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Post-formalism, Pedagogy Lives

As Inspired by Joe L. Kincheloe

Edited By Hans Jansen and Hugo Letiche

Joe L. Kincheloe (1950–2008) was one of North America’s leading critical pedagogy scholars. He defined post-formalist thought in terms of deconstruction, affectivity, and non-linearity. His deconstruction focused on the context of ideas, ideologies, and teaching. It was a form of sociological deconstruction, and as such, inspired by Derrida, but different from him as well. In effect, Kincheloe was trying to marry Derrida to Foucault by making deconstruction see power in thought, relationships, and the world. Kincheloe’s ‘turn to affect’ was inspired by feminism and radical pedagogy. It was ‘affect’ focused on (in)justice and the social practices of repression. His ‘self-other’ construct was inherently politicized by his identification of ‘unfreedom’ with capitalism and the assumption that this link determines affect. Kincheloe assumed that linear rationality was inadequate to understanding human needs and hopes. Freedom as dynamism was seen to be inherently non-linear. The prison of rationality (it can only repeat the same, over and over again) was the crux of his critique of Newtonian-Cartesian linearity. Kincheloe attempted to construct a concept of ‘place’—such as the classroom. But it was a particular, concrete classroom and not an abstract or theoretical one. Here, the three concepts could come together. ‘Place’ is context, and to understand it, deconstruction is needed. ‘Place’ exists as it is felt and requires affectivity; it is eventful, alive, and dynamic. It requires non-linearity to be understood. Post-formalism, Pedagogy Lives (in memory of Kincheloe’s contribution) encompasses each of the basic principles of Kincheloe’s post-formal thought.

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Chapter Nine: Legitimation of Post-formalism with Living Theories (Jack Whitehead)

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CHAPTER NINE

Legitimation of Post-formalism with Living Theories

JACK WHITEHEAD

 

Introduction

This chapter considers the academic legitimation of post-formalism in Living Theory doctoral research programs. It highlights the coming together of the three concepts used by Kincheloe to define post-formalist thought: deconstruction, affectivity and non-linearity. As others in this book (for instance, Boje and Pieterse) have indicated, Kincheloe wrestled with the tension between his universal values of authenticity, relatedness, emancipation, respect for the other and the translation of those values into specific, concrete actions. The values are just so many ‘grand narratives’ if they are not actualized in specific, lived actions and circumstances. Kincheloe demands that we focus on transformations that can overcome the limitations of the formal logic in the theories that explain educational influences in learning. This transformation, as I have attempted it, has been in two phases. The first phase involves transcending the limitations of formal logic masking the dialectical (or dynamic, interactive and relational) nature of reality. The second phase involves transcending the limitations of dialectical logic via Living Theory research programs with a pedagogy in which individuals express their creativity in the construction of their own non-linear living educational theories, in enquiries of the kind, ‘How do I improve what I am doing?’ I have coined the phrase a ‘living educational theory’ (Whitehead, 1985a) as a way of distinguishing the explanations individuals ← 121 | 122 → create for the educational influences they...

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