Tuesday 9 January 2018

Philosophical Inquiry

Finding Spaces to Dance


Image result for twelve dancing princesses sheilah
Image by Sheilah Beckett

Twelve princesses, each more beautiful than the last, sleep in twelve beds in the same room. Every night, their doors are securely locked by their father. But in the morning, their dancing shoes are found to be worn through as if they had been dancing all night. The king perplexed, asks his daughters to explain, but they refuse. The king then promises his kingdom and each daughter to any man who can discover the princesses' midnight secret within three days and three nights, but those who fail within the set time limit will be sentenced to death.


This fairytale by the Brothers Grimm is used in the book 'Further Education and the Twelve Dancing Princesses' (Daley, Orr and Petrie, 2015) as an analogy for the state of the FE sector today.  The neo-liberalisation of education in England is spreading - and affecting the freedoms of students and educators so that, like the princesses, we have limited 'spaces to dance'.  In Teaching to Trangress (2014), bell hooks suggests that '...the classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.' Is the classroom still the place where we can enact our own 'midnight secret'?  As educators, are there other spaces that we can escape to to avoid oppressive and managerial regimes? And as students, what does it mean, to dance, in the educational sense?

Philosophical Inquiry

Take a look at the image and consider the story in the context of your educational life today.  What thoughts, ideas and questions does it raise for you?  You can post your ideas and discuss in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter using the hash tag #30DaysReflectResist or #RadicalKent.

Daley, M., Orr, K. and Petrie, J. (2015). Further Education and the Twelve Dancing Princesses. London. Trentham Books.

Hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge.

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