Towards a Critique of Educative Violence: Walter Benjamin and ‘Second Education’

Charles, M. 2016. Towards a Critique of Educative Violence: Walter Benjamin and ‘Second Education’. Pedagogy, Culture and Society. 24 (4), pp. 525-536. doi:10.1080/14681366.2016.1210202

TitleTowards a Critique of Educative Violence: Walter Benjamin and ‘Second Education’
AuthorsCharles, M.
Abstract

Although modern systems of mass education are typically defined in their opposition to violence, it has been argued that it is only through an insistent and critical focus upon violence that radical thought can be sustained. This article seeks to take up this challenge in relation to Walter Benjamin’s lesser-known writings on education. Benjamin retained throughout his life a deep suspicion about academic institutions and about the pedagogic, social and economic violence implicated in the idea of cultural transmission. He nonetheless remained committed to the possibility of another kind of revolutionary potential inherent to true education and, when he comes to speak of this in his Critique of Violence, it is remarkable that he describes it as manifesting an educative violence. This article argues that Benjamin’s philosophy works toward a critique of educative violence that results in a distinction between a ‘first’ and ‘second’ kind of education and asks whether destruction might have a positive role to play within pedagogical theories in contrast to current valorisations of creativity and productivity.

KeywordsWalter Benjamin, education, violence, instruction, destruction, teaching-led research
JournalPedagogy, Culture and Society
Journal citation24 (4), pp. 525-536
ISSN1468-1366
Year2016
PublisherRoutledge
Accepted author manuscriptWalter Benjamin's Critique of Educative Violence (revised submission for Pedagogy, Culture and Society).pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/14681366.2016.1210202
Publication dates
Published19 Jul 2016
Published online19 Jul 2016

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