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Dark Play: On an Alternative Politics of Aspiration

posted on 2023-05-24, 05:05 authored by Mary Ann HunterMary Ann Hunter, Abbey MacDonaldAbbey MacDonald
This chapter focuses on dark play and why it matters. It queries what we mean by aspiration and troubles the normative assumptions of what constitutes good education. It seeks a new relational mapping of creativity and play when it comes to thinking about the purpose of schooling—and takes a creative and critical philosophy approach (Rodriguez 2016) to access an ethical perspective on dark play and its effect on us as educational researchers: particularly on how we might think and do schooling differently, and how we may re-imagine educational reform. It entertains the possibility of creatively attuning to play that is usually judged unsociable, disruptive and unruly, and investigating how it may affect and in-form (Massumi 2002) our understanding of the good educational act (Biesta 2010). In raising these questions and possibilities, we seek not to romanticise the voice of the voiceless (Lather 2001) but to render an example of a young person’s dark play as a critical event that interrupts a contemporary politics of aspiration. Our concern is whether it is possible to recover “aspiration politics” from an ideologically inflected mapping to school standards and achievements to understand, instead, more nuanced possibilities.


Publication title

Playing with Possibilities


P O'Connor, C Gómez






Faculty of Education


Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Place of publication

United Kingdom



Rights statement

Copyright 2017 Peter O'Connor, Claudia Rozas Gomez and contributors

Repository Status

  • Restricted

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