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Education Theory Reading Network

A platform for discussion centered around issues in education theory - all welcome

A School of Education research event
Date30 May 2023
Time13:00 to 14:00
ProviderSchool of Education
Intended audienceAcademic staff and students
Registration informationContact the event organiser for the online meeting link
OrganizerBrahm Norwich

At the last meeting when we discussed Walter Feinberg’s paper, it was agreed to read and discuss something about Radical Hope related to the work of the philosopher and psychoanalyst Jonathan Lear. The book is available but a single chapter is about 13,000 words, longer than we usually read. Here is a brief summary about it:

Recently I have been rereading Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation by Jonathan Lear. Don't be alarmed by its grimly academic title; it is one of the most profound and elegantly written books to come out in decades. The book discusses a Crow Indian leader named Plenty Coups, who led his people through their brutal transition from a nomadic hunting culture to confinement on a government reservation. This is not a work of history or anthropology, however, but an inquiry into how an entire society can radically transform itself in order to survive. Lear's book is visionary and — if you take its message to heart — transformative. He has done one of those rare things: produced a work that applies to literally every person on the planet.

However, I did find a very recent paper that is about schooling and the purposes of schooling drawing on Lear’s work on mourning and hope that derives from his radical hope book. I think this would be a good one to start with.

I tried using ChatGPT to find references that we might read. What I did find was the extent to which it fabricates sources. I attach what came back and you can see the sources -  some by well-known commentators in the field, but which do not exist when you go to the journals looking for them – major ‘hallucinating’.   

Here is the abstract of Frank paper and I hope you can find the time to read and join us at the next meeting: 

Rethinking the Purposes of Schooling in a Global Pandemic: From Learning Loss to a Renewed Appreciation for Mourning and Human Excellence

Jeff Frank

Studies in Philosophy and Education (2023) 42:5–16

 Abstract: A main goal of this paper is to complicate “learning loss” as the only, or even the main, thing schools should be concerned about as they respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. While schools have a responsibility to make sure students who are enrolled in school are learning, this cannot come at the cost of ignoring the other substantial losses students are also contending with. Following the work of Jonathan Lear, I make the case that schools should engage students in a process of learning how to mourn for their individual and our collective losses, while also considering ways that school can move beyond narrow conceptions of the purposes of school and to a deeper appreciation for the ways that an education can promote human excellence. As this pandemic wears on, it becomes harder and harder to do anything but endure. One goal of this paper is to serve as a reminder that schools can do more than endure: they can envision new possibilities for schooling that promote conceptions of wellbeing that go beyond fear of learning loss.

Frank 2022 mourning covid purposes of schooling