How Can It Be? Nietzsche, the Radical Water Practice of a Looked After Child, and the Established Order of the School


  • Paul Moran University of Chester


Educational alternatives, progressive education, alternative education, difference, educational theory, educational philosophy, home education, education policy


The death of God, announced by Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil (1886/2001), and in his earlier works, has been hailed as a revolutionary turning point, at least in philosophical terms. Nietzsche’s critique of metaphysics tears apart, for example, as lived experiences, assumptions dividing the very corporeality of our individual and social being from the systems of knowledge and expectations, and of how and where we live from the construction and meaning of our individual and collective identities (Woodward, 2013). And yet there are circumstances—perhaps this is mostly so when living outside an established order from which you derive your meaning—that render your status, your future, your security profoundly disturbing, with no point of remittance. In such circumstances—and these are the circumstances today most obviously of the refugee, the dispossessed, and the poor—the future is only tenable by being able to belong to whatever established order is necessary. Having the requisite skills, appearance, and mode of being to secure a job and somewhere to live are not very mysterious but necessary indications that being part of any such order has been effected. This paper explores these points in relation to an ethnographic study, conducted over one year, of looked after children,  focussing on one child in her reception year at her local mainstream primary school. More generally, this serves as an illustration of how schools necessarily do the work of the symbolic order.



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