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Little Ego Deaths in the Social Justice Classroom: An Existential Perspective on Student Resistance

  • Remy Yi Siang LowEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Denial, displacement, defensiveness, disengagement. These are common responses from students in classrooms that invite critical reflection on the intersecting vectors of privilege and marginalisation such as race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, and nationality. Such responses are commonly read from the perspective of the educator as “resistance”—a concept that has been productively theorised from a critical psychoanalytic perspective. This chapter offers another perspective on student resistance in social justice classrooms. With reference to conceptualisations of the ego from existential analysis, Low reflects on how intersectional analyses may precipitate little “ego deaths”, especially in teacher education classrooms where the complicity of schooling with systemic oppression confronts those whose identities as preservice teachers are tied up with benevolent intent. Reflecting on techniques developed within existential analysis for dealing with such experiences, the chapter offers some tentative suggestions for their adaptation in a classroom context for working with student resistance.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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