Vol. 3 | (NON) IDEAL PEDAGOGY | Alexander Knepley

/Alexander Knepley

Why non-Ideal? Why Now?

The first mistake was in the search for ideal, and that search’s failure to realize itself. Ideal implies a kind of unachievable separateness that is an ideal acquired through a delusional refusal for the present moment. The modern pedagogy is unmistakably ideal - and in that end, it is left with motionless representations, calling to a void.

The language that recognizes the necessity of a non-ideal pedagogy becomes very integral to create an understanding of the dangers of convenience, ignorance, of a system trusted that doesn’t trust you.

The non-ideal pedagogical space, then, operates very similarly to that of the natural ecosystem grounded in pure function and collective organization.

Thomas Merton, Love and Living, 11.

“The idealized market was supposed to deliver ‘friction free’ exchanges, in which the desires of consumers would be met directly, without the need for intervention or mediation by regulatory agencies. Yet the drive to assess the performance of workers and to measure forms of labor which, by their nature, are resistant to quantification, has inevitably required additional layers of management and bureaucracy. What we have is not a direct comparison of workers’ performance or output, but a comparison between the audited representation of that performance and output. Inevitably, a short-circuiting occurs, and work becomes geared towards the generation and massaging of representations rather than to the official goals of the work itself. Indeed, an anthropological study of local government in Britain argues that ‘More effort goes into ensuring that a local authority’s services are represented correctly than goes into actually improving those services’. This reversal of priorities is one of the hallmarks of a system which can be characterized without hyperbole as ‘market Stalinism’. What late capitalism repeats from Stalinism is just this valuing of symbols of achievement over actual achievement.”

- Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?

Institutional Vulnerability

Over–Enforcement of Structure Implies a Lack of Trust

Institutional vulnerability, simply being the decentralization of an appearance within a school’s representation.

This constitutes the dissolving of authoritative capital obsessed complexities. Honesty and openness at the groundwork of the school. 

This decentralization operates simply as the institutions refusal to appear -> forming a necessity to function. Institutional vulnerability is the willingness of the institution to show itself to those which exist within it. In other words, a breaking down of the institution.

The machine knows it’s parts, recognizes their importance. Makes no effort to represent them differently. The machine functions because it desires its own function. 1971 Honda CB100 Manual, Fig. 87

Educational Structure

Manifestation of trust

An Open Curriculum, Pass/ No Pass Grading, and Removal of Required Prerequisites, go without question.

The Structure of the school desires its own fluidity through these manifestations.

-> Pass/No Pass Grading dissolves the singularization of representation with students work. To pass is to engage with your relationship to your surrounding conditions, which manifests in no particular fashion, if any at all.

-> An educational structure that desires authentic growth, is born from trust. An Open Curriculum acknowledges the artist not simply as a product to fit a mold but as an indiviual capacity for change; in its right mind this non-ideal pedagogical space would not limit its collective to historically standardized ends.

-> Removal of Prerequisites extends into the Removal of Foundations. There is no required skill. There may be recommended classes to take given an understanding as to why certain skills may pertain, but there should not be any forced imprinting of certain modes of production.

The Space and its Construction

The architectural construction is concerned only with the needs of its users -> never that of permanence - it exists lively in the moment, establishing a tomorrow only if a tomorrow is what the end of today needs.

Modularity is a good model for achieving this fluidity. Arrangeable spaces constituting both a refusal to settle for one movement and an allowance to engage with the more permanent structures.

The relationship between person and space is furthered into an activity of playful engagement. The building lacks the dominative form so keen to the structures of the former institutions.

Plug In City, Peter Cook, Archigram
La comunidad (google search - modular architecture)

This pedagogy demands a close connectivity to the all moving parts of a city, with the recognition that all faculties are integral to each other’s function.

Location and form dependent on process and fluidity become as important to the specifics of the city as to specifics of the pedagogical space as to actions taking place within them.

1. Psychogeography
As the exploration of urban environments through a playfulness, a drifting.

2. Unitary Urbanism
As a critique of urbanism formed by the Letterist International.

3. Speculative Design
As a means to solving issues through design processes and systems.

Plug In City, Peter Cook, Archigram
Psychogeographic Guide to Paris, Guy Debord, 1957
The Space as the Action of Deconstruction

The institution deconstructed, acknowledges its relations to the collective that allows it to exist, and acknowledges their capacities and necessities, as people. The deconstruction reflects that of the construction - ecosystemic - therefore fluid, responsive, and alive.

The implications of this way of thinking point to needs and desire beyond specialized forms of art making.

The Game, William Powhida
Elaine de Kooning (centre) assembles Buckminster Fuller’s Venetian-blind-strip dome at Black Mountain College, 1948.

The ecosystemic space is as much for art making as art performing or art exhibition.

 Whereas the implications of making, performing, exhibiting are right alongside them, in flux (i.e. the real world results of those actions).

A (Partially) Idealistic Map, William Powhida
Dynamics Within Space

Trust and fluidity extend from the school’s structure into the structure of the classroom. The myth of authority assumes absolute knowledge, and lacks trust, not allowing students to develop their own capacities.

The classroom becomes a space for capacities. It refuses any form of judgment, and chooses allowance.

The previous idealistic institutional time, (how ideal to enforce timed creation of that which is not applicable to time), gone. The work created decides itself. The critique lacks any timed capacities just the same, as to be most in tune with the work to be critiqued, this inevitably removes the forced conversation typical of a crit, and allows the formation of real relationships with the works.

Economy, Environment Map. (are.na)
Community and Collaboration

The teacher, then, embodies the mentor. They do not project their understandings of life onto students, but rather allow students the responsibility to create their own understanding, the mentor being simply a mediator of these understandings.

Academic freedom (for students as well as faculty) is a necessity of these dynamics and is the only route that allows students to form under-standings of their relationship to the constantly unfolding present world.

Where previously pedagogical ends and goals where decided by the institutional authority, now we shall have a situation where there is dialogue along with the means for creation, discovery, and growth. Students will occupy a much more fulfilling relationship to their re-responsibility as artist.

“[A]t the point of encounter (of dialogue) there are neither utter ignoramuses nor perfect sages: there are only people who are attempting, together, to learn more than they now know.”

- Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

At the core of the (non) ideal pedagogical space is the release from actuality through knowledge.

Where knowledge has become so self-referential and mass produced, there lays a desire for true growth that taught knowledge cannot serve.

All that is then contained within the space is space itself - the world floods in and is mediated by the desire for true growth.