Psychoanalysis as Curriculum
As I am reading Reading Lolita, I am struck by the close relationship between education and psychological and emotional development. Nafisi states that one of the primary goals of her class is to get students to relate English literature to their current situation, but not their physical situation, rather their psychological and emotional one. To highlight my point …
(pg 19) "I formulated certain general questions for them to consider, the most central of which was how these great works of imagination could help us in our present trapped situation as women. We were not looking for blueprints, for an easy solution, but we did hope to find a link between the open spaces the novels provided and the closed ones we were confined to."
(pg 26) “Perhaps one way of finding out the truth was to do what we did: to try to imaginatively articulate these two worlds and, through that process, give shape to our vision and identity.”
(pg 41) “Lolita belongs to a category of victims who have no defense and are never given a chance to articulate their own story. … her life story is taken from her. We told ourselves we were in that class to prevent ourselves from falling victim to (that) crime.”
While in educational terms, Nafisi's class is a means to hone analytical skills, in psychological terms, I would argue that it is a form of psychoanalysis to promote better self-awareness, with the intent to create a healthier person (and ultimately, a healthier society). I find it difficult to tease the education apart from the psychology, as education seems a continual process of self-analysis – a process that fills us up with information then requires us to insert ourselves inside of that information, so that we may think differently about the world and our place in it.
Despite the connection between psychology and education, it seems we rarely frame curriculum in those specific terms. Might we say that the successful product of a national education is a “happy” society filled with “happy” people who have a sense of purpose and a means to contribute? Isn’t this truly at the heart of the four schools of thought on curriculum? Aren’t they simply different means to the same happy place? OR, is each approach trying to reach a fundamentally different place that has less to do with psychology and more to do with social order?