Space and Time at New Urban Arts (II)

In this second reflection on space and time at New Urban Arts, I’m going to return to the Laybourne quote that prompted my first reflection.  In particular, I want to return to his 1967 vision of the work of the teacher in 2000 and how it relates to space.  

Laybourne imagines much of teachers’ work in 2000 being about `planning and interpreting’.  This perhaps is the most concise and powerfully radical statement of pedagogy that I have found.

Laybourne is perhaps suggesting that the 2000 teacher will move beyond transmitting knowledge to be acquired and stored in a student’s brain.  Yet, he doesn’t imagine a critical pedagogy whereby the teacher’s work is to enlighten a critical consciousness.  

In his vision, the teacher plans.  The teacher offers a provocation, a prompt, an invitation to explore, introduces a curiosity, an artefact.  And the teacher interprets.  The teacher stands back and describes what is unfolding and adds a layer of meaning that might resonate, make special, perhaps further provoke.  

[From a critical pedagogy perspective, the question now becomes whose plans and interpretations matter and why.  Perhaps an unfair comparison, I still find this a more suitable starting point than: the other is blindfolded and must be liberated].

Of course, planning and interpreting is simply a metaphor for bringing some intention to how we learn, or more accurately, live our lives.  Living/learning is nothing but provoking and being provoked, (re)describing that provocation/response, and (re)interpreting what that provocation/response might mean for our pasts and futures.  

In learning/living, borrowing from Richard Rorty, we describe and redescribe our relationship to the world.  These redescriptions awaken new possibilities, further provocations, that invite us outward/inward/upward/downward/forward/backward.  Or consider this quote by Levin in Anna Karenin.

What does this pedagogy mean for space?  Through redescribing, we make our mark through artefacts, including constructing space.  We search out new tools suitable for the unfolding journey.  We mash them up, leave traces behind, and project possibilities before us.  Space suitable for this pedagogy can be written upon.  It makes these redescriptions visible and provokes them further.  

Through redescription, it adapts.  It evolves.  It is built up to be taken down.  It sits like a nest in a tree allowed to fall.  It doesn’t contain or archive.  Its walls are temporary mesh.  Surfaces are stained and layered like a slop sink.  It builds up until it overruns.  It is treated regularly with a fresh coat of paint.  A new colour.   An erasure.  A shift in perspective.  It clutters and declutters.  It has caches to be discovered. It is lit on fire.  Its ashes scattered.  It is marked upon and gives rise again and again.

Look familiar?