Critical Pedagogies of the 21st Century

Date: January 31 2014: 19.30 – 21.00 h 

Witte De With, Center for Contemporary Art: Witte de Withstraat 50, Rotterdam

Admission: Free

The lecture isopen for public

Lecture # 1
Jan Masschelein: Making Art School: A Story about (Cave) Walls and Tables
Location: Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art

Hereby we cordially invite you for the public lecture series Critical Pedagogies of the 21st Century. What is a school? How does it influence and construct politics and social relations in our present day society? Society seems to be ready for implementing change in schools. On the one hand this is based on the premise that we have to rethink education in relation to the future and challenges of the 21st Century. On the other hand there is a critical evaluation of conventional institutions and formats, fuelled by a clear interest from artists and theoreticians alike in alternative educational models.

The film Postcards from the Desert Island from the artist Adelita Husni-Bey documents a 3-week workshop with students from an experimental, self-run elementary school in Paris. The artist asked the pupils to turn the school hall into a desert island, and to relate themselves to this new territory. The video documents the children’s approaches to self-governance and the possibility of imagining institutions and social relations from scratch. What if we break down the concept of school to its bare essence? What is a school? This question is the starting point for the lecture series Critical Pedagogies of the 21st Century, which deals with the phenomenon ‘school’ on a philosophical, theoretical and fictional level.

The first lecture entitled Making Art School: A Story about (Cave) Walls and Tables is organized in cooperation with the educational department of Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art, and marks the starting point of a structural cooperation.

In this lecture Jan Masschelein (Professor of Philosophy of Education and director of the Laboratory for Education and Society at the University of Leuven) proposes todiscuss the (art) school in terms of ‘forms of gathering and actions’, rather than in terms of functions and institutions. The school is neither an institution nor an organization. It refers to a particular ‘scholastic form’ of gathering: a time-space-matter arrangement including architectures, technologies, practices and figures – that allows for a particular relation to the world and for an experience of making things public. By identifying what makes a school a school, Masschelein wants to pinpoint why the school as form has value in and of itself and why it deserves to be reinvented today.

Critical Pedagogies of the 21st Century is developed by the Master of Education in Arts as part of the seminar Critical Pedagogy. It is indebted to the inspiring meetings of the ‘New School Collective’. 

Fore more information and the biographies of the speakers, see this page:

(Credits photo: Adelita Husni-Bey, Postcards from the Desert Island, 2010-11, SD video transferred to DVD, 23 mins.Courtesy the artist and Galleria Laveronica)