A great deal of pedagogical thinking, it seems to me, derives simply from this embarrassment about “academic” authority. It is almost as though teachers, and the pedagogues who think about what they should be doing, are against the very idea of school. I think that part of the problem lies in our having forgotten that school implies leisure. (”Greek scholastes meant ‘one who lives at ease.’”) Perhaps this is not something we have forgotten, but something we have repressed out of shame. When Bourdieu reminds us of it, he seems to mean it almost like a jab at the serious pretensions of “homo academicus”. Austin, he says,
does not realize that what makes possible this view which is indifferent to context and practical ends, this distant and distinctive relation to words and things, is nothing other than skholè. This time liberated from practical occupations and preoccupations, of which the school organizes a privileged form, studious leisure, is the precondition for scholastic exercises and activities removed from immediate necessity, such as sport, play, the production and contemplation of works of art and all forms of gratuitous speculation with no other end than themselves. (Bourdieu 2000: 13)But thinking of school as a leisure activity can also be a positive spin on the “disinterestedness” of academic experience. It means merely that school learning occurs under conditions of freedom.
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[Note: this post is part of an ongoing project described here. I'll be offering some meta-reflections on this project over at Jonathan Mayhew's blog, Stupid Motivational Tricks.]