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Diffracting through Diffraction in the Round Table Session at the AERA Conference 2019

At the annual meeting of the AERA (American Educational Research Association) in Toronto this week, we presented our paper that has just been published.


It was a ‘round table session’. As you can see from the photograph these sessions are really difficult to manage as presenter. You can’t use powerpoint and people on one side of the table struggle to hear people on the other side. So we thought it is pretty pointless to talk for 15 minutes and had therefore developed an experiential activity. First, Viv gave an overview of our paper and explained briefly how we use ‘propositions’. We don't use it in the traditional philosophical sense. In propositional logic, a proposition is a sentence which is either true or false, so it has a truth value.

Instead, in our paper we take up Stephanie Springgay’s proposal of a proposition, which avoids prescription and resists a rush to application. Springgay (2015, p.78) suggests that a “proposition versus an instruction triggers conditions of emergence activating self-organizing potential”. Quoting Alfred North Whitehead, Truman and Springgay (2016, p. 259) argue that a proposition is a “new kind of entity” – a “hybrid between potentialities and actualities”. Propositions are both actual and speculative and although they can be true or false, according to Whitehead, the key idea is that even if they were false (in the sense of not conforming to the world order), they offer potentialities in terms of affecting those who experience them (Truman and Springgay, 2016, p. 259). Propositions do not offer information or prescribed rules and pre-planned directions to follow, but “gesture to how they could potentialize” (Truman and Springgay, 2016, p. 259). We then handed out the two lists of propositions as they are diffracted through the text. We asked them to work in groups of 3 and for 5 minutes go through some of the propositions and let them get excited about a few of them. We then invited them to think the ‘here’ and ‘now’ of this pedagogical event with these propositions. How would you express them? What are the binaries that are queered? Rather than asking for feedback, groups were asked to give a little taste of the new produced in their group.

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