Seduc(a)tion: A risky inquiry into pleasurable teaching

Year: 1994

Author: McWilliam, Erica

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Combining pleasure and teaching as a research project is very "touchy" indeed, given current hegemonic constructions of the "good" teacher. In the paper I am attempting to reclaim seduction as a legitimate metaphor for the sort of pedagogical work successful teachers do. I argue that such teachers appropriately mobilise forces of desire (the desire to teach and the desire to learn), both of which are productive, not malicious. Further, teachers often do so in ways that lie outside our cultural norms of legitimate pedagogical exchange.

Against this, I believe that teachers are increasingly called upon to deny what Chambers (1984) calls "the claim to seductive power", and without the means of redress that seductive power makes possible. We have become "no/bodies" in the discursive construction of educational practice. It is for this reason, I argue, that inquiry into the legitimate seductive power of the teacher is not mere scholarly indulgence, but pragmatic and overdue. By reclaiming "seductiveness", it becomes possible to affirm as legitimate the duplicity of pedagogical power-that it conforms to the learner's desires while also having the function of satisfying other desires (e.g., the desire to instruct) in the teacher.