Kenneth Wain and the Lifelong Engagement with Education
20. Citizenship, Therapy, and the Politics of Irony
Education, for me, is essentially self-education; a process of personal growth that can be consciously and unconsciously influenced, rather than a deliberate undertaking requiring a teacher with intentions.
—Kenneth Wain (2008, pp. 580–581, emphasis removed)
To revisit Kenneth Wain’s extensive writings is to be struck by the centrality of his vision of education as something that goes beyond the conventional institutions of school and university; by his commitment to a rich and defensible practice of “lifelong learning” in the world of late- or post-modernity (Wain, 2004); by his acute sense of how that practice can easily be corrupted and co-opted by the forces of performativity (Wain, 2004); and by his detailed and scholarly work that positions his preferred picture of education with reference to “ironists” (whom some might describe as progressives, pragmatists or postmodernists avant le nom) such as John Dewey and Richard Rorty (see especially Wain, 1995). It is also to be struck by the importance to his vision of education of ideas of personal growth, as indicated in the quotation that prefixes this paper, of “self-education” or ideas of care of the self that derive from Foucault. The following passage brings many of these themes together:
I am persuaded by the poststructuralist opposition to any form of theorising on a grand scale and attracted to a Foucaultian politics of resistance to performativism where its political domination is turned to manipulative and exploitative purposes, and to seek my own space of freedom,...
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