Tag Archives: pedagogy

Learning vs. Education: A Conversation at Germantown City Hall

Last weekend at Germantown City Hall, YahNe Baker and The Think Tank convened a conversation to explore different models of and approaches to learning, with a particular emphasis on what might be possible in Germantown. The Philadelphia School District is in a moment of extreme crisis because of the so-called “doomsday” budget, which has resulted in thousands of teacher and staff lay-offs and has come on the heels of the closure of 24 schools (Germantown High School is one of these and is located across the street from the town hall building). Most Philadelphians have strong opinions about the disastrous state of public education and what steps should be taken to rectify the current situation.

We asked participants to share their own experiences and motivations around education. This is some of what we learned:

  • A young teacher-in-training is interested in organizing a professional association of public school teachers who are displeased with the current dominant model of schooling in order to envision new models from the inside out.
  • A mother of a young girl in a local public elementary school expressed her frustration at the toxic environment in which her daughter is enrolled, which includes abusive and burnt-out teachers and teacher’s aides and tired, disinvested parents.
  • A community activist, author, and mother from West Philadelphia shared about her research into the cultural dynamics of parenting and discipline within the African American community, and how this impacts perceptions and practices within the space of education.
  • YahNe told us about the struggle to seek out the best education for her teenage daughter, which has included a range of experiences in private schools, public schools, and, soon, homeschooling and cyber school.
  • Meredith and I shared some basic information and resources on unschooling and other alternative educational models (including Think Tank Reader Vol. III). I spoke about the dilemma we face in wanting to unschool our own children while at the same time building broader support for others in our community who might be interested in this approach for their kids but unaware or unable to envision how that might happen.

In the end, the conversation circled around two related long-term objectives focused on Germantown: 1) providing resources and support for others in the community who might want to pursue alternatives to schooling (public or private) for their children; and 2) building community support for neighborhood public schools. The participants on this day made a tentative plan to organize a larger community meeting on education in Germantown later in the summer to explore concrete actions in advance of these goals.

22 Readings on Research, Activism, the Academy and Conduct: Think Tank Reader Vol. VI

22 Readings on Research, Activism, the Academy, and Conduct is Volume VI in the Think Tank’s reader series. Developed by Heath Schultz and Katie Hargrave in May 2010 for Open Engagement: Making Things, Making Things Better, Making Things Worse, the reader explores how to conduct research and deploy it in the world.

22 Readings on Research, Activism, the Academy and Conduct is part of an occasional series of educational readers by the Think Tank that has yet to be named. This reader was created as part of the conference Open Engagement: Making Things, Making Things Better, Making Things Worse.

In compiling this reader we are interested in what it means to research and how to implement that research in a socio-political context. How does one breech the barriers that render theoretical inquiry and expression useless? What is the role of the student? What is the role of the intellectual? What might the researcher look like or create if she exists outside the academy? How are we implicated in activist projects and communities? We are interested in thinking through what it means to embody research and produce affective action in its wake.

Download the reader → 22 Readings on Research, Activism, the Academy and Conduct

Pedagogical Factory: How We Develop a Critical Reader on a Topic of Great Importance

How We Develop a Critical Reader on a Topic of Great Importance was a project developed as part of “Pedagogical Factory: Exploring Strategies for an Educated City” at the Hyde Park Art Center in the late summer of 2007. We prototyped a small-scale, mobile bench and library to house our Reader Series, which could be deployed in various contexts to support arts education. This project was conceived of by Jeremy Beaudry and Meredith Warner.

The Think Tank that is yet to be named was invited to participate in “Pedagogical Factory: Exploring Strategies for an Educated City” at the Hyde Park Art Center, organized by Jim Duignan of the Stockyard Institute (and realized with the help of many others). Working with other artists, collaboratives, and groups, the project will transform the gallery space into a temporary factory that will design and implement an extensive series of programs and events throughout the two month project. From this collaborative stage, “Pedagogical Factory” will interrogate the overlap between education, economics, art, and activism, creating a venue to explore alternatives to traditional notions of education and social art.

For the exhibition, the Think Tank created a Prototype for a Pedagogical Furniture to contain and present Volume I and Volume II of the Think Tank’s reader series. As a prototype, the piece begins an exploration of small-scale, mobile furniture which might be deployed in various contexts to assist arts education. The readers were offered as an example of sustained, critically-focused compilations of texts which might lead the reader along a course of study.

Some other groups and individuals participating in Pedagogical Factory include:

View a few photos from the opening event