Implementing a pedagogy of interruption: worth the risk

Aleya James


This paper explores the work of the educational theorist Gert Biesta in a setting outside of the context where it was originally developed. It aims to address how Biesta’s approach can help educators and policy makers question the philosophical underpinnings and thereby start a conversation that is absent from this jurisdiction. The paper is structured on three levels: first, an overview of Biesta’s educational theory is given with a focus on ‘subjectification’ and his self-titled ‘pedagogy of interruption’. Secondly and in brief, I use Biesta’s framework of educational dimensions to analyse the philosophy underlying education in the United Arab Emirates using published government documents and media sources. Thirdly, I report a small-scale qualitative analysis of specific educational space, three General Studies Courses, in a UAE tertiary institution, to investigate the “risky” possibilities involved in implementing a “pedagogy of interruption”. I find that despite a dominant policy discourse that discounts subjectification, there are significant opportunities for students to develop a strong sense of self.  These opportunities are created by a small but strongly motivated group of teachers and taken up on the whole, enthusiastically by students. However, my assertions are limited by a number of challenges warrant further research. This paper hopes to provide a meaningful contribution to the limited discussion regarding the aims and expectations of education in the Middle East and finds a pertinent philosophical grounding for liberal studies teaching in a tertiary context. As such the paper will be of value both to policy and decision makers in the Middle East and to teachers and trainers who teach in multi-cultural and international contexts.


culture; intercultural intelligence; philosophy of education; UAE; Gert Biesta; subjectivity:

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