'Exorcising the curse of Sisyphus': English Catholic education and the possibiity of authenticity. A philosophical study after Heidegger, Derrida, Lonergan and Boeve

Uttley, S.R., 2016. 'Exorcising the curse of Sisyphus': English Catholic education and the possibiity of authenticity. A philosophical study after Heidegger, Derrida, Lonergan and Boeve. EdD, Nottingham Trent University.

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The Headteacher in the English Catholic School faces forces vis a tergo resulting from the specific historic interplay of State and Church which, themselves play into dominant ontotheologies (such as managerialism, assessment, productivity, 'success' criteria and curriculum design). This thesis, adopting an autoethnographic approach, which places particular emphases upon the identities of Headteacher-Researcher1, (as well as other identities including that of Catholic-father-husband-employee and convert to Catholicism) seeks to express these challenges. Second, it seeks to examine and so move some way towards their possible exploration with the aporia providing a particular focus upon a number of cul-de-sacs in practice. This serves as a basis for re-thinking and taking responsibility for pathways required for aspects of practice. Identifying an on-going tension existing between authenticity – understood as 'mattering' - and inauthenticity, the latter is marked by the potential 'non-mattering' of the human being in favour of some other 'process' or 'goal' consonant with the logics and economy of metaphysical technologies. Such 'non mattering' - associated with what is described as in this thesis as alienation - represents a lack of such integration; the lack of authority ('mattering') to oneself or to the other. Alienation as it affects the young, the context of this Headteacher-Researcher, is frequently expressed as their being caught within the 'tectonic plates' of late modernity: a 'violence' within which the individual 'wins' or 'loses' as seemingly unyielding cultural narratives drive against each other akin to the geological violence at the root of this metaphorical expression. While a thesis that seeks to open horizons beyond the delimiting effects of empiricism, such grounds for alienation are outlined early on as, together with the reflective practice and philosophical approach of this author, they constitute the basis for this thesis. The second play of authenticity for the purpose of this thesis refers to the authenticity (or inauthenticity) of the education in which the Catholic Headteacher (including this Researcher-Author) is engaged. To what extent is the educational programme centred on the individual, as against the assessment criteria? To what extent is education parcelled into silos such that it is deprived not only of its intellectual interrelatedness, but also its moral, or at least, affective content? This is particularly acute in an educational culture dominated by assessment, and with a Church-State compact increasingly feeling the strain arising from, inter alia, an increase in secularism and a decrease in the common memory of the rationale for the 1944 settlement. This thesis finds the current proclamations of Catholic education necessary but insufficient to equip the young to navigate the tectonic plates of late modernity and, by way of contribution, suggests an approach informed by the mid twentieth century Jesuit theologian, Bernard Lonergan and the contemporary Belgium Catholic philosopher-theologian, Lieven Boeve. In Lonergan, informed by his reading of Heidegger, we see an attempt to focus not merely on education-as-(utilitarian)-knowledge-acquisition, but rather education as formation – as combining the confluence of traits consonant with what he terms 'conversion' – including the easily forgotten realisation that to study is to be involved in an ethical practice. In applying Boeve to the Catholic school, one sees a recognition that, rather than teaching subjects well (where 'well' means 'hitting the performance measure') and (separately) teaching religion well, the Catholic School should be equipping the young with a Catholic hermeneutic by which they can critically assess a pluralistic – often hostile- world into which they are, to use Heidegger’s evocative language, thrown; its 'truths', 'traditions' and 'axioms'. This is increasingly the case as potential vacuums of 'meaning' produce fertile ground for those who would wish to impart a (potentially pernicious) new narrative on the young. In arguing instead for a pro-recontextualizing School – informed by the new and more radical vision of Catholic education evolved heretofore- this thesis takes the Lonergan-Boeve insight further in the use of aporia revealing (opening up) those unalterable fault lines to which both the Headteacher and her student must engage.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Uttley, S.R.
Date: May 2016
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owner(s) of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Education
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 16 Aug 2016 13:22
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2016 13:22
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/28323

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