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International Education in Global Times

Engaging the Pedagogic


Paul Tarc

This book illuminates the changing landscape and expediency of international education in global times. Within this larger picture, the book focuses on the educational effects of international encounters, experiences and lessons – the complex processes of learning and subject formation in play during and after one's international/intercultural experience. These complex processes, hinged on past and present self-other relations, are illustrated by employing the parable of «The Elephant and the Blind Men.» In contrast to more narrow, developmentalist conceptions of intercultural learning, Paul Tarc attends to each of the linguistic, existential, structural, and psychical dimensions of difficulty constituting learning across difference. Becoming aware of, and reflexive to, these dimensions of difficulty and their implications for one’s own learning and resistance to learning, represents the domain of cosmopolitan literacy. The key intervention of this book is to re-conceive pedagogical processes and aims of international education as fostering such cosmopolitan literacy. Graduate courses on international education, study abroad, global citizenship education, and preservice education courses focusing on international education and teaching internationally could be primary candidates for this text.
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Chapter Five: Fostering Cosmopolitan Literacies: Toward Educating International Education


Can certain problematic assumptions founding and limiting international education discussed in the preceding chapters be adjusted and reworked? Can ‘blind spots’ be acknowledged and engaged? For example, can the ‘unpreparable’ of encountering difference in an international experience inform how study abroad students are taught? Can education even diverge from “the quest for an omnipotent knowledge unencumbered by psychical life” (Britzman, 2009, p. 3)? Can the inherent difficulties of transformative learning in intercultural/international contexts represent the grounds for pedagogies of the international, rather than the obstacles to be suppressed under functionalist and idealist imaginaries of the coherent, rational, knowledge-seeking subject? That is, can international education be educated?

This book argues in the affirmative if the very impossibility ‘of being educated’ sets the conditions for the work to be done. Educating international education is an ongoing and collective task given the dynamic yet vulnerable state of the human in the world and amidst the pervasive demand for certainties. Indeed this challenge of educating international education, through acknowledging and responding to the inherent uncertainties in human existence, ethics and knowing, would reconstitute pedagogies of international education. This reconstitution represents a departure from more traditional approaches of providing students with the most accurate and ← 97 | 98 → appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes ‘packet’ constructed as if one moves progressively from ethnocentrism (ignorance) to ethno-relativism under the teleology of Enlightenment. If humanism grants us the authority to draw upon our faculties to shape our futures on our own accord, hyper-rational (technological) progress in the...

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