A Levinasian Ethics for Education’s Commonplaces: Between by C. Joldersma

By C. Joldersma

Joldersma applies Levinas's ethics systematically to the commonplaces of schooling - educating, studying, curriculum, and associations - and elucidates the position of justice and accountability and the that means of calling and notion in schooling.

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Sample text

This call has something specific to do with learning. The larger context of a student’s inspiration for learning is the call to responsibility for concrete action in the world. This call, coming from beyond the teacher, is an obligation that orients the student outward, beyond the school walls and away from his or her own autonomy and self-interest. The call to struggle for justice comes to the students via what Levinas names the third party or the “other others” (Levinas, 1969, p. 212). Given that the teacher is the immediate other for the learner, for the student there are others who are not the teacher, who also function as other in Levinas’s sense.

To learn is to be influenced, something that requires being vulnerable. The learner, situated in the love of life, is simultaneously exposed to interruptions of that life. On the one hand the learning event centers and separates the enjoying subject from the exterior forces while on the other it undermines that centeredness and independence. Learning is situated at that dynamic tension, involving at once the centeredness and independence of the joy of assimilation and the vulnerability of being disturbed, disrupted, and ruptured.

The learner as conscious subject brings the world to presence, in the present, working from the inside out. This is central to autonomy. Whereas sometimes autonomy is construed as the goal for learning, actually the learner is an autonomous subject. The conscious subject is the center-point of power, able to deliberately represent, constituting the meanings and references of such mental representations. Autonomy is not merely the goal of learning but is embedded in its very structure. Learning, on this construal, is portrayed as self-directed, originating from within.

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