Stiegler Contra Robinson: On the hyper-solicitation of youth

Educational Philosophy and Theory 47 (10):1023-1038 (2015)
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This paper examines the affective disorders plaguing many young people and the problem of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in particular. It aims to define the limits of the critique of British educationalist Sir Ken Robinson in terms of his philosophy of ‘creativity’ through a consideration of the ideas of French philosopher Bernard Stiegler, especially the notions of ‘industrial temporal objects’ and stupidity. It makes the case for adopting elements of each distinct research paradigm as a prolegomena to forging a social critique of capitalist-dominated, market-led educational institutions. The former, it will be seen, identifies some of the problems facing teachers in terms of the use and application of technology, the false divide between arts and the humanities, but falls short of explaining the root of the structural and psychic malaise in neo-liberal regimes regarding classroom breakdown in general. The latter, despite the apocalyptic tone of some his pronouncements provides an update and radicalization of Deleuze’s societies of control thesis in terms of what Stiegler designates ‘uncontrollable societies’. Stiegler, it will be seen, presents a critique of technology that is all the more pressing in an age in which the loss of expectation in the lives of young people can lead to a corresponding fall off or destruction in ‘deep attention’. I want to test the hyperbole of Stiegler’s assertion that young people today suffer from a ‘colossal’ attention deficit disorder of unprecedented scale and magnitude.



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Joff Bradley
Teikyo University