Like Cattle for Slaughter? Reading Nervous Conditions' Pedagogical Interventions

Elizabeth A. Jackson


In this paper, Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions is approached as both a novel about education and as a creative work of pedagogical theory. Its motivating questions are: "What can Nervous Conditions contribute to discussions of pedagogical practice? What are its criticisms of conventional models of education, and what might it recommend in their stead?" The novel's educational narrative is read alongside the critical theories of Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux and bell hooks, and their interplay offers a new perspective from which to assess Dangarembga's pedagogical vision. Drawing heavily on textual detail, this paper identifies five major tenets of this vision – Learning as forgetting; The rule of engagement; 'Serving' dominant interests; Critical literacy; and Community, not competition – which form the basis of a liberatory pedagogy based on principles of social responsibility, community involvement, personal engagement, and anti-oppressive action.


Critcial Pedagogy; African Fiction

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