the repuerescentia of the teacher: a philosophical-educational perspective on the child and culture

stefano oliverio

Abstract


In the light of some tenets of philosophy of childhood, this paper proposes an ‘updating’ interpretation of the educational notion of repuerescentia (re-turn to childhood), offered by the Renaissance humanist Desiderius Erasmus. In particular, Erasmus’ argumentation about the need for an early liberal education is reconstellated into the domain of a reading of culture as a form of play, that is, as a transitional space and his concept of repuerescentia is read in reference to Deleuzian ‘becoming child.’ It is shown, on the one hand, that there is no complete overlapping between the Deleuzian construct and the notion here investigated; on the other, that a dialogue between these two ideas could result in a more articulated way of looking at the position of the teacher within the educational relationship. It is argued, moreover, that a re-appropriation of the notion of repuerescentia could allow us to reconstruct school as a site in which the classical heritage is made alive and not simply passed on. If the idea of repuerescentia implies that the classical heritage is structured as a pedagogy, thanks to philosophy of childhood we could broaden and elaborate on this view and recognize that the classical heritage is not something closed but always in the making. Indeed, it is due to children’s voices that it revives and can continue to speak to us. In this sense, a repuerescentia-oriented teaching could also act as a strategy to resolve some of the deadlocks associated with the Deweyan controversy between the child and the curriculum. A different inflection of the latter relationship and a fresher way of experiencing ‘tradition’ seem more urgent than ever in contemporary educational scenarios, which are marked by what has been defined the “endgame of the loss of historical continuity.” In addition to that, the idea of the teacher’s re-turn to childhood allows us to overcome some of the setbacks of the constructivist approaches in education, as they have been denounced in more recent literature in educational theory.

Keywords


becoming child; school; classical tradition; teaching; constructivism

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childhood & philosophy Creative Commons License
e-issn 1984-5987 | p-issn 2525-5061