To teach the students without teaching the school is stupid!
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.
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.
Hey, in our school KTA 1 Hasselt we are moving on to a School 4.0 design type. A place for students to explore, self-study, self-expression and a lot more ‘self-‘-stuff. It’s a difficult track for teachers and staff; but I hope it’s not a bit of a difficulty for the students. And that’s most important, not?
Pablo Calderón Salazar
Well, yes, I guess it is important in art education to explore the ‘self’, but in my opinion it has to reflect in the ‘other’ -and in society at large- at some point. But the important is that as students or teachers we understand that in the process we are learning as much from our own positions and we have to be keen on adjusting our ways