Disrupting the instrumentalization of education: unleashing the nomadic potential of learners through Freire and Rumi

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University of New Brunswick


This research is a critique of neoliberalism and its instrumentalizing effects on educational practice, and a philosophical exploration of an alternative vision of education that can be considered in its place. Aiming to counter what many critical educators suggest is the current neoliberal hold on education, this study elevates the works of Persian philosopher/poet Rumi and Brazilian critical pedagogue Paulo Freire as potential reprieves. These works are contextualized through the deterritorilizing language offered by Deleuze, and thus read through a lense that positions Rumi and Freire as engendering new flows and spaces of resistance. In this context, unpacking the Deleuzian nomad is a recurrent theme throughout this inquiry. While the nomadic quality of Freire’s texts advance the literature on critical pedagogy, its presence in Rumi’s works gives birth to the spiritual activist scholar. To reflect my own position as a spiritual activist scholar, I propose what I refer to as an imaginal curriculum that is decentred and encourages critical thinking, imagination, and spiritual growth. Here, Rumi’s seven stages of enlightenment and Freire’s critical pedagogical praxes serve as the backbone for my vision of an imaginal curriculum. This imaginal curriculum engages in an exercise of critical deconstruction that embraces a never-complete process of becoming and being. The space afforded by this philosophical analysis urges educators to seek alternative ways of becoming while furthering their understanding of neoliberalism. Exploring the historical and contemporary practices of Rumi and Freire also helps develop alternatives that promise new possibilities for teachers and learners as subjects of change.