Thresholds, Liminality and Fruitful Chaos: Revolutionary Change in Education?

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Bigger, Stephen
  • Publisher: British Education Studies Association
  • Subject: L1 | LB | HN

Crossing the threshold between childhood and adulthood in his African fieldwork inspired the anthropologist Victor Turner to unpack the significance of the “betwixt and between” state he termed liminal, applying both to the individual and to the community. Convinced that social ritual had a crucial role of changing attitudes, he applied this to western society by emphasising processes of social change, particularly where they involved ceremony, performance and carnival. He viewed this process as healing social rifts and psychic disharmony, whether expressed in religious or secular language. Extending this, he argued for the importance of social drama/performance generally as an aspect of social change, which he argued can have a therapeutic role to people and communities. For this community action he coined the term communitas within a general process of ‘anti-structure’ (that is, pressure to change structure). This article applies this analysis to education, covering both the liminality of growing up, and the fruitful chaos of learning as process, to determine the extent to which it might contribute to educational philosophy and the management of change.
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    B. Vizedom and G.L.Caffee, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul S.Bigger 16.3.2010.

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