Education’s Love Triangle
Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Liverpool Hope University Hope Park, Liverpool, L16 9JD
Room: EDEN 010
Phenomenological accounts, including my own, have described the event of education, in which a shared subject matter emerges, as a constellation of hermeneutic relationships, characterised by the ‘belonging’ of student, teacher and text to some subject matter that is their shared achievement. This language of belonging has been accompanied by an acknowledgement of the openness of both student and teacher to one another, which is to say their preparedness to be transformed in the educational encounter. An ethical component distinguishes these educational relationships from other, deficient kinds of dialogue. But I have so far stopped short of characterising these relationships in terms of love. I want in this paper to consider the possibility that this ontological constellation is in fact intelligible only through Eros, and that the educational event is ‘held together with love’ (with all of the implications of ‘amateurism’ implied in that expression). If this is the case, then we must take seriously the transformation of the pedagogical (or in Standish’s terms, divine) triangle into a love triangle. Three objects of love are drawn into a relationship here – a teacher, a student, and a subject or discipline, so that education’s Eros is polyamorous. It remains to be seen whether this love triangle can escape the pitfalls that so often attend in literary and artistic representations – namely, jealousy, possessiveness and conflict.
David Aldridge is Reader in Education and Director of Research at Brunel University London. He is co-editor of the British Educational Research Journal and Assistant Editor of the Journal of Philosophy of Education. He is also general editor of the Routledge Literature and Education Book Series.