[iDC] A Modest Proposal: Let's get rid of the teachers

Geoffrey Alan Rhodes garhodes at garhodes.com
Sat Feb 21 17:37:21 UTC 2009

Your point, and also David and Simon before, is good: education as a
controlled encounter with the Other.  This is what I mean about issues of
desire.  I think the 30 hour work week some students maintain (I've taught
in a State school too, where this was the norm), the pressure of loans, and
the constant Taylorist push of US society to be efficient and ambitious, all
set up this neurosis of the contemporary student.  I just joined the faculty
of a private arts university that has its roots (and retains much of its
faculty) from the Woodstock generation.  Many of them complain of student's
desire for relationships with the teacher and institution that can be
controlled... rubrics, pragmatic curriculum, job placement...  What I notice
is that these same students, of course, also desire in-class stimulation,
inspiration, that which comes from the lack of control of the Other.  The
neurotic contradictions of the institution manifest in their own feelings.
 This isn't new, I think... school systems have always combined
socialization with deviance, sometimes hysterically (and doesn't this
describe youth itself?), but maybe this has ramped up with the practical
pressures of $.  It is hard at the state university to see academia as a
reward, or place for reflection... instead it commonly seems a struggle for
the students just to be there.

On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 12:11 PM, John Hopkins <jhopkins at tech-no-mad.net>wrote:

> Lovely views coming up, Davin, Simon, others -- it's always a marvelous
> pleasure to hear from other teachers, as this kind of dialogue seldom
> happens within the systems where it is most needed!
> While the offerings of IP_based networks seem unlimited, and in rhetoric,
> the superlative of "unlimited" is often applied, I think it is important to
> keep firmly in mind that it is not a space of unlimited knowledge nor is it
> a space of neutral knowledge. And, also, in this time, it is not a space of
> embodied experience aside from eyes absorbing statically-framed EM
> radiation, ears hearing sounds disconnected from their source, and fingers
> twitching across a very limited place.  Not to mention underlying ideologies
> which accompany each form of mediated connection (largely invisible but very
> much real) -- among others, that of consumption (extractive resources,
> electricity, and thus, the globe-spanning world that we exert irresponsible
> dominion over).
> In this regard, the (limited)vastness of that knowledge-space seems a bit
> tainted and out-of-touch perhaps.  Expensive and consumptive.  Exclusive,
> reductive, and reified.
> A teacher is a catalyst, and is one who, simply by being an Other we
> encounter in life, presents us with the unknown.  If we trust that Other, a
> world opens up that was previously unknown, and (if) we (trust enough to)
> apprehend and engage it, it changes us, we learn.  This unknown world is
> sourced in the entire comprehensible universe, and is available through that
> Other.  These encounters may take place anywhere, anytime, and can be had
> 'for free.'  We need only 'pay' the Other with our attention, our life-time,
> and life-energy.
> It seems that in our formal techno-social educational systems, these
> potential encounters with the Other are (being) replaced by more and more
> socially-standardized systems-of-relation (protocols, curricula, government
> mandates, abstracted monetary instruments) which seem ever more intrusive to
> and even suppressive of potential open encounters.  This limits the creative
> potential of the outcome.  The cumulative effect of this social
> hyper-formalization-of-encounter -- because learning occurs precisely at the
> edge of knowing, not within the known -- is that we look elsewhere for the
> dynamic of coming-to-be (learning) that keeps us alive and growing.  To me
> this is the ultimate source of the loss of vitality that affects the
> Education World, a vitality that ultimately does not rest on technological
> mediation but on human encounter.  Yes, human encounter is always mediated
> by the vast range of social protocols and tools, and learning encounters may
> happen within highly mediated ('virtual') spaces, but when we allow those
> encounters to slide continuously into more and more mediated spaces, the
> life-time available for less mediated human encounter shrinks.  I think that
> this represents a wide loss to learning, education, community, and creative
> potential as it moves to extremes and forgets what it is predicated upon --
> the originary encounter between the Self and the Other.
> jh
> --
> -~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> John Hopkins :: neoscenes - a bridge between eye and soul
> empowered facilitation well underway in translocal situations
> presently on the fringe of the Sonoran Desert
> cell (.us) +1 928 308 6466
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> -~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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