"I wanna be a SHIT-head!" Accepted and radical pedagogy

Authors: Readman, M.

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Place of Publication: London


Ostensibly a college-comedy, mobilising familiar tropes of slacking and drinking, Accepted (Steve Pink, 2006) actually constitutes a more or less coherent critique of Higher Education and a utopian proposition for curriculum reform. Perhaps with a nod to Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener, Justin Long’s Bartleby Gaines embodies implacable resistance to conventional college education (albeit, after having been rejected by all that he applied for), and through his fake institution, the South Harmon Institute of Technology, creates a diverse, pedagogically innovative community. In this community the curriculum is created by the students and, as Bartleby later claims to the accreditation board, “the students are the faculty”. This project of ‘deschooling’ chimes with Bennett, Kendall and McDougall’s “rhetorical provocation” of “a pedagogy of the inexpert” (2011) in which the power of “subject expertise” is ceded to/shared with the students. It also makes a plea for passion and creativity in learning, thus echoing Ken Robinson’s notion of the ‘element’ (2013). Despite the romantically triumphant finale, the film inevitably leaves tensions unresolved regarding the meaning of learning, the marketisation of Higher Education, and the conditions of possibility for a truly radical pedagogy.


Source: Manual