Postmodernism and Education

Postmodernism and Education

Postmodernism and Education

Postmodernism and Education

Synopsis

Postmodernism and Educationresponds to the interest in postmodernism as a way of understanding social, cultural and economic trends. Robin Usher and Richard Edwards explore the impact which postmodernism has had upon the theory and practice of education, using a broad analysis of postmodernism and an in-depth introduction to key writers in the field, including Lacan, Derrida, Foucault and Lyotard. In examining the impact which this thinking has had upon contemporary theory and practice of education, Usher and Edwards concentrate particularly upon how postmodernist ideas challenge existing concepts, structures and hierarchies.

Excerpt

There is a continuing and growing interest in postmodernism as a ‘system’ of ideas and as a way of understanding contemporary social and cultural trends. There is now a great deal of published work which examines, often critically, postmodern perspectives and concepts and their implications for the study of a wide range of contemporary phenomena. This work is found in areas such as philosophy, feminist studies, cultural studies, literary criticism and to a lesser extent psychology.

Furthermore, the postmodern is not simply a body of thought, a way of theorising, but also a way of practising—there is a postmodern architecture, art, literature, and even a postmodern psychology. Education as an area of study, however, has remained largely immune from this trend and there is little outside the work of critical and feminist pedagogy that relates postmodern ideas to the processes and structures of education or that examines these in the light of postmodern developments in society and culture. Educational practice, on the other hand, does have many features that could properly be called postmodern even though educational practitioners might be reluctant to recognise this. Thus one thing this text tries to do is to ask how educational practices are to be understood, given that they are already located, even if only partially, within the postmodern. One of our hopes is that in doing this a way of looking at education differently will emerge.

However, there are problems here. One is that the postmodern, the term ‘postmodernism’ notwithstanding, is not really a ‘system’ of ideas and concepts in any conventional sense. Rather, it is complex and multiform and resists reductive and simplistic explanation and explication. The ‘message’ (if such a term can be used for something so inchoate) is the need to problematise systems of thought and organisation and to question the very notion of systematic explanation. The task, then, of seeing education in a postmodern perspective is rendered particularly difficult if the very notion of a postmodern perspective is itself problematic.

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