there remains a pressure to position education as that holy space where hope is born, affirmative mantras proliferate, and a posture of unquestioned optimism prevails. Through such affirmationist tendencies, it appears today that the industry of education, or what we term in this paper the Educacene, has failed to think alongside rapidly changing planetary realities, reifying instead the modern educative proclivity to combat the world by overcoding its pulsions via a will-to-nothingness, or rather, a mode of desire that perpetually “wills the same.” Where hope springs eternal, this commonsense positivity not only fails to adequately address the material conditions of our contemporary existence, but also actively constructs negativity as an anathema to pedagogical thought. Yet, this abhorrence of negativity overlooks both the persistence of the negative, and further, the potential import of negativity as a mode of thought that might engage in forceful ways with the prevailing cultures of hope and optimism that have come to undergird contemporary pedagogical life. Drawing on developments in (cosmic) pessimism, speculative heresy, and non-philosophy, this essay will attempt to rejoin the significance of the negative for pedagogical thought in order to say “no” to the images of affirmative standardization that maintain and perpetuate the futureless repetition of educational thought today. In short, this non-philosophical engagement aims to relaunch pedagogical thought so as to harness its potential for un-becoming, which necessitates in its first instance the mutation of ideas from their standardized regulation, and secondarily, the heretical elaboration of an “outside” thought from which such standardization is inoculable. By attempting to articulate an approach to pedagogy via negation, pessimism, and the forms of resistance to which these (non)philosophical vectors might give rise, this project will develop an alternative set of conditions for enacting and thinking about pedagogy for “the end times.”
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