I’m very happy and proud to be part of a new collaborative writing project that’s gone online in December 2019, for which my colleagues Jessica Koch and Katharina Pietsch and I publish essays on education and teaching.
You can visit us at:
A living manifesto for healthier relationships in education
From the title we have chosen, you can see that we have a critical agenda, a programmatic message, and that we see it as continuous, unfinished work. Here’s the project description from the website:
This project emerged from our struggle with institutional power in relationships of learning, in the relationship between us as teachers and our students, and in the relationship between us as students and our teachers. It emerged from our attempts – some failed some successful – to make these relationships healthier.
We love teaching. And we hate it – or at least the parts of it that are damaged by the effects of institutional power. Which is all of it. But not quite all of it, not irrevocably. As university researchers and lecturers in the humanities, with backgrounds in the study of literature, culture, and philosophy, we spend all our waking lives immersed in theory and criticism which helps us to deconstruct the very systems and institutions we are operating in. We believe that most educational procedures, mechanisms, and beliefs as they are being employed and held at the moment are – in a best case scenario – counterproductive to proclaimed didactic and philanthropic goals in education and – in a worst case scenario – harmful to learners and teachers alike.
Unconditional Teaching is a project of healing and a contribution to a growing number of calls for a reform of teaching practices from all disciplines. The aim of our writing is the positive framing and chronicling of alternative practices of teaching and learning: Practices that we hope can mitigate, subvert, and maybe even heal the toxic and damaging effects of institutional power and instead make room for better, more wholesome teaching and learning environments and improved teacher-student relationships.
We already have a number of essays online in which we elaborate on our understanding of ‘unconditionality’ as a mindset in teaching, and on teaching practices that follow from this mindset. I’ve also cross-published a couple of my existing essays from this site at the new project. More content is in the pipeline and will be published over the course of the coming months.
I’m really excited about this project, because in a sense it’s what my Essays on teaching here on this personal website have been leading up to. What I was missing was a more programmatic umbrella to bring my ideas together conceptually. Unconditional Teaching provides me with that umbrella, while still being open to a certain essayistic eclecticism.
The project would never have happened without the collaboration between beloved colleagues who think in similar ways – nor without the support and feedback of our students, who have made it very clear to us that what we do in our teaching practice and what we have to say about education is meaningful to them!