Anarchist education and the paradox of pedagogical authority

Article


Fretwell, N. 2020. Anarchist education and the paradox of pedagogical authority. Educational Philosophy and Theory. 52 (1), pp. 55-65. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131857.2019.1594196
TypeArticle
TitleAnarchist education and the paradox of pedagogical authority
AuthorsFretwell, N.
Abstract

This paper interrogates a key feature of anarchist education; focusing on a problem with implications not only for anarchist conceptions of education, but for anarchist philosophy and practice more broadly. The problem is this: if anarchism consists in the principled opposition to all forms of coercive authority, then how is this to be reconciled with situations where justice demands the use of coercion in order to protect some particular good? It seems that anarchist educators are forced to deny coercive authority in principle, whilst at the same time affirming it in practice. This is the paradox of pedagogical authority in anarchist education. Coercive authority is simultaneously impossible and indispensable. Exploring this paradox through a reading of Jacques Derrida’s later work, and, in particular, his conception of justice as requiring openness to the singular situation (Derrida, 1990), I argue that in exercising their authority anarchist educators encounter the aporetic moment in anarchism, experiencing what Derrida calls ‘the ordeal of the undecidable’ (Ibid.). Understood this way, the paradox becomes less an indication of anarchism’s limitations than it does its value. For it is here that the problem of pedagogical authority is treated with the gravity that all questions of justice deserve.

KeywordsAnarchism; authority; pedagogy; Derrida
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
ISSN0013-1857
Electronic1469-5812
Publication dates
Online09 Apr 2019
Print02 Jan 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited03 Dec 2019
Accepted28 Feb 2019
Submitted17 Sep 2018
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
Copyright Statement

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Educational Philosophy and Theory on 09 April 2019, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/00131857.2019.1594196.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/00131857.2019.1594196
Web of Science identifierWOS:000466290300001
LanguageEnglish
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