Education as Sacrifice to the Gods of Science − On the Theory of Replacement Acts
Sverker Lundin & Ditte Christensen (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
The starting point of our paper is Robert Pfallers concept of culture as characterized by a series of displacement acts. We will use Pfallers line of thought as a mean to understand one of modern cultures most impressive creations, education. Education in general and mathematics education especially is viewed as activities delegated to children. Instead of doing the learning oneself, the act is performed somewhere else by someone else. The soundness of our interpretation clearly appears when comparing education to other cultural activities such as the lightening of candles in church as a representation for the act of praying. Another of Pfallers examples is the spinning of prayer wheels or the delegation of watching television to the recorder machine. We argue that education in the same way as recording, spinning the prayer wheel and lightening the candle creates room for relief. Making use of transitional objects, these candles, wheels, recorders and children, one is able to both oblige and not to oblige to cultural norms that are demanding our time and energy when we would rather be doing something else or nothing at all. This behaviour Pfaller names interpassivity. Caring for norms imposed by culture sometimes consist in escaping these by acting as if we are truly engaged in behaving as we should. In terms of acting “as if” interpassive acts resembles play as defined by both Pfaller and Huizinga. Thus education, like other cultural phenomenon, takes the form of a play delegated to others.