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Posthuman Exopedagogy: Teachers To Use Wolf Boys, UFOs, Monsters To Boost Learning

What I am about to show you was bound to happen.

ExopedagogyInna Semetsky has reviewed Tyson Lewis and Richard Kahn’s new book, Education Out of Bounds: Reimagining Cultural Studies for a Posthuman Age. Semetsky’s review appears in the non-April 1st edition of Teacher’s College Record1, the organ of Teacher’s College, the branch of Columbia University and training ground for future teachers.

Lewis and Khan (and Semetsky, and by extension many teachers, too) are concerned about something called “anthropocentric pedagogical practice.” As it was applied to a certain feral child, Semetsky says:

The concept of the “monster” as critically and creatively examined by the authors is the major qualifier to designate a precise line of division between what contemporary collective “scientific” consciousness perceives as binary opposites, such as human and nonhuman animals, or normal and abnormal. Still, goes the argument, because a persistent surplus as “a residual stain” (p. 43) of the primal division cannot be incorporated into the stable symbolic order, the “educated” subject of this very order is left outside “zoomorphic imagination” (p. 69) that could have exposed it to the much broader epistemology and a specific grammar of the feral including survival skills or play as a suspension of the ban on the “social scapegoating” (p. 68). [emphasis original]

All of which when boiled down means that in “contrast to anthropocentric education, Lewis and Kahn propose an alternative pedagogy or exopedagogy as a form of posthumanist education,” one that “transgresses boundaries…by means of savage imagination.” The chief benefit of this new approach is that “Exopedagogy escapes measure and all quantitative disciplinary forms associated with prefixed norms thereby problematizing the notions of norm and normal altogether.” Indeed:

The borderline between normal and abnormal, between human and nonhuman becomes blurred. Entering the paradoxical space that opens when the dualism between human versus nonhuman is abolished or at least suspended leads the authors into the “reptoid” territory as a province of the uncanny “UFOther” (p. 73).

Lewis and Khan’s banner is “Resist the lure of the anthropological machine!” (the exclamation point is my addition, an edit I think the authors would welcome). They cite the path-breaking work of David Icke, the man who formulated the above-mentioned “reptoid hypothesis”, specifically as it relates to “the alien conspiracy theory for the purpose of further combating the humanist assumptions of ‘normal’ pedagogy.”

As is by now obvious, “Exopedagogy therefore is always a form of eco-pedagogy and as such transgresses many of the ‘contemporary forms of anthropocentric domination and destruction of complex natureculture assemblages’.”

You musn’t think it’s all fun and games with Lewis and Khan; no, sir. The elbow grease comes out in their discursion contrasting faery with fairy, the latter being “plainly a cultural artifact with the ‘inoculating trace of the faery [as] a utopian promise’ (pp. 103-104) and even faith.”

Understand: this is a brand new utopian vision. And therefore should be—no! must be—embraced. The perfection of The People is no small matter and is not to be taken lightly. “Lewis and Kahn call for a new exo-revolution informed by their project of exopedagogy that would have created a theory/practice nexus, which is missing within the present secular and materialist-oriented capitalist discourse.”

Lewis is an Assistant Professor at Montclair State University. He tells us that “schools—as with society on a larger scale—are predicated on a fundamental logic of exclusion.” This belief has allowed him “to shed new light on forms of institutional racism and classism” and to advocate “logopoiesis” (“For which there ain’t no English word”). Lewis is also author of “Swarm Intelligence: Rethinking the multitude from within the transversal commons” which appears in Culture, Theory, and Critique, 2010, 51(3), 223-238.

Richard Kahn is at Antioch University Los Angeles, and “is the co-founder and director of Ecopedagogy Association International.”

The Association has as its main goals at this time: 1) Achieve the rigorous integration of ecological politics into the discourse and praxis of the field of critical pedagogy; 2) Achieve the development of strategic partnerships between critical social justice, environmental/ecological educators, as well as theorists of these fields, and grassroots activists engaged in struggles related to these issues; 3) Produce a yearly conference at a major university; 4) Publish Green Theory & Praxis: The Journal of Ecopedagogy (http://greentheoryandpraxis.org), with issues in June and December of each year.

Mr Kahn is soliciting reviewers for this journal. He may be contacted at rvkahn@gmail.com. Khan is also notable for coining the word “‘zoöcide,’ a term (rhyming with ‘suicide’) that is related to genocide and ecocide, but which goes beyond those ideas to speak about the manner in which contemporary capitalist society is expunging experiences of ‘zoë,’ a ‘multidimensional and multiplicitous realm of indestructible being’ associated with sacred relationships to nature.”

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1Teachers College Record, Date Published: February 01, 2011 http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16324, Date Accessed: 3/16/2011 9:00:03 PM

Thanks to long-time reader Jim Fedako for bringing this to our attention. In my despair I note that both these gentleman receive regular paychecks, while yours truly does not.

32 thoughts on “Posthuman Exopedagogy: Teachers To Use Wolf Boys, UFOs, Monsters To Boost Learning Leave a comment

  1. Has Dept of Children and Family Services heard about this? Sounds like theories in child neglect to me.

  2. Am I the only one who is having difficulty understanding a word of this stuff? Somehow I don’t think I’m missing much.

  3. All,

    I forgot to mention that Semetsky wrote a “single-authored book on the educational semiotics of Tarot images to be published by Springer.”

  4. Why “praxis” instead of “practice”? No, it’s OK, I do know. And nobody’s going to get a PhD for “wordmaking”.

    The contradiction at the core of this sort of crap is that Polar bears don’t care. Lions and gorillas and pandas and small woodland creatures don’t care. Only humans care. If we promote the notion that humans aren’t privileged and different but just the same “really” as all the other species then we humans no longer have a reason to care, we stop caring and respond to Lewis and Khan with, “Why bother?” And what would their answer be?

    To be fair to elephants, they do exhibit behaviour that looks a lot like caring but it’s only about other elephants.

  5. Briggs,
    You say “non-April !st” and the review does indeed say February 1, but ….?????

    Maybe the review was intended for the April edition and there was a hiccup of some sort.

  6. So, is the intent to leave behind syllabi for when mankind is no more? That is, something that the post-humans can make good use of?

  7. Surely this is another Alan Sokal type spoof of humanities majors, isn’t it? When people start mentioning “scientific consensus” you know they are full of crap. Does any physicist claim Newton’s laws of motion are correct because of a scientific consensus?

  8. Want a job? Simple.
    Single-author a book entitled “This ‘Mean’ Country, a Subversive Statistics of Quarks, Queers and the Quaternion Qalqulus: the de-normatized median as transgressive message”.

  9. These folks sound like a waste of potentially useful cytoplasm. Oh, well.

    Actually, it strikes me as people who feel that Bil Ayers and the Frankfurt School didn’t go far enough in destroying educational standards, and someone has to go them at least one better.

    It would be way too much to hope this is a hoax, a la Sokal.

  10. This is the state of philosophy of education? It is incomprhensible muck. Who would want to learn if this is how your teachers think? Does the quality of education decline as theory of education “advances”?

  11. That was fabulous. Have you told David Thompson about this (or was he in on it)? I should have anticipated that with the drop in manufacturing and distribution costs for books a book-length treatment of postmodernist, critical theory humor was inevitable.

  12. Thanks Briggs. It was so sad that it was funny. I started laughing about the second paragraph and couldn’t quit. I’d still be chuckling if it wasn’t for your final comment’s last sentence. I understand that too well.

  13. I’ve got four hours of teaching today and three lectures later on in the week.

    This s$%^e is not going to help at all.

  14. Long, long ago while preparing to come to the US for college studies, I and my fellow cohorts had to engorge vocabulary books to do well in the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam. We of course did not know that it was amazingly easy and all that prep was unnecessary.
    Having new words at our disposal, and with hormones raging railing at society and its rules, we would write this kind of stuff. I guess some people do not grow up and remain ‘faeries’ forever, and heck get paid to write this stuff.

  15. I can envision a brain storming session, lubricated with single-malt Scotch, or a good, two-dollar carbonated red wine where formerly abused children are throwing substances against the wall establishing palpable patterns of the prevailing exoparametric paradigm wherein, indeed, stuff happens.

    Eco-academia is establishing new standards.

  16. “logopoiesis” (“For which there ain’t no English word”)

    And I thought I was just stupid!

  17. In myf Utopia the use of pretentious, smokescreen utterance (or its publication,)is strictly forbidden and there are serious , I mean SERIOUS, penalties for all infringements.

  18. The book’s conclusion also has a large discussion of bestiality…we’re for it (sort of).

    Sokal hoax? Now why would we do that? Isn’t academia an incredibly important and intelligent venture upon which the whole fate of the world depends in large measure?

    Peter the Wild Boy — We take up the story of Victor the Wild Boy as the historical foundations of special education. I don’t see anything in the story of Peter, his diagnosis, or his treatment by society that falsifies our findings about the education of feral children as a paradigmatic example of how education functions as an anthropological machine.

    Bill Ayers is a friend of mine. In fact, he provided a beautiful blurb for my other book of last year, Critical Pedagogy, Ecoliteracy, and Planetary Crisis: The Ecopedagogy Movement. And Dr. Lewis and I are both next generation members of the Frankfurt School tradition, students of Douglas Kellner, the present editor of the Collected Works of Herbert Marcuse and the holder of the Marcuse archive in the United States. So the comment on the destruction of educational standards is quite perceptive (another score for Marty!).

    Actually, the book calls not so much for the destruction of educational standards (I don’t think Ayers or Marcuse call for this either), but a critical movement of evaluation into who gets to set such standards, how, where, when, and why. Beyond all of the book’s performance of extremism, I actually think this is a very serious matter and handled quite appropriately in this text. The conclusion on St. Francis is our response to questions of educational standardization.

    To the rest of the community of haters here, all I can say is please ask your library to buy the book and have a look at it. Talk about sloppy critique…really, I’d expect better of you than to get all worked up over a book review. The map is not the territory.

    Finally, I’m sorry to hear of the lack of gainful employment William. In the utopian society Dr. Lewis and I envision, such things as the economic marginalization of large percentages of the population and the structural underemployment of the same would be as fictitious as the faeries that the comments here smirk at in patronizing fashion.

    Workers of the world unite. We are all Wisconsin.

    This message will self-destruct in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6…

  19. Ah, yes, the utopians.

    ” Godwin thought that man might become immortal after the abolition of private property.[25] Charles Fourier babbled about the ocean containing lemonade instead of salt water.[26] Marx’s economic system blithely ignored the fact of the scarcity of material factors of production. Trotsky revealed that in the proletarian paradise “the average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise.” Ludwig von Mises

    And now we can add Lewis and Kahn to the list.

  20. Is that comment by Richard a joke? I don’t see a \sarc label.
    If it is a joke, its genius.
    If it’s for real, then OMFG.

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