Thematic Seminar Critically Committed Pedagogy

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Course tutors: Frans-Willem Korsten and Renee Turner Location for the classes: Castrum Peregrini and the Piet Zwart Institute: KDH Building, Karel Doormanstraat 45, large project room Trimester II - 5 ECTS


1.1. General

Critical pedagogy is understood in this context not as a single theory, but as a range of educational theories with one common denominator: the term ‘critical’ refers to the ability to analyze the social, cultural, pedagogical and institutional processes that are inherent to every form of education. Although coined as ‘Critical Pedagogy’, this seminar will not focus on the theory and practice of critical pedagogy as such, but rather on its general underlying ‘philosophy’ of analyzing educational models and theories and encouraging students to develop individual ideas and working methods within the field of didactics and pedagogy. With respect to this, the course could also have been called ‘Committed Pedagogies’. Fostering a close connection between practice and theory is an essential working principle of this seminar. You are encouraged to investigate different educational and pedagogical theories and insights adjacent to your specific professional field (secondary, higher education, museum education), experimentally apply these insights, and contribute to the innovation within your professional context. The key issue is that you position yourself politically, well aware of the multiple situations in which you operate.

1.2. Cartographies of acting pedagogically: the issue of commitment

Like so many domains in society that during about one and a half-century were primarily state-funded and state ruled – that is: provided by the state – the educational system is becoming more ‘diverse’, to put it mildly, in the sense that more and more parts of it are being privatized in one way or another. Even when societies manage to still provide people with a collective form of education that gives equal opportunities to all, there are corporate forces outside of the educational system that have taken over considerable amounts of education of children and adults alike. In terms of time, simply put, most adolescents spend way more time on gaming and social media than on school work and it would be foolish not to consider this investment in a fundamentally pedagogical way in the sense that people are learning many things through social media and through gaming. They are in a distinct way ‘subjectivized’ by them.

To address issues such as this one, the seminar proposes to explore the potential of a ‘cartographies of acting pedagogically’ especially in relation to art education, within educational systems and outside of them. The aim is to use both the collective intelligence and practices of the participants and theories to come to a concrete model that visualizes the force field that actors are in when wanting to operate pedagogically in the contemporary situation in the domain of art. As the very term ‘cartography’ suggests, we will not be looking at educational activities in terms of content only then, let alone in terms of ‘projects’. We will try to work towards a model that can not only visualize things but also empower actors because they are able to grasp the socio-economic force field that they are in. The aim, then, is not just to intervene in one way or another, but to act in such a way that one is conscious of the factors that underpin a situation, and aware of possibilities of action with a longer term effect.

In order to see these possibilities, we will try to think through what alternative modes of self-realization could be. We aim to look for an alternative to a logic of acting pedagogically that always follows some sort of a base-superstructure model, or that divides communal bodies in compartmentalized sections. Instead, we will be looking at possibilities of helping selves and communities, both on an individual and collective level, to establish practices of autonomy. For this commitment is essential, rather than criticality.


• Enhancing knowledge and understanding of contemporary pedagogical, didactic and educational theories and teaching models. • Acquiring the capacity to map out and compare different perspectives and positions in relation to the field of pedagogy and art education in the context of the many spaces in which partake, or by means of which they are shaped. • Defining potential terms of engagement with the pedagogical and didactic models relevant to one’s professional educational context and practice. • Acquiring the capacity to apply the insights drawn from various theories and educational models to relevant, contemporary didactical methods, focused on various groups.


You will be assessed according to the following criteria: • You are able to apply knowledge and insights drawn from targeted (interdisciplinary) research to relevant, contemporary didactical methods and professional contexts and/or target groups. • You observe and investigate relevant pedagogic insights and apply these insights within your own professional context. • You are able to contextualise and map out the different aspects connected to an analysis of society, of media, of spaces, and more specifically to your own professional, pedagogical, institutional and political environment. • You use your own vision, theoretical insights and professional ethics for your professional practice. • Empowerment: the measure in which you are able to show the ability to develop yourself to become an autonomous actor, also by means of cooperation with others.


4.1 Assessment

Assessments will be determined through individual contribution to the Course discussions, participation and the execution of the final assignment. The course grades are distributed as follows:

  • Final assignment 80 %
  • Contribution and participation to the Course 20 %
  • The final assignment will consist of:

1.) of a short positioning paper in which you define and work out the underpinning of a pedagogical act. This act has to be prepared on paper in relation to the material we worked with;
2.) consequently it has to be performed – which can also be a performance with or in the group.
The combination will be assessed and graded on the basis of - its philosophical strength; - its soundness of analysis and arguments; - the relevance of the background literature for the performed act; - the strengths and risks involved in the performed act and its adequacy.


(Note: Readings will be updated in relation to the lectures)

Block 1 – (20-21 January) – week 3
Cartographies of Acting Pedagocially: the Logic of Situations and Spaces - Chapters from Peter Kraftl, 'Geographies of Alternative Learnig', 2013.

General: Since the 19th century the political and the artistic avant-gardes have been thinking about the role of art in education in relation to societal circumstances and change, predominantly with the goal of emancipation. The two were dialectically related: in order to change society one had to change education and in order to change education one had to change society. The dynamic depended on an educational system, however, that was functionally national, and concerned all layers of society. This situation may still exist but is under threat from different sides. Perhaps the current situation can, for parts of the populace, better be described as one of ‘demancipation’. Private and public modes of education partly interact but to a larger extent depart from one another. Social inequality is growing. How, in this situation, can we chart the ways in which art can be operative in terms of education and what would be the relevance of such charting?

Friday January 20
Place: Castrum Peregrini, Herengracht 401 Amsterdam

Chapter 1 and 2 Peter Kraftl

  • 10.00 – 13.00: Tour of Castrum and its history. Followed by an introduction to 'Where does the practice of mapping come from?
  • 14.00 – 17.00: How to do more than think about your own position

Saturday January 21
Place: KDH

Chapter 3 and 4, Peter Kraftl

  • 10.00 – 13.00: The different meanings of space; territory
  • 14.00 – 17.00: Forms of logic: ground and water

Block 2 – week 7 (17-18 February)

What we are up against and what can one do
- J.K. Gibson-Graham, 'Reluctant Subjects', from A Postcapitalist Politics, 2006 - Gert Biesta, ‘Who is there? Finding the other in the self’ <>

Establishing a self in space What if the aim of art education is not just to educate, or to develop, or to intervene in one way or another, but to act in such a way that one is conscious both of the factors that work against such education and that underpin a situation, and of possibilities of action with a longer term effect. How can we start something that will be able to live a life of its own?

Friday February 17
Place: KDH
Contributions by Nana Adusei-Poku and Teana Boston-Mammah

Gibson-Graham: 'Reluctant subjects'

  • 10.00 – 13.00: What is a subject and what is a self?
  • 14.00 – 17.00: What is an environment, what a situation?

Saturday February 18 Place: KdH

Gert Biesta, ‘Who is there? Finding the other in the self'

  • 10.00 – 13.00: Using collective intelligence
  • 14.00 – 17.00: Using collective intelligence; exploring first ideas of final presentation in terms of content and form

Block 3 – week 10 (10-11 March)

Strategies of empowerment on the basis of commitment
- Mieke Bal, ‘Critical Intimacy’. Mieke Bal, Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide. University of Toronto Press, 2002, pp. 286-323 - & Joost de Bloois & Frans-Willem Korsten, ‘The danger of the aestheticization of precarity and two blind spots in post-autonomia thinking: biotechnology and education'.

Friday, March 10

  • 10.00 – 17.00: seminar at Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam, with contributions by Jack Halberstam, Esther Peeren and Peter Kraftl.

Commitment: how to be resilient and determined

Saturday March 11 Place: KDH

Educational spaces should be spaces where people are safe to learn what they aim to learn or to develop themselves in perhaps unforeseen directions. How can we think about autonomy and safety without technologically controlled security, stability without some sort of control? Is the safety of space and safety in space an underdeveloped issue in our thinking about art education?


Block 4 – week 14 (7-8 April)

6. Required reading

- Lauren Berlant, ‘Slow Death (Sovereignty, Obesity, Lateral Agency)' <> - Mieke Bal, ‘Critical Intimacy'. Mieke Bal, Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide. University of Toronto Press, 2002, pp. 286-323. - Gert Biesta, ‘Who is there? Finding the other in the self' <> - Joost de Bloois & Frans-Willem Korsten, ‘The danger of the aesthetization of precarity and two blind spots in post-autonomia thinking: biotechnology and education’. - J.K. Gibson-Graham, ‘Reluctant Subjects: Subjection and Becoming’, in A Postcapitalist Politics, University of Minneapolis Press, 2006, pp, 23-52. - Peter Kraftl, Geographies of Alternative Education, University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Advised reading:
Lauren Berlant, ‘Conversation: Lauren Berlant with Dana Luciano' Gert Biesta, ‘Against learning: Reclaiming a language for education in an age of learning’ Henry A. Giroux, ‘Cultural Studies, Public Pedagogy, and the Responsibility of Intellectuals’