Now phenomenology, a discourse that dwells on the very uncertainties that characterize the complicated nature of educational relations. While moving back to the “things themselves” (as Husserl indicates) may appear an innocent and straightforward task, as the articles we’ve looked at this week suggest, there is absolutely nothing straightforward about thinking of the minutiae contained in the educational encounter. Phenomenology is about revealing, and it has often been suggested that its philosophical language fringes on the quasi-religious. And, while this claim does make sense (there is definitely a spiritual quality to all of the readings for this week), phenomenology (which, for van Manen “asks the simple question, what is it like to have a certain experience?”) also challenges us to reveal the hidden energies and tensionalities behind what is usually taken-for-granted in the material realities of education. While you may (as always) respond to any aspect of these readings, I pose the following questions as potential prompts for discussion, focusing mostly on the ideas of Hunsberger and Aoki (as described by Magrini):
1) Focused on the phenomenological nature of reading, Hunsberger asks us to consider the multiple relations between temporality and reading experience, and to think about what we can learn about the relations of time and reading that can be extended to life (educationally and otherwise) more generally. Thinking about the various types of experiences with time that Hunsberger suggests we may encounter in reading, how have your multiple experiences with reading (as a child, in school, as a grad student, with different kinds of texts) implied a variety of qualitatively different relations with time? Referencing your own experiences, what happens with time as you read? As Hunsberger does in this chapter, can you extrapolate from these experiences and make suggestions for educational life more generally?
2) What different kinds of relations with time have you experienced in your educational life (whether in regards to reading, or otherwise)? What about not-time? Given the pressures of teaching and learning in contemporary educational environments, is the experience of not-time even a possibility?
3) Throughout her chapter, Hunsberger talks of the tension between clock time and inner time in reading. What does this tension make possible? Though, as she writes, “Reading is at the intersection, encouraging and necessitating the two kinds of time” (p. 68), what is lost if we focus, or allow ourselves to dwell in, only one of these temporal experiences (at the potential expense of the other)? Is this even possible?
4) As Hunsberger notes, “the text … create[s] the mood,” though “the reader must be vulnerable to it and willing to join in” (p. 76). Following from the different kinds of “moods” that Hunsberger indicates as possibilities (and connected to different narrative forms, such as poetry, a thriller, dictionaries, etc.), what are some of the “moods” of curriculum, either as a textual construct or a lived experience? And, what does it mean to suggest that readers or students must make themselves vulnerable before joining in?
5) Though positioned as a kind of philosophical “revealing,” Magrini describes Aoki’s task as a curriculum/phenomenological theorist as “seek[ing] the ‘essence’ of [a] phenomenon, without which the phenomenon would not be as it is” (p. 276). Using Aoki’s frames of curriculum (planned, implemented, and lived), think of a given phenomenon you have encountered in educational life (a type of conversation, space, assessment, anything!), and theorize on the possibilities of its essence, listening closely to that which may not be seen.
6) Curriculum as commodity and curriculum as ambiguous experience. In regards to the considerations of phenomenology (revealing an authentic essence), where have you experienced this tensionality? How may dwelling in this tensionality allow you to reveal something authentic about education, or your own motivations and desires as an educator?
7) Magrini describes Aoki’s undertaking in curriculum theory as pursuing “the idea that goals do not need to assume definitive forms” (p. 295). Why is this such a revolutionary idea? Going back to “the things themselves,” the minutiae and the often neglected, what might we learn about education through thinking about goals apart from legible, capturable norms?
8) Considering van Manen’s phenomenological approach, how does the “call” of pedagogy sound its call? How have you made yourself attuned as a listener to (and not only a passive recipient of) this call? Instead of thinking what we can do (and how we can theorize) curriculum, what does it mean to instead consider what curriculum does to us, or how curriculum theorizes us?
9) Van Manen notes how “In a mundane sense we confuse pedagogy with what we see pedagogues do” (p. 292). What does he mean? How can you relate this confusion to some of the ideas we’ve previously encountered in this course?