“There is nothing outside the text”, as French philosopher Jacques Derrida provocatively put it. The world is a text and hence the practice of learning is pervasive without any particular model mandated. Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown in many ways try to get at the same destination when they proposed a new culture of learning that requires nowhere in everywhere. I would use the term ‘getting exposed’ in the place of ‘acquiring’ in relation to knowledge when I define learning, given that the world is textualized in toto. In other words, each person walking in front of us is a set of assumptions, information and knowledge attracting learning of multiple forms. To learn in its eastern German version means I know (with subject being prominent).
However, the problem with the idea of learning is, it presupposes an ‘object’ (of learning). In other words, this is crucial, that the act of learning stems from a subject orienting towards an object. That is to say, learning pre-imagines a subject-object relation with the object being a passive category of objectification in the process of learning. To be further precise, learning is an act that objectifies something from the perspective of who learns. Going over again, what we ‘learned’ is that the act of learning always privileges learner over learned/subject over object the relation of which is pertinent to the act. I would rather put it this way; that the act of learning is either a practice of rendering something worth knowing (giving value) or acquire the already knowable (to possess the object of certain value). Okay, let me explore the latter part of this process of learning-acquiring. Maybe we want to ask this question: How do we know that we knew? Or how do we learn that we learned? you might be tempted to replace ‘that’ with ‘what’. But no, it is not ‘what’, it is ‘that’ that I meant (don’t mistake me, I am not talking about epistemology here). This is also to help me better frame the question in a way so that I can make it clear: how do we know that we know something? This is a little profound, but extremely thrilling way of exploration! Let’s begin with the question that, what makes something knowable so that we can say yes we knew what as well as why we knew of something? This question could only be answered when something ‘worthy of knowledge’ appears to us that we decided to learn. That is to say, the object is placed there with a value assigned to it, the value of knowledge. Thus the object becomes worth knowing, a step further, knowledge itself. This complex process of rendering something knowable equally involves an act of power too. To know/to learn, in a nutshell, means to possess the value of knowledge that was given to an object. To learn means to possess or to acquire (a property with a certain value attached). What is actually going on here is this: to know= object>knowable-value>knowledge-property><knowing>possessing-value>acquiring-property>. This is possible only in a relation between subject and object that is predicated on the necessity of learning something with the value of knowability (in a market of knowledge). Now, you might be wondering that teaching is an act of selling, no?
Well, my stake in this, is probably to reconsider the ‘act of learning and teaching’ in the light of my above reflections and see what, subsequently, my class room would look like. What I liked the most about Sarah E Deel’s piece is her initial introspection of how has she been nervous during the class. Might that need be a cause of disappointment or a performance anxiety? I found that interesting just because ‘teaching’, for me, is an act of abolishing the classroom within the classroom. This equally involves any form of disconnect that distinguishes someone, from others-students, as a teacher in the classroom. Maybe, at this point I am leaving the question of what would mean “to discover the authentic teaching self” to your assumptions (as for me there is none).