This chapter has recently appeared in the Companion to Educational Research from Springer. It articulates response to recent and ambitious attempts to present education or “learning” as some kind of unified “science.” Specifically, it presents a critique of Mary Kalantzis and William Cope’s chapter “Education is the New Philosophy.”
Kalantzis and Cope set for themselves an ambitious and (in part) commendable task in “Education is the New Philosophy:” to re-think the disciplinary underpinnings of education, and to elevate it from an applied sub-discipline to an undertaking on par with “big science.” This chapter explains why a re-thinking of education and its disciplinary positioning is valuable, but it also takes issue with the unqualified reach of Kalantzis and Cope’s argument. To aver that education is an originary science and science for all sciences, is to take the current move to the “sciences” in educational discourse (learning sciences, brain sciences, et cetera) to a level not known in the Western tradition since the optimism of the enlightenment of the eighteenth century. My response concludes by making the case that education is less of a “positive,” unifying metadisciplinary enterprise than it is an engagement with negativity, in its dialectical sense – with that which is not, not yet and not known.