PhD in One Night

::choreography of education::

  • EQUALITY as a starting point


    The idea of PhD in One Night started as an urge to look for an alternative access to knowledge outside of a classical hierarchy of institutional and pedagogical constellations (school, university, theatre, museum etc). This also meant questioning the existing evaluation system of knowledge and hence the importance of title-value in our society/era in general.


    The main inspiration behind our search was a book by Jacques Rancière, "Le Maître ignorant: Cinq leçons sur l'émancipation intellectuelle", in which Rancière’s main protagonist Joseph Jacotot advocates the existence of “equality of intelligences” underlining the classical teaching method as a process of stultification, a process where one intelligence is always subordinated to another. In the steps of Jacotot, Rancière goes on to consider that any collective educational exercise based on the principle of searching, researching, comparing, verifying, guessing and translating can bring to knowledge and collective intelligence. He continues with the premise that all people are of equal capacity to intelligence, and hence equality is not a destination to be reached, but in fact, equality is an axiom and a starting point:


    “You must not go towards equality, but must start from equality. Starting from equality does not presuppose that everyone in the world has equal opportunities to learn, to express their capacities. That's not the point. The point is that you have to start from the minimum equality that is given. The normal pedagogic logic says that people are ignorant, they don't know how to get out of ignorance to learn, so we have to make some kind of an itinerary to move from ignorance to knowledge, starting from the difference between the one who knows and the one who does not know.”


    Le Maître ignorant: Cinq leçons sur l'émancipation intellectuelle
    Published in 1987, translated to english in 1991
    The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation

    ISBN 0-8047-1969-1

    stul·ti·fy (stŭl′tə-fī′)
    tr.v. stul·ti·fied, stul·ti·fy·ing, stul·ti·fies

    A term used in the English translation by Kristin Ross, meaning:
    a cause to lose enthusiasm and innitiative

    (1.) To cause to lose interest or feel dull and not alert;
    (2.) To render useless or ineffectual;
    (3.) To cause to appear stupid, inconsistent, or ridiculous;
    [Late Latin stultificāre, to make foolish : Latin stultus, foolish; see stel- in Indo-European roots + Latin -ficāre, -fy.]


  • EMANCIPATION - a continuos movement


    The world of Jacotot, “The Ignorant Schoolmaster” and Rancière brought us to working on new imaginary of a more equal environment that offers continuous re-thinking of the existing forms of education. An environment whose shapes and forms could be modified, developed and accessed anywhere by anyone. An environment that can be installed independent from the material conditions caused by the state (non)investments in education. The following questions were our guidelines:

    What means “equality as a starting point” in a learning process and how can one translate it to other environments?


    Does a process of emancipation ever ends?


    Looking through the history of school and learning methods, we are interested to understand what stays, what changes through time and which new forms can future emerge in the present?


    What does theatre and school, performers and professors, spectator and students have in common?


    Can we imagine another theatre - a theatre of learning, not as a pedagogical play or Learning play (Brechtian Lehrstücke) but as a collective creation on the new egalitarian stage(s)?

    Rancière's book, The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation (original title Le Maître ignorant: Cinq leçons sur l'émancipation intellectuelle, published in 1987) was written for educators and educators-to-be. Through the story of Joseph Jacotot, Rancière challenges his readers to consider equality as a starting point rather than a destination. In doing so, he asks educators to abandon the themes and rhetoric of cultural deficiency and salvation. Rather than requiring informed schoolmasters to guide students towards prescribed and alienating ends, Rancière argues that educators can channel the equal intelligence in all to facilitate their intellectual growth in virtually unlimited directions. The schoolmaster need not to know anything (i.e., s/he may be “ignorant”). Rancière begins with the premises that all are of equal intelligence and that any collective educational exercise founded on this principle can provide the insights from which knowledge is constructed.