Invitation: Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy Talks
Thursday 14/11, 4:30pm-7:00pm, Senior Lecture Tony Carusi, Institute of Education, Massey University, Aotearoa New Zealand, will be presenting under the title: “Failure is not an option: A topology of education’s impossibility”, followed by discussion and drinks.
Room: SE 129
All are welcome!
Carl Anders & Gert
Failure is not an option: A topology of education’s impossibility
F. Tony Carusi, Institute of Education, Massey University, Aotearoa New Zealand
The language of failure in education is to be avoided. It evokes anxieties related to measured performance described as a fear of failure. It is revised out of existence when schools are no longer failing but in need of improvement, and students do not fail standards-based tests but receive the news that they have not achieved a particular standard. Even those educators willing to countenance failure position it as a possible encounter on the way to success or redeem it as a learning experience. Failure for these educators can never be itself, and failure across these examples is not (or should not) be an option.
This talk picks up the phrase ‘failure is not an option’, but in a different register. Rather than something to be avoided or something to be learned from and moved beyond, I will consider failure as a requirement for education. This is not a failure to be recuperated in some future success or learning experience, but failure as what education is, irrespective of what education is for. Beginning with Plato’s allegory of the cave, I will discuss the educator as the one who never learns, who repeatedly returns to the cave in order to educate, to lead out of. This etymological link commits the educator to a repetition of departing, and in the frame of the allegory, inscribes a topology of moving from the shadow to the light and back, from appearances to truth and back. However, departing from Plato, I will turn to Laclau’s notion of failed transcendence to describe the impossibility of education to deliver learning and teaching or for the educator to return with the light and the truth. This theory of education positions the educator as one who by necessity fails to teach and learn, but continually leads out of.