What Would Hegel Do? Desire and Recognition in the Pedagogical Relation

Amy Swiffen


This paper is about student participation in critical pedagogy. It is also about the anxiety that occurs in practice when the prompting of participation falls on deaf ears. It considers the way that students silence figures as a symptom in critical pedagogy, where it is taken as something that blocks learning and simultaneously a point on which on dialogue is potentiated. Drawing on Freud's concept of the uncanny and Hegel's master/slave dialectic, the discussion analyses that anxiety and suggests that beneath explicit emphasis on dialogue in critical pedagogy, there is also an implicit asymmetrical desire for recognition because the teacher relates to students' learning mediately, through their participation. I argue that student silence should not be regarded only as a problem of "non-work" to be overcome via pedagogical techniques; but rather, the anxiety it provokes offers two ways of responding.  

About the Author

Dr. Amy Swiffen received her PhD from the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta where she currently teaches social theory. Dr. Swiffen can be contacted at aswiffen@ualberta.ca

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