Paulo Freire is a fascinating thinker of education. One of his enormously helpful preoccupations is with the question of power. This concern, of power, has reframed the entire body of discourse about education from moral and scientific to that of power and governance. However, drawing my inspiration from Freire’s text this week, let me ruminate upon the practice of learning in this blog post.
Stuart Hall, he is one of the pioneers of cultural studies, once said that he was taught about daffodils in his schooling in Britain, but never about his native plants-which is equally true to my case as well. This statement with its symbolic power indicates at the general construction of the educational structure as a white European business. Alongside, the internal structure of education with the components of teacher-student-knowledge has been arranged in a way that reinforces the moral superiority of the teacher. I have once discussed the problem and the neoliberal shades of such an arrangement in this blog. However, thinking through Freire, let me layout my concerns about how to experiment a resistant pedagogy. While Freire recurrently invokes the question of attitude and sensibility (love, commitment etc), how to think the praxis in terms of rearranging the structure is equally important. This is an arduous yet creative task as well. Maybe as a principle of this approach, what I hold strong is the idea of de-centering. For example, the orientation that I am advocating is to de-center ‘brain’ from the discourse of ‘knowing’ thereby provide alternative means of knowing as a practice/exercise/doing. In a Marxian sense, knowing as a business of brain implies a certain kind of division of labor de-privileging some other forms of knowing practices. Screening movies and exposing students into different avenues of enjoyment and appreciation is one way of doing that. Painting, cultural festivals and performances are similarly bearing modes of knowing that are not very much centered on the traditional division of labor around brain imagined in the academia.
Secondly, de-centering the role assumed by each character in the game; i.e., teacher. I think Freire effectively dealt with this question. However, what I want to point out at this moment is the question of time. Which is to say, the imagination of the roles also assume different temporal senses: teacher as someone who occupies a time that is different from student. This time order is essentially asymmetrical too. That is, the student is yet to reach at the level of the teacher (in terms of the time order occupied by the teacher). Student and Teacher essentially occupy two different time orders, to put it very simply. What I enjoyed about the technological knowledge being acquired by the students more quickly and efficiently than the teachers is that such time orders are totally destabilized. So this is the second premise that I take into account in the process of envisioning my pedagogical practice. Increasing involvement of new media apparatuses in the pedagogical practices is one way of doing it. To appreciate what the students know and the teachers don’t is also a way of exercising it.
Thirdly, how to rethink the idea of classroom? This was something I have made a small attempt musing on in the last post. The spatial sense of the classroom is definitely undergoing a radical transformation these days. However, classroom is an enclosure as well as a mode of imagining a specific relation of learning. Which is to say, classroom often becomes a criterion of evaluation; as in, the best student is the one who performed best in the classroom enclosure. This, in a truthful approach to students’ potential, might not always be the case. As against this, I like to think about how to destabilize such norms (through which one becomes the best/worst student etc) that are essentially dependent on classroom enclosure. However, as this part needs further thoughts and imagination, to venture it in this post is impractical. However, these concerns are admittedly in need of a greater effort to be conceptualized in praxis. The readings of this week, however, accelerated my thoughts into that effort in a good strength.