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‘Virtuosity, Mediocrity and Creative Education’ by Dr. Ian Munday (NUI Galway)

November 11, 2019 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


November 11, 2019
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Tom Duddy Seminar Room
Philosophy Department Morrisroe House
Distillery Road,


Tsarina Doyle

About the Speaker

Dr. Ian Munday is Senior Lecturer in Educational Philosophy in the School of Education at NUI Galway. Ian’s research activities testify to an engagement with philosophical issues in education, particularly those concerned with teaching and learning. His publications have tended to focus on various approaches to performatives and performativities and demonstrate the significance of these ideas for education.  The themes explored in these terms include race, gender, authority and the language of schooling. Here, philosophical ideas are treated in regard to their relevance to the details of educational practice. Ian has also written on the themes of creativity and problem-solving. Ian is currently Convenor of Network 13 Philosophy of Education at ECER and Convenor of the Irish branch of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain.


The popular understanding of creativity within the study of education tends to include the notion that everybody is creative and that one can draw a distinction between little “c” (or “common”) and big “C” (or “high”) creativity. Here “Creativity” talk resonates with other popular discourses around inclusion and well-being – creativity should no longer be the domain of the talented few, and being creative can make us feel better. The commonly assumed connection between creativity and the arts is sublimed as the former is pictured as both ubiquitous and germane to all forms of activity. The view of creativity outlined above tends to be presented as “progressive” and vital for social and economic survival in the 21st century. “Conservative” opposition to it can be found in the work of the philosopher Roger Scruton who stresses the value of creative genius, and the importance of being exposed to it, in the face of what he sees as an increasingly degraded culture. In this paper I try and show ways in which the oppositions created by this disagreement deconstruct. Drawing on Nietzsche’s discussion of “untimeliness” I argue that the popular conception of creativity is only progressive in the most limited sense and contributes to conserving a nihilistic social imaginary in regard to the future. I then consider ways in which virtuosity is not without its virtues when it comes to social progress and that dulling its flame paves the way for an enforced mediocrity that maintains the status quo. Finally, I introduce Dewey and Derrida to the discussion to consider the possibility that though creativity is in certain senses ubiquitous this need not take the anodyne form presented in the literature on education that makes this case.

Venue: Tom Duddy seminar room, Philosophy Building, Morrisroe House, 19  Distillery Road

All Welcome!