… introducing a more modern, more fully human, model of learning will not be easy, because the new knowledge requires challenging not just our modes of learning, but also our modes of functioning as a socio-economic ensemble. In the face of the resistance to a more “human” approach to learning, subversive pedagogy may be a necessary tool. Like all subversive activities, it embraces its own paradoxes. Subversive pedagogy cannot be carried out from without - it must be done from within. One must engage in subversive pedagogy within our current learning environments, even though the ultimate goal of subversive pedagogy may be their complete overthrow. However, an argument can be made that the practices embraced by subversive pedagogy are natural components of true, full spectrum learning. The intruder role is fundamental to learning.
…so concludes our resident renegade @Geoffreyjen_Edwards in his energetic essay Subversive Pedagogy: The Intruder by Geoffrey Edwards. This essay will be the launching mechanism for our Café.
Subversive Pedagogy: The Intruder by Geoffrey Edwards
— Geoffrey Edwards. “Subversive Pedagogy: The Intruder”. Inflexions 8, “Radical Pedagogies” (April 2015). 162-184 www.inflexions.org
- What, exactly, is teaching?`
- How do we learn at our best?
- What is “full specturm learning?” Can we “recover” full spectrum learning?
From the essay
…Learning, however, in its full spectrum, can be, indeed probably should be, noisy, messy, chaotic - it will involve as much peripheral attention as “spotlight” attention (Grossberg 1999), it will require attending to our bodies instead of trying to negate them (Stinson 2004), it will take place in social environments (Lave and Wengler 1991) and so forth. We have to rediscover what full spectrum learning really is. We have to deprogram ourselves, away from the brainwashed ideas we have about how learning occurs. And probably, we, ourselves, will never recover full spectrum learning - this will be reserved for individuals in several generations, once we humans have made a concerted, communal effort to divest ourselves of these harmful myths we have all acquired about how learning should occur.
Within such a renewed understanding of learning, the role of the teacher as “causing understanding” cannot be maintained. Humans learn spontaneously, all the time, in myriad ways. Movement is what leads to new understandings. Full spectrum learning happens best within communities, not in artificial settings such as a classroom - it is a profoundly ecological function.  Humans do not require a “person-with-any-qualifications-at-all” to help them do this. True, we have a long way to go to understand how to reorganize our communities and environments to enable full spectrum learning, and, in the mean time, some “teaching” may still be required. But let us be more prudent about how we allow this to happen. Accepting the necessity of a “teacher” goes hand-in-hand with giving up our access to full spectrum learning - by confining the environment in arbitrary ways, we limit the nature of the learning that can take place. To use a folk expression, we “shoot ourselves in the foot” - both feet at the same time.
…I propose to replace the teacher, that is, the person-who-causes-to-understand, with an entirely different individual/role, what I call the intruder, the person-who-listens/provokes/rebels, enabling the designated “students” to learn-by-doing-in-response. The intruder, furthermore, is not part of the teacher-student dyad, nor the teaching-learning institutional structures, that is why he or she “intrudes.” This is what I call subversive pedagogy.
- Postformal Pedagogies and Complex Futures [CCafe 10/30]
- Minor Gesture #1 With Erin Manning; try beginning at this timestamp up to 59:28…and this timestamp until 1:12:05
- The Undercommons - see Chapter 2: The University and the Undercommons
excerpt from Chapter 2
“To the university I’ll steal, and there I’ll steal,” to borrow from Pistol at the end of Henry V, as he would surely borrow from us. This is the only possible relationship to the American university today. This may be true of universities everywhere. It may have to be true of the university in general. But certainly, this much is true in the United States: it cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment. In the face of these conditions one can only sneak into the university and steal what one can. To abuse its hospitality, to spite its mission, to join its refugee colony, its gypsy encampment, to be in but not of – this is the path of the subversive intellectual in the modern university.
Worry about the university. This is the injunction today in the United States, one with a long history. Call for its restoration like Harold Bloom or Stanley Fish or Gerald Graff. Call for its reform like Derek Bok or Bill Readings or Cary Nelson. Call out to it as it calls to you. But for the subversive intellectual, all of this goes on upstairs, in polite company, among the rational men. After all, the subversive intellectual came under false pretenses, with bad documents, out of love. Her labor is as necessary as it is unwelcome. The university needs what she bears but cannot bear what she brings. And on top of all that, she disappears. She disappears into the underground, the downlow lowdown maroon community of the university, into the undercommons of enlightenment, where the work gets done, where the work gets subverted, where the revolution is still black, still strong.
What is that work and what is its social capacity for both reproducing the university and producing fugitivity? If one were to say teaching, one would be performing the work of the university. Teaching is merely a profession and an operation of that onto-/auto-encyclopedic circle of the state” that Jacques Derrida calls the Universitas. But it is useful to invoke this operation to glimpse the hole in the fence where labor enters, to glimpse its hiring hall, its night quarters. The university needs teaching labor, despite itself, or as itself, self-identical with and thereby erased by it. It is not teaching that holds this social capacity, but something that produces the not visible other side of teaching, a thinking through the skin of teaching toward a collective orientation to the knowledge object as future project, and a commitment to what we want to call the prophetic organization. But it is teaching that brings us in. Before there are grants, research, conferences, books, and journals there is the experience of being taught and of teaching. Before the research post with no teaching, before the graduate students to mark the exams, before the string of sabbaticals, before the permanent reduction in teaching load, the appointment to run the Center, the consignment of pedagogy to a discipline called education, before the course designed to be a new book, teaching happened.
- Introduce @Geoffreyjen_Edwards’ essay
- Open discussion