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Method, Philosophy of Education and the Sphere of the Practico-Inert

Page history last edited by Joseph R. Bissonnette 13 years ago

Stephanou, Marianna. "Method, Philosophy of Education and the Sphere of the Practico-Inert." Journal of Philosophy of Education. 43.3 (2009): 451-470.


This article is a little difficult to get through if one has not taken a bit of metaphysics and especially phenomenology.  However, it is a worthwhile read for educators in philosophy in general and philosophy of education in particular.  It also has bearing on education, education administration, and political science.  The author uses the philosophies of Sartre, Arendt, Badiou, Derrida, and others to suggest that education has become and tends to become "practico-inert," or sedentary.  This even tends to happen in philosophy of education, where philosophical theories are applied to education, and the latter becomes the dumb disciple of the former.  But if education is supposed to encourage lifelong learning and the desire for truth, a practico-inert education is self-defeating.  The antidote according to the philosophers is variously called praxis, the marvelous, evental grace, and other things.  Basically they propose to reject the everyday, the normal, and the habitual in favor of the new and the inexplicable.  Stephanou, on the other hand, suggests that historical fact and statistics, normally thought of as practico-inert, can also break the deadening "scholasticism" of education: statistics and facts like the absurd and disturbing inequality of wealth, health, and education in the world.  They can lead to creative frustration and confusion.  That seems to be also a way in which education can be a partner with philosophy.  Assessments of what is taught, and facts about education method today, can be food for thought by being frustrating or confusing, challenging the dominant philosophies.  Or sidelined philosophies can be brought into dialogue with the discipline of education.  Educational method should create that confusing aporia and the wonder should likewise inspire teaching method.


The article reinforces from a continental philosophical perspective what we have been taught in this course about using creative frustration and the centrality of inducing self-motivated learning, while articulating it fairly coherently.  It also gives reasons beyond those we learned in class to make teaching about learning and learning about students seeking and finding the truth.

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