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There are many possible ways to approach the topic of educational theory and critique. One could inquire into the meaning of critical phenomena and subject-matter in practical education and instruction, investigate the various forms of critique with the goal of determining the extent to which they assist in clarifying pedagogical action, or one could ask: ‘What is meant by critical educational research?’ and ‘How do the various approaches to this topic relate to one another?’. This article inquires into the relationship between critique and negativity. Such a distinction is relevant for the practical, theoretical and research-oriented use of the various forms and subject matters of critique. This analysis of their relationship aims to clarify how the structure of human learning connects to that of pedagogical action; and, additionally, how the theoretical guidelines and orientation for pedagogical action relate to scientific analyses and research in education in a way that is productive. Distinctions made in thought, judgement and action are not simply delimiting positive characteristics. Such distinctions are at once mediated by the relations of knowledge and ignorance, ability and inability. Although ignorance and inability can be transformed into positive knowledge and ability, they are not superseded in the process. Ignorance and inability are, on the contrary, constitutive elements of learning. The possibility for transitions from ignorance and inability to knowledge and ability—a possibility that itself presupposes knowledge and ability—point to a form of negativity within the process of education (Bildung). This form of negativity relates to the human ability to learn (Bildsamkeit) and provides the definitive basis of human learning. A form of negativity constitutive of learning processes leads to one that grounds pedagogical processes. Pedagogical efficacy is mediated by a double negativity, comprised of both a universal and a particular form of negativity. The relation of negativity to learning and pedagogical efficacy, with specific reference to educational research studies on teaching and learning processes, is considered. A form of educational research that operates beyond fundamentalist criticisms—that is to say, criticisms based on unshakeable beliefs—and utilises issues arising from a pluralisation of critique to confront the pluralism of critical positions, is considered. The article closes with reflections on the relation between the Critical and the Uncritical.