Implementing a ‘pedagogy of interruption’: worth the risk

Aleya James

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Scopus citations


    This paper explores the work of the educational theorist Gert Biesta in a setting outside of the context where it was originally developed. It aims to address how Biesta’s approach can help educators and policy makers question the philosophical underpinnings of education in the UAE and thereby start a conversation that is currently absent in this context. The paper comprises three elements: first, an overview of Biesta’s educational theory is given with a focus on ‘subjectification’ and his self-titled “pedagogy of interruption”. Secondly and in brief, I use Biesta’s framework of educational dimensions to analyse the philosophy underlying education in the United Arab Emirates using published government documents and media sources. Thirdly, I report a small-scale qualitative analysis of a specific educational space, three General Studies Courses in a UAE tertiary institution, to investigate the ‘risky’ possibilities involved in implementing a pedagogy of interruption. I find that despite a dominant policy discourse that discounts subjectification, there are significant opportunities for students to develop a strong sense of self. These opportunities are created by a small but strongly motivated group of teachers and taken up, on the whole enthusiastically, by students. However, my assertions are limited by a number of challenges which warrant further research. This paper hopes to provide a meaningful contribution to the limited discussion regarding the aims and expectations of education in the Middle East, and finds a pertinent philosophical grounding for liberal studies teaching in a tertiary context. As such the paper will be of value both to policy and decision makers in the Middle East and to teachers and trainers who teach in multi-cultural and international contexts.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)115-141
    Number of pages27
    JournalLearning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Dec 2014


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