Posthuman Pedagogy

How do you educate the post-human?  First we must agree on what the definition of a post-human should be.  Is it as Hayles (1999) states, that the “defining characteristics (of a posthuman) involve the construction of subjectivity, not the presence of nonbiological components.”  Or should we equate the post-human with what some might view as the next step in our evolution, an integration of man and machine, or a type of cyborg?

If we take our cue from popular movies, there is a desire to assimilate knowledge quickly, and on demand.  How beneficial would it be to simply request knowledge on a subject and have it instantly uploaded to your brain?

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But  is this the easy way out?  Is packing your head with data the same as learning?  Or as Edwards (2010) says “to learn, humans have to gather and experiment.”  If we can simply upload data to our brain, have we really learned it, or is it just data we can access?  Just because we can recite / remember information does not mean we can understand and think critically about it.

And what of all that data… can our brains handle it?  Or might the increased strain cause the brain to begin to malfunction?  Or as is a recurring theme, that with knowledge comes power, and the power corrupts…

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Are we searching for the easy way out.  If there was a way for you to have the ability to see the world in a new way, to open your mind to new interactions, new connections, would you take it?  Would the consequences matter?

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Is being post-human the ability to become something beyond a regular human?  Is it the development of the brain to its full potential… the opening of new abilities, knowledge and powers previously untapped?  Is it becoming the perfect version of ourselves?

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If being post-human is all of these, then how do we develop a pedagogy to challenge them?  As Edwards (2010) says “a post-human condition could position learning as a gathering of the human and non-human in responsible experimentation to establish matters of concern.”  Therefore providing the raw data is simply not enough…

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There must be discussion, experimentation, and interaction before there can be understanding…  In order to truly understand something we must experience it…

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We may believe these to be Hollywood’s vision of the future, but instant access to data is already at your fingertips…

The challenge then is to combine the instant access to the data and unlimited breadth of knowledge, with the possibility of experiencing the concepts to develop understanding.  Despite the increasing ability to find the answer to everything through the internet, human or post-human, there is still no substitute for gaining insight and understanding through interactions with a mentor and your peers.


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One Response to Posthuman Pedagogy

  1. Jeremy Keith Knox says:

    You highlight some of the significant issues that posthumanism raises for education here Kevin, and some really well chosen video clips.

    ‘First we must agree on what the definition of a post-human should be’.

    I like part of what you imply in this point, but not sure that we need to *agree*. For me, agreement seems to imply that the posthuman should be pinned down, quantified, rendered ostensible, made generalisable, and I’m not sure that kind of tactic embraces the mutability and flexibility of the theory. Where assumptions about the rational and bounded human being are put into question, the posthuman seems to become an act of definition, but definition in the sense of a contextual and temporal specification. Posthumanism often embraces the idea that the human is performed, in a particular place and in a particular time, rather than being comprised of pre-existing stable foundations. What I mean here is that we might be able to define the posthuman in practice, but not in principle. *Agreeing* on a universal definition for posthumanism would seems to create the very foundational assumptions that the theory attempts to destabalise in humanism.

    If we consider the (post)human to be something that is persistently created through action and performance, it can have no foundation. Furthermore, the act of definition becomes a constant, integral process. The posthuman *is* the definition. We might say that the posthuman is ‘unknowable’ in principle, but ‘knowlable’ in practice.

    In this sense, I think your post highlights some fascinating ways in which the human (and hence the nature of knowledge) is culturally defined. It is interesting how knowledge is portrayed as quite alien and dangerous in these clips. In The Matrix, the knowledge associated with flying the helicopter is not only disembodied but transmitted from ‘another world’. The other clips seem to reveal a fear of knowledge, is if it is something that can invade the ‘mind’. Knowledge is viewed with great potential, but also as a significant danger, a view which appears to situate ‘knowledge’ as a kind of separate substance, upon which the superior ‘rational’ and ‘moralistic’ faculties of the mind can act. Dualisms abound…