Jan 21: CEMUS Opening Lecture

A pedagogy of the light in the eyes

with Jan van Boeckel
Hambergsalen, Geocentrum
January 21, 18:15 – 20.00
If we are to respond adequately to the rapid and deep changes taking place in the world in our current times, we may need to envisage a very different type of education. Not one that is predominantly based on knowledge transfer, but a kind of teaching and learning that foregrounds engaging with radical uncertainty. In more open-ended modalities of education, learners tend not to know on forehand what the outcomes and expected deliverables will be. Such approaches may cause a sense of unease because of a presumed lack of control, of missing framing guidelines and clear target objectives. It is exactly in this space of vulnerability that it is essential that learners feel that their educational experience is safely contained and held by teachers and facilitators. A way of achieving this, I would suggest, may be through employing – though by no means exclusively through – arts-based approaches. In best case practices, artful exploring (for example together with a group of students) can prompt a sense of excitement, curiosity, wonder – in short, a feeling of being fully present in and attentive to the unfolding open-ended process. It is my experience that such a situation of enthusiastic anticipation finds expression in what I have begun to call ‘the light in the eyes’. And this light of engagement among participants may cause the ignition of a matching sparkle in the eyes of the teacher or facilitator. In such occasions, a new field of potential seems to open up, in which things are possible which were considered simply unattainable previously.