Harvard Educational Review
  1. Fall 2000 Issue »

    The Thing Never Speaks for Itself

    Lacan and the Pedagogical Politics of Clarity

    Douglas Sadao Aoki
    In this article, Douglas Sadao Aoki argues that teaching conceived as the translation of complex materials into plain language is actually a refusal to teach. He challenges the commonsensical conviction that good teaching, like good writing, makes its meaning clear and accessible - a thing that speaks for itself. The authority of that conviction, he shows, has elevated the desire for clarity into an institutional demand. Yet, like many other commonsensical convictions and institutional demands, teaching framed by clarity is suspect in its politics and radical in its limitations. Aoki uses the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, which reveals the suspect exclusionary practices of those pedagogical politics, to show that the love of clear writing turns out to be a hatred of language, a hatred that motivates a refusal to teach. Aoki suggests that the crucial recognition that neither teaching nor language ever speaks for itself is what gives us the chance to refuse the refusal to teach.

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    Fall 2000 Issue

    Abstracts

    HER Classic Reprint - Student Social Class and Teacher Expectations
    The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy in Ghetto Education
    Ray C. Rist
    Late Immersion and Language of Instruction in Hong Kong High Schools
    Achievement Growth in Language and Nonlanguage Subjects
    Herbert W. Marsh, Kit-Tai Hau, Chit-Kwong Kong
    The Thing Never Speaks for Itself
    Lacan and the Pedagogical Politics of Clarity
    Douglas Sadao Aoki

    Book Notes

    Has Feminism Changed Science?
    By Londa Schiebinger

    Making Our High Schools Better
    By Anne Westcott Dodd and Jean L. Konzal

    Women’s Science
    By Margaret A. Eisenhart and Elizabeth Finkel, with Linda Behm, Nancy Lawrence, and Karen Tonso

    Between Church and State
    By James W. Fraser

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