collective self-education in the arts and culture…

Education and Self-learning :: Bojan Djordjev

Recently, surgery many critical educational as well as artistic-educational projects are about finding a more appropriate term to replace education. That is why education in the title is crossed out – as an appeal for a new, alternative term.

Etymologically speaking, the word education is derived from the Latin educare meaning “to raise”, “to bring up”, “to train”, “to rear”, via “educatio/nis”, bringing up, raising. Lately, there has been a return to an alternative assertion that education derives from a different verb: educere, meaning “to lead out” or “to lead forth” (Wikipedia). This other version of etymology implies to lead out of something to something else, from one state to another. Like leading out of darkness. I would also emphasize that this meaning implies that someone is leading someone else – in the case of education (i.e. in traditional western system of education) a teacher who leads a student out of darkness of ignorance, lack of knowledge – to the state of possession of knowledge. This notion of someone instructing someone else – the master of knowledge instructing the one with less or no knowledge, is the reason why the alternatives to traditional notions of education distinguish themselves also by adding prefix self to the term, as an immediate, most visible distinction. So the first thing to be done is to avoid the authoritarian position of the teacher as the only proprietor of ‘knowledge’, or as Jacques Rancière puts it:

The pedagogical myth [that of instruction being the art of explication] divides the world into two. More precisely, it divides intelligence in two. It says that there is an inferior intelligence and a superior one. The former registers perceptions by chance, retains them, interprets and repeats them empirically, within the closed circle of habit and need. This is the intelligence of the young child and the common man. The superior intelligence knows things by reason, proceeds by method, from the simple to the complex, from the part to the whole.[1]

The s-o-s project technique of self-education is based on the Rancière’s theorization of the example of ‘ignorant schoolmaster’ Joseph Jacotot, and Gregory Ulmer’s concept of post(e)-pedagogy. Utilising these concepts in self-learning should in fact, cross out the ‘other’, the lecturer from education’s etymology. The s-o-s project in that sense, relies on the book(s, texts) as the source on the one, and on free discussion between equals that re-signifies each other’s experiences, on the other hand.

[1] Jacques Rancière (1991), The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation, Stanford Cal: Stanford University Press, p. 7

Commodification of Knowledge :: Iva Nenić

Production and management of knowledge (the way information is created, find presented, infection archived, malady transmitted, shared, judged) is subjected to the material conditions of a given historical moment and specificity of cultural educational practices. The very object of knowledge is rapidly changing in postindustrial societies due to growing speed of technological development and the resulting ubiquitousness of information. The logic of capital has penetrated contemporary field of education, changing the concept of knowledge from “an organized body of information” to “informational commodity”. As Louis Althusser warned, “the ideological State apparatus which has been installed in the dominant position in mature capitalist social formations as a result of a violent political and ideological class struggle against the old dominant ideological State apparatus is the educational ideological apparatus”.[1] Late capitalism regulates the learning process in such a manner, whereas the “dominant ideology” is not mere implementation of a State hegemonic principle, but more profound change at the very core of educational systems. Knowledge is commercialized, the relevance and amount of information is rapidly growing, new technologies are conditio sine qua non of any learning process. Thus Jean François Lyotard states, that “[k]nowledge is and will be produced in order to be sold, it is and will be consumed in order to be valorized in a new production: in both cases, the goal is exchange”.[2] This also affects the role of learning: today, it is not to know for “one’s own purposes”, but to utilize the knowledge in the educational market, to make the most of one’s abilities and imagination. Knowledge as a commodity-for-sale is the hallmark of late capitalism’s hegemonic know-how approach, where quick grappling the information (having right speed and location) is more important then pursuing individual creativity outside conventional institutional framework. The value of immaterial labor, creativity and innovation, on the other hand, is recognized by the market resulting in emergent “parasitic exploitation of the immaterial domain by the material one”[3].

Commodification of knowledge, then, is a process of transformation taking place at the basis of educational system and also a present dominant condition of knowledge. The call for counteraction in the sense of various forms of critique and counterhegemony, aims towards both theory and practice. The question is how to think the value of knowledge today and how to develop open and self-reflective means of education differing from conventional teaching and learning. These strategies must take in account both global and local circumstances such as digital divide and societal inequalities, in order to trace particular needs and build context-specific tactics of combating the ruling logic of today’s cognitive capitalism.

[1] Louis Althusser (1971), “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”, in Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, New York and London: Monthly Review Press, pp. 127-187, 152.

[2] Jean François Lyotard (1984), The Postmodern Condition: A report on knowledge, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p. 4.

[3] Matteo Pasquinelli, “Immaterial Civil War: Prototypes of Conflicts Within Cognitive Capitalism”, Barcelona, September 2006, p. 8

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