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Into or out of the Light? Four Shades of Pedagogical Darkness

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There has arisen a tendency in recent pedagogical research to give high value to darkness. The world is portrayed as harbouring at least large pockets of the unfathomable. The one who would want to comprehend the world is always in the dark. But darkness is also celebrated as an educational virtue: in moving into dark- ness, one can escape the overbearing light of the world. This imagery of darkness turns Plato’s cave and the whole educational endeavour since the Enlightenment on its head, therefore. There, the pedagogical aim has been precisely that of leading the student from the dark into the light. However, it turns out that, on inspection, each of these pedagogical viewpoints – being in the dark; being in the light – are overly simple. No less that four forms of pedagogical darkness may be discerned: (i) in ontological darkness, one comes to a sense of the intertwinedness and incessant motion of the world and its hidden mysteries; (ii) in epistemological darkness, one becomes sensitised to being unwittingly imprisoned in one’s own cognitive specta- cles; (iii) in phenomenological darkness, one recognizes that much of oneself is undisclosed to oneself and so one is in the dark even about one’s own reasoning processes; and (iv) in political or ideological darkness, one forms a sense that the darkness of the world could be other than it is. In some cases, therefore, darkness can be confronted head-on; in other cases, it has to be lived with, and lived-in. In every case, however, the unspeakable can and should be voiced.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Promise of the University : Reclaiming Humanity, Humility, and Hope
EditorsAine Mahon
Place of publicationSingapore
Publication yearJan 2022
ISBN (print)978-981-16-5276-9
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-16-5277-6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
SeriesDebating Higher Education: Philosophical Perspectives

    Research areas

  • University, Higher Education, Philosophy, Educational Philosophy, Philosophy of higher education, Light, Darkness, Humanity, Humility, Hope

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