Towards an Etichs and Pedagogy of Disconfort: Insensitivity, Perplexity, and Education as Inclusion

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This paper argues that education as inclusion requires experiences of discomfort, which can only be attained through pedagogical interventions that disrupt people’s lives and interrupt their cognitive and affective habits. Educational interventions should be designed so that people are exposed (not in theory, but in their actual lives) to perspectives and ways of life radically different from their own, so that their own perspective becomes vulnerable and open to critical scrutiny. Following John Dewey and Jane Addams, the paper vindicates the crucial role of perplexity and discomfort in the expansion of one’s sensitivity, arguing that affective growth and the expansion of one’s capacity for inclusivity require a process of self-estrangement or defamiliarization that calls into question the things taken for granted in one’s daily life and ordinary practices. According to the ethics and pedagogy of discomfort defended in this paper, the pillar of a social ethics that strives toward inclusion and open-mindedness is to be found in experiences of discomfort where the familiar becomes unfamiliar or perplexing: these experiences are learning opportunities for ethical growth and the expansion of one’s social sensitivity.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCivitas Educationis
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


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