The Art of Straying: Benjamin on Distraction and the Informal Education of the City – Educational Theory – article

The Art of Straying: Benjamin on Distraction and the Informal Education of the City

Tyson E. Lewis | Educational Theory

2019-10-24

In this article, Tyson E. Lewis argues for an alternative form of educational attunement beyond attentiveness. Discourses and practices of schooling emphasize being attentive as a primary educational virtue. This emphasis casts distraction as either the negation of attention or its deterioration. In either case, distraction lacks educational use and, as such, must be overcome through the cultivation of attention. Yet this approach to the question of attention versus distraction misses how distraction contains within itself a different kind of educational potentiality, a different kind of educational attunement. In an attempt to carve out space and time for distraction, Lewis turns to the writings of Walter Benjamin who offers up a more complex view of distraction than is presently found in educational philosophy. In particular, Benjamin argues that cities are not only places of negative forms of distraction (as mere diversions), but also places for cultivating productive distraction in the form of an open and alert attunement to new ways of experiencing and perceiving the relationship between world and self. Cities, for Benjamin, become educational spaces that teach lessons in a distracted form of life, the culmination of which is the creativity expressed in what he refers to as “the art of straying.”

Bookmark

Your comment

Scroll to Top