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Reclaiming the School as “Pedagogic Form”

Public lecture by Jan Masschelein, Laboratory for Education and Society KU Leuven.

2015.12.16 | Tobias Hiort-Lorentzen

Date Thu 14 Jan
Time 15:00 17:00
Location Room D174, Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Campus Emdrup, Tuborgvej 164, 2400 Copenhagen


The word ‘school’ can be used to refer to a specific pedagogic form i.e. a concrete way (including architecture, practices, technologies, pedagogical figures) to gather people and things (arranging their company and presence) so that, on the one hand, it allows for people to experience themselves as being able to take care of things, and, at the same time and on the other hand, to be exposed to something outside of themselves (the common world). It is a very specific combination of taking distance and (allowing for) re-attachment. As a consequence, the term ‘school’ is not used for so-called normalizing institutions or machineries of reproduction. There is reproduction and normalizing, of course, but then the school does not (or does no longer) function as a pedagogic form.

Put differently: schools are particular ways to deal with the new generations and to take care of the common world that is disclosed for them by offering them a particular kind of ‘time’ (which slows down). If education is the response of a society to the arrival of newcomers, as Hannah Arendt formulates it, and if schools are particular ways of doing this, ways that are different from initiation and socialization, then I will try to indicate that the actual (national and European) ‘learning policies’ are in fact threatening the very existence of schools (including school teachers). 

To reclaim the school and the university, then, is not simply about restoring classic or old techniques and practices, but about actually trying to develop or experiment with old and new techniques and practices in view of designing pedagogic forms that work under current conditions, that is, that actually slow down, and put society at a distance from itself.

Lecture / talk, Grundskole, Videregående uddannelse