Monday, January 17, 2011

le maître ignorant


Rancière published Le maître ignorant or The Ignorant Schoolmaster in 1991. It is an interpretation of the story of Joseph Jacotot - the original ignorant schoolmaster - who went to Holland as an educator in the 18th century but didn't teach a thing to his students. He didn't teach a thing, not in the sense we disenchanted youth would use that phrase, but in a different sense. He gave his students an edition of Télemacque written in French, of which they did not know a single word, with an edition of the same text in Dutch. The students read the book with the help of the translation and at the end of this experiment were asked to write an essay, in French, a language that they apparently did not know, or rather had never been taught. They each wrote an essay, and succeeded, on the text they had read, in a language they did not speak.

Thus, the ignorant schoolmaster.

This is a text that every person involved in education should read: new educators, older educators, those about to become educators. A revolutionary look at education. Rancière argues here that intelligence is equal, that equality can be a starting point rather than a destination, that intelligence is virtually boundless.

You can download an English version of Rancière's text here:
as well as check out this blog entirely dedicated to Rancière's writings. Despite being a French philosopher (of Algerian decent) most of what Rancière has written has been translated into English, illustrating what an erudite writer he is in the 21st Century.

No comments: