Dear Learner: Shame and the Dialectics of Enquiry

By Judy Lattas.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In this paper I contemplate the potential of Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) to lead the teaching of humanities in Australian universities. Are there internal constraints on its happy unfolding for a future of the humanities, true to its intellectual and political projects? In its favour, the proponents of EBL cite an Enlightenment ideal of ‘enquiry’ that puts the highest value on creative, open ended and self-determined thought – a pursuit of knowledge that is not limited by the interests of any professional or economic class. These same proponents of EBL, however, are often in university positions assigned the task of bringing a more instrumentalist approach to the pursuit of knowledge. Is it all just a case of Orwellian double-speak? Probyn (2005) writes about shame as a powerful and productive state that enables us to reappraise our actions and our values. In my paper I call up two moments of shame in the recent pursuit of learning and teaching excellence at my university, in order to explore the politics of an emerging rhetoric in this arena: that of ‘learning without teaching.’

Keywords: Enquiry Based Learning, Learning and Teaching, Audit Culture, Humanities, Australian Universities

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 11, pp.85-94. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.443MB).

Dr. Judy Lattas

Director, Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Dr. Judy Lattas is Director of the Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies, Gender and Sexuality program in Sociology at Macquarie University, and was Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching in the Division of Society, Culture, Media and Philosophy from 2006 to 2008. She has been teaching in women’s studies and gender at Macquarie since 1989. In 1998 she was awarded her PhD for a thesis entitled “Politics in Labour”, a deconstructivist reading of Hannah Arendt on the philosophical conditions of totalitarianism. In her research she is interested most recently in the popular right in Australia, publishing on Pauline Hanson, on gun activism, on secessionist micronations and on the Cronulla riots. In the field of learning and teaching she is interested in articulating the art of teaching and re- imagining both the Kantian ideal of ‘knowledge for its own sake’ and the radical pedagogies of the 1960s (Freire, Boal etc) for universities in the 21st Century.

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