Mujadad Zaman
Augustinian patriarchs and palegianist praxis: redefining the possibility of agency within educational studies

Author: Mujadad Zaman, University of Cambridge.

Title: “Augustinian patriarchs and palegianist praxis: redefining the possibility of agency within educational studies”

This paper is a contribution towards the perennial question of agency in social thought as well as in educational discourse. The problem is approached by firstly coaching the principle tenants of the issue within an early Christian theological controversy between St Augustine (orthodoxy) and Pelagian (heterodoxy) i.e. the contestation over the necessity of Divine Grace and freedom of individual will. Whereas Augustianism stresses the possibility of human agency as only within the confines of divinity, Pelagianism stresses the importance of relying on sui generis individual reason and agential will. I correspondingly argue that where most contemporary approaches to agency in social thought suppose agential efficaciousness by virtue of cognitive functions (critical realism), linguistic positioning (Bernstein) or cultural awareness (Freire), they confront an Augustinian Impasse by directing praxis as an enclave of broader structural limitations (e.g. Bourdieu). This is often because the literature separates sociation (to act) from ontology (to being) and as such social agency is not sui generis to the individual, creating distance between the individual and the social occasion of agency. To remedy this, it is argued one ought to employ the Pelagianist Heterodoxy that is educative praxis. Here we approach the question from the opposite direction, by starting from ontology not sociology. Educative praxis consequently emphasises a way of directing the importance of the individual’s capabilities by placing her a priori distinctiveness as stressed by individual will and reason. This new framework is hoped to approach the problem of agential power within educational studies by presenting key questions and theoretical avenues on how to inform and impart educative praxis.

The DARE Collaborative is a research partnership focused on the digital arts in education, led by the UCL Institute of Education and the British Film Institute. It has a membership of university researchers, teachers and educators in cultural organisations with an interest in arts, media, culture and new literacies in the context of education and digital media.
Centro en Investigación Avanzada en Educación