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Professor Matthew Clarke Inaugural Lecture

York St John University

Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 5:45 PM (GMT)

Professor Matthew Clarke Inaugural Lecture

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York St John University, Prof Matthew Clarke will be presenting his Inaugural Lecture on Thursday 22 March 2018


Prof Matthew Clarke came to York St John in 2015 as Chair Professor in Education. He has previously taught and researched at UNSW, Australia, the University of Hong Kong, the Higher Colleges of Technology, United Arab Emirates, and the University of Melbourne, Australia. Matthew's undergraduate studies were in Politics and Philosophy (Oxford), after which he moved into Education, in which he holds a PGCE (Primary) from the University of Surrey, as well as, a PGDE (TESOL), M.Ed. and PhD from the University of Melbourne. Matthews research in educational policy, published in leading international journals, is internationally recognised as contributing to a new interdisciplinary field that brings together political and psychoanalytic theory to provide novel and significant critical insights into global policy issues in education and teacher education. Matthew also serves on the editorial boards for Other Education: A Journal of Educational Alternatives and the Journal of Language, Identity and Education.


Title: ‘Eyes wide shut’: The fantasies and disavowals of education policy


Education policy is characterized by a fantasmatic attachment to utopian rhetoric of equality and inclusion. Yet it also sustains investments in managerial notions such as competition and continuous quality improvement, standards and accountability. Policy makers, however, typically overlook any tensions between these attachments and investments, just as they disavow the realities of systemic inequality, disenfranchisement and exclusion.

In order to explore these tensions, as well as to envisage an education beyond them, I draw on concepts and theories from psychoanalysis. My overall argument is that the individual and society are both constituted through unavoidable division and antagonism. However, rather than presenting obstacles to be overcome, these antagonisms afford the opening for education. This entails education finding ways of responding to the paradoxes and enigmas of existence that we all experience, rather than seeking (fantasmatically) to close various social ‘gaps’ or limiting itself to the transmission of reliable information to students with fixed identities. Within this responsive ‘education for misfits’, disciplinary knowledge would not disappear but would be reframed as a series of templates or structures which teachers and students might draw upon. But they would also mine the disavowed, disregarded and overlooked materials that lie scattered across diffuse cognitive, affective, experiential and embodied realms. Critically, rather than disavowing the paradoxes, tensions and contradictions of the modern world, or seeking refuge in a fantasmatic utopianism, such an education would ask unanswerable questions and engage in infinite conversations in order to re-imagine, re-symbolise and re-construct alternative individual and social worlds.


Event Timings:

17.50 Doors open

18.00 Lecture commences

19.15 Event closes

Followed by a post Lecture drinks reception (all are welcome)



De Grey Lecture Theatre 


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When & Where

York St John University
De Grey Lecture Theatre
Lord Mayor's Walk
York , YO31 7EX

Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 5:45 PM (GMT)

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York St John University

York St John University was founded in 1841, born out of a socially conscious, ethical conviction in sharing education as a route to a fairer world. As a leading education, training and research institution in the heart of the historic city of York we serve a global campus of staff and students who thrive on academic excellence, graduate employability and a strong sense of community.

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