Learning Journal
Fall Semester 2020


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DES // 500 —— Political Ecology
DES // 540 —— Research Studio
DES // 520 —— Agathokakological Tendencies

ART // 520 —— Teaching Artists


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// Week 2 //

Monday 8/31

Started reading Rancière‘s “The Ignorant Schoolmaster” today and I feel like I see a lot of parallels between this first chapter, “An Intellectual Adventure”, and some of the early chapters of “Teaching as a Subversive Activity.” Most notably the notion that it is more important to teach students how to learn than what. To kill off the “guess what I’m thinking model.” This text has also really made me consider the empowerment behind teaching someone or leading someone to the ability to question and learn without being stifled by the authority of the educator. “There is stultification whenever one intelligence is subordinated to another.” Towards the end of the chapter it is mentioned that this type of self teaching/learning has been going on forever and to me it feels like we are walking into a new incarnation of it with this jump to digial learning and how that may blur what is considered education. In what ways is sitting through a zoom lecture different that learning something through YouTube? Is it the content covered or is it the confirmation of what you have learned in the form of a diploma? Who is to say you can’t kit-bash your own education through platforms like YouTube, Skillshare, Patreon, etc? Esspecially when so many designers/artists are self taught. Maybe we just have to remove the gatekeepers of our industries first.  

Thursday 9/3

Completed Chapters two, The Ignorant One’s Lesson, and three, Reason Between Equals this evening. In a section of the second chapter called “The Island of the Book” Rancière notes that the first rule of universal teaching is that one must learn something (in Jacotot’s case, Télémaque) and then equate everything else to that one thing. This was compared to the methods of the Old Master wherein a student would learn one thing before being told they could move to the next, and then the next after that, etc. The methods of the Old Master seem to align with that of traditional art and design schooling where students begin with foundations and progress from there, as well as with the Bauhaus model where students start at the outer ring and work their way in. I wonder though how design educators could break from this. Would it be a matter of teaching foundations alongside other classes throught the tenure of the student? Or would educators need to instead create/instruct students to create some sort of Télémaque. Could that be a text provided at the beginning of each course (likely related to the course) or would it better serve students if it was a collection of design examples found or scrapped from history/online/from books by the students. Its is my thought that this collevtive, collection of design examples could be the Télémaque that serves as an equalty of intelligence because was created wihout the input of the instructor, therefore not imposing an inequality of intelligence. I wonder too how you can teach something like design without using the language of the Old Masters; would that mean teaching design without ever speaking in the language of design as it stands today?

Another important concept from this chapter want the idea that “everything is in everything”, that there is equal intelligence in all things we create and that in general there is no hierarchy of intellectual capacity. Meaning that no one being is inherenty more intelligent than another human being, in stead intelligence manifests based on the amount of energy put into wanting to learn. And that if students/people realize that they are equal with all others then they can be emancipated from the stultification of the Old Masters and can carve their own path forward to the “land of knowledge”.

Additionally this chapter speaks to the Socratic method of teaching and how Socrates interrogates in order to instruct while the emancipator interrogates to be instructed. The ingorant master does not ask questions to see if students learned what they wanted the students to learn but instead ask questions to see that students are in fact learning. The ignorat master asks questions to see what students have uncovered while teachign themselves. I wonder how an ignorant master can teach a subject that they are not truly ignorant in, and how they could reduce themself to the level of ignorance. It seems that Rancière would call for the educator to do nothing more than verify that the work has been done and that autonomous learning is taking place, but what does this do for things like critique? Do you remove critique all together? This seems rash as I have learned more in some crits than I had all semester. Maybe instead this calls for critiques only amongst peers, critiques amongst individuals of comparative intelligence where one is less likely to stultify another. 

Chapter three delves into notions of equalty that I would likely better understand if I was not at the breaking point of my ability to stare at, and read from my computer screen (if only printer ink wasn’t so damn expensive). As my mind lapsed I did pick out a handful of ideas. First in the section that spoke of man being a will served by intellegence it was noted that for the universal method to be sucessful one must seek to repeat and seek to re-see what they have seen and that this form of repitition is the most frequent mode of exercising intelligence. Also making note that repetition is boring and often gives way to the vice of laziness. I think though that this drices home a lot of what this chapter gets at in regards to the equality of intelligence. Submitting to the fact that we are not all born equal but that through repitition equality of intelligence can be cultivated and maintained. That the best of classis “genius poets” were only so through hard work and repitition. It is also worth pointing out the bit about the ambitious losing waht they have gained in the way of intelectual power by not judging themselves as inferior to anyone and that it is better to judge oneself as equal to everyone else and everyone else as equal to oneslef. 

Friday 9/4

// Class Note Dump //
DISCUSSION AROUND CLASS “RULES”
Can you have improvisation (freedom of ideas/spontaneous invention) with rules?
Can you have hierarchy and equality? Is it better to have a moderator than hierarchy?
Rules should be minimal.
Assuming that this exercise of class rules is based loosely on the immaculate heart college rules, then maybe we should consider that these rules are less about being hard-and-fast rules and are more so guidelines for a successful practice realized in a collective space. The IHC rules feels like more of a manifesto than a set of rules. Also “there should be new rules next week”  really implies that these rules are flexible, evolving, plastic.
Minimal rule making/minimal parenting
Professionalization versus students following their own practice?
Free classroom in an unfree society?
Knowledge growth and self exploration
  • cost of education as exchange for hard professional skills
  • how does that affect students or curriculum that skews more towards the theoretical or free/self-expression?
What are the skills necessary to be successful within a specific context?
Conceptual thinking and hard skills are two sides of the same coin and need to exist together.
  • Can you implement hard skills/technical skills through projects/coursework that is more conceptual in nature?
  • Can you implement course work in which students only realize they have learned hard skills/technical skills in hindsight?
  • Do you emancipate through conceptual means while also requiring the use of certain programs in order to implement hard skills without stultifying?

IGNORANT SCHOOLMASTER CH1 DISCUSSION
Is this not about teaching astrophysics and more about teaching someone that they have the ability to learn/teach themself astrophysics based on the intelligence they already possess?
Equality of intelligence between two beings moderated by a third intelligence (Télémaque)?
Fact vs meaning?  The Télémaque is a fact? Is something a fact because it is present in the physical world? Our interactions with the text both happen as a fact, we can all read the book and it is all the same book which make that a fact. You may come to different conclusions or choose to not believe, but the fact remains that the book remains the same to all of us?
Hyper-normalization argues that governments, financiers, and technological utopians have, since the 1970s, given up on the complex "real world" and built a simpler "fake world" run by corporations and kept stable by politicians. (Wikipedia)
Unchanging product of intelligence in the form of a text?
Scientism – the promotion of science as the best or only objective means by which society should determine normative and epistemological values. The term scientism is generally used critically, implying an unwarranted application of science in situations considered not amenable to application of the scientific method or similar scientific standards. (Wikipedia)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/ethiopian-kids-teach-themselves-with-tablets/2013/01/18/7f343a3a-4a1d-11e2-b6f0-e851e741d196_story.html
https://copenhagensuborbitals.com/about-us/
https://www.kaospilot.dk/
https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/teaching-to-transgress?cm_mmc=ggl-_-COM_DSAETA_SRPs-_-naa-_-naa&gclid=Cj0KCQjwy8f6BRC7ARIsAPIXOjg8C9tTq-5HPJprEZvjrQmtYOmTidsDErpZHuRgFmVeMCPXsfnZB0saAt3PEALw_wcB
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fny99f8amM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism

>>> Draft core questions about the book once finished <<<


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// Week 3 //

Thursday 9/10

Completed the final two chapters of “The Ignorant Schoolmaster”. The fourth chapter, “The Society of Contempt” furthered thoughts on equality as well as nitions of contempt it also spoke of politics and rhetoric which felt timely in how I read it. In the section title “The Law of Gravity” Rancière speaks of individuality of intelligence, noting that it is indivisible and cannot belong to any group because if it did then it would cease to be an individual intelligence. This notion reminds me of something a mentor once told me (although I can’t remember who), that it is valuable to speak your mind because something that may seem obvious enough to you for you not to say it may not be obvious at all to someone else. This makes me think that we are all in control of our own uniquely equal intelligence that is/are defined by our lived experiences. Rancière continues making note that our immaterial minds cannot be linked together except by aking them submit to the laws of matter. Meaning that in order to link two intelligences there must be something that lives in the material world (outside of the mind?) — in this case Télémaque. There is also the idea that “everything happens as though the intelligence lived in a double world.” (77) One world for each of the inteligences linked together through the material mediator.

In a section titled “Inequality’s Passion” contempt is brought into view. “Social evil does not come from the first person who bethought himself to say, “This is mine.” It comes from the first person who bethought himself to say, “You are not my equal.” Inequality is not the consequence of anything; it is a primitive passion.”(80) “It is easier to compare oneself, to establish social exchange as that swapmeet of glory and contempt where each person receives a superiority in ex change for the inferiority he confesses to. Thus the equality of reasonable beings vacillates within social inequality.”(80) Are these quotes not reminiscent of what happens every day in creative/visual practices? As soon as you start comparing yourself/your work to others you are fucked. But I wonder if there is any form of positive comparison in the form of critique or holding your work up to another in order to critique oneself or is any form of critique fraught with inequality and therefore unfit for the Jacotot method?

Speaking of Athenians; “What made them surrender alternatively to the one or the other was not their ignorance or their versatility. It was that this speaker or that one, at a particular moment, knew best how to incarnate the specific stupidity of the Athenian people: the feeling of its obvious superiority over the imbecile people of Thebes. In short, what moved the masses was the same thing that animates superior minds, the same thing that makes society turn on itself from one age to the next: the sentiment of the inequality of intelligence, the sentiment that distinguishes superior minds only at the price of confusing them with universal belief.”(86)
    • Are we any different today? Are we not divided into camps and kept there by telling ourselves that we are of superior intelligence?

“If authority depends on intellectual superiority, what will happen on the day when an administrated person, himself also convinced of the inequality of intelligence, thinks his prefect is an imbecile? Won’t it be necessary to test ministers and prefects, burgermeisters and office heads, to verify their superiority? And how will we be sure that some imbecile, whose shortcomings when recognized would lead to citizens’ disobedience, might not slip in among them?”
    • Most of our current administration?

The highlight of this chapters for me was in the section “How to Rave Reasonably” where it was said that “when two men meet each other, they are polite as though they believed each other equal in intelligence; but if one of them is found deep in the middle of the other’s country, there is no longer as much ceremony: he abuses his force like his reason: everything about the intruder denotes a barbarian origin; he is treated without ceremony like an idiot. His pronunciation causes peals of laughter; the awkwardness of his gestures, everything about him, announces the bastard species to which he belongs.”(92) Which prompted though around what this could mean when looked at through the lens of interactions had on the internet whether it be through social media, forums, whatever? How can we apply some of the knowledge found in this text to the socio-political environment of social media? I say we spur more equality of intelligence on the internet through ignorant comment sections. 

Admittedly, the final chapter was a bit of a slog as it felt like I was reading more of the same but there were some good nuggets. One being that if you must learn through the ways of the Old Masters or Socratic methods, you can use your educators as the thing, truth/fact to be learned in lieu of a Télémaque. “There are a hundred ways to instruct, and learning also takes place at the stultifiers’ school; a professor is a thing, less easily handled than a book, undoubtedly, but he can be learned: he can be observed, imitated, dissected, put back together; his person, available for observation, can be tested.”(102) 

There was a point made that when asked “what must he do to organize the education that the government owes the people and that he intends to give them according to the best methods? Nothing, answered the Founder; government doesn’t owe the people an education, for the simple reason that one doesn’t owe people what they can take for themselves. And education is like liberty: it isn’t given; it’s taken.”(106) This is interesting as education is always heralded as the great equalizer and that progressives (myself included) generally call for the reduction/removal of costs. I wonder if this notion of the government not owing any of us an education holds true if we can instead encourage people to kit-bash an education for themselves. Althought this only really holds true if industry is willing to hire individuals without a traditional education. Maybe this works more in industries (like design and the arts) that do not require some sort of accreditation or certificate. The contemporary ideas surrounding this notion are addressed alter in the capter when it is said  “social institutions, intellectual corporations, and political parties now came knocking on families’ doors, addressing themselves to all individuals for the purpose of educating them. Heretofore, the University and its baccalaureate had only controlled access to a few professions: a few thousand lawyers, doctors, and academics. All the other social careers were open to those who formed themselves in their own way. It wasn’t, for example, necessary to have a baccalaureate to be a poly technician. But with the system of perfected explications came the installation of the system of perfected examinations.”(130) Which seems to account for our current situation where everyone “needs” to obtain some form of higher education in order to prove that they can think and learn as a prerequisite for desireable employment. 

// Core Questions for Discussion//

  1. Must you have students that want to learn if you wish to be an emancipatory educator? If a student doesn’t want to learn, are they better to learn in a way that is stultifying or will that only compound their unwillingness to learn? 
  2. If people are inherently drawn or equipped with this method of self learning, and if even today people are short on time and resources what is stopping everyone from kit-bashing an education through resources like skillshare, YouTube, masterclass, etc?
  3. In a desing/art education setting, what happens if students are asked choose/create the Télémaque in the form of collected materials?
  4. If you are teaching a subject that you do know, how do you reduce yourself to the role of the ignorant one in order to compel autonomous action in students?
  5. Does this method require us do away with the idea of critique in design and art education? Could the critique be kept if only the student’s peers participate, as they are of comparable intelligence in the subject and therefore less likely to stultify one another?
  6. How to you bring equality to a practice (art/design) where you can see/perceive inequality?
  7. How can we apply some of the knowledge found in this text to the socio-political environment of social media?
  8. What would an ignorant comment section look like?
  9. Then can you actually use the universal method in teaching specific vocations or skillsets?

Friday 9/11

// Class Note Dump //
Adam J Greteman PHD — Philosopher in Education
  • Foucault-ian
Consensus vs Discensus
  • Which is democracy actually about
  • dissenting from the “sensible”
  • consensus =/= equality?
Starts from an understanding of equality as opposed to trying to prove that first.
Do we become teachers/educators because we know better?
  • Students come into it from a different time than us
“The why keeps going”
How do you teach those without a will to learn?
  • "The ignorant person will learn by himself what the master doesn’t know if the master believes he can and obliges him to realize his capacity” (15)
  • “Whoever teaches without emancipating stultifies. And whoever emancipates doesn’t have to worry about what the emancipated person learns. He will learn what he wants, nothing maybe.”(18)
  • We might think about the competing purposes (socialization, social mobility, democratic equality, subjectivization) of "school" (as an institution) and if the purposes of "universal teaching" do not align with such purposes.
  • School disciplines will out of us
  • American Public Shcools
    • Creating democratic citizenry (exclusionary)
    • Social mobility (train people to fit certain role in society, different tracks)
    • Socialized
    • We become a subject (sense of who we are as a person)
  • Fall down rabbit hole of how to apply this to schools versus how to unpack assumptions we have around school system we grew up in
  • teaching and learning =/= school
Social vs Society:
  • any relation is social
  • emancipated individuals within and unreasonable society run by madmen
  • how do you make a society of emancipated people through leveling-up?
  • we are born into certain societies (families)
  • intimate and immediate vs abstract and systematic
Students connect ideas to ideas they already know
  • you can always connect to prior learning
    • which is preordained by others (parents, teachers, etc)
Waldorf School — https://waldorfanswers.org/Waldorf.htm#:~:text=The%20goal%20of%20Waldorf%20or,path%20through%20life%20as%20adults
  • this/Montessori still suffer from same issues as universal teaching, they are still around but have not been expanded/replicated.
Authority vs Authorizing teachers
  • threatening or emancipatory?
  • unlearning reliance on authority
Unthethering idea from identity?
Ranciere is not interested inner truth but instead is interested in the surface/simple things
  • simplicity of learning through the lords prayer
Education vs Teaching vs School
Foucault – “imagine if schools were as pleasurable and exciting as sex”
  • institutions built on banality/unpleasure
  • why are schools so boring, in general
Imagining a society of equals from within a society of unequals
  • how can we picture this?
“Equality was not an end to attain, but a point of departure, a supposition to maintain in every circumstance. Never would truth speak up for it. Never would equality exist except in its verification and at the price of being verified always and everywhere” (138)

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