To teach the students without teaching the school is stupid!

Conversation

Felix Guattari, speaking about the psychiatric institution he worked on in the 50’s and 60’s, ‘La Borde’, said: “To treat the ill without treating the hospital is madness!”. Such phrase referred to the need to question -and redesign- the institutions of our present day society. Today, in relation to educational institutions, I would say: “To teach the students without teaching the school is stupid!”. The School is an attempt to think of a ‘learning school’; not (only) understood as a place to learn, but as an institution that learns. And this process will -hopefully- lead us to a deschooled school, using the words of Ivan Illich, meaning that it will remove the monopoly of knowledge from institutions and give it (back) to the students.

Eight years ago, I started to teach at the Industrial Design program of the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University (Colombia). I was very young for such a role, having many students older than I was. But more than a handicap, this became an asset, as it made me establish my position as a catalyzer of learning processes, rather than as a ‘transmitter of knowledge’ (role many ‘teachers’ take). Since the start of my trajectory as an educator, I have worked to create, nourish, support and sustain self-organized networks for learning. One of such initiatives was a series of ad-hoc spontaneous fora, organized together with a group of students and colleagues, with whom we would storm a semi-public space of the university and use alternative formats for discussing about our practices and projects as peers (students, drop-outs, teachers, administrators, etc.). On one occasion all the presenters were asked to use a ‘mask’, as a way to ‘equalize’ the power relations (you were not a student or teacher, but a ‘masked’ presenter, and as such you were target to scrutiny). The picture above is me before the presentation.

 

 

Conversation

  1. Andy Berner

    07/06/2017 15:22

    In my “schooling” I’ve always felt that fellow students, staff, teaching assistants, and others were always as important as the professor. And in my “non-educational” life, the learning becomes that much more joyful, because we learn from unexpected sources and through happy mistakes, we find new directions.