Experimental Pedagogies

Experimenting with different pedagogical methods, not staying confined to lecture-plus-discussion format has been part of my teaching agenda ever since I read Jacques Ranciere’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster.  The main argument of the book is that learning collectively is the quintessential liberating pedagogy.  And yet it departs from similar radical pedagogical philosophies (eg. liberation theology) in a, well, for lack of a better word, radical way: Ranciere, following French pedagogue Jacques Jaqotot’s experiments argues for a classroom where no explication is involved in the process teaching-learning; where both students and teacher do not possess any prior knowledge on the topic, and where they discover-explore what they do not know together.  Therefore, Ranciere’s call crosscuts hierarchical structures, and brings the monster in the midst of the classroom.

Over the years, I have incorporated elements of this pedagogy in multiple ways into my courses.  The full experiment did not take place until a group of third year students, with whom I shared not only the classroom environment, but also the barricades of Taksim Square and the commune of the Gezi Park in 2013, agreed to continue an elective course one more semester, and upon that, we collectively started learning something none of us know anything about: an introduction of an introduction to quantum physics via an introductory popular science book penned by Chad Orzel, How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog.  

Ever since I started teaching at ECUAD, experimental pedagogy became almost a routine practice.  Contrary to Marmara University, I am encouraged to engage with it here, and there is much institutional support.  In that context, one ongoing collaboration is creating a six-hour long critical studies course with Sadira Rodriguez in what will become a new format that hopefully will partially territorialize critical studies courses within a studio context.