This article explores the rhetorical underpinning of the pedagogics of unlearning by way of a consideration of three figures: first, “the ignorant schoolmaster” as constructed by Jacques Rancière in The Ignorant Schoolmaster; second, “the intimate schoolmaster,” as fantasized and feared by a diverse range of theories and theorists (but attention will specifically go to this figure as he features in a key moment of poststructuralism, namely Derrida's Dissemination); and third, “the ignorant sifu,” as a figure that exemplifies a strong impulse in many modern movements in approaches to martial arts, self-defense, and combat training. I represent these three figures by way Joseph Jacotot, Plato/Socrates, and Bruce Lee, using them as a way to explore an undecidability at the heart of the binary ignorance/knowledge. Ignorance, I maintain, has always been a key (even if unacknowledged) premise of the dominant textual and discourse approaches of poststructuralism, and there are good reasons why we might try to unlearn some of our dominant understandings of or assumptions about the political and cultural importance of pedagogy.

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