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giofreek

Someone explain Educational Futurism please

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I specifically don't understand the alt, it talks about queering the child. Can someone please explain?

 

The alternative is to queer the Child – only our negation of the Child as a symbol of innocence solves endless violence

Greteman and Wojcikiewicz 14 (Adam J. Greteman, Department of Art Education, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Steven Wojcikiewicz, “The Problems with the Future: Educational Futurism and the Figural Child,” Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 48, No. 4, PN)

Edelman's critique and exposure of the Child and the Child's structuring logic illustrates that the Child is exclusionary, de-legitimising all that which is not future-focused, or which does not benefit the Child in all its innocent, sentimentalised, and decontextualised (non)identity. The Child takes up the whole frame, permitting nothing else to be seen, recognised, or thinkable. However, Edelman makes it clear that the Child he writes of is figural and therefore ‘not to be confused with the lived experiences of any historical children’ (p. 11). Rather the figural Child ‘serves to regulate political discourse—to prescribe what we count as political discourse—by compelling such discourse to accede in advance to the reality of a collective future whose figurative status we are never permitted to acknowledge or address’ (p. 11). In order to reveal the Child, and the full range of the meanings of the Child for discourse and action, Edelman (2004) proposes the ‘unthinkable’: he threatens the Child by queering it, since ‘queerness names the side of those not “fighting for the children”, the side outside the consensus by which all politics confirms the absolute value of reproductive futurism’ (p. 3). In queering the Child, these hidden discourses and contexts are exposed, and the Child is portrayed, not as the widely and easily accepted stand-in for children, but as an oppressive figure that closes down possibility and denies particularity, all in the name of a future that ‘is mere repetition and just as lethal as the past’, a future that is normatively, narrowly defined but never to be reached. (p. 31). It is important to understand, in this analysis, that to queer the Child in the name of children is, by extension, to put children in the position of the queer. This, in turn, opens up many possibilities. Yet, making the claim that children are queer may provoke anxiety, or outrage because of the reach of the figural Child. Such a statement on the queerness of children, especially in the realm of education, disrupts the innocence of the Child as imagined and portrayed. It challenges the frame that sets the Child up as in need of a proper curriculum, in need of protection. Edelman acknowledges as much noting that, ‘for the cult of the Child permits no shrines to the queerness of boys and girls, since queerness, for contemporary culture at large … is understood as bringing children and childhood to an end’ (p. 19). Such anxiety, or even outrage, is useful for our purposes, for it helps reveal the contextualised, complex, and perhaps troubling realities that lie beneath the bland image of the Child. The Child is not an innocent position. The Child is indeed the representative of positions that have been utilised politically to assault and reject those who do not support the Child. The stories that have been told about the Child have followed a narrow narrative trajectory and to take a stand against the Child is to offer different stories, different narrative trajectories, and challenges to the future. In offering a challenge to this dominant story line on the Child asks that we stand against the maintenance of innocence, for it is its maintenance that inhibits experience and learning (Archard, 2004; Bruhm and Hurley, 2004; Buckingham, 2000). This maintenance of innocence on the part of the Child is an important piece of what separates the Child from children, and what makes the political Child such a totalising force for the suppression of children. This Child is one who is always innocent, always protected, and, as the potential for anxiety and outrage already mentioned alludes to, always inexperienced. Experience taints, disrupts, and ends innocence. And yet, experience itself is a vital characteristic of learning. Thus children in schools, those who are learning, are always already in a queer position. The Child's image of innocence is merely an exclusionary political position, ‘a central reference point in a wider mythology of childhood that helps uphold an unjust moral order in which both adults and children are subject to the oppressive politics of purity’ (Davis, 2011, p. 381). To argue against the Child and its innocence is to open up that which the Child closes off, the real experiences and desires of children.

Edited by giofreek

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I'm definitely no expert on Edelman's works (so anyone who is more familiar with his works, please feel free to correct me), but it is my understanding that he critiques the figure of "the child" as the symbolic foundation that defines futurity in terms of reproduction. I believe there is a more in-depth psychoanalytical argument introduced in this literature base about how the figure of the child is a libidinally rooted phenomenon that causes us to project the death drive on to the figure of the queer. This means that placing our hopes in the future (and thus, the figure of the child) is one that relies upon the exclusion of queer bodies because as I said before, the concept of the child and reproduction are intrinsic to futurism.

 

This alternative seems to say that we should reveal and threaten the figure of the child by engaging in the unthinkable project of "queering the child" -- this entails actively exposing the (false) innocence of the child, revealing it as an oppressive figure that is used to justify a future that is always already normative and exclusionary. This alters the way education is structured on a fundamental level -- by putting the child in the position of the queer, the alternative disrupts the way curriculum and schooling is set up in protection and active affirmation of the child.

Edited by ConsultVerminSupreme

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The distinction between the capitalised Child and uncapitalised children is likely important, I'd suggest preserving it when you talk about this card.

Queering is a word with sexual connotations, which is partly why the alternative proposed seems so shocking, but a more literal definition probably would be something like deconstructing people's notions of. So, the Child as a figure of innocence and virtue is a lie. Children can be cruel, or costly, or stupid. Depending on how far you want to take it, you can throw a bunch of insults at children for not being capable. Like, babies are probably not sapient lifeforms who truly deserve our moral consideration as equals, they're just hungry flesh-blobs. Treating cuteness or aesthetics as a stand-in for objective moral value justifies atrocities. That sort of thing. You might also consider that the notion of childhood as a special form of innocence is arguably historically recent, and look into past societies or different cultures' conceptions of childhood, to the extent that they exist. I'd advise doing a few quick searches for variants of "childhood" on /r/askhistorians to find scholarly references, although the literature cited would probably be too sober for you to directly apply in-round. Background knowledge is still good.

Think also of the notion of queerness that you encounter in some 19th and 20th century literature, especially British literature.

Basically the point I'm making is that there are a wide variety of ideas that would naturally be associated with this idea and you should be wiling to draw from all of them. Ideally, when doing research, you want to move beyond just interpreting cards and become inspired by them. There's ambiguity in a lot of critical literature, and it's often intentional because authors want to encourage this sort of thing (and because it's a good way to deflect criticism). The ability to produce new statements that weren't made by the card's author but could have been is a great test of whether someone understands an idea. Of course this requires caution, because it's easy to overlook important nuances when thinking in this fashion. But you need to try to generate new ideas, and then test whether those ideas are consistent with the old one, if you really want to press forward your understanding. That the test sometimes says you failed is a feature, not a bug.

Edit: Almost forgot to mention. Arguably the author really does intend to talk about the literal sexuality of children, though not in terms blatant enough to get them in trouble. The references to queering and innocence and desires were probably not made by someone unaware of their connotations. At the very least I think the author intended for the sexual connotations of their words to discomfort people, perhaps to get them to think more. The sexuality of children is probably not nonexistent, but I'm still bound enough by the cultural mores of our society to not want to go into greater detail. I'd advise that you spin the card in the first way discussed only, not the second. Talking about the sexuality of children would probably not to much to dispel people's notion of the Child as an innocent that needs to be protected; it'd be more likely to reinforce it. But if you're really looking to smash some taboos and don't care about what damage it might do (as some queer theorists might advise, even - conservativism in risk assessment is not popular among revolutionaries), this is also an avenue of research you could explore. I'd advise against it, since squick. But maybe squick is what's holding back radical queer politics.

Edited by Chaos
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I'm definitely no expert on Edelman's works (so anyone who is more familiar with his works, please feel free to correct me), but it is my understanding that he critiques the figure of "the child" as the symbolic foundation that defines futurity in terms of reproduction. I believe there is a more in-depth psychoanalytical argument introduced in this literature base about how the figure of the child is a libidinally rooted phenomenon that causes us to project the death drive on to the figure of the queer. This means that placing our hopes in the future (and thus, the figure of the child) is one that relies upon the exclusion of queer bodies because as I said before, the concept of the child and reproduction are intrinsic to futurism.

 

This alternative seems to say that we should reveal and threaten the figure of the child by engaging in the unthinkable project of "queering the child" -- this entails actively exposing the (false) innocence of the child, revealing it as an oppressive figure that is used to justify a future that is always already normative and exclusionary. This alters the way education is structured on a fundamental level -- by putting the child in the position of the queer, the alternative disrupts the way curriculum and schooling is set up in protection and active affirmation of the child.

 

This is a pretty good base explanation but a couple things I would add is that the reason that the queer is excluded from the symbolic order is Within society there are symbols/concepts. The concept of man and woman i believe is one that can contributes to a heteronormative future IE reproduction. Queer cannot reproduce they are considered outside the symbolic order. This means they must be eliminated because of a will to wholeness. There is a drive within the symbolic order to create a heteronormative society that can be described by symbols and concepts.

I would also note that the term Queer, while edelman usually uses the example of a homosexual man, can be considered anything outside the symbolic order or not living up to the figure of the Child, which is the symbol that represents a perfect heteronormative western society IE transgender, women, blacks, or disabled folk. 

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