// 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)