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. Drawing on recent developments in praxes of negation, (cosmic) pessimism, radical refusal, speculative heresy, and non-philosophy, this presentation attempts 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. By attempting to articulate an approach to pedagogy via negation, pessimism, and the forms of resistance these (non)philosophical vectors might give rise, we endeavour to develop an alternative set of conditions for enacting and thinking about pedagogy for “the end times.”
Jessie Beier is an Edmonton-based teacher, artist, writer, and conjurer of weird pedagogies for the post-normal times. Beier is currently a PhD student at the University of Alberta, a research fellow with the Research-Creation and Social Justice CoLABoratory (University of Alberta) and a contributor to Speculative Energy Futures (University of Alberta). Jessie’s current research — Teaching at the End of the World — investigates how education systems produce resources for thinking ‘the future’ in light of the various impasses facing both students and teachers today, with the aim of fabulating alternative speculations on how pedagogical life might be thought otherwise.
Jason Wallin is Professor of Media and Youth Culture Studies in Curriculum at the University of Alberta. 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) and co-producer of the extreme music documentary Blekkmetal.