Posthuman learners in posturban schooling: Education for a socially just world

Year: 2019

Author: Vass, Greg

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

We are in the posthuman present, and education has been slow to engage with the implications that stem from this (Snaza & Weaver, 2015). A contentious claim, but if accepted, raises important questions about the foundations of schooling in ‘Western’ settings, as they are undergirded by conceptualizing the ‘human’ as an object and subject of everything that transpires in education. While there may be ‘many posthumanisms’, as Ulmer (2017) explains, in common they share a view of the possibilities for knowledge making that are opened up by departing from human-centred research. It is hard to disagree that such a methodological leap is required if we consider the past efforts of many policy makers, teachers and researchers to eliminate discrimination and inequities, yet for some the de-humanizing effects of schooling were reproduced widely. Across the twentieth century, then, as city populations swelled alongside of increasing cultural and linguistic diversity, concerns with the complexities of schooling in urban contexts have grown. These changing demographics have added challenges and furthered the harmful impacts arising from schooling for many students from minoritized and marginalized backgrounds. This resonates with my involvement in (sub)urban school settings undergoing changes that in many ways reflect what is occurring in significantly larger and more densely populated city centres. However, the limitations and concerns with ‘urban education’ discourses, particularly in the Australian setting, have resulted in circumstances that warrant a rethink of how we conceptualise the sorts of educational contexts I have taught and researched within. In this paper, I make a case for describing these settings as posturban. Additionally, I will consider the possibilities for undertaking posthumanist research within these contexts.