Cracking open pedagogy: Learning 'in' intense environments

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What if a purpose of pedagogy was to create environments where intense experiences of learning can occur? This research is an inquiry into how affect-intense pedagogies work and the work that they do. It focuses on pedagogic affect as produced in the situated, sociomaterial practices of three more-than-human environments that create the conditions for intense learning to occur—an outdoor sculpture event in the Hauraki Gulf (Aotearoa New Zealand), a Zombie Apocalypse Survival Course at a human pathology museum (Sydney, Australia), and a fight squad at a Taekwondo club (Melbourne, Australia). What transpires is a multi-site ethnographic case study of pedagogic affect in which I engage with empirical material through a combination of conventional and experimental approaches, whereby arts-based practices act to enliven research(er) thinking-doing. In this space between convention and invention, a Deleuzian inspired rhizo-cartography unfolds. Pedagogic practices are ‘found’ to occupy in-between spaces or ‘cracks’ that produce affect-intensive learning encounters. These practices and encounters are recast as constituting a minor pedagogy which is, in turn, imbricated in a Spinozist ethics of affirmation as taken up by Deleuze and Braidotti. Pedagogy that enacts an affirmative ethics is conceptualised as being inextricably connected to practices that increase the affective capacity of learner-bodies. In this inquiry, pedagogies that cultivate the capacity to affect and be affected involve stepping into a crack, where tinkering, experimenting, (un)knowing and caring take place through an approach that blends critique and creativity. I propose that creating the conditions for minor pedagogies to flourish in everyday learning encounters can generate affirmative change in all kinds of ordinary, localised contexts – schools, community sites and elsewhere – that create the conditions to learn intensely. Full thesis available for download from the University of Melbourne's digital repository

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... The notion of pedagogies of response-ability shifts the focus from what pedagogies mean, their various representations (e.g., signature pedagogy, critical pedagogy, affective pedagogy) to what they do, their performative effects, including their transformative capability, or not. The work that pedagogies do emerges with/in distributed networks and assemblages, relocating pedagogy from human individuals to a relational space in and between moving bodies and things and ideas (Healy 2019). Given its humanistic inclinations, this space has traditionally been marginalised within education, considered of little consequence, certainly in western education. ...
Defined as the power to increase or lessen the capacity to act, affect is purported to be pedagogy’s first lesson. In this article we explore the work of ordinary affects in relation to oppressive social norms with particular attention to race. Using feminist new materialist concepts, we trace the capacities of these affects as they play into two pedagogic encounters. We show how pedagogies of response-ability form through affective transmission and material practice. Race presents as an affective and material event that plays out differentially through bodies. Responsible pedagogy hinges on maintaining the ability of people in association with objects to respond to the learning possibilities that pedagogic encounters provide. Responsive to the humanand the non-human, pedagogies of responsibility and the affects that attend them matter on several fronts. They engender ethical subjectivity, unsettle dominant structures of power, and loosen the grip of the ontological privilege accorded the human.
The aim of this paper is to bring into conversation the concept of ‘affective witnessing’ and the notion of ‘vulnerability’ as an affective relation to reconceptualise the framework for understanding affective witnessing of vulnerability in pedagogical theory and practice. In particular, the paper explores how paying close attention to affectivity and embodied knowledge in the practice of witnessing vulnerability in educational settings – particularly in the context of new media forms, platforms, devices and infrastructures – may expand possibilities for engaging students in transformative action that challenges inequality and injustice. It is argued that providing opportunities for students to engage in ‘faithful witnessing’ – that is, witnessing as an act of aligning oneself with oppressed peoples and taking action against inequality and injustice – requires taking into consideration the affective dynamics of witnessing human vulnerability.
As critical posthumanist and (new) materialist scholarship become more established in educational research, a reconsideration of methodological approaches suited to a radical relational onto-epistemology is required. A popular figuration adopted by researchers to help think and do such research is the Deleuze-Guattarian “rhizome.” Coming to terms with how rhizomic styled research (rhizo research) is undertaken and what it can yield however, can be challenging. In this paper, a study involving a Zombie Apocalypse Survival Course run at a human pathology museum becomes an animated example of rhizo research. Through it we demonstrate how infusing this research with an “analytic of lines” (derived from Deleuze-Guattarian rhizomatics) provides for a practice of research that has the power to shift the ontological and epistemological positions that continue to define qualitative research in education and bring understudied, ethico-political dimensions of it into view.
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