Academic journal article Taboo

"Can We Just Get Rid of the Classroom?" Thinking Space, Relationally

Academic journal article Taboo

"Can We Just Get Rid of the Classroom?" Thinking Space, Relationally

Article excerpt

From the moment there is genius, there is something that belongs to no school, no period, something that achieves a breakthrough.

--Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, The "Anti-Oedipus" from A Thousand Plateaus

... to begin always anew, to make, to reconstruct, and to not spoil, to refuse to bureaucratize the mind, to understand and to live life as a process--live to become.

--Paulo Freire

While I was observing teacher candidates at a University in the Midwest U.S. a few months ago, I expected to hear questions and comments from the teacher candidates on the value of philosophy in education. But, as these future teachers considered the works of John Dewey, I listened intently to their interactions. At one point, the professor of the course said, "We need an intelligent theory of education which is different from an ideology." Unexpectedly, a teacher candidate said, "Well, can't we just get rid of the classroom?" There was a long pause and some nervous laughter that ensued. These teacher candidates were not suggesting that schools or classroom spaces be removed from being a central figure of an education system. Rather, these teacher candidates were raising the issue of how learning occurs and in what types of conditions, or spaces, these occurrences materialize. Reflecting on this moment in preparation for this article led me to think about the rules and norms that encode modern schooling practices--things so simple as a classroom with four walls, a space for formal learning. I wonder about the current ideologies that govern modern schooling practices in formal and informal spaces, and importantly, for this article, the ideologies that govern teaching preparations and teaching practices in contested, alternative spaces. What happens if we fail to see alternative spaces? I tend to believe that much happens beneath the surface when we are engaged in educational theory and research.

The argument of this article is primarily a theoretical one that engages with conceptual ideas in critical geography scholarship and more recent theorizing in comparative education literature on globalization and education. I see continuity within the critical geography theorizing found in Edward Soja's work in Seeking Spatial Justice and more recent literature on "scale" by comparative education researchers (Roberston & Dale, 2008). Thus, I explore the relationship between critical geography and comparative education research on globalization theory. As Helfenbein (2010) notes, "Critical geographers are interested in space, place, power and identity" (p. 304). This article engages with these elements of spatial analysis but by drawing attention to the nuances of space as distinct from place. In addition, it argues that we need to theorize space as "relational" and fluid through poststructuralist theories of becoming offered by the work of Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Huge Tomlinson, and Graham Burchell entitled, What is philosophy? and the individual work of Gilles Deleuze entitled Bergsonism. (1) Ultimately, in examining the critical geography literature from Edward Soja (2010), this article tests the limits of Edward Soja's conception of space. In addition, I discuss a teaching experience in Cuba to shed some light on how we might reconceptualize space as distinct from place. I will spend some time drawing out the distinction between space and place and am ultimately concerned with what and who constitutes space. Finally, I argue for a more nuanced theorization of space using Deleuzian (1988, 1994) concepts of becoming and multiplicity to understand space as fluid, contested, negotiated and emergent. Within this latter discussion of Deleuze's concepts I will define "becoming" and argue that it is a concept that can potentially capture the materiality of lived experiences in spaces of possibility. The call for a nuanced post-structuralist conceptualization of space draws attention to alternative spaces that are not governed by normative, positivistic ontologies, and thus merges the historical, the social and the spatial. …

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