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The ethical possibilities of postmodern pedagogy..

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The aims of modern education are largely Enlightenment-inspired - thus postmodernism finds an uneasy foothold within educational theory. But the needs of the present are not so much for universal reason and truth as for respect and non-violence (which it is argued are the "spirit" of postmodernity). This research report suggests that the usefulness of postmodern thought (and particularly of deconstruction) to education is not so much political as ethical. Drawing upon recent work of Jacques Derrida and commentaries upon his work by Simon Critchley and Johan Degenaar, it is argued that deconstruction is inherently a discourse of moral advocacy and that although it undermines the ultimate validity of any particular thought system this does not render it nihilistic; rather it involves responsiveness and openness towards the Other (person or system). While a reading of postmodern pedagogy acknowledges this, the intention is more often linked to particular political agendas, especially radical and feminist , than to wider ethical issues. Within educational theory a deconstructive "ethic of ethics" has implications for the kinds of knowledge which will be taught, the social relations which will be promoted, and the kinds of educational provision which will be made - but without prescription and within wide bounds of possibility.


Thesis (M.Ed.) - University of Natal, Durban, 1995.


Education--Philosophy., Ethics, Modern--20th century., Theses--Education., Deconstruction., Postmodernism.