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 Post subject: On the Classroom.
PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:45 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 07, 2008 7:49 pm
Posts: 25
As you may or may not know, this month the Institute is hosting the Temporary Department of Academic Research, a group of three— Sarah, Oliver, and James— eager to put forms of pedagogy under the knife; examining them as artifacts and as forms of presentation and even expression.

And apropos of this, we've decided to begin a thread on "The Classroom," in which we can pick on and pick apart the real particulars of the classroom... down to the chalk, the chairs, the arrangement, the assumptions, and the psychological atmosphere.

I want to say that, on the whole, it's ironic that I would help shape a sensibility that mimics (or parodies, if you like) the classic forms of the University; since I thrive in very different conditions. I am a peripatetic— I think better in movement; walking, driving, around the circuit of a shopping mall, under the lamplight in Center City. In agreement with Nietzsche against Flaubert's "On ne peut penser et écrire qu’assis"— "One can only think and write while seated." I even mentioned my recent favorite activity: the Lamplight Book Club. Going to Center City— or any well-lit urban or suburban corner— and reading through the summernight under the bright streetlights. They fit one another— what else could be better for concentrating? What a perfect way to appreciate the deep well of feeling implicit in those "sad summer nights?" With this antsy sensibility, why was I not driven to create a mobile university? A floating classroom?

The classroom changes according to grade too; becoming a different type of space throughout your life-cycle. Passing, for example, from the involuntary to voluntary. In elementary and middleschool, for instance, it was for me performative in a different sense. A stage for misbehavior; the playing-out of over-coming. These are the stickiest meanings for me— the meanings running perpendicular to the curriculum.
And it is in school, rather than in university, that we get a larger vocabulary of formal facts— detention, hallpasses, bookcovers, report cards, assemblies, and so on. In college, the formalities dwindle a bit. Classrooms can look different; report cards no longer look like report cards; and students can move of their own volition. Of course, as a world unto itself, maybe the forms just expand a bit in university. They expand outside of the classroom, and even the campus, to swallow the whole of life. Which is a motivation for the Institute: to mimic not just the University itself, but the form of University Life.


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