After making my way through the reading, the posts (including my own), and the comments for this week on a posthuman pedagogy, I started to connect these with my own choice for the final assignment, the use of augmented reality mobile applications for cultural heritage studies. There are a lot of similarities here and a few made me remember some of the works we reviewed in #idel (I personally took it, along with many of my classmates here, in 2009). In keeping with speaking of our instructors in the third person, Michael Gallagher (zing) remembers a paper that was pointed to in IDEL from one Jen Ross.

Structure, authority and other noncepts: teaching in fool-ish spaces

The paper takes a jester’s, trickster’s and fool’s look at teaching in online spaces. We argue that teaching in digital environments is different and requires different attitudes and strategies than its offline counterpart. We use archetypal, literary and historical characters of the fool, jester and trickster as metaphors to explore issues of authority, risk, innocence, fun, complexity, liminality and absurdity (Ross).

Wow. That sort of sounds like a fairly good series of roles for a posthuman pedagogy, doesn’t it? Throw in the flaneur and I think we have enough to incur as many boundary crossings as our posthuman hearts desire. Risk? Fun? Absurdity? Emotive properties of digital or even hybrid environments. Jester, trickster, fool, flaneur? All vehicles of affect, change agents.


Kilroy Was Here, a graffiti attacking earnestness. Entirely playful and simultaneously subversive. A good metaphor for posthuman learning.

What particularly resonated with me was the sense of mischief, a playful energy with a negative connotation. How mischief could be used to great affect and effect in mediated mobile augmented reality environments. I immediately thought of virtual graffiti and how cultural heritage itself could embody the mischief, or at least house all its examples. What if we had the ability to virtually spraypaint the Mona Lisa? Or write Gallagher Was Here on the Brooklyn Bridge? Or scribble “freedom” on the hard concrete of Tiananmen Square? I recoil at the thought (I emotively retreat) of graffiti as “damage”, but warm to the thought of graffiti as representation, a learning artifact in and of itself. I recoil only because it is disquieting, but does this disquiet, discomfort imply a liminal approach, a boundary crossing? Doesn’t it at least signal a desire for one?

Isn’t this the sense of liminality we want to construct in our posthuman pedagogies in higher education? To hold no artifice so dear as to not be open to our interpretation, our mediation, and allow its strength to flow to us? With mobile, augmented reality, and perhaps an inoccuous graffiti application, perhaps we could counter our own cultures in an attempt to mediate a future of learning.

[vimeo 7318145]

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

2 thoughts on “The role of mischief in a posthuman pedagogy”
  1. great post, Michael, and very relevant to a conversation the SWOP team had this morning about the role of play, crisis and disruption in being a student. And I suggested this paper to Ali just yesterday, before I saw your post! Lots of ideas floating around in harmony just now, I guess. The postmodern idea of the ludic as “challenging the power of representation and totalising discourses” is important and related here, I think – that’s Usher and Edwards’ (our Edwards) description.

    Usher, R., & Edwards, R. (1994). Postmodernism and Education. London: Routledge. p.15

    1. Must be some sense of synchronicity happening here, Jen; all for the better. Perhaps the time is ripe for reintroducing the aspects of play, mischief, and crisis back into learning, as your paper argues. All of this certainly challenges the power and authority of representation. Perhaps it is a counterculture inclination, but I suspect there is real learning value in building an artifice (philsophy, a statue, even religion, any complex structure) and then knocking it all down with irreverence or playfulness or disregard. My only question is whether this notion of play or mischief actually demands a reverent starting point? To be the jester, or fool, or clown, one must have a firm appreciation of the present, of what is expected. I suspect that being a jester might not be a complete pedagogy, but rather Step 5 of a million (as if the posthuman would even sequence such a thing!).

      Thanks for the link, Jen! Will give it a look!

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