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Pedagogy for a Liquid Time

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Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman characterizes our time as a time of “liquid modernity” (Bauman in Liquid modernity. Polity Press, Cambridge, 2000). Rather than settled meanings, categories, and frames of reference Bauman contends that meaning is always in flux, open ended rather than closed. Given Bauman’s assessment, pedagogies that are directed towards finding, accepting, or imposing meaning come up short. They offer closed, ‘finished’ meanings instead of an examination of the ongoing, open ended, process of meaning making. What might a pedagogy for a liquid time look like? This is the animating question of this essay. Pedagogically we are interested in this ambiguous space between paradigms of meaning. Rather than resolution or the accommodation and building of new schema (or the acceptance of established schema), we explore the need for constant schema building and renewal—the necessity of living in a state of perpetual emergence. Zygmunt Bauman’s notion of “liquid modernity” suggests that anomalies, rather than exceptions, are the norm; we are living with permanent uncertainty, needing to hold all schemes lightly (Bauman 2000).

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  1. Source unknown.

  2. We use the Lacanian notion of “the Real” to refer to that which exceeds the control of one’s will.

  3. If concepts symbolize a manicured, well-hedged landscape, Being is symbolized by a vast, uncontained, and wild forest.


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Correspondence to Kevin Gary.

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Green, L., Gary, K. Pedagogy for a Liquid Time. Stud Philos Educ 35, 47–62 (2016).

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