Time and the Rhythms of Emancipatory Education. Rethinking the Temporal Complexity of Self and Society | Michel Alhadeff-Jones

Michel Alhadeff Jones Imagem Rythmic Intelligence
Michel Alhadeff-Jones | Imagem: Rythmic Intelligence

Michel Alhadeff-Jones is a young researcher who lives between Geneva (Switzerland) and New York (USA). Despite his youth, this book is an essay of impressive maturity. This work, published in the prestigious Routledge publishing house, constitutes an important contribution in the field of education and beyond; it will from now on be an unavoidable reference among researchers, educators and managers who deal with time field and educational rhythms, due to the depth, originality and rigor of its analyses and proposals.

Alhadeff-Jones has an interdisciplinary and extensive background that has facilitated the promising task that has led to this work. In fact, he has been trained in Geneva, Paris and New York. From this perspective, it is important to highlight their knowledge and mastery of time issues in French and English. Here we find an additional value of this work: to put into dialogue the traditions of research developed in French and English, creating fertile intersections and crossroads between both contexts, and thus overcoming this tendency of reciprocal ignorance between the English and French languages, which still survives today.

The book has a clear and very didactic writing, which facilitates the progressive unfolding and deepening of the different themes worked on. The author knows how to take us by the hand in a walk that is neither easy nor simple. Rigor, exigency and precision are central features of this contribution, since its author makes every effort to present in as much detail as possible a great variety of theories, approaches, paradigms, historical contexts, pedagogical formats, experiences and methodologies that have in common the interest towards temporalities and the rhythms of education.

The effort of systematization and articulation of the work is evident when reviewing the contents of the book. The first part, composed of three chapters, is devoted to the study of time, both from a general perspective and within the educational sciences. The first chapter offers a multidisciplinary presentation on the time and plural ways in which it has been theorized, defined and understood in philosophy, physics, biology and the human sciences. Alhadeff-Jones, guided by Edgar Morin and his theory of complexity, highlights the need to overcome partial, simplistic and seemingly opposite visions in order to move towards integrative, creative and innovative epistemologies. The review focuses on the Western tradition of both Europe and North America.

The second chapter deals with the theorization of educational temporalities, based on the objective of constructing a multi-referential theory of educational time. To this end, four approaches are reviewed: chronometric, referring to the measurement of time and calendars, which understand time as cyclical and symmetric; chronographic, which has to do with qualitative dimensions and the use of stories, histories and narratives; chronological, which looks at the past and the sequential temporal organization of events; and chronosophical, which questions the future and considers anticipation, and the planning of future times. Education is understood as the organization of processes in which time constitutes a central dimension, where complementary, antagonistic and contradictory temporalities converge.

The third chapter deals with the functions and meanings of temporal conditioning in education, a subject that is presented from five perspectives: the notion of temporal conditioning; the socio-historical assumptions that shape the influence of the history of temporal norms and social times on education in areas such as economics and religion; the institutional perspective, which gives content to the symbolic and functional dimensions of time; the normative aspects of time; and finally the concept of rhythm, conceived as a useful tool for describing, theorizing and renewing temporal phenomena. This chapter, therefore, discusses human temporalities in the historical and social contexts that give them meaning and from which they can be fully understood.

The second part of the book covers chapters four through seven. The fourth chapter explores the temporal organization of education throughout history. Sacred and traditional times are analyzed in three specific historical contexts: Jewish education, centered on cultural memory, liturgy and repetition; education in classical Greece, articulated around the moral virtues and conservative, disciplinary and artistic values of music education; and Christian religious education in the Middle Ages, focused on the monastic and theocratic order. This historical journey is completed with a commentary on the educational temporalities of the modern age, which forgets the religious time to glorify the government of the subjects and to highlight the worldly and interested time of the merchants.

Chapter five contrasts two educational ideals that were competing in the social landscape at the end of the 19th century: temporal efficiency and harmonious rhythms. The first model has its origin in the industrial revolution, which favored the emergence of productive time, a central element of the values of capitalism, efficiency and an appreciation of speed and speed. This model had a strong influence on the origin and development of European national school systems. The second model has its roots in the German Enlightenment and Romanticism, and it gives rise to the eurythms of Jacques-Dalcroze, Rudolf Bode and Rudolf Steiner, which propose alternative visions to the objectified temporalities of nascent capitalism.

The sixth chapter advances on the historical presentation that characterizes the second part of the book, and focuses on formal education in the second half of the 20th century. Here we find the instructional, didactic and methodically planned times. This new scientific and didactic panorama has relevant implications in the curriculum and in the professional development of teaching, within the expansion of studies on chronobiology and chronopsychology. In this way, the study of the biological and psychological rhythms of students helps to shape the areas of school organization and curriculum design.

The last chapter of the second part presents us with the rhythms and times of lifelong learning, adult education and vocational training, analyzing the complex dynamics of continuity and discontinuity that occur in the pathways of adults in formation throughout the different cycles of human life. The experiences of temporary fragmentation and discontinuity are analyzed in different spheres, including dual education, halfway between the formal education system and the experience of daily life and work.

The third part of the book constitutes the most original section, in which the author presents his own thinking, always starting from the erudition and exegesis of relevant authors, who feed his complex, systemic, holistic and emancipatory vision of social and educational temporalities. Chapters eight and nine deepen the concept of emancipatory education, a perspective that allows us to criticize and overcome the temporary alienations that threaten education in modern societies. In the face of social acceleration, urgent needs and fast-moving ways of proceeding, the author opposes a liberating perspective, which implies a certain way of conceiving and designing times, both in broad socio-cultural contexts and in specific educational fields. Alhadeff-Jones attempts to formalize and describe the rhythmic features of education, always at the service of overcoming temporal alienation, reflected in external and imposed times, in times of social and economic efficiency, in institutional and normative times, in traditional and reified times.

Chapter ten develops the concepts of criticality and emancipation, based on influences from Paulo Freire, Jacques Rancière, Jack Mezirow and Gaston Pineau. This chapter is aimed at constructing a rhythmanalytic theory of education at the service of individual and social emancipation.

The final two chapters explore the movements, patterns and cycles of emancipation, linking all this to the idea of transgression. This proposal is illustrated with biographical narratives, which come from the biographical workshops carried out by the author in university contexts. Henry Lefebvre’s theory of moments serves the author to give content to the last chapter of the book, which proposes to conceive the theory of education as a “moment” at the service of a theory of education envisaged as a rhythmic, lucid and open transgression.

This is a book that constitutes a real challenge for the reader. It is not a superficial work nor does it aim to be a simplifying handbook for the introduction of educational temporalities. This work demands and claims the profile of a critical, demanding and dedicated reader. Time studies are an emerging, changing and difficult area of research and reflection, closely linked to the social and geographical contexts in which discourses on temporalities and their implications for individuals, groups and institutions are deployed.

As a final comment, we have a question: Does Alhadeff-Jones develop a discourse that is too subject-centered? Are more committed perspectives needed, in line with the emancipatory intention that animates this book? In this sense, we miss discussions on temporalities related to current issues such as gender, inequalities, power, neoliberalism and cognitive capitalism.


José González-Monteagudo – Doutor em Pedagogia pela Universidade de Sevilha. Professor do Departamento de Teoria e História da Educação e Pedagogia Social, Faculdade de Ciências da Educação, Universidade de Sevilha (Espanha). E-mail: [email protected] . https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3094-8092

Referências desta Resenha

ALHADEFF-JONES, Michel. Time and the Rhythms of Emancipatory Education. Rethinking the Temporal Complexity of Self and Society. London: Routledge, 2017. Resenha de: GONZÁLEZ-MONTEAGUDO, José. Revista Brasileira de Pesquisa (Auto)Biográfica. Salvador, v. 07, n. 20, p. 237-239, jan./abr. 2022. Acessar publicação original [DR]


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