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An exploration of educative praxis : Reflections on Marx’s concept praxis, informed by the Lacanian concepts act and event

Hanley, C (2017) An exploration of educative praxis : Reflections on Marx’s concept praxis, informed by the Lacanian concepts act and event. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 49 (10). pp. 1006-1015. ISSN 0013-1857

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Abstract

This article explores an aspect of Karl Marx’s concept, praxis. Praxis is meaningful work, through which we fulfil ourselves by fulfilling others. The discussion draws on the author’s work with postgraduate student teachers, where both students and author were researching their own practice. Reflecting Marx’s conception of praxis as subjective fulfilment in the objective world, this activity was intended to trouble and complicate the categories ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’, whilst enabling students to become both more autonomous and other-oriented. The intention behind this article is to develop the theoretical vocabulary of praxis available to educational researchers and practitioners. Some ideas from Lacanian psychoanalysis are introduced, followed by extensive discussion of Slavoj Žižek’s concepts, ‘act’ and ‘event’. The key argument is that in a nascent educative praxis, ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ perspectives can be understood not as fixed points of reference, but as dual orientations on a flow of signification. These ideas are developed alongside detailed examination of two university-based research sessions with student teachers. With reference to session activities, a rationale is provided for an emerging educative praxis, in which students explore creative tensions between ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ perspectives on school-based practice.

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