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Jonas Andreasen Lysgaard

Action incontinence - Action and competence in Dark Pedagogy

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The Action Competence approach to environmental and sustainability education (EES) has spread throughout Scandinavia and internationally with a Bildung oriented educative outlook, emphasizing the importance of critical thinking and enlightened action (Breiting, Hedegaard et al. 1999, Mogensen and Schnack 2010, Carlsson and Hoffmann 2011, Scheie and Korsager 2017). In an effort to critique instrumentalist pedagogical efforts that stress behavior modification, the action competence approach has, over the last 20 years, been a strong voice in ongoing debates within research and practice linked to environmental and sustainability education arguing for agency and the role of free will of the learner (Mogensen and Schnack 2010). In this paper we critique the underlying notion of temporality and causality of the action competence approach, by drawing on dark pedagogy, to rethink the conditions and limits of education in the Anthropocene (Lysgaard, Bengtsson et al. 2019, Lysgaard and Bengtsson 2020).

We argue that anthropocentric notions of competence and causality do not exhaust the complexities of educational practice or theory these notions are feeding on modernist ideas of temporality and spatiality. The Anthropocene underline that a causal understanding of temporality and spatiality is no longer suitable in context of dire global, regional, and local ecological catastrophe. The inherent Dunkelheit and withdrawnness, in both temporal and spatial dimension, of the consequences of any action suggest that we should rethink action and competence in the Anthropocene. Excessive actions, we argue, engage with and aim to constitute a volatile and heterogeneous “now”, forcing us to engage with the leaking incontinence of action that still has to turn out to be competent or incompetent.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPedagogy in the Anthropocene : Re-Wilding Education for a New Earth
EditorsMichael Paulsen, Jan Jagodzinski, Shé Mackenzie Hawke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication statusSubmitted - 2021

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