Educators on the edge: flight, resistance and the politics of possibility amongst teachers in managed neoliberal regimes

Amsler, Sarah (2017) Educators on the edge: flight, resistance and the politics of possibility amongst teachers in managed neoliberal regimes. In: Education Research Seminar, 9 March 2017, University of Brighton.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Lecture)
Item Status:Live Archive


Educators on ‘the edge’ occupy an ambivalent position that can be understood as a site of possibility for radical thinking, politics and hope. Revitalising critical theories of possibility and reconnecting with the politics of education are important parts of this work. Drawing on research with cultural workers in the UK, US and Latin America, this paper explored why teachers and activists are sometimes unable to ‘go on’ acting as moral agents within neoliberal relations of ruling despite refusing the legitimacy of these relations. The symptoms of this frustrated subjectivity – professional subversion, institutional survivalism, affective disinvestment and flight from educational work itself – are often regarded as rational responses to what critical theorist Ernst Bloch (1959) once called a ‘world without front’; a life in which near-futures are fixed and alternatives cannot be conceived. However, as Paulo Freire (1970) suggests, once people ‘come to perceive these situations as the frontier between being and being more human, rather than the frontier between being and nothingness, they begin to direct their increasingly critical actions towards achieving the untested feasibility implicit in that perception’. This may be described in Blochian terms as a process of ‘learning hope’ in the Not-Yet, and it is has become a major feature of struggles to create non-capitalist forms of life which exist, as John Holloway (2011) argues, on the ‘edge of impossibility’. Educators working in managed neoliberal institutions, however, are often dispossessed of opportunities to learn from and participate in the social movements that are now theorising and practicing a new ‘politics of possibility’. The paper offers some epistemological and methodological tools for building this connection.

Keywords:politics of possibility, education, neoliberalism, Bloch, Ernst
Subjects:L Social studies > L370 Social Theory
L Social studies > L171 Capitalism
X Education > X300 Academic studies in Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
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ID Code:26814
Deposited On:31 Mar 2017 09:00

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