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Engagement and Subject Matter


David Aldridge

on 19 July 2017

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Transcript of Engagement and Subject Matter

Engagement and Subject Matter
David Aldridge
Reader in Education
Oh limed soule, that strugling to be free, Art more ingag'd - Hamlet III.iii

Critical Realism
Hermeneutic Phenomenology
"They're digging in the wrong place!"
Biesta, G (2007) 'Why "What Works" Won't Work: Evidence-Based Practice and the Democratic Deficit in Educational Research, EDUCATIONAL THEORY 57:1-22

Smeyers, P (2002) 'The Origin: Education, Philosophy
and a Work of Art' in Peters, M A (ed)
MODERNITY, Rowman and Littlefield
Grasping engagement as a phenomenon
restoring it to its context in lived experience
that which lets itself be seen
requires interpretation: the phenomenon can become covered over
Gadamer (on understanding): "the question is not what we do or what we should do, but what happens
beyond our willing and doing"
descriptive v prescriptive aim - not concerned with 'efficient' or 'effective'
learning, or with
maximising any sort
of 'outcome'
Aldridge, D (2012) 'Phenomenology and Enquiry-Based Learning', paper presented at BLT 2013, Oxford Brookes University

Aldridge, D (2013) 'The Logical Priority of the Question: R G Collingwood, Philosophical Hermeneutics and Enquiry-Based Learning', JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION, 47:1, 71-85
Gadamer, Truth and Method
Features of an educational experience:
- unexpected
- unfamiliar
- negativity
it 'pulls us up short' and puts our being into question

English, A (2009) 'Listening as a Teacher: Educative Listening, Interruptions and Reflective Practice, PAIDEUSIS 18:1
Jonas, M (2010) 'When Teachers Must Let Education Hurt', JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION 14:1
Perhaps the best hope of phenomenology is to help us recognise something we already know
The 'ontological turn'
in Higher Education

'The engagement premise is deceptively simple, even self-evident: The more students study a subject, the more they learn about it. Likewise, the more students practice and get feedback on their writing, analyzing, or problem solving, the more adept they become. The very act of being engaged also adds to the foundation of skills and dispositions that is essential to live a productive, satisfying life after college. That is, students who are involved in educationally productive activities in college are developing habits of the mind and heart that enlarge their capacity for continuous learning and personal development.'
(Kuh 2003:25) cited in
Trowler, V (2010) STUDENT ENGAGEMENT LITERATURE REVIEW, Higher Education Academy
Dall'Alba, G and Barnacle, R (2007) 'An Ontlogical Turn for Higher Education', STUDIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION 32:6
Barnett, R (1997) HIGHER EDUCATION: A CRITICAL BUSINESS, Open University
Thomson, I (2001) 'Heidegger on ontological education, or: how we become what we are', INQUIRY 44:3
- instrumentalisation, professionalisation and technologisation
- narrow epistemological focus
- adopt or choose intellectual or pedagogical strategies, develop skills
- Dall'Alba and Barnacle (2007) 'Knowing is inhabited; we cannot step outside it. But it is also transformative - it can change who we are'
The locus of engagement is an
'in-between' - student/ teacher,
subject/ object
teachers engage students (in dialogue)
students engage (themselves) in their work
The Pedagogical Triangle
Subject Matter
Object of Study/
Materiality of Learning
engagement 'befalls' us: you do not choose to become more engaged
you cannot be instrumentally persuaded to engage, although you might be convinced to 'apply yourself to your work'
the intentionality of engagement; engagement is not 'about' learning, it is directed toward the subject matter; this is where we meet
the best model here might be something like a courtship: the teacher must communicate what is valuable in the subject matter, the student must be 'won over'
university as the site of the 'happening' of truth; participants allow themselves to be conducted by the subject matter
preparation/ transition: students are always already engaged, bring their own questions.
- Preparation as existential: subjects vie with one another and compete ' to exhaust the potential of the learner' (Smeyers 2002)
teacher (and institution's) concerns about engagement must be regulated by the subject matter: we do not succeed by pretending to be something that we are not
you can't make everyone fall in love with you
The ontology of engagement carries a latent ethics
that engagement is irreducible to application to study is evidenced in those students who display elements of 'engagement' (apply themselves to their work) but nevertheless self-identify as 'alienated'
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