The ethical significance of 'being seen'

Andrew Madjar, University of Auckland

The current pandemic has greatly interrupted the ways that we are physically present in teaching. Prior to the pandemic, we took it for granted that teaching involved both seeing others as well as being-seen in our own corporeal presence. Now, we find that our presence is mediated through a lens and a screen. So, this pandemic has created an opportunity to consider the significance of our embodiment, or disembodiment, in the life of teaching.

In my presentation, I want to take up this opportunity by reflecting on the ethical significance of being-seen. To do so, I will present an anecdote from a teacher that describes her lived experience of being-seen. In the first half of my presentation, I will describe the significance that being-seen has on the teacher's reason for action. In the second-half, I will further explore this phenomenon through Charles Taylor's discussion of shame. I will argue that being-seen is ethically significant because it provides a hermeneutical provocation. The experience of being-seen helps us to articulate, and consequently re-evaluate, our understandings of who we are and how we should live alongside students.


  Bio: Andrew Madjar was a primary school teacher in New Zealand for 10 years and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland. He is secretary of PESA and is Editorial Administrator for ACCESS: Contemporary Issues in Education. His current research explores moral uncertainty in the lives of teachers. His research uses hermeneutic and phenomenological philosophy to develop understandings of pedagogy and practice that are grounded in lived experience. 

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