Dear Learner: shame and the dialectics of enquiry

Judy Lattas

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In this paper I contemplate the potential of Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) to lead the teaching of humanities in Australian universities. Are there internal constraints on its happy unfolding for a future of the humanities, true to its intellectual and political projects? In its favour, the proponents of EBL cite an Enlightenment ideal of 'enquiry' that puts the highest value on creative, open ended and self-determined thought - a pursuit of knowledge that is not limited by the interests of any professional or economic class. These same proponents of EBL, however, are often in university positions assigned the task of bringing a more instrumentalist approach to the pursuit of knowledge. Is it all just a case of Orwellian doublespeak? Probyn (2005) writes about shame as a powerful and productive state that enables us to reappraise our actions and our values. In my paper I call up two moments of shame in the recent pursuit of learning and teaching excellence at my university, in order to explore the politics of an emerging rhetoric in this arena: that of 'learning without teaching.'
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of the Humanities
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Copyright Common Ground and The Author/s. Article originally published in International journal of the humanities, 6:11, pp. 85-94. This version archived on behalf of the author/s and is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission must be sought from the publisher to republish or reproduce or for any other purpose.


  • enquiry based learning
  • learning and teaching
  • audit culture
  • humanities
  • Australian universities


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