Education - An 'Impossible Profession'?: Psychoanalytic Explorations of Learning and Classrooms, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Education - An 'Impossible Profession'?

Psychoanalytic Explorations of Learning and Classrooms, 1st Edition

By Tamara Bibby


168 pages

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pub: 2010-09-02
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In classrooms and lectures we learn not only about academic topics but also about ourselves, our peers and how people and ideas interact. Education – An Impossible Profession extends the ways in which we might think about these processes by offering a refreshing reconsideration of key educational experiences including those of:

  • being judged and assessed, both formally and informally
  • adapting to different groups for different purposes
  • struggling to think under pressure
  • learning to recognise and adapt to the expectations of others.

This book brings psychoanalysis to new audiences, graphically illustrating its importance to understandings of teaching, learning and classrooms. Drawing on the author’s original research, it considers the classroom context, including policy demands and professional pressures, and the complexity of peer and pedagogic relationships and interactions asking how these might be being experienced and what implications such experiences might have for learners and teachers.

The discussions will be of interest not only to teachers, leading-learners and teacher-educators, but also to individuals interested in education policy, professional practice and theories of education.


"The structure is good and the use of the field notes, data, and handling of the soft psychoanalytic concepts are something to marvel over. All at once Bibby manages to get at the heart of our educational drama. The book is a delight and much needed." Deborah Britzman, York University, Canada

"I liked this book very much. It will not help us ‘cure’ the ills of the education system, but it does encourage us to think and act more mindfully about the ways in which we are being encouraged to act, as teachers and learners. One of its successes is that the author manages to bring extremely complex theory alive and put it hard to work in the task of bringing to light some of the less visible, unconscious dimensions of life in primary school classrooms. Bibby also never loses sight of the wider context, of policy and politics, culture and the family, and this strengthens the book enormously. Academic texts based on research do not always manage to be both erudite and grounded, but this one has, making it appealing for those already familiar with psychoanalytic theories, and for those readers for whom may be encountering newer territories. It will undoubtedly make an important contribution to the growing field of psychosocial studies in the field of education." Helen Lucey, Journal of Psycho-Social Studies

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. The Primary Task of the School? 3. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: The Lacanian Mirror in the Classroom 4. Accountability: Winnicott in the Playless Classroom 5. Tall Poppies and Shrinking Violets: Freud, Foulkes and the Nature of Groups 6. Group Processes: Bion and the Desire Not to Know 7. When Does the Lesson Start? Thoughts, Thinking, Learning and Knowing 8. But I Think Best with My Friends: Thinking in Relationships 9. Being ‘Good Enough’: Resisting Idealisations and Taking the Risk to ‘Fail Better’

About the Author

Tamara Bibby is a lecturer in Learning and Teaching at the Institute of Education, University of London, UK.

About the Series

Foundations and Futures of Education

Foundations and Futures of Education focuses on key emerging issues in education as well as continuing debates within the field. The series is inter-disciplinary, and includes historical, philosophical, sociological, psychological and comparative perspectives on the purposes and nature of education; increasing interdisciplinarity within the field; and the theory-practice divide.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Psychology