Being a Self

BIESTA in press Risking ourselves Educational Theory 2019

Subjectification: Be a self! 
Put simply, what is at stake in the idea of subjectification is our freedom as human beings and, more specifically, our freedom to act or to refrain from action.

This is not about freedom as a theoretical construct or complicated philosophical concept, but concerns the much more mundane experience that in many, and perhaps even all situations we encounter in our lives we always have a possibility to say yes or to say no, to stay or to walk away, to go with the flow or to resist – and encountering this possibility in one’s own life, particularly. Meeting the real, and meeting one’s desires in relation to what is real, is not a ‘quick fix’ but actually requires time. 

That is why education as subjectification needs to work with the principle of ‘suspension’ – of slowing down, of giving time, so that students can meet the world, meet themselves in relation to the world, and ‘work through’ all this. The reminder that the Greek word ‘schole’ actually means ‘free time,’33 time that is not yet made productive, is very helpful here, as it suggests that school needs to provide this possibility for slowing down, for trying, failing, trying again, and failing better, as Samuel Beckett has formulated it so nicely.