Gale, K. (2007) ‘Teacher education in the university: working with policy, practice and Deleuze ’, in Teaching Higher Education, 12 (4): 471-83.
Recent policy initiatives and implementation have been bureaucratic [listed 471 F]. They are designed to affect actual practice, including ‘the promotion of evidence – based teaching and learning practices, the rigorous and standardised assessment of learning, according to prescribed learning outcomes’ (472). This will produce uniformity and quantification, and reduce ambiguity and complexity [and teacher autonomy—473]. Teacher educators should express Lyotard’s incredulity towards these metanarratives. [There are two problems here—is a policy statement a metanarrative? Is Lyotard’s critique only directed at nasty official metanarratives, or would it not also apply to metanarratives that claimed to be able to liberate subjects and deliver social justice, as in his critiques of marxism and freudianism?]. This is a form of disciplinary control, both of teachers, and subsequently how to manage their students. Foucault is cited here re the construction of docile bodies [but the same problem applies – progressive practice also produces docile bodies, and has strong disciplining tendencies of its own].
We should be able to question, not just passively accept such policy. However, it is not enough just to simply oppose and negate. Instead we should be discussing the complexities of actual practices. This is where Deleuze's ‘logic of multiplicity’ will be useful. Deleuze has proposed a logic of sense and event to question traditional logical concepts of truth. This leads to teaching that explores ‘the ethical and aesthetic sensitivities of the situated practices of myself, my colleagues and students in teacher education. By asking questions and listening to stories… Encouraging a reflexive engagement’ (474). [Is an inquiry into the nature of reality, and how virtual realities actualise multiplicities in Deleuze the best way to proceed to the ethics and aesthetics of practice? Is the shock of this ontology being avoided here?]
Deleuze says that philosophy should involve creating concepts. This supports a particular creative approach to teaching training [again there could be a slippage here between the labour of creating concepts by exploring the nature of reality, and the usual Rousseauvian conception of the naturally creative individual subject]. Particular concepts will be useful as figures—‘the horizon, the fold, the nomad and haecceity’ (474). The notion of becoming is also central, defined as being ‘where talk is of the process of creating concepts in ways which are fluid and open, where closure and a fixed approach to meaning and knowledge are to be avoided’ (474). [so an entirely subjective understanding of becoming?]. This will support a reflexive approach in teaching. It is compatible with the view that concepts are to be designed to open things up in thinking [a pretty pragmatic view, then? Will any concepts do?]
The need is to ‘rethink certain aesthetic and ethical aspects of my research in the theory of practice for teaching and learning within higher education’ (475). The aesthetic here means awareness of and deploying the senses, while ethics refer to ‘ the evaluative and the inherent value orientation of language and culture’ (475). [sounds like social constructivism?].
The concept of the fold can be illustrated by the simple example of folding butter into cake mix. This illustrates how things on the outside can be incorporated in folding. Deleuze sees folding as ‘individuation, of literal becoming...[adding] ...richness, multiple layers and intensification...[while]...unfolding opens out, reveals and makes the familiar strange’ (475) [and what would the homely analogy be there?] [nothing on the ontological notions of reality as a fold?]. St Pierre recognises [!] folding in the empathy she shares with women she interviews [the ‘social justice’ agenda again]. The binary between inside and outside is disrupted. This explains Gale's unease with the categories of student response identified in Woods (1983) [which look a bit unsympathetic], which ‘told me little of the children who had been classified in this way...[nor] ...of the dynamics of classroom interaction’ [Again rather selective – how do Freire’s classifications stand up in the condemnation of the binary?] . A student also reported that they react differently to each situation [they always say that though – it can be a form of defensive or prophylactic relativism. Why is this account privileged over Woods’? Because it is on the side of social justice?]. Gale also feels ‘complex and often contradictory’ affinities with his students [marvellous euphemism!].
The rhizome shows a way to express contradiction and complexity instead. [The quote from Thousand Plateaus mostly seems to rebuke structuralist linguistics and the notion of a langue?]. The concept does challenge the usual notions of structure and agency especially the ones that deal with binaries like mind-body dualisms in Descartes. St Pierre says the concept helps her think outside [not the box but] ‘systems, outside order, outside stability...[and the] contrived confines of a text’ (quoting St Pierre, 477). Concepts are in flux as Gale works through interviews – ‘new ideas emerge, a sense of becoming infects my practice’ (477) [he encounters the usual problems of coding?]. Dialogues are important in narrative research [– for affective reasons it seems from the example of a colleague who felt ‘fascinated wonder, watching the succeeding and emerging ripples transpire from these conversation’ (477).
Gale himself was ‘warmed and encouraged’ by reading how Deleuze collaborated with Guattari so openly (in Dialogues - -it looks a bit elitist in Thousand Plateaus?). Rhizomes show folding and unfolding [must check this] and form assemblages [this too]. Rhizomatic relations uncover multiplicities when researched. Acknowledging this ‘reflects a [personal?] sense of becoming...[and]...moments of evocation, excitement, response and drama’ ( 477) [All very therapeutic?]. Insights emerge – instead of a radically opositional approach [ Marxism?] , we can pursue ‘connections with other research approaches can be made...Intriguing spaces emerge whose liminality invites further inquiry’ ( 477).
Researchers teachers and students can be seen as nomads. They inquire using data from all sorts of areas, including dreams. Foucault also likes to open out spaces of research. What the nomad does is to territorialize and reterritorialize. This can be used as a research practice and also as a teaching and learning practice based on asking questions and opening up lines of inquiry [no recognition that the nomad structure replaces conventional notions of the subject, which is referred to as ‘I’ throughout]. Examples of conversations with students can illustrate nomadicity. [The actual example turns on a student expressing skepticism about linear forms of group dynamics. The students say that they find it unable to grasp the complexities—but is this just the usual common-sense rejection of any sort of theory? Is it really proto philosophy? Do you really need to have waded through Deleuze to find student questions challenging?] Past research practices responsible for squashing complexity, offering received interpretations and resisting reflexivity. Hermeneutic inquiry as in Heidegger can also be used to critique this view, since both researcher and researched are in the same context of interpretation, and texts have a history of past encounters. This is equally true for ‘emerging subjectivities of the (nomadic) researcher/practitioner who situated being is always “under erasure”’ (479). [So we have a bit of Derrida in here with Heidegger?] St Pierre [again] points out that nomadicity adventures can not be defined in advance. Baudrillard’s work on the simulacra shows that the map can precede the actual engagement with the territory, and this is what policy statements can do to [sledgehammers and nuts again?].
Haecceity is defined in a quote from Thousand Plateaus as an assemblage “in its individuated aggregate”. Again it can be important to inform research into theory and practice of teaching and learning, since it describes ‘an assemblage that allows researchers, teachers and students alike… To begin to examine their relationships with one another, with their terrains of practice’ (479-80) [so this term also applies only to human beings and not to objects and events in reality?]. The subject combines with objects [so reality is mentioned]. However, it offers ‘a non fragmented, and, therefore, extremely holistic’ notion of professional identity and practice, specially when compared to official policy pronouncements (480) [as would most philosophical conceptions of the knowing subject].
Haecceity takes two forms. In the first, there is an notion of individuation, becoming a person or self as in Duns Scotus [again entirely related to the human subject]. A similar formulation is found in kantian thoughts, where human essences are exposed through the critique of pure reason, and selves have transcendent qualities. The same idea is found in Jung, well balanced and whole individuals emerge following reflection and therapy. Schon has the same idea in the concept of the reflective practitioner. [We would have to question the extent to which the similarity outweighs the differences between these rather different approaches. What unites them again, presumably, is that they all support the notion of the whole self, the active subject, and are therefore on the right side].
Deleuze’s notion of haecceity is different, because it is an element of assemblages. This ‘freeze the individual from absorption into fixed categories’, and is best seen as a transitory point in a moment of becoming (480). An example would be ‘crystal moments of communication with friends or colleagues, perhaps in classroom situations, which go beyond words, and which seem to embody unity your fault, feeling and emotion’ (480). [Would not the notion of empathy do just as well?] Haecceity becomes a matter of acknowledging difference and celebrating it (480). [It seems to be the equivalent of some ecstatic moment, or oceanic feeling, offering ‘multi layered intricacy and… Infinite possibilities of mood, interpretation and meaning’ (481)]. The illustration here arises from Richardson’s critique of triangulation: he wants to replacing the notion of crystallization.
Haecceity radicalises practice and challenges researchers and teachers to grasp complexity. Kantian and hermeneutic notions are inadequate here, since they will only help achieve ‘a noumenal whole’, while Deleuze delivers a sense of becoming, a deeper understanding of subjectivity as ‘responding to changes and the multiple connections between internal and external influences’ (481). [But is this notion compatible with all the other indications of creative subjectivity?]. Haecceity is a set of relations, but often, interpretations and judgments meets their ‘regional vitality’. Instead, we might think if it as ‘illuminating and extending the notion of…a “community of practice”’ (481) [only if we insist that haecceity is the same as community. I would think that heterogeneity is a threat to communities of practice, and Wenger himself notes that they are prone to reification]. St Pierre wants to preserve an open notion of subjectivity in her practice life.
The point is to rethink convention, encourage reflexive subjectivity, and in that way ‘trouble’ recent policy. The intention is to develop the insights here by writing and speaking with colleagues, students and others ‘in creative ways’ (482) [and do students and colleagues always want that?] This will be both the mode of inquiry and a representation of suitable practice. There is no attempt to develop positive alternatives, but rather ‘a sense of awareness and concern with the complications, connections and multiplicity that our teacher education practices appear to embrace’ (482).