Posthumanist perspectives

The meaning of being human, and our relation to the world around us, is naturally of great importance to any conception of education. As a philosophy, posthumanism examines what it means to be human and whether being human extends beyond our bodies into the real and digital world. As a pedagogy, it opens possibilities to learn with animals and machines as partners. Technological advances blur the line between humans and the material world. For example, computer programs such as ‘chatbots’ that answer questions and deliver services through simulated conversations are designed to sound like humans and to evoke conversational responses from their users. In the domain of healthcare, we are seeing that humans seem capable of forming very real attachments to robots. Also, scientists might begin implanting microchips in humans to enhance their capabilities, which could improve lives, but could also have negative consequences for people and society. The potential of adopting a posthumanist approach to education lies in asking the provocative question of what students can learn from confronting these unsettling ideas of a less well-defined separation between humans and technology. The hope is that we can imagine many beneficial relationships between humans, the environment, animals and technology.

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