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Failure as a Taboo in Pedagogy? On Repressing, Dethematizing and Working Through a Constant Companion

Failure seems to belong to the field of education. Education as a practice proves to be ›risky business‹, which can only be planned to a limited extent and often enough fails. Thus, failure is subject to a taboo in pedagogy; its uncertainty and its disruptive character are emphasized. This paper explores how failure is discussed in educational theory and practice and which forms of discussing pedagogical failure are tabooed. These specific forms of tabooing can be traced back to the object (i.e. failure) and the specific mode of reflection (i.e. discourses of educational theory). The paper argues that the taboo over failure in educational theory is just as multilayered and contradictory as it is necessary in forming a specific disciplinary identity, and that the taboo ›failure‹ should therefore by no means be abandoned or broken.

In: Vierteljahrsschrift für wissenschaftliche Pädagogik