Max van Manen
On the Pedagogy of Secrecy and Momus Technologies
Secrets in young people’s lives play a role in the development of self-identity and the experience of intimacy and distance in social relations. The experience of personal secrets (kleine Geheimnisse) is the inevitable collateral of the emergence of inwardness or inner space. With the emergence of secrets in young people’s lives there comes into existence, what Simmel described as “the possibility of a second world alongside the manifest world.” This possibility is the potentiality of the hidden that separates (secretes) itself even as is shared or betrayed as this or that particular secret content. To keep a secret is to hide. But every secret hides more than its content. What is hidden in personal secrecy is the evanescence of interiority that harbors the singularity or alterity of the person. In learning when and how to keep and share secrets, young people learn to confer their sense of identity, independence, uniqueness, singularity and autonomy. But the social practice of secrecy is increasingly threatened. New Technologies of expression such as Facebook, MySpace and blogs, and mobile communication Technologies have become like Momus-windows of Greek mythology revealing ones innermost thoughts for all to see. Momus found fault with the perfection of the human made by Hephaestus since the human person lacked transparency. A Momus-window is “an imagined window in a person’s breast allowing one to see into his or her soul” (OED). What is the meaning of innerness that is associated with the experience of secrecy? Are Momus technologies profoundly altering the quality and nature of social relations and especially the possibility and need for self-identity, intimacy, and closeness amongst young people?
What is the pedagogy of the Hidden?
Max van Manen is Professor in Research Methods, Pedagogy, and Curriculum Studies in the Faculty of Education of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. His research interests include hermeneutic phenomenology, curriculum and pedagogical theory, qualitative research, language-based human science research, researching lived experience, pedagogical thoughtfulness and tact, and the formative signicance of childhood’s secrets. His many publications include The Tone of Teaching (2002); Writing in the Dark: Phenomenological Studies in Interpretive Inquiry (2002); and Childhood’s Secrets: Intimacy, Privacy, and the Self Reconsidered (with Bas Levering, 1996).