Michel Serres (2012, p. 24) has marshaled a marvelous image to convey the impression of present-day radical transformations: “I see our institutions shining with a glow similar to that of constellations which astronomers tell us are long since dead.” Does it obtain also for the school? In his most recent book Gert Biesta (2021, p. 11) astutely recommends caution about the rhetoric of rapid change and transformation and, as I read him, his “view for the present” is also an invitation to take care of the very existence of the school as something more than the shimmer of a past phenomenon. In this horizon, I will dialogue with Biesta’s insights and intuitions, by developing my argument in three steps. First, I will complement his appropriation of Roberts’s (2014) idea of the impulse society with Barber’s (2007) notion of the infantilizing ethos of consumerist capitalism, which undermines democracy and disrupts education. Secondly, I will dovetail some motifs of Pier Paolo Pasolini (1990), who spoke of the consumerist society as the new and total form of fascism, and of Alberto Moravia (1951, 1964), who has helped us to see fascism as ‘de-worlding’ indifference (in the triple meaning of a cancellation of the ‘I’ in the anonymity of conformism, of the apathy of people who are unable to bring their subject-ness into play and of the deletion of differences). This Pasolini-Moravia line will be conducive to addressing consumerist society as a “system of indifference” (see also Esposito, 1978). Against this backdrop – and this will be my third step – I will appropriate Biesta’s argument about the “urgency of the democratic work of education” by construing teaching in terms of a gesture of non-indifference and, thereby, as an ‘anti-fascist’ gesture (in the aforementioned, possibly idiosyncratic, acceptation of fascism). Additionally, the idea of pointing as the fundamental educational gesture, which Biesta develops via Prange (2012a, 2012b), will be redescribed in the vocabulary of non-indifference. Finally, I will indicate what this view may imply for teacher education. Pasolini introduced his insights into the homogenization caused by consumerist society with the poetic image of the “disappearance of the fireflies”: can we say that the actual presence of the school, when it is a place for (educational) gestures of non-indifference, is not so much the glow of a dead constellation but rather a re-appearance of fireflies in dark times?
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