Pedagogy of the Negative

Pedagogical Heresy for “The End Times”

  • Jessie L. Beier University of Alberta
  • Jason J. Wallin University of Alberta
Keywords: pedagogy, educacene, negation


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.”

Author Biographies

Jessie L. Beier, University of Alberta

Jessie Beier is a teacher, artist, writer, and conjurer of weird pedagogies for the "end times." Beier is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Alberta (Canada) where she also teaches undergraduate courses in the Faculty of Education and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. Jessie’s current research — Teaching at the End of the World: Weird Pedagogies for Unthought Futures — investigates the unthinkable pedagogical problematics through which educational futurity is today conditioned, with the aim of fabulating weird speculations on how pedagogical life might be thought otherwise while also counter-actualizing methodology-as-usual within the field of educational research. For more info, visit:

Jason J. Wallin, University of Alberta

Jason J. Wallin is Professor of Media and Youth Culture in Curriculum in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta, Canada. He is the author of A Deleuzian Approach to Curriculum: Essays on a Pedagogical Life (Palgrave Macmillan), co-author of Arts-Based Research: A Critique and Proposal (with jan jagodzinski, Sense Publishers), and co-editor of Deleuze, Guattari, Politics and Education (with Matt Carlin, Bloomsbury).

How to Cite
Beier, J., & Wallin, J. (2020). Pedagogy of the Negative. Oraxiom: A Journal of Non-Philosophy, 1(1), 43-58. Retrieved from