Deborah P. Britzman's After-Education: Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, and PDF

By Deborah P. Britzman

Makes use of psychoanalytic theories of studying to discover modern concerns in schooling.

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Extra info for After-Education: Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, and Psychoanalytic Histories of Learning

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Winnicott’s description of the use of the transitional object matches later uses of knowledge in academic work: attachment to the object includes both cuddling and mutilation; it seems to survive the baby’s aggression; it cannot change unless the baby makes it change; it seems to have a reality of its own; it is close to the baby’s point of view; and, in the end, it is discarded when eventually it loses these meanings DIFFICULT EDUCATION 25 (1992b, 233). If all goes well, and this is Winnicott’s phrasing, then this loss is not to be mourned.

From the paper child to the paper monster, philosophers and novelists try to invoke something of the dilemmas of the duration and aftermath of education. Perhaps Arendt comes closest to the crisis: We are born, and we need education. If both education and natality are in the realm of the fragility of actions, neither being born nor having to learn is an experience that can be known in advance. And this radical uncertainty—what Arendt called “crisis”—is the structuring tension in education. On the one side, there are passionate scenarios of love, hate, and aggression; on the other side, indebtedness, promise, and forgiveness.

The fact of natality thus references the promise of sociality for renewal and continuity, a promise easily broken. Kristeva’s (2001a) meditation on Arendt’s thinking centers on this very human condition, and she may as well have been referring to processes of education: “Arendt reconstructs the political realm from scratch based on two key notions— the birth of individuals and the frailty of actions—and on two psychopolitical interventions—forgiveness and the promise” (204). These dilemmas of the unknown are, for Arendt, the crisis of education.

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