Citation Swanson DM (2005) Anti-oppressive Education and Imagination: Living in the 'place of the impossible'. 3rd International Conference on Imagination and Education, Imaginative Education Research Group, Vancouver Canada, 13.07.2005-16.07.2005. http://ierg.net/ierg2005/viewabstract.php?id=198
Abstract Despite the plethora of educational overtures to an era of post-modernism, post-structuralism and post-colonialism, our schooling systems are driven by rampant pragmatism, economic rationalism, and techno-centric utilitarianism that mitigates against a view of education as personal, psychological, social and political liberation. It evokes the question of what it would take to initiate and sustain a pedagogy of liberation in resistance to such oppressive globalizing dictates. For Althusser (1990), a pedagogy of liberation requires an imaginative leap. He avers that: 'to make the thought possible, one occupies the place of the impossible'. For Derrida (1978), 'the impossible' is the creative space and catalyst of invention, where the unthought might be thought. Foucault (1980) posits that, in resisting oppression, we need to inhabit places which are historically 'impossible' to be. Bernstein (2000) speaks of becoming 'aware that the mystery of discourse is not order, but the possibility of the unthinkable'. By drawing on teaching examples in a Vancouver-based social justice teacher education cohort, and on narratives of my research in schools in South Africa in contexts of poverty, I hope to initiate a dialogue on teaching towards liberation through teaching towards imagination. By contesting the developmental framework for learning, resisting the progressivist hold that pedagogic constructivism now enjoys within most teacher education programs, and incorporating an arts-based approach to learning, I propose a more sustainable and holistic view of education that offers hope for living in the place of the impossible.