The Educational Significance of the Experience of Resistance: Schooling and the Dialogue between Child and World


  • Gert Biesta University of Stirling


resistance, dialogue, head, heart and hands, the education of the will, impatience, patience, love for the world, slow schools


In this paper I look at education through the question of the connection of child and world. Starting from the observation that it is through action and initiative rather than through thinking or feeling that we connect most directly and immediately with the world, I explore the ways in which we can engage with the resistance we encounter when we act and take initiative. I argue that education needs to take place in the middle ground between two extremes: destruction of what resists and withdrawal from what resists. I refer to this middle ground as the dialogue between child and world and argue that it is through this dialogue that the worldly existence of the child becomes possible. The educational work done in the difficult and frustrating middle ground between world-destruction and self-destruction is related to an old and rather forgotten educational theme, that of the education of the will. I explore different dimension of the education of the will in order to make a case for slow forms of schooling that see the encounter with the experience of resistance as an essential and necessary dimension of what education is about.

Author Biography

Gert Biesta, University of Stirling

Gert Biesta ( is Professor of Education at the School of Education, University of Stirling. Contact address: School of Education, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, Scotland, UK. E-mail: [email protected] (from January 2013 onwards: [email protected])


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