1st Edition

Relational Psychoanalysis at the Heart of Teaching and Learning How and Why it Matters

By Lissa D’Amour Copyright 2020
    310 Pages
    by Routledge

    310 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book introduces the insights of contemporary relational psychoanalysis to educational thought and uses them as the foundation for a comprehensive model for understanding and informing teaching and learning practice. The model integrates what we know about conscious thought, motivation, and the physical body and translates these understandings in ways that are meaningful and relevant to the circumstances of practicing teachers, school leaders, and teachers of teachers. It will be of great interest to them and to those educational scholars whose attentions turn to the exigencies of the current era.

    Echoing calls for inclusivity, the book stands against admonishing anyone on the right way to be a person. Instead it emphasises understanding and, in understanding, practicing well. Readers will gain a deeper appreciation of the nature of sense-making and awareness and of the practical implications of cognition as embodied, life forms as non-linear dynamic systems, and relationships as core to human development and classroom life.

    It was Einstein who, in a letter to Freud, once asked for an educational solution to the menace of war. Today’s urgencies – of nations divided, diminishing planetary resources, and certain ecological disasters – press for wisdom beyond our collective habit. Thankfully the once-elusive mysteries of life, mind, learning, and learning systems now yield in ways to help shape answers to Einstein’s question. Relational psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, educational theorists, teachers, and those who work with them will be intrigued by the convergences and heartened at the possibilities. 


    Prologue: in which the author positions herself

    Part I: The relational turn

    1. Distinguishing the relational perspective

    2. Psychoanalysis in education

    3. Voices at education’s helm

    Part II: A dialectic theory of learning: self, other, and the transitional object

    4. Meaning-making and the curricular object

    5. Of minds and bodies: a few orienting tenets

    6. Becoming self: storied in relationality, steeped in affect

    7. Theorising learning: philosophies, understandings, and perspectives over the years

    8. Dialectics arrested: on learning’s refusal

    Part III: Into practice: for meaningful inclusion

    9. Capacity, trust, and meaning

    10. Rethinking twenty-first-century orthodoxy

    11. Classrooms as holding environments

    12. The provision of curricular objects: teaching for discernments that matter

    13. Selves and witnesses: teacher know your story

    Epilogue: through angst and grace, in this together




    Lissa D’Amour recently retired from the Faculty of Education, University of Calgary. Her 15 years working with prospective and practicing teachers followed upon and benefited from 25 years of school-teaching success in a variety of everyday contexts, from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Today, as an independent scholar, Lissa continues to work at bringing relational psychoanalytic understanding into curriculum theory and, through curriculum theory, into the lived experiences and practical lives of teachers and their students.

    "Sophisticatedly simple, this book is a 'sanctuary for the mutual meeting of minds' (quoted in this volume), one wherein apparent antinomies – progressivism v. traditionalism, theory v. practice, scientific biology v. humanist philosophy – provoke not bifurcation but stunning synthesis in Lissa D’Amour’s theory of teaching and learning. Panoramic yet detailed, playful while earnest, joyful and discerning and attuned (despite past trauma, despite the dire present in which we are embedded), this book (itself a transitional object, see within) rides relational psychoanalysis to destinations solitary and shared, sublime and strategic, a sustained - and sustaining - 'a-ha' educational experience of authenticity and presence." - William F. Pinar, Professor and Canada Research Chair, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

    "Lissa D’Amour has reached a brilliant and unexpected conclusion: Relational Psychoanalysis provides ideas and values that can be used to structure a humanistically-informed way of thinking about what it means to educate people, and how to do it. D’Amour encourages people, in learning, to become ever more familiar and accepting of what they find in themselves, and between themselves and others. She argues against imposing faddish values and techniques from outside. I don’t know enough about education to comment on Curriculum Theory; I am a psychoanalyst, one of the relational psychoanalysts that D’Amour cites. But with that proviso, I believe I can see that D’amour’s book is a tour de force, a brave and creative contribution to Curriculum Theory, and to all of education." - Donnel B. Stern, Ph.D., William Alanson White Institute of Psychoanalysis, New York