Taking apart, scattering, putting back together

Reflecting on this course’s tumblog experience, I can see this process working out well.  In this last block of studies, I am effectively taking apart Haraway, Hayle, Edwards, Penderson, Angus and Gough and then writing reflections on these (scattering) and publishing them on the tumblog.  In time I will be putting this back together again as a single final write up and presentation.   There is  an active and continuous construction and reconstruction of the boundaries for building up my understanding and critique of the posthumanist philosophy and its implications on education.

The reconstruction of boundaries is prevalent when one is making sense of a more difficult subject.  Some of these areas are:

a) the comparison of the nonhuman with human subjects in Gough and other writers in the same continuum:

Essentially Gough’s rhizomANTic is example of anthropomorphism, where humans try to project their own perspective onto non-human things. We want to believe that there is something that connects us to each other, as part of a higher-order collective, and if ants can be seen this way, maybe human’s could, too.

As evidence of this claim of anthropomorphism, it is worth noting that most writers assume we can transfer observations from the ant world to the human world, without devoting any exploration to why such transferance doesn’t make sense. For example, ants do not have a written language. They transfer information through the exchange of chemical signals, and much behaviour is simply inherent in their genetics. An ant doesn’t have an education program to become an ant. An ant simply functions as an ant from birth.

In contrast, tragic examples from human history show that babies and children, must be extensively educated to gain language, and many critical life skills such as reading, writing and science. The wolf-boy of France who was found living in the wild did not have an innate ability to function in human society after growing up for so many years outside of it. Ants don’t face this learning investment, and so this is just one of many differences between the two types of societies which make comparisons and conclusions very limited.

In the last part of the essay, the author suddenly invokes the perspective of a student self-directed examination of the connections of things in ordinary life with distant sources and peoples as some how related to the concept of an ant colony. This is only possible if we believe that people function like ants, or that ant colonies represent some complex human interactions as an educational construct. Unfortunately, there is no investigation or explanation of such connections.

As a pedagogy, the self-directed exploration of connections is not stand-alone. It would never work unless students had already received extensive training in science, history, geography, biology and so-on previously – and we must agree that those skills would have been gained by traditional methods: demonstration of technique, discussion of theory, opportunity to practice and perfect new skills with coaching and assessment.

From a more charitable perspective, the suggested cyborg pedagogy is an example of putting in practice the integration of many skills and experiences. For example, the previous study of economics and supply chains (Angus et al, 2001) can be practically mixed with studies of ecology, sociology and environment. Ergo, following the commercial acquisition of coffee granules informs the study of the agricultural and social practices that provided it in context with the environmental impact and/or benefits. From this analysis, we can assert that cyborg pedagogy is more about finding connections between diverse studies, than it is about finding connections about the things themselves. Cyborg pedagogy does not operate on its own. At best, it is more like an imaginative creative writing course than a learning environment.

b) the decentring of the human or human factor seem to make sense at one level where the power of construction and reconstruction is given to the student rather than the teacher dictating the boundaries, however, is it suggesting that education that reflects this model should replace traditional methods?   Angus et al (2001) has demonstrated the process and the result of the experiment where the students make the connections between things, and see the relationships differently. Does the encouragement of this kind of exploration set students up for challenging the body of knowledge to the extent of revising history for example or question the existence of the self or the notion of right and wrong?  How does posthumanist view facts?


Haraway, D. (2000). A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late 20th Century. in D Bell and A Kennedy, The Cybercultures Reader. Routledge.

Hayles, N.K. (1999). Toward embodied virtuality, chapter 1 of How we became posthuman: virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature and informatics. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. pp1-25

Edwards, R. (2010). The end of lifelong learning: A post-human condition? Studies in the Education of Adults, vol 42, no 1, 5-17.

Pedersen, H. (2010). Is the posthuman educable? On the convergence of educational philosophy, animal studies, and posthumanist theoryDiscourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, vol 31, no 2, 237-250.

Angus, T, Cook, I, Evans, J et al (2001) A Manifesto for Cyborg Pedagogy? International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, vol 10, no 2, pp.195-201.

Gough, N. (2004). RhizomANTically becoming-cyborg: performing posthuman pedagogiesEducational Philosophy and Theory, vol 36, no 3, 253-265

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