web site hit counter The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation

Availability: Ready to download

This extraordinary book can be read on several levels. Primarily, it is the story of Joseph Jacotot, an exiles French schoolteacher who discovered in 1818 an unconventional teaching method that spread panic throughout the learned community of Europe. Knowing no Flemish, Jacotot found himself able to teach in French to Flemish students who knew no French; knowledge, Jacotot This extraordinary book can be read on several levels. Primarily, it is the story of Joseph Jacotot, an exiles French schoolteacher who discovered in 1818 an unconventional teaching method that spread panic throughout the learned community of Europe. Knowing no Flemish, Jacotot found himself able to teach in French to Flemish students who knew no French; knowledge, Jacotot concluded, was not necessary to teach, nor explication necessary to learn. The results of this unusual experiment in pedagogy led him to announce that all people were equally intelligent. From this postulate, Jacotot devised a philosophy and a method for what he called "intellectual emancipation"—a method that would allow, for instance, illiterate parents to themselves teach their children how to read. The greater part of the book is devoted to a description and analysis of Jacotot's method, its premises, and (perhaps most important) its implications for understanding both the learning process and the emancipation that results when that most subtle of hierarchies, intelligence, is overturned. The book, as Kristin Ross argues in her introduction, has profound implications for the ongoing debate about education and class in France that has raged since the student riots of 1968, and it affords Rancière an opportunity (albeit indirectly) to attack the influential educational and sociological theories of Pierre Bourdieu (and others) that Rancière sees as perpetuating inequality.


Compare

This extraordinary book can be read on several levels. Primarily, it is the story of Joseph Jacotot, an exiles French schoolteacher who discovered in 1818 an unconventional teaching method that spread panic throughout the learned community of Europe. Knowing no Flemish, Jacotot found himself able to teach in French to Flemish students who knew no French; knowledge, Jacotot This extraordinary book can be read on several levels. Primarily, it is the story of Joseph Jacotot, an exiles French schoolteacher who discovered in 1818 an unconventional teaching method that spread panic throughout the learned community of Europe. Knowing no Flemish, Jacotot found himself able to teach in French to Flemish students who knew no French; knowledge, Jacotot concluded, was not necessary to teach, nor explication necessary to learn. The results of this unusual experiment in pedagogy led him to announce that all people were equally intelligent. From this postulate, Jacotot devised a philosophy and a method for what he called "intellectual emancipation"—a method that would allow, for instance, illiterate parents to themselves teach their children how to read. The greater part of the book is devoted to a description and analysis of Jacotot's method, its premises, and (perhaps most important) its implications for understanding both the learning process and the emancipation that results when that most subtle of hierarchies, intelligence, is overturned. The book, as Kristin Ross argues in her introduction, has profound implications for the ongoing debate about education and class in France that has raged since the student riots of 1968, and it affords Rancière an opportunity (albeit indirectly) to attack the influential educational and sociological theories of Pierre Bourdieu (and others) that Rancière sees as perpetuating inequality.

30 review for The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    The Ignorant Schoolmaster is a strange and strangely inspiring little book in the romantic tradition of Rousseau. Published in 1991, it would have been popular in the romantic educational sixties, focused as it is on individualism and deschooling (Ivan Illych). It recalls for me Writing Without Teachers by Peter Elbow and A. S Neill’s Summerhill and Jonathan Kozol’s anarchistic free schools. And, since it favors families over teachers (who are usually stultifying explicators rather than emancipa The Ignorant Schoolmaster is a strange and strangely inspiring little book in the romantic tradition of Rousseau. Published in 1991, it would have been popular in the romantic educational sixties, focused as it is on individualism and deschooling (Ivan Illych). It recalls for me Writing Without Teachers by Peter Elbow and A. S Neill’s Summerhill and Jonathan Kozol’s anarchistic free schools. And, since it favors families over teachers (who are usually stultifying explicators rather than emancipators), maybe it echoes calls for home schooling (or even solo schooling, no schools at all) over what Rancierre’s fellow Althusser mentee Pierre Bourdieu claimed: Schools as primarily institutions for the purpose of reproducing society (and class divisions) and not for creating social revolutions and equity. Conformity, not freedom. Rancierre separated himself from conservative notions of education, but he wasn’t any more hopeful about progressive education, with its equally essentialist assumptions about “what all kids” need. Both tend to explicate instead of liberate, according to Rancierre. But today the progressives are in retreat, beaten down by the Common Core and the worldwide and increasing schools-as-24/7-testing agencies. Argument reigns. Narrative and the imagination are in the back seat. Rancierre is uncompromising, though, in response. He says emancipation and liberation can’t take place in schools. Only stultification. Schools teach for conformity. We are not all alike, Rancierre says; human variety is the nature of the world. Learning to be emancipatory has to be free of prescribed curricula. Rancierre uses as his guide a 19th century French educator, Jacotet, who in 1818 adopted an approach to “teaching what you don’t know how to teach.” You become ignorant, in other words, if you want to truly teach. I tend to look at this position as not literally true, but as a metaphor. As he says elsewhere, everyone is equally intelligent (or we are differently intelligent, or all intelligent in our own ways). If we buy this multiple intelligences approach, then there’s no such thing as absolute ignorance. The point as I take it is for the teacher to embrace humility, or to approach students democratically, not with arrogance but willing to listen to students sometimes and learn from them. To be an ignorant schoolmaster is to be a humble one, not starting with an assumption of the ignorance and inequality of the students. So this approach seems a little optimistic, given that some students don’t always seem to have the will to learn. They can be bored, passive. But the solution in part is to keep honoring students and help them to engage in ways and ideas they see as fruitful and interesting. Rancierre takes a pragmatist position, not one outlined in advance; his is responsive teaching, reflective, inquiry-based. Improvisational. Learning is ideally local, contextual, problem-based/solving. Freedom is key to learning. But is it always practical? With some subjects it seems clearly naïve. Can you learn organic chemistry, for instance, completely through inquiry, through answering your own questions? As with all romanticism, Rancierre’s approach is individualistic, not social. He doesn’t really believe any good can be accomplished when people of like minds come together. He thinks politics are basically futile. But how can you change the world? Not through mere individual freedom, surely. Rancierre doesn’t seem to have respect for citizenship. Or maybe he is implying we have to become free and self-efficacious human beings before we become citizens. If so, I’ll maybe buy that. But a teacher has things to contribute obviously, and should be part of the conversation, hopefully guiding it in useful ways. Holding back may be a good thing in some conversations, but complete silence on the part of the teacher seems stupid, a denial of experience. Rancierre privileges the learner over the teacher, but isn’t the teacher also potentially a learner, especially if humble? Doesn’t he overly-romanticize students as pure and innocent? Are they all born good (vs. the Calvinist view)? Has he ever taught seventeen last period sophomore boys, as I have? ☺ Folow your path, Rancierre says, just as Joseph Campbell said “follow your bliss” in the sixties. This sounds familiar and somewhat escapist to me. Possibly selfish. But I’m still provoked by this book in useful ways. Starting humbly with a view of everyone as fundamentally equal (or equally deserving of rights) sounds like a good approach especially in this vicious American political and educational environment.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This is, quite literally, one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. Ranciere basically tells the story of one Joseph Jacotot, a professor who, during the restoration in early 19th century France was forced to leave the country, wound up in Flanders, and found himself asked to teach local students the French language, which they did not know. Unfortunately, Jacotot himself knew no Flemish and was without a common language with his students. Not to be dissuaded, he left his students with a This is, quite literally, one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. Ranciere basically tells the story of one Joseph Jacotot, a professor who, during the restoration in early 19th century France was forced to leave the country, wound up in Flanders, and found himself asked to teach local students the French language, which they did not know. Unfortunately, Jacotot himself knew no Flemish and was without a common language with his students. Not to be dissuaded, he left his students with a recently published bilingual edition of a work of French literature and advised his students to go through it, simply relating the French they didn't know to the Flemish they did, and report back to him on their progress in a few months. To his utmost surprise, all of his students obtained fluency in French in a few months time with little more than his injunction to work it out themselves. This experience left Jacotot with the impression that all human intelligences are equal, and that anyone is capable of teaching anything at all, even subjects the teacher does not him/herself know. Jacotot set up an experiemtal school in Louvain and most of the book involves Ranciere recounting the various results and observations made on the basis of this experiment at intellectual emancipation, and its eventual reception by the wider society and the educational establishment. This book is not without its flaws--the biggest one being Ranciere's apoliticism, his assertion that intellectual emancipation is a personal endeavor and not in any way the basis of a political movement. But his rigorous and devoted effort to proclaim that equality is a principle to start from whose consequences must be verified and practiced, and not a result to be obtained in some indefinitely postponed future, is an example and an inspiration. Read this book: it will not fail to inspire you with the idea that you are capable of understanding anything you want.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Oralmajority

    The last two chapters of the book completely fail to live up to the promise of the initial premise and *critique* of both social and internalized pedagogical-epistemological hierarchies, falling back into a micro-politics of discourse and a secularized ideology-critique (i.e. intellectual superiority as "everybody's" ideology). Instead of making the qualitative leap from a radical Enlightenment notion of universal equality to grounding such possibility in objective, transformative social practice The last two chapters of the book completely fail to live up to the promise of the initial premise and *critique* of both social and internalized pedagogical-epistemological hierarchies, falling back into a micro-politics of discourse and a secularized ideology-critique (i.e. intellectual superiority as "everybody's" ideology). Instead of making the qualitative leap from a radical Enlightenment notion of universal equality to grounding such possibility in objective, transformative social practices, we are left with the same old antinomy of potentially rational individual and ontologically irrational society. An almost literal retreading of Kant, steering us from 90 pages of "emancipation" within the palace of individualist reason to the violent, confusing bad-infinity of citizenship and the social (which ahistorically conflated). Instead, we are told, the key to "progress" (a concept that re-inserts itself on the social level after being justly destroyed in the early chapters), can only be obtained through the missionary-like intervention of enlightened masters in the "self-contemptuous" plebeian masses. Steering a middle road between Althusserianism and post-structuralism proper, we wind up trapped in an individualist, liberal voluntarism. Such a politics dovetails with the author's turning away from history and back towards philosophy, vis-a-vis the "master" Jacotot as well as the Classical masters, concatenation with the Enlightenment conte philosophique. An astonishing, enigmatic fall from his early work, especially "Proletarian Nights."

  4. 5 out of 5

    adam

    The basic premise of Rancière’s work is to provide a history of the early nineteenth century French schoolmaster, Joseph Jacotot. Jacotot found himself in a position where he was asked to teach French to a group of Flemish students. The problem, however, was that the students knew no French and he knew no Flemish. In devising a method of teaching these students French by having them read and recite a book in French until they could understand and discuss it, Jacotot developed a “pedagogy” (in sc The basic premise of Rancière’s work is to provide a history of the early nineteenth century French schoolmaster, Joseph Jacotot. Jacotot found himself in a position where he was asked to teach French to a group of Flemish students. The problem, however, was that the students knew no French and he knew no Flemish. In devising a method of teaching these students French by having them read and recite a book in French until they could understand and discuss it, Jacotot developed a “pedagogy” (in scare quotes because it is precisely an anti-pedagogy) based not on explication but on emancipation. The conclusion he reached by “teaching what he didn’t know” was that all students were of equal intelligence because they all had the same capacity for reason; the purpose of education, therefore, was not to explicate an established body of knowledge (which posits the schoolmaster as a “master” and the children as ignorant) but rather to have children realize their own capacity for reason and intelligence by recognizing the necessity of its use. Rancière's argument in support of Jacotot’s conclusions is easy to follow and quite convincing; the book also does well is recasting the basic premises of Jacotot’s system in the basic terminology of twentieth-century theory. Language, for example, plays an important role in the entire argument because Jacotot concluded that intelligence was prior to, and corrupted by, language: we are not intelligent because of language; rather, language is merely a tool by which we communicate with and understand each other. “Man does not think because he speaks – this would precisely submit thought to the existing material order. Man thinks because he exists” (62). Truth, therefore, cannot be expressed in language but must rather be grasped or felt in spite of its inadequacies. On the whole, the conclusions of the book are at once hopeful and discouraging. Progress, especially in terms of the refinement of social institutions to reflect rationality, becomes a negative term because it constitutively perpetuates the very inequalities that it supposes itself to be overcoming. Equality, therefore, can never be realized on a social level because we need social institutions and they necessarily produce inequality. At the same time, however, the book is hopeful and potentially revolutionary insofar as emancipation is always possible – at least intellectually – because every human being has the capacity to realize his or her capacity for intelligence by submitting his will to rationality. As Rancière says, “There cannot be a class of the emancipated, an assembly or a society of the emancipated. But any individual can always, at any moment, be emancipated and emancipate someone else, announce to others the practice and add to the number of people who know themselves as such and who no longer play the comedy of the inferior superiors. A society, a people, a state, will always be irrational. But one can multiply within these bodies the number of people who, as individuals, will make use of reason, and who, as citizens, will know how to seek the art of raving as reasonably as possible” (98). I also found this book extremely interesting in terms of Enlightenment thought. Having spent the last few months reading a lot of Kant (among others), the conclusions reached by Rancière (via Jacotot) provide an interesting counterpoint to Kant’s understanding of the relationship between politics and freedom: “One must choose between making an unequal society out of equal men and making an equal society out of unequal men. Whoever has some taste for equality shouldn’t hesitate: individuals are real beings, and society a fiction. It’s for real beings that equality has value, not for a fiction” (132). This book - short and easy to follow - is a must-read for those who teach or who are interested in issues of justice, as it forces us to think about just what i

  5. 5 out of 5

    Actæon:

    The wonderful premise of this book gets mired in an ultimately incoherent and unconvincing thesis. The aspiration to an instrumental equality of intelligence has an ethical drive that seems consistent with Rancierre's project of emancipatory politics, but there is absolutely no political content to the effects of this 'aspiration'. The master/slave antinomy that he sees animating Bourdieu, Milner and Althusser's critiques of 1968 discourse seems flattened and deferred onto an antimony between th The wonderful premise of this book gets mired in an ultimately incoherent and unconvincing thesis. The aspiration to an instrumental equality of intelligence has an ethical drive that seems consistent with Rancierre's project of emancipatory politics, but there is absolutely no political content to the effects of this 'aspiration'. The master/slave antinomy that he sees animating Bourdieu, Milner and Althusser's critiques of 1968 discourse seems flattened and deferred onto an antimony between the will and the intelligence, where the will becomes an a priori phenomenon impervious to critique and no safeguard at all of an emancipatory system. Reading this felt much like reading John Stuart Mill, so individualising and humanistic was the language. Rancierre's conceit is delicious, but a convincing emancipatory politics it does not make.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stevphen Shukaitis

    I quite enjoyed this book. The main reason I read it is to be able to understand the ways that Colectivo Situaciones, the Argentinean militant research and political theory group, draw from and extend upon his work. So that's the context I read this within. The basic gist that stood out for me is the idea of a kind of equality that one takes as a presupposition to start from rather than as a goal to be worked towards. So that's why you have the notion on radical self-education that comes out thr I quite enjoyed this book. The main reason I read it is to be able to understand the ways that Colectivo Situaciones, the Argentinean militant research and political theory group, draw from and extend upon his work. So that's the context I read this within. The basic gist that stood out for me is the idea of a kind of equality that one takes as a presupposition to start from rather than as a goal to be worked towards. So that's why you have the notion on radical self-education that comes out through his analysis of Jacob Jacotot, because it's premised on the assumption that all are equally intellectually capable. Now in a certain way the actual truth and falsity of this statement really isn't particularly important at all as much as the kinds of relations, capacities, and outcomes that are animated by social engagement based upon this assumption. And that's quite interesting. It reminds me quite a lot of the autonomist Marxist / workerist argument about the working class being autonomous and having an autonomous existence before, in, and through, and despite the existence of capital - and this primacy of resistance is what acts of as driving motor of capital's transformation. The way that is parallel is that in some ways it doesn't really matter whether the claim of an existing is true or not at all, but what kinds of relations, politics, organizing, and so forth are animated based on that claim. It becomes a strategic intervention that takes parts in creating forms of autonomous sociality. So what's important isn't the truth or falsity of the claim but that the claim itself takes part in creating the conditions for the realization of the autonomy that is claimed. And this seems the same dynamic that Ranciere is taking with the idea of equality and radical self-education, that the claim itself is not important in whether its true, but that its truth is realized through the effects it creates. And that seems pretty cool to me. Its a sort of relational / compositional approach to knowledge production and theorizing, and I can see what Colectivo Situaciones quite like him. He works on some similar themes in the other book of his (The Philosophy and His Poor) that I'm reading at the moment.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Allan

    This book dares to reproduce several wild claims: 1.) All intelligences are equal; 2.) We can learn anything that can be learned by virtue of our own faculties and without the direction of a knowing-mentor; 3.) We can teach what we do not know. Rancière does not author these claims so much as retrieve them from the teachings of a nineteenth century pedagogue and pariah: Joseph Jacotot. Yet he asserts the claims anew and with a vigor that begs attention. And attention is exactly what is demanded. This book dares to reproduce several wild claims: 1.) All intelligences are equal; 2.) We can learn anything that can be learned by virtue of our own faculties and without the direction of a knowing-mentor; 3.) We can teach what we do not know. Rancière does not author these claims so much as retrieve them from the teachings of a nineteenth century pedagogue and pariah: Joseph Jacotot. Yet he asserts the claims anew and with a vigor that begs attention. And attention is exactly what is demanded. Going further, Rancière addresses the counter arguments, both those documented in history and those that can be projected by today's skeptics. Throughout the text he dismantles these counter arguments, showing them to be the critiques of those invested in the preservation of inequality. He even goes so far as to reveal the consequences of progressives who would appropriate the tenets of emancipatory education in service of a new order, one which only rearranges the ranks of difference. This is an excellent book, and one that will mark how I continue my life as a teacher AND learner. Part of me thinks that, given the choice, I would make this book required reading for any career educator, but that would be to make a program of something that must happen naturally. All I can really do is rate it highly and spread the word. All intelligences are equal. Anything that can be learned is open to you to learn by your own will. You can teach what you do not know.

  8. 5 out of 5

    James

    Amazing book about the human mind and its ability to think and learn. Ranciere posits that people have the unique ability to teach themselves and this ability gives everyone the ability for educational and political equality and participation. This is a gross over simplification but he rejects the standard student teacher relationship and rejects the idea of inborn class sorting. Much of the work is based on an obscure French educator of the 1820's who was able to teach his students stuff he did Amazing book about the human mind and its ability to think and learn. Ranciere posits that people have the unique ability to teach themselves and this ability gives everyone the ability for educational and political equality and participation. This is a gross over simplification but he rejects the standard student teacher relationship and rejects the idea of inborn class sorting. Much of the work is based on an obscure French educator of the 1820's who was able to teach his students stuff he did not know. Must read for those in education and progressive/radical thinkers and activists. Not an east read. Took me most of August.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Avşar

    The second half was way ahead of my comprehension, though Ranciere probably would have said that such a thing is impossible and I am not paying any attention. It might as well be correct, I have got mentally tired towards the end but still, the first hundred pages deliver the message profoundly and entirely. Both individualistic and societal, egalitarian and pro-diversity, Ranciere believes in the communal act of learning and defies all possible categorisations of the teacher and the learner, fix The second half was way ahead of my comprehension, though Ranciere probably would have said that such a thing is impossible and I am not paying any attention. It might as well be correct, I have got mentally tired towards the end but still, the first hundred pages deliver the message profoundly and entirely. Both individualistic and societal, egalitarian and pro-diversity, Ranciere believes in the communal act of learning and defies all possible categorisations of the teacher and the learner, fixed truth, noble information and dualities of education and governance. Learn, repeat, imitate, translate, deconstruct, reconstruct.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Geo

    ranciere's incisive critique of the self-perpetuating inequality in traditional explanatory pedagogy. ranciere's incisive critique of the self-perpetuating inequality in traditional explanatory pedagogy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    James F

    The English translation, by Kristin Ross, of Ranci��re's Ma��tre ignorant. The book tells the story of Joseph Jacotot, a French scholar in exile in Belgium in the early nineteenth century, who devised a method of teaching what he didn't know. His thesis was very simple -- everyone is of equal intelligence. (Which, leaving aside those who are actually retarded because of some problem with the brain, I think is at least approximately true.) He went on to discover that people who were sufficiently The English translation, by Kristin Ross, of Ranci��re's Ma��tre ignorant. The book tells the story of Joseph Jacotot, a French scholar in exile in Belgium in the early nineteenth century, who devised a method of teaching what he didn't know. His thesis was very simple -- everyone is of equal intelligence. (Which, leaving aside those who are actually retarded because of some problem with the brain, I think is at least approximately true.) He went on to discover that people who were sufficiently motivated could teach themselves better and faster than anyone could teach them; and he came to the conclusion that the problem with education was that it creates a "hierarchy of unequal intelligence," assuming (and convincing the student) that the teacher is "smarter" than the students, and that they need his "explications" to learn, thus undercutting their confidence and capacity to learn on their own. The teacher "starts on their (presumably lower) level" and "gradually elevates them" -- of course they never catch up to the "superior" level of the teacher. I know that I learned very little at school, before I got to college; I generally already knew what I was being "taught" by my own readings before the teacher got to that, and so my time in the classroom was mostly wasted. And when I got to college, the main benefits were partly that the professors taught things that weren't in the text, but mainly just that they suggested good books for me to read (that's why, since my TBR list is Last In, First Out, that there is still a layer at the bottom from 1970-73). I always assumed that this was because my school, or my teachers, weren't particularly good; but what this book explains is that that is an inherent problem in the very concept of instruction by "explication." I have been struck, since I started doing Homework Help at the local literacy center, by how many students -- almost all, in fact -- come in with the attitude of "I can't understand math" and expect me to explain everything to them, rather than trying to read the textbook and figure things out. And I'm most effective when I simply start in with, "let's figure it out" and let them explain it to me. They can do it, and they get the confidence to keep going on their own -- sometimes. Some simply won't try. So I have to agree so far with Jacotot. The explanation of this theory and examples takes up about a third of this short book. In the rest, Jacotot-Ranci��re (it's not always clear when Ranci��re is just paraphrasing Jacotot, and when he is expanding on him) generalized this to a number of other areas of philosophy and society. Here there is much that seems dubious, and that I just can't agree with. Nevertheless, there are brilliant insights on every page that at least make me rethink my assumptions. Ross's "Translator's Introduction" (which I think it would be better to read after the book itself) locates the book in the context of the post-May 1968 debates on French education (which is not explicitly dealt with in the book) and Ranci��re's own development. I think that this is a must read for teachers, parents, homeschoolers, students, and anyone interested in education or educational reform (did I leave anyone out?)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Corbin

    A provocative and easy-to-follow book, it suggests a simple formula for emancipation: assume that everyone has equal intelligence. Ranciere examines the life, pedagogy, and thought of Joseph Jacotot, who was forced to try to teach students with whom he shared no common language and as a result developed "universal teaching." Universal teaching emphasizes the idea that every person is capable of learning with enough attention and hard work; since it is the student who is doing the work of learnin A provocative and easy-to-follow book, it suggests a simple formula for emancipation: assume that everyone has equal intelligence. Ranciere examines the life, pedagogy, and thought of Joseph Jacotot, who was forced to try to teach students with whom he shared no common language and as a result developed "universal teaching." Universal teaching emphasizes the idea that every person is capable of learning with enough attention and hard work; since it is the student who is doing the work of learning, the teacher only needs to ensure that the student is actually attending to the source material and making connections to what s/he already knows. From this inspiring premise and the historical instantiation of universal teaching in the early 19th century, Ranciere then pits the society of explication and masters against this ideal of equal intelligence. While I have always advocated that anyone can learn who wants to, and that every communication conveys something of intelligible worth and thus is worthy of attention, I am not so sure about the overarching political consequences that Ranciere tries to draw. I can accept that there is a conflict when those in power feel their status and influence undermined by a individual self-worth and innovation. But I feel like it is too much to say that the only revolution that is needed is a disruption of all social institutions in favor of individual emancipation into the will to learn. We are still social creatures, and intellectual emancipation is no guarantee of social responsibility; in fact, it seems that those who favor this kind of individual liberty often shun the social while taking advantage of its resources. As a result, I found myself simultaneously intrigued/inspired and frustrated/disappointed. If anything, this seems like a great book for parents. I think educators and public officials can also take the warnings regarding stultification which probably does have its impact in the classroom and social arenas. But after starting with the belief in intellectual equality, there seems like a lot more to do, in and out of the classroom.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stefan Szczelkun

    This book has many points of contact with my life and work. What follows is from the conclusion of my detailed blog review after reading this book. What comes over in this book, however many little holes you can pick in this argument, is a powerful sense of what revolutionary change consists of. Without practising an attitude of intellectual equality there is no chance of achieving an widely democratic and society of equals without exception. There is no chance of releasing the widespread thinkin This book has many points of contact with my life and work. What follows is from the conclusion of my detailed blog review after reading this book. What comes over in this book, however many little holes you can pick in this argument, is a powerful sense of what revolutionary change consists of. Without practising an attitude of intellectual equality there is no chance of achieving an widely democratic and society of equals without exception. There is no chance of releasing the widespread thinking and self-regard that a new social formation would need. Too often Marxists argue for an elite leadership of some kind or other. And there are too many negative examples from history of where this leads when institutionalised in a state. The next incarnation of communistic politics, must be led from below. A grassroots organisation of human life based on an assumption of human equality and at the core of that a profound respect for the equality of human intelligence. In terms of a revolutionary perspective the focus on equality of intelligence might seem a little off point to many socialists with so much material deprivation and an increasing gap in our relative wealth. Many people see equality of all sorts as economically determined in the classic Marxist sense. I guess that behind this focus on intelligence is an assumption that all human problems are capable of succumbing to thought. Whether one is faced with overthrowing a dictator or changing an economic system innovative radical thinking is what must precede action. Not the thinking of a genius or two, but more a global uprising of general intelligence. So this is a profoundly optimistic and uplifting book. More detail here: https://stefan-szczelkun.blogspot.com...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maughn Gregory

    1. Knowledge is not necessary to teach. 2. Expert explication is not necessary to learn. 3. All people are equally intelligent. These theses, worked out by exiled French school teacher Joseph Jacotot in 1818, are at once pedagogically and politically revolutionary -- as demonstrated so powerfully in our age by Myles Horton and the Highlander Folk School. Movements for social change that do not practice the pedagogy of intellectual equality will inevitably subvert their own goals. As reviewer Stefa 1. Knowledge is not necessary to teach. 2. Expert explication is not necessary to learn. 3. All people are equally intelligent. These theses, worked out by exiled French school teacher Joseph Jacotot in 1818, are at once pedagogically and politically revolutionary -- as demonstrated so powerfully in our age by Myles Horton and the Highlander Folk School. Movements for social change that do not practice the pedagogy of intellectual equality will inevitably subvert their own goals. As reviewer Stefan Szczelkun wrote below, "There is no chance of releasing the widespread thinking and self-regard that a new social formation would need [when] Marxists argue for an elite leadership of some kind or other.... The next incarnation of communistic politics must be led from below.... [B]ehind this focus on intelligence is an assumption that all human problems are capable of succumbing to thought. Whether one is faced with overthrowing a dictator or changing an economic system, innovative radical thinking is what must precede action. Not the thinking of a genius or two, but more a global uprising of general intelligence."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    An interesting concept that I was actually able to put into practice when I taught a class!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    The first two chapters were the most useful. The cental idea is this: given the will to learn, all persons are equally intelligent and equally capable of teaching themselves -- to realize this is "intellectual emancipation." "Stultification" occurs when one submits ones intelligence to inequality at the hands of a master who "explicates," that is, who dominates the student's intelligence with his own. What matters in terms of intellectual manifestation is not more or less intelligence, but more The first two chapters were the most useful. The cental idea is this: given the will to learn, all persons are equally intelligent and equally capable of teaching themselves -- to realize this is "intellectual emancipation." "Stultification" occurs when one submits ones intelligence to inequality at the hands of a master who "explicates," that is, who dominates the student's intelligence with his own. What matters in terms of intellectual manifestation is not more or less intelligence, but more of less energy and attention; stultification, then, is synonymous with laziness. A student has not searched, has not paid attention, has been distracted or unwilling. The teachers work, then, is to create an arbitrary circle in which the student may exercise his own intelligence; to interrogate ("What do you see? What do you think of it? What do you make of it?") and verify that the material at hand verifies the response, or rather, that the student has himself searched for the answer. The end result is for each student to undertake his "adventure of the mind" on his own. The latter 3 chapters were less useful for me as a teacher, however interesting they may have been to the sociologists of post-1968 France. It is nothing short of a revolution, however, to convince students that, say, Shakespeare, is not more of a genius than they are in terms of intelligence, but only in terms of his energy and willingness to communicate what is common to all men. And he does do that: communicate what is common. He has the same thoughts as you. He has the same intelligence as you. And if you want to understand him, you do not need a teacher. You need to "get used" to his language, to think about what he has said, to compare it to your own experience. You, Shakespeare, and your teacher: you are all equals. That's an intellectual revolution! The usefulness of that, even if we grant an inequality of intelligence, is the notion of relative equality between teacher and student. There is not something magical about the teacher that the student lacks: the teacher has gotten used to this particular "language" (be it math, science, art, mechanics, etc.), and you have not. I have learned to speak that language the same way I learned to speak English: I spent time with it, poked and prodded it, compared it, verified it, tasted it, even. No one taught me how to read Shakespeare: I read and I read and I read until Shakespeare became meaningful to me. The mind is a garden whose trees blossom only with assiduous irrigation -- not explication, but time and attention.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nate

    In his book The Ignorant Schoolmaster, Jacques Ranciere reads the work of a 19th century French teacher, Jacotot. Jacotot ended up having Flemish students with whom he could not adequately communicate, as they did not speak French and he did not speak Flemish. In order to instruct them in French, he had them each get a copy of Telemachus in Flemish and in French. He had them read the book in their own language until it was very familiar. Then he had them read the book in French and compare the t In his book The Ignorant Schoolmaster, Jacques Ranciere reads the work of a 19th century French teacher, Jacotot. Jacotot ended up having Flemish students with whom he could not adequately communicate, as they did not speak French and he did not speak Flemish. In order to instruct them in French, he had them each get a copy of Telemachus in Flemish and in French. He had them read the book in their own language until it was very familiar. Then he had them read the book in French and compare the two, slowly, painstakingly. Over time, the students learned French. Reflecting on this, Jacotot decided that while the students had learned, it was not clear if or how he had taught them. His own knowledge of French had not been transmitted to the students, or even been relevant to the students’ learning. If the students had learned without Jacotot’s knowledge entering into play, then didn’t this mean that one did not have to know to teach? As an experiment, he undertook to teach painting and piano, which he did not know. And his students learned painting and piano. Jacotot called this method universal teaching. From this experience, he derived a proposition by turns startling and simple: intelligence does not admit of differences of quantity. Everyone is as intelligent as everyone else. Application or access to intelligence is a matter of will. Learning then is an act of will, and the training and strengthening of will. In other words, learning is emancipation, at least when it occurs via universal teaching. If universal teaching is emancipation, what is other teaching? It is stultification. Ordinary teaching methods are based on explication, which implies an assumption of the inferiority of the student: the student is unable and deficient, and therefore needs the explicator to guide the student through their education, to give them knowledge. A partly remembered quote from Stirner comes to mind – ‘having been licked into shape, they in turn lick others into shape’, a process which has nothing to do with educating people into liberty and their own power. This education is fundamentally one which inculcates inferiority: starting from the supposition of inferiority, education produces material inferiority in the form of stultification – lack of knowledge of and ability to exercises intelligence. Pushed far enough, Jacotot’s ideas raise questions about whether it makes sense to even say universal teaching is a method: “if you think about it a little, the ‘method’ he was proposing is the oldest in the world (…) there is no one in the world who hasn’t learned something by himself and without an explicator.” (16.) That is, universal teaching, to be emancipatory (in the sense of being aware of “the consciousness of that equality” of intelligence in/accessed by all people), must admit that emancipation is always self-emancipation. Otherwise universal teaching becomes yet another stultifying doctrine. For Ranciere, the idea of equality of intelligence which arises out of the experience of universal teaching is not an ontological matter. Rather, it is a supposition. “Let’s see what we can do if we assume this to be the case.” It is a principle to be continually tested and verified. This point also raises the question of what can be done or is done by the assumption of inequality of intelligence (that is, stultification). The emphasis, then, is on practices. On the practice of speech: “Each word is sent off with the intention of carrying just one thought, but, unknown to the one speaking and in spite of him, that speech, that word, that larva, is made fruitful by the listener’s will; and the representative of a monad becomes the center of a sphere of ideas radiating out in all directions, such that speaker has actually said an infinity of things beyond what he wanted to say; he has formed a body of an idea with ink, and the matter destined to mysteriously envelop a solitary being actually contains a whole world of those beings, those thoughts.” (63.) These characteristics of speech are evidence of universal teaching practiced, often without being aware, by everyone. Stultification is directed precisely at producing this condition of being unaware. Ranciere writes “explication is not only the stultifying weapon of the pedagogues but the very bond of the social order. Whoever says order say distribution into ranks. Putting into ranks presupposes explication, the distributory, justificatory fiction of an inequality that has no other reason for being.” (117.) Stultification plays out in historical narratives: “The most elementary hierarchy is that of good and evil. The simplest logical relationship that can serve to explain this hierarchy is that of before and after. With these four terms, we have the matrix of all explications. Things were better before, say some (…) Let’s try then to preserve or revive that which, in our distinctions, still holds us to the principle of the good. Happiness will come tomorrow, respond the others: the human species was like a child left to the caprices and terrors of his imagination (…) Now, minds are enlightened, customs are civilized, and industry spreads its benefits. (…) Capacity must from now on decide social ranks, and it is education that will reveal and develop it.” * This book speaks in particular to an experience I've had in school a lot. A teacher can - and must, in order to justify his (usually his, especially as one climbs further in the ranks of teachers) existence as teacher - always say “you haven’t understood, let me tell you why your understanding is flawed,” under any circumstances whatsoever, because it is the teacher who is arbiter of understanding. You haven’t understood until the teacher says you have. If you disagree, it’s because you misunderstand the criteria for deciding upon (mis)understanding. If the student says “I disagree” and the teacher says “you misunderstand”, who is right? Judged from the teacher’s perspective, the teacher. Disagreeing with the teacher is tremendously difficult. Just as one can only sue the state in court if the state permits it (recognizes one’s claim as a case of potential wrong such that it worthy of litigation, rather than a simple dissatisfaction), one can only disagree with the teacher if the teacher agrees to ascribe the claim status as disagreement (which requires a prior or simultaneous ascription of the status of understanding, such that one is even able to disagree). When a student internalizes the teacher's claim ("I don't disagree, I misunderstand"), that is part of stultification.

  18. 4 out of 5

    dimwig

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. i'm going to have to think more about this and read more maybe too... on the face of it there's a lot to agree with about equality in intelligence etc. it's true that it leads to some slippery territory, individualism. i'm not sure that he's wrong though. it may be a bit cynical to think that progressive education just perpetuates inequalities (should note here that the whole class dynamic he obsesses over is characteristically french & doesn't map onto my experience at all but i can read equali i'm going to have to think more about this and read more maybe too... on the face of it there's a lot to agree with about equality in intelligence etc. it's true that it leads to some slippery territory, individualism. i'm not sure that he's wrong though. it may be a bit cynical to think that progressive education just perpetuates inequalities (should note here that the whole class dynamic he obsesses over is characteristically french & doesn't map onto my experience at all but i can read equality/inequality in other ways that still work) but i think canada is an interesting example of just that sort of thing......... namely a society where reasonably progressive education has given us the veneer of a progressive society where in fact if you dig a bit a lot of people can't really back that up rigorously, i.e. they've never really thought about it, just been indoctrinated; educated, not emancipated. as i said... i will have to think about this more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael Benoit

    Without a doubt the most liberating text I've ever read. It turns the history of philosophy and pedagogy on its head in its verification (rather than postponing) of equality. Every method of pedagogy is riddled with the implication of inequality of intelligence. How can we be free if we must rely on a master to show us the way? This piece could also be seen as Ranciére's scathing satirical polemic of his old master, Althusser. This book exposes the inegalitarian core of Marxism's underlying prem Without a doubt the most liberating text I've ever read. It turns the history of philosophy and pedagogy on its head in its verification (rather than postponing) of equality. Every method of pedagogy is riddled with the implication of inequality of intelligence. How can we be free if we must rely on a master to show us the way? This piece could also be seen as Ranciére's scathing satirical polemic of his old master, Althusser. This book exposes the inegalitarian core of Marxism's underlying premises, so valorized by Lenin's vanguard leading the supposedly blind and stupid proletariat to Revolution. Lastly, the discourse on Truth is of the utmost profundity. In the discourse of emancipated subjects, Truth is neither the goal nor the presupposition. Recognition of shared humanity is our discourse, and this cannot lead us astray.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    Highly recommend. Provocative conceptually, yet also written with a lovely brightness and joy. Ranciere details the story of Joseph Jacotot, who stumbled upon some rather radical insights about human learning. This book teases out various extremely unsettling ramifications of Jacotot's central insistence: all humans are equally intelligent. He rejects the entire (still dominant) model of education and science based on inequality of intelligence. It leads to stultification by way of explication. Highly recommend. Provocative conceptually, yet also written with a lovely brightness and joy. Ranciere details the story of Joseph Jacotot, who stumbled upon some rather radical insights about human learning. This book teases out various extremely unsettling ramifications of Jacotot's central insistence: all humans are equally intelligent. He rejects the entire (still dominant) model of education and science based on inequality of intelligence. It leads to stultification by way of explication. (Each of those become technical terms in this examination.) I will continue to meditate on the insights and challenges here. I'm quite sure that, if nothing else, it will influence the way I approach my teaching hereafter.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    This book makes you question everything you think about education. I must admit, I struggled with the writing of this text, quite a bit and found myself re-reading passages many MANY times. Ranciere tells the story Joseph Jacotot, who developed a a new method of teaching. Basically this man goes to Brussels and cannot speak Flemish; however, he is tasked with teaching law to his students who also do not know French (his language). What follows is difficult to process and at times Ranciere is not This book makes you question everything you think about education. I must admit, I struggled with the writing of this text, quite a bit and found myself re-reading passages many MANY times. Ranciere tells the story Joseph Jacotot, who developed a a new method of teaching. Basically this man goes to Brussels and cannot speak Flemish; however, he is tasked with teaching law to his students who also do not know French (his language). What follows is difficult to process and at times Ranciere is not explicit with what EXACTLY happens. But it is fascinating reading this teacher's account for the mastery and struggle and ultimate success of his students. I do not know if I will ever have the patience to read it again. But it was a good and challenging read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Case

    Pretty interesting book! This is Ranciere's account of a French teacher and philosopher, Joseph Jacotot. Jacotot found himself in a pretty interesting situation as he was able to teach Flemish students without knowing any Flemish himself. This spawned a whole philosophy that shook up the nature of pedagogy itself, first by describing the traditional method ("explicatory stultification") and then contrasting it to his method of intellectual emancipation. There's lots of interesting ideas in here, a Pretty interesting book! This is Ranciere's account of a French teacher and philosopher, Joseph Jacotot. Jacotot found himself in a pretty interesting situation as he was able to teach Flemish students without knowing any Flemish himself. This spawned a whole philosophy that shook up the nature of pedagogy itself, first by describing the traditional method ("explicatory stultification") and then contrasting it to his method of intellectual emancipation. There's lots of interesting ideas in here, and while I'm not sure if I agree with some of the later passages about reason and rhetoric, I found it very fascinating nonetheless. If you're interested in education, or philosophy in general, I would recommend this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    It has been a very long time since I read a book that fundamentally changed how I think. For whatever reason–perhaps I just read this at the right place at the right time–but The Ignorant Schoolmaster changed how I think about teaching and how I think about audiences (and socio-economic divisions within audiences) in the early modern period. Oddly enough, I do not think Ranière writes a good *book*. I often finish reading him, thinking he could have condensed his text into, say, half its length a It has been a very long time since I read a book that fundamentally changed how I think. For whatever reason–perhaps I just read this at the right place at the right time–but The Ignorant Schoolmaster changed how I think about teaching and how I think about audiences (and socio-economic divisions within audiences) in the early modern period. Oddly enough, I do not think Ranière writes a good *book*. I often finish reading him, thinking he could have condensed his text into, say, half its length and gone into more depth and rigor with what he's writing about. I felt that way here too. That being said, I really like this book. I just don't think Rancière's good at books.

  24. 4 out of 5

    VWUWV

    I read this on recommendation from Olafur Eliasson in an interview with Sam Thorne found in School: A Recent History of Independent Art Schools While the central ideas are sound (that you can teach people things you know nothing about because everyone has access to the same intelligence), it reiterates the main points in enough ways for me to feel annoyed that I didn't get more out of it. Highlights: "The Community of Equals" I read this on recommendation from Olafur Eliasson in an interview with Sam Thorne found in School: A Recent History of Independent Art Schools While the central ideas are sound (that you can teach people things you know nothing about because everyone has access to the same intelligence), it reiterates the main points in enough ways for me to feel annoyed that I didn't get more out of it. Highlights: "The Community of Equals"

  25. 4 out of 5

    I-kai

    Reversing the inequality-equality dynamic in the teacher-student/children-parent relation and exploring its pedagogical and (a-)social consequences. I particularly liked the first three chapters. One of the more lucid writings by Rancière.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Māra Ulme

    Definitely a must-read. Without a doubt. Personally, I am so thankful that this book exists, otherwise I might have thought my gut was wrong about certain (even blantantly apparent) notions regarding the way intelligence works. Now I feel much better about my existence on this planet.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kari Barclay

    A great read with lots to chew on about education, even if I disagree with most of it. :O

  28. 5 out of 5

    Başak Ekinci

    Simply cool words, confusing, long sentences but nothing to be read

  29. 4 out of 5

    Madame

    Really interesting! Sadly, I had to read it for a class that didn't really work well with the text, so I'm going to reread it later on my own. Really interesting! Sadly, I had to read it for a class that didn't really work well with the text, so I'm going to reread it later on my own.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Quaintance

    Emancipation comes when the realization is made that there are no differences in the human potential for understanding. Different “languages” can be spoken, and this includes capacities that have nothing to do with linguistics. One can speak with needle and thread or with hammer and nail in a manner no intellectually inferior to one who speaks in Latin. What we commonly practice in most teaching methods is a manner of teaching that assumes a stark inequality between student and teacher, an inequa Emancipation comes when the realization is made that there are no differences in the human potential for understanding. Different “languages” can be spoken, and this includes capacities that have nothing to do with linguistics. One can speak with needle and thread or with hammer and nail in a manner no intellectually inferior to one who speaks in Latin. What we commonly practice in most teaching methods is a manner of teaching that assumes a stark inequality between student and teacher, an inequality that serves to feed the ego of those who presume they are more intelligent than the student or commoner. In reality, the inequality that is perpetuated actually negatively impacts the student. We must remind our students and ourselves that a presumed inequality of intelligence is not only unfair, and morally questionable, but it is also on a more practical level NOT conducive to learning. “The Socratic method is thus a perfected form of stultification. Like all learned masters, Socrates interrogates in order to instruct, But whoever wishes to emancipate someone must interrogate him in the manner of men and not in the manner of scholars, in order to be instructed, not to instruct. And that can only be performed by someone who effectively knows no more than the student, who has never made the voyage before him, the ignorant master.” This makes practical, actual sense to me - I always find that I am able to work with a topic much better when I explain it to a third party, and I understand it best when this third party knows nothing about the notion. The old saying, When one teaches, two learn, rings especially true for me. I honestly feel as if this should be a required reading for anyone engaged in teaching and learning, whether from an appreciation of alternative forms of pedagogy (sign me up!) or even from an appreciation of art or other abstract concepts, all of which can be understood without requiring “intelligence”, which is really just an elitist, inequality-ridden animal of the ego. If you still think you can’t because you aren’t smart enough, or if you consider intelligence to be an inborn and unachievable factor for whatever reason (hint - “intelligence” as we often conceptualize it in our pedagogical system is most often afforded to those with more privilege) you should read this book. It will change your mind, and hopefully, you will abandon intelligence as we traditionally define it. We must reform our pedagogical system to assume an equality of intelligence if we can expect to form a revolution of any sorts - so this is also an invaluable read for any radical.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.