Lurking, Distilling, Exceeding, Vibrating

Lynn Fendler

Studies in Philosophy and Education An International Journal ISSN 0039-3746 Stud Philos Educ DOI 10.1007/s11217-012-9303-x

1 23

If you wish to self-archive your work. You may further deposit the accepted author’s version on a funder’s repository at a funder’s request. This e-offprint is for personal use only and shall not be selfarchived in electronic repositories. provided it is not made publicly available until 12 months after publication.V.Your article is protected by copyright and all rights are held exclusively by Springer Science+Business Media B.. please use the accepted author’s version for posting to your own website or your institution’s repository. 1 23 .

Then I try to explain that the word ‘‘learning’’ comes from the theory of behaviorism. MI 48824. different. I usually respond with a question: ‘‘Do you ever give your students rewards.V. The article is based upon an invited keynote speech to the First International Theorising Education Conference. L. We now tend to take that particular theory for granted. and the practice of using praise or reinforcements to promote learning is an enactment of that theory. Distilling. University of Stirling. consequences. East Lansing. the theoretical underpinnings of praise and rewards have long since been forgotten. the theory of behaviorism has become naturalized so that most people do not even recognize it as a theory when it gets enacted in classrooms. Vibrating Lynn Fendler Ó Springer Science+Business Media B. not a theoretical thing. Fendler (&) Department of Teacher Education. In between those two topics. I have inserted a brief interval to raise some sticking points pertaining to the question. Michigan State University.1007/s11217-012-9303-x Lurking. My repeated encounters with the theory/practice dichotomy have led me to this inference: Whatever is familiar is regarded as ‘‘practical. ‘‘What is properly educational about educational theory?’’ Keywords Educational theory Á Imagination Á Post/modernism Á Laboratory for educational theory All of us in the field of education have had experiences talking about the theory/practice dichotomy. 2012 Abstract This paper addresses two main questions: (1) What has theory been doing? and (2) What might theory be doing? The first question is addressed historically. which was formalized by B. Over time and with repeated use.Author's personal copy Stud Philos Educ DOI 10. We hear teachers say. USA e-mail: fendler@msu. which is a rather new idea. I don’t need or care about theories. June 2010. and the second question is addressed imaginatively.’’ As a teacher educator. Exceeding.’’ whereas whatever is new.F.edu 123 . Giving praise and rewards feels like a practical thing to do. Skinner in the 1950s. or praise?’’ ‘‘Of course!’’ they reply. when I hear teachers express that view. prizes. ‘‘I need practical ideas.

But Is It Research?’’ On the panel were several eminent educational researchers including Howard Gardner. philosophical. politics. theory has been lurking behind methodology. The relationship between theory and methodology has been put forward as a central issue for the LET conference. even though methodology has been prominent and obvious in educational studies. and the second question is addressed imaginatively. it doesn’t always make sense to separate the literature review from the theoretical framework from the analysis. The format of the proposal does not easily accommodate theoretical research projects. Elliot Eisner. Theory is often implied in the analysis section. it is often difficult to discern which part of the proposal is supposed to be devoted to the theoretical explication of the project. This paper addresses two main questions: (1) What has theory been doing? and (2) What might theory be doing? The first question is addressed historically. The first question that the moderator posed to the panel was. Rather. I attended an AERA meeting in New Orleans. As an illustration of how theory has been lurking. ethics. and Deborah Britzman. Theoretical. it can be awkward to write conference proposals for (what AERA calls) ‘‘conceptual’’ studies. When we write or review conference proposals (such as for AERA). I have inserted a brief interval to raise some sticking points pertaining to the question. ‘‘What is properly educational about educational theory?’’ What has Theory Been Doing? Lurking Theory has been lurking. Theory is lurking in the very structure of the research proposal requirements. or aesthetics. it is rarely explicit how researchers have theorized their projects with respect to epistemology. and even most dissertation proposals. The educational researchers who were promoting non- 123 . Much conceptual research is humanities oriented. In humanities-oriented educational research. In 1994. by using the term ‘‘lurking’’ I am trying to convey the idea that. we can consider the required formats for conference proposals. For social science projects in education. That incompatibility is an example of how theory is lurking in the institutional expectations for research. and participants raised a wide array of arguments. Fendler or unfamiliar is considered to be ‘‘theoretical. But here is what I noticed most. There was a panel discussion that was moderated by Bob Donmoyer that was called ‘‘Yes.Author's personal copy L. it becomes necessary to become creative about fitting aspects of a humanities-oriented study into the proposal format that is designed for social science. In the process of writing an AERA proposal. ‘‘Should a novel be accepted as a dissertation in colleges of education?’’ The question was cleverly designed to elicit arguments defining the limits around what might be regarded as acceptable research in the field of education. By the same token.’’ That inference serves as a launching point for this essay. Patti Lather. and historical research projects do not fit easily into the required formats for AERA proposal formats. theory has never been absent. In most cases these days. which have been designed to facilitate communication about social scientific research approaches. I don’t want to say that methodology has replaced theory because it has not. It was a very interesting session. Here is another story to illustrate how theory has been lurking. Theory often lurks in the methodology section or sometimes the literature review section. In between those two topics.

the methodology section should include a discussion of epistemology and an explanation of the lenses. For many critical theorists. it was lurking within the research projects and in the attempts by scientists to justify their approaches to research. method is a protocol. ‘‘Oh. The AERA Standards are presented in a relatively short document (about 9 pages). In my experience as a faculty advisor. for example. at least among researchers working in philosophy. I suspect that theory might be doing less lurking and becoming increasingly more explicit in educational research. some critical theorists have argued that in our proposals and research reports we should distinguish method from methodology. and indicative of an increasingly explicit role for theory in educational research. The most prominent among these developments is the recent (2009) publication by AERA of Standards for Reporting on Humanities-Oriented Research in AERA Publications. our first reaction to the publication of these AERA standards might be. The language of the standards helps to make educational theory more explicit. Distilling. or the series of steps you might do to ‘‘conduct research. In the case of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The science-oriented researchers were very experienced in outlining their methodologies and articulating aspects of validity in methodological terms. From some relatively recent developments in the field of educational research. Vibrating scientific research paradigms (including qualitative studies. arts-based studies.’’ In contrast. and the standards provide for a wide range of theoretical engagements. They had not had opportunities to explain their work in theoretical terms because the theoretical support mechanisms for their scientific projects had always been lurking. and humanities-oriented studies) were very skillful at articulating and making explicit the theoretical bases for their research projects. Exceeding. for example. however. However. I found these standards quite refreshing. but theory was not made explicit. and in the case of Aristotle’s 123 . The scientific educational researchers had apparently never been required to theorize their research projects or explaining the affordances and limitations of their scientific approach to educational research. In contrast. theory has been distilling. and taken for granted as self-evident in their approaches to research. some would even say it reduces complexity to regularity. no. Educational researchers are quite familiar with how theory has been distilling in an analytic sense: analytical theories express in clarifying terms a pattern that distills a vast and complicated array of data. I have found that these standards have been very useful for doctoral students who want to write theoretical and philosophical dissertations. the science. Theory in the analytic sense distills complexity.Author's personal copy Lurking. history. In attempts to make theory more explicit. Distilling In the context of social complexity. These new AERA standards have served to provide some helpful language for researchers who need to articulate some of the theories that have been lurking within educational research projects.or social-scienceoriented educational researchers were quite at a loss to justify in theoretical terms their epistemological commitments. Theory was not absent from their projects. and arts based traditions. The distinction between method and methodology has been one attempt to expose the lurking theories and make them explicit within the discourses of methodology and analysis. a vast array of genetic mutations can be understood as adaptations. Not more standards! Not for the humanities!’’ Surprisingly. the scientists tended to respond by providing details about their methodological protocol. basically a theorization of the research approach. For many of us. whenever a question arose regarding theory.

‘‘A theory is labor saving. and dominant theory of smell has claimed that the shapes of molecules determine what they smell like to us. never neutral. and thereby providing us with language to talk more efficiently about complex patterns of power.Author's personal copy L. The theory of the alchemy of school subjects suggests that subjects are constructed in their own respective historical contexts. now at MIT. For Popkewitz. administrative structures. assessment instruments. 2004) ‘‘alchemy of school subjects. analytic theory. and we discipline ourselves in school subjects. complex human communications become recognizable in a beautiful three-part structure: ethos. critique.’’ The alchemy is a theory that addresses the relationship between university disciplines and school subjects. specifically that subject matter is never pure. The theory of the alchemy of school subjects shows us the multiple meanings of the word ‘‘discipline. In the theory of the alchemy of school subjects. and logos. if we take a natural molecule. A theory enables you to do less work. the theory of the alchemy of school subjects is not a neutral. and never value-free. pedagogy. For biochemistry. Formulations allow us to put perceptions and intuitions into language. The shape theory of smell has been challenged by Luca Turin. I speak here about a relatively new and utterly fascinating theory of smell. It is a critical theory. and synthesize that molecule to have the same shape as the natural one. When theory distills. Fendler theory of persuasion. In universities. then it becomes possible to debate. the two molecules will not smell the same. According to Turin (2005). 123 . The value of distilling for critical theory is to help us put intuitions and perceptions into discourse. pathos. This distillation role of theory is probably the most familiar and recognizable role of theory in education and other fields.’’ Turin has theorized that it is molecular vibrations—not molecular shapes—that determine their smell. disciplines are shaped by funding demands. But it is not only analytic theories that have been distilling. The problem is that the shape theory (that works so well in so many other domains of biochemistry) does not really work in the case of smell: That is. a biophysicist. publication trends. and deconstruct those intuitions. shape has served as an effective mechanism for explaining how molecules get together. and organizational structures of university departments. The long-standing. and socialization practices. This vibrational theory totally reframes how it is possible to talk about the relationship of chemistry to olfactory perceptions. As an example of distilling in critical educational theory. The distillations accomplished by analytical theories are quite familiar to us. classroom routines. This is an example of how theory has been distilling in critical approaches to educational research. a teacher. We cannot expect them to be the same because disciplines are always constructed by their respective historical enactments. critical theories have also been distilling. disciplines are shaped by child psychology. or a student. The theory of the alchemy of school subjects serves as a tool to help us grasp the effects of power. Reframing To illustrate how theory has been reframing. When we put perceptions into language.’’ School subjects are disciplines. it renders formulations. In schools. we can think of Popkewitz’s (2002. we can see that disciplines in the university are not the same as disciplines in the schools. The theory of the alchemy highlights power relations that shape disciplines: subject matter is value-laden in a way that normalizes what it means to be a researcher.

teaching. facilitator. etc. In many cases. That is. attentiveness) become identified as enactments or indications of dispositional objectives. teachers may lecture. However. Here is an illustration of how theory has been reframing the issue of dispositions in teacher education. and dispositions. dispositions get converted into the skill domain. Turin’s theory is not yet universally acknowledged. we are still (at least in the US) not very good at defining. educators also seem to agree that the curriculum of teacher education must include not only knowledge and skills. Distilling. By dispositions. docility. Modeling may be unintentional or tacit. students tend to pick up on the tone and norms of interpersonal relations. In these curricula. Although there has been more work on dispositions recently. Exceeding. in which students are expected to know about dispositions. we know basically what they are. and character traits. but dispositions remain poorly defined. or serve as resources for information. ethical sensibilities. dispositions become operationalized not as knowledge. but rather behaviors. and model. a curriculum that is focused on dispositions is often executed through the delivery of information about ethics. knowledge and skills are well defined. teachers exemplify styles of interacting with people and with ideas. In other cases. skills. Turin’s laboratory synthesized a molecule for coumarin. or assessing dispositions as such. and they do not always accept manuscripts that are based on research in a vibrational theory of smell. people usually mean things like virtues. he has had a chance to demonstrate the applications of his vibrational theory. skills. teachers teach by example. in which particular behaviors (smiling. cultural tolerance and respect. teachers design environments. teachers have something to give students. In this mode. Vibrating Interestingly. In this curriculum students are expected to know such things as what constitutes respectful behavior and that there are cultural differences we must respect. Turin’s vibrational theory of smell has reframed the issue of smell so dramatically that the theory has revolutionized the field of olfactory chemistry. • In the provider mode. Some major scientific journals still maintain the shape theory of smell. citizenship. answer questions. Turin has a second job besides being a biophysicist at MIT. how to teach them. When teachers act in particular ways in the classroom. encourage experiences. • In the model mode. namely: How do we teach dispositions? In order to talk about reframing how we think about teaching dispositions. The result was a synthetic coumarin that smelled the same as natural coumarin to the perfumers. Dispositions have been a problem for teacher education for a long time. In the provider mode.Author's personal copy Lurking. they are also poorly distinguished in teaching and educational assessments. It is very common in teacher education to classify educational objectives into three categories: knowledge. and dispositions. but also dispositions. and promote repeated practice for students. In that capacity. and how to assess them. To that frame we add an analysis of pedagogical modes or modalities of teaching. In the educational curriculum literature. He also works for the French perfume industry. but was also free of the toxicity that came with natural coumarin. create assignments. Not only are dispositions poorly defined. 123 . Turin created a molecule with the same vibrational signature as natural coumarin. a lovely smelling but toxic natural substance that is coveted by perfumers. We begin with the educational domains of knowledge. This time the illustration is from teacher education. I will suggest that we combine a standard theory of educational objectives with a standard theory of pedagogical modes. namely provider. dispositions are converted into the knowledge domain. Here is another illustration of how theory has been reframing. • In the facilitator mode. But theory has been helping us to reframe the issue.

or how closely.’’ so I wrote back to her saying. 123 .’’ I was struck at her use of the term ‘‘running this course. Biology includes several areas of specialization that vary according to grain size from small to large: molecular biology. and modeling scholarship and inquiry. ‘‘education’’ as a field is too big and includes too many things. and neglect the facilitator and model modes. but also facilitating educational experiences. zoology. and ecology. and the wiki architecture were all teaching because teaching includes not only providing information. we can begin to reframe the issue of dispositions in teacher education in relation to pedaogical modes this way: • The provider mode is associated with knowledge. and to appreciate the potential relationship of modeling to the teaching of dispositions. Grain Size The first sticking point has to do with grain size. the responses to student writing. Teachers design environments to facilitate repeated practices for the development of skills. A Short Interval on Sticking Points Gert Biesta has drawn our attention to the issue of what is properly educational about educational theory. These areas of specialization complement one another within the broad study of life sciences. microbiology. At the end of the course. Teachers are providers of knowledge. ‘‘Why did you say running this course instead of teaching this course?’’ She replied saying that since the course was not lecture based. • Modeling is associated with dispositions. Theory has been reframing issues in education. and the course was fully online. But the field of education also is comprised of a vast array of grain sizes from micro through meso to macro. Last spring I was teaching a Masters level Philosophy of Education course. I taught it using a wiki format in order to maximize opportunities for everybody in the course to contribute. reframing allows us to recognize various modalities of teaching. I would like to take up and extend Gert’s focus now by illustrating three sticking points that pertain to the question of what might be considered proper educational theory. biomechanics. From how far away.Author's personal copy L. are we examining an issue? By analogy. and aesthetic appreciation. it was not exactly teaching. In this case. I was surprised that it became necessary to explain to her that the whole design of the course. Fendler One indication that teacher education has been under-theorized is that too many people conflate teaching with the provider mode. Beginning with the domains of knowledge. Obviously. I sometimes refer to this as the focal distance. Different focal distances afford a range of perspectives that add depth and dimension to the field of Biology. and interact with one another. An anecdote from my teaching illustrates how even teachers tend to conflate teaching with the provider mode. the assignments. create pages. and then adding the three teaching modalities. the institutional division of life sciences can help to illustrate variations in grain size. Teachers embody and exemplify respectful relationships. skills and dispositions. intellectual curiosity. • The facilitator mode is associated with skills. one student wrote me an email saying: ‘‘Thank you for running this course.

Japanese culture has often been described as a collage of other cultural influences because almost everything about Japanese culture (including the writing system. a district policy. In assessing the value of a theory. I think grain sizes for what we mean by ‘‘education’’ is one of the sticking points for educational theory. and to see those relationships as complementary instead of contradictory or in competition with one another. By modern I mean theories that have the characteristics of generalizability. When I was an undergraduate student studying Modern East Asian History. by way of analogy. we think of the problem as one of borrowing ideas and methods from disciplines other than education. Given the conventional association of theory with modernism. becomes what would be a theory that is not derived from other disciplines. In this framework. including the ‘‘Great’’ theories of the world. within education we have not been similarly explicit about how various grain sizes of research can function in a complementary way. but those theories would not necessarily help us with developing theories that pertain to a school. The question. I think it has been usual to assume a close relationship between theory and grand narrative. If we think of theory only in terms of modern grand narratives. proper educational theory is contrasted with derivative educational theory. As a field I think we would benefit from more explicit clarification of the grain size for which our theorizations are applicable. and rational coherence. or historical trajectories. food. are understood in modern terms. At the same time. The question was: ‘‘Is Japanese culture original or derivative?’’ It was an excellent exam question because it is possible to argue either position with compelling support. We may be able to generate robust educational theories that pertain to teaching in a classroom. religions. across all of these expressions of Japanese culture.Author's personal copy Lurking. education is a similarly broad topic. 123 . Exceeding. the more valuable the theory. politics. coherence. we have perhaps not cultivated sufficient imagination for theories that might be valuable on the basis of criteria other than grandness. then we have limited the potential for both education and theory. Vibrating Like Biology. Modernism The second sticking point is that educational research in general has tended to recognize and define ‘‘theory’’ in terms of modernity. generalizability. for example. predictive power. Theorizing at the classroom level is very different from theorizing at the global level. In the discussion of this third and last sticking point. we can recognize something distinctly Japanese. then. schooling. arts. the general rule has favored modernism: the more comprehensive and generalizable the theory. Distilling. and is therefore properly educational. one year I was given a particularly well-crafted final exam essay question. Most of what we know today as theory. or predictive accuracy (this point will be elaborated in Part 3). I will try to illustrate this reframing with a story. Originality and Derivation In one framing of the issue of what is properly ‘‘educational’’ about educational theory. It might be worthwhile for researchers to be more explicit about the grain size of our research foci in order to help us understand more clearly the relationships among various theoretical formulations. Under the influence of modernism. I would like to try to reframe the problem of original-versusderivative for educational theory. However. and social structures) seem to have been borrowed from other cultures.

instruction has the etymological root of ‘‘struere/ structure. As we know. I think the sticking point around the idea of derivation is that the originality-versus-derivation juxtaposition may not be the central issue. As pertaining to education.’’ I mean pushing beyond current limitations. within an alternate framework. By ‘‘exceeding. beyond what is known or imaginable. ‘‘How different is different?’’ Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition can help by providing language for us to articulate the relationship of educational theory to other disciplinary theories as a system of complex difference. Finally. philosophical. Exceeding Educational theory might be exceeding. has as its etymological root ‘‘educe. and the use to which those selections are put: What exactly do we choose to borrow from other fields. distinguishable from research in any other field. From Deleuze’s work we are prompted to ask. here are a couple examples of different possible dimensions in which educational theory might be exceeding: • Educational theory might cast itself as temporally forward looking instead of just retrospective. history derives from economics or literature.’’ which means to pile or to build. just as Dewey’s conception of reflective thinking is forward looking rather than just retrospective. it would be possible. and scientific breakthroughs. we can see many theories of schooling that are now being derived from corporate structures and capitalist value systems. For example. Rather. However. That’s one kind of derivation. Another layer of insight on the derivative question is provided by Deleuze’s (1995) Difference and Repetition. literary criticism derives from political theory.’’ which means to lead out or draw out. and/ or that Japanese culture is original and unique.Author's personal copy L. education draws out. 123 . On these bases. and to what purposes do we put those borrowings? What Might Theory be Doing? Specifically. Extending this analogy. Just to give you a brief idea of what I’m getting at. derivations are not all alike. ‘‘Education’’ in contrast. It may be an unproductive or false dichotomy. if we reframe it. I would like to posit a strategic distinction between instruction and education. to argue that educational research is original and is characterized by unique features. the questions of what is properly educational theory can be focused on the specific criteria that are used to select from other fields. it is possible to argue effectively either that Japanese culture is derivative. and toward the realm of the not-yet. Fendler Therefore. I would like to suggest that some derivations may be a great deal more desirable than others. it could be argued that all disciplines are original or derivative in some way or another: physics derives from math. we have usually been more inclined to portray our field as derivative. • Educational theory might push past modern and analytical definitions and assumptions about what could qualify as ‘‘theory’’ and reach toward the horizons of what it is possible to think. Instruction builds. what might theory be doing that would qualify it as educational theory proper? In order to make this point. It is perhaps quite another thing to derive educational theories from robust and exciting artistic. I would like to position instruction as one of many possible technologies that might serve to be educational.

Vibrating • Educational theory might exceed current spatial limits and boundaries around knowledge and discourse. educational theory might be highlighting the ‘‘pedagogical footprint’’ of our work. Rather. I don’t mean that we should explain just how the findings will eventually benefit the knowledge base for teachers. and policy-making? • What if we held ourselves accountable for not only the educational implications of our findings. theory might be exceeding current limitations by holding us accountable to educational dimensions such as these: • What if educational theory were to hold us accountable for our pedagogical footprint in research. but will also educate us and the participants at the same time? • What administrative structure for schools and classrooms will not only accomplish bureaucratic efficiency. In order to explicate this point. 123 . I will draw examples from rhetorical studies of genre and contrasting rhetorical studies with social sciences. I mean that every step in the research process could be educationally beneficial: the interview protocols. methods. The idea of a ‘‘carbon footprint’’ exceeds the scope of more technical and instrumental definitions. identifying. the survey or testing instruments.’’ adds a moral/ethical dimension to the definition of energy. I consider it a requirement for the research proposal to explain how the research project will be educational for everyone involved. collegial relations. By analogy. In order to be properly educational. administering. I would like to draw an analogy with the term ‘‘carbon footprint’’ as it is used in environmental studies. In dissertations and other research projects. and challenging those limits. and the style of writing can all be designed to be educational for all participants.Author's personal copy Lurking. Exceeding. and not only informing. Here is an example of what I mean by a pedagogical footprint. and exemplary? • What publication venues and what approaches to writing will be most effective in providing the most education for the most people most of the time? By imagining the term pedagogical footprint and suggesting that educational theory might be exceeding. instruments. and educational researchers. and has exceeded the previous conceptualizations of energy use beyond the fields of economics and engineering. and awakens an ethical realm of implications when we think about and debate energy use. The term ‘‘carbon footprint. and style of writing? Educational theory might be inviting and inciting us to ask the following questions of our professional practices: • What interview protocol will not only elicit the precise information that addresses our research questions. protocols. generative. but will also effectively model—and thereby teach— democratic relations? • How can we write educational policy statements in such a way that the policies become informative. Now to illustrate what I mean by exceeding. We can think about how environmental scientists have given us terminology that is forward looking. administrators. teaching. Distilling. but also for the educational implications of our research designs. I am trying to point to and make explicit the limits of our current educational theorizations as a means of recognizing. Generating Educational theory might be generating.

Generative readings. and sensibilities. what effect does that writing have on my sense of self? Classically speaking. I try to facilitate and model how to read texts not only for information but also for inspiration. I want to highlight the ways generative texts—and not just informational texts—might be regarded as educational. we have generative texts. Generative texts are like poetry and art. namely to think of educational theory as generating—as being generative. we can easily become transported. which are designed to generate in us experiences. Informational texts are instructional texts. it is usual that we have to stop every paragraph or so to revel. we might reframe the role of theory. and to generate spiritual experiences. experience. As I learned from Rebekka Habermas. and visualize the world in a way we have never seen before. my discussion does not assume that theory is a good thing or a bad thing. to stimulate the senses. feelings. However. We are also interested in communicating: the rhetorical effectiveness of our teaching practices. but rather to evoke and inspire ways of knowing. That would be a worthy project. but also to inspire: to animate. in education we are not only interested in instructing and providing information. activate. understanding. Instructional/informational genres approximate the provider mode of teaching. Fendler Social science research in education is useful for providing us with thick descriptions of teaching and classifications of the kinds of teaching that are possible. From this point of view. In the tradition of social sciences. reflect. it was deliberate on my part not to argue the normative aspects of theory or education. There is a genre distinction between the social sciences and the humanities: on the one hand we have informational texts. I try to help students pay attention to how the text affects them. I begin with the observation that. it works better in German: ‘‘Was tut der Text?’’ When I read a text. A generative reading ignites some memory or connection or perspective. I have not provided any means by which we could distinguish an evil theory from a beneficent theory. I do not see very much connection between teaching and learning. I have been trying to facilitate different kinds of reading and genre recognition. on the other hand. To generate understandings in us. The genre of generative texts is not to deliver/convey information. educational theory can be seen as that which generates—or that which facilitates the drawing out (educare) of knowledge. I have not provided any basis by which we might distinguish good education from bad education. or imagine. • Generative texts go with education. the most usual genre for social science texts is expository or informational. In my remarks so far. For this section. 123 . While we are reading a generative text. Along those lines. then. what effect does that text have on my sense of self? When I write a text. • Informational texts go with instruction. at least in educational research published in English. but not one I am pursuing in this particular essay. and imagination. When texts are generative. go on flights of fancy. In my teaching. they can take a very long time to finish reading. are those whose purpose is not only to inform. Vibrating Educational theory might be vibrating. In generative reading. we tend to read for information. and galvanize. So if we think of most theories as being expository or informative.Author's personal copy L. or a sloppy theory from an elegant theory. That is. a major purpose of education was reading to provide inspiration. In any case. it will be apparent that this analysis does not provide a normative basis for evaluating theory or education.

Now we put Luca Turin together with Nel Noddings. We can also extend this resonant vibrational criterion to critical theories in education: • As Gert Biesta has continued to remind us. anyway. as in ‘‘sympathetic vibrations. but rather the effect of my actions on you.… • A critical theory might be regarded as educational to the extent that it generates more educational theories that more people get. and a different division for studying learning (Division C). religion.Author's personal copy Lurking. 123 . We might want to argue that one criterion to qualify a theory as educational would be defined in terms of uptake. that the relationship between teaching and learning is under researched and under theorized. According to Noddings. family background. We might imagine educational theory. race. There are separate publication venues: some journals for research on teaching. As most of you know. sexuality. On this basis.’’ Now I turn from Luca Turin to Nel Noddings (educational philosopher at Stanford). we can think of vibration as being associated with resonance. To do that. Not the intention or the merits of the act itself. or that I acted in a caring way toward you. age. • Sight is perception according to frequency of light waves. It does not matter that I intended to care for you. for Noddings. Exceeding. socioeconomic means. I would like to put Luca Turin’s (2005) vibrational theory of smell together with Nel Noddings’ (2005) ethic of care. Noddings’ ethic of care presents us with a very particular kind of ethics: neither Aristotelian nor utilitarian. It seems to me. what matters is uptake. We can think of a theory as properly educational to the extent that it effectively generates uptake of resonant vibrations that exceed the given. If we accept for the moment Luca Turin’s vibrational theory of smell. I am gesturing toward a way for us to conceptualize the gap between teaching and learning. By using the term vibrating. then we notice that his theory puts three of our five senses into the vibrational category: • Hearing is perception according to frequency of sound waves. • Smell is perception according to frequency of chemical bonding waves. Rather. concepts. My position on uptake is closely related to Dewey’s theory of education as communication (but. perhaps because the term communication seems to be overused. there are things that theory might be doing that could put a pedagogical footprint on perspectives. Distilling.’’ A critical theory might be regarded as educational to the extent that we get shaken up by it. ‘‘Derrida wants to shake metaphysics by showing us that metaphysics is itself always already shaking. in Nel Noddings’ ethic of care. I prefer the term vibrational uptake in this case). Closing In addition to all the things that theory has been doing. So a theory might be regarded as educational to the extent that people get it—get the theory and get the education. culture. and other journals for research on learning. • A critical theory might be regarded as educational to the extent that more people—and more kinds of people—get it: regardless of ability. ethnicity. then. in terms of a vibrational version of uptake. it only counts as care if you feel cared for by me. It’s the uptake that matters. there is no care unless the other person feels cared for. Vibrating Teaching and learning tend to remain largely separate areas of study. and ideas that come from other disciplines. There is one AERA division for studying teaching (Division K). for me.

Vibration reframes the issue of pedagogy so that teaching is no longer envisioned as a process of unidirectional delivery of authoritative information. The language of vibrating gives us alternatives to essentialism (e. Reproduction stays within given confines. The language of generating gives us alternatives to authoritarianism and authoritarian versions of knowledge production. 38(6). Noddings. New York: Teachers College Press. evidence. It occurs in the gaps between things. Standards for reporting on Humanities-Oriented Research in AERA Publications. Spring). (2002). (1995). Platonic forms. democratic creations of knowledge because the generative texts are not designed to deliver information authoritatively from the top down. Stable http://www. References American Educational Research Association. 53(3). (2009). Vibrating is dynamic. (2005). Educational Researcher. Deleuze. Rather.Author's personal copy L. it is not dependent on generalizability or replicability. Difference and repetition. 123 . but rather of dynamic. exceeding pushes our thinking to the limits and allows for creative and imaginative flights beyond reproduction. Popkewitz. Journal of Teacher Education. changing. (2004. and exclusion. (2005).jstor. How the alchemy makes inquiry. American Educational Research Journal. 262–267. Generating opens up possibilities for more distributed. 3–34. The alchemy of the mathematics curriculum: Inscriptions and the fabrication of the child.com/talks/luca_turin_ on_the_science_of_scent.). N.. Cartesian substances.g. Fendler The language of exceeding in educational theorising gives us alternatives to reproduction and the reproductive technologies that have been plaguing education. Available: http://www. It depends on uptake and connections. and relational. or reified concepts). Turin.html. S. generative texts are designed to educe in an open and distributed way. T. and experiential connections. TED Talks. democratic. New York: Columbia University Press. T.ted. Popkewitz. The challenge to care in schools: An alternative approach to education (2nd ed. org/stable/3699383. 481–486. G. L. The science of scent. 41(1).