Knowing Differently Situated Others: Teachers and Arrogant Perception


  • Maureen Ford Ontario Institute for Studies in Education University of Toronto



In the context of teacher education, where practicality is the chief area of concern for teacher candidates, philosophical analyses of oppression must be perceived to contribute to the pressing concerns of teaching workloads and classroom management as well as justice. This paper proposes to make a link between teaching work and considerations of diversity that emerge as teachers "consider the standpoint of the other" (see Young, 1997, p. 22). Arguing with Iris Marion Young that it is neither possible nor ethically satisfactory to "take the other's point of view" per se, the paper provides an account of what is involved in considering the standpoint of differently situated others. The argument here, however, is epistemological rather than ethical. Specifically? - the paper addresses questions that arise as teachers occupy subject positions of relative privilege either within the society at large or as a function of the normalizing processes of schools. Young's analysis of asymmetric reciprocity is juxtaposed with Maria Lugones' analysis of arrogant and loving perception, "worlds" and "world traveling" (1990). The analysis offers teachers a means of rereading their participation in school purposes and their reception of student performances as resistance. The paper proceeds in four sections: the first reports briefly on Young's advocacy of asymmetrical reciprocity, and emphasizes a fragile understanding open to wonder and surprise rather than recognition. The second presents a reading of Lugones' and Frye's conceptions of arrogant perception and world-traveling that pays particularly close attention to Lugones' account of what it means to be at ease in a world. The third section of the paper moves to the level of institutional analysis. The object of study is that body of schooling practices that might be read as positioning teachers in subject positions of institutional arrogant perception. The fourth section addresses three practical ways in which teachers might address notions of arrogant and loving perception: deconstructing their institutional and social locations, using their own world-traveling to proliferate non-dominant curricular and classroom practices, and reorienting themselves with respect to students' resistance.