Reprise from my tripping over the gap between teaching and l earning:

What is shown is open to imitation. What is sown without coercion is adopted without compunction. And sometimes not immediately. And sometimes not at all. It’s the difference between teaching and learning.

And to connect this take on teaching-learning gap I bring this description from an article by Fadi Abou-Rihan (appearing in Canadian Review of Comparative Literature Special Issue on “Deleuze, Guattari, and the Philosophy of Expression” Volume XXIV, Number 3, September 1997):

it must require a shift away from the customary archaeological model of knowledge as an endless pursuit of depths, precedents, fixed itineraries, and hierarchical truths to a geographical or topographical one emphasizing surfaces, movements, disguises, production, and play.

Of course, I have cheated a little — the referent of “it” in the above quotation is not a gap between teaching and learning but “queer theory”. But I found it difficult to resist the appropriation because of the appeal to disguise and to play found in this article (“Queer Sites: Tools, Terrains, Theories”). The “it” kind of floats on the page.

However inappropriate the rapprochement, I do think the appeal to Deleuze is useful in thinking about the teacher-learner gap (yes, I have refigured it as a distance between persons or actants). The teacher is never quite sure how much or what has been conveyed to the learner; conversely the learner is never sure on just how much there is to receive from a given teacher — if all there is has indeed been received. The communication between persons is imperfect; there is always a residue which is here figured as a gap.

These ruminations call to mind for me, the characterization given by Richard Fleming of Stanley Cavell (as part of an afterward to Cavell’s Bucknell Lectures). It amounts to a not finding the philosopher in the words:

Hence a problem encountered in continuing to read and search for Cavell is that the text’s thoughts and voices are neither exactly Cavell’s nor not Cavell’s. In their state of, say, repressed thoughts, they represent his further, next, unattained but attainable, self. To think otherwise, is to attribute the origin of his thoughts simply to the other, thoughts which are then, as it were, implanted in him by let us say some Wittgenstein or Emerson or Thoreau, which is to lose the self, lose Cavell, not acknowledge the confession he is making. […] All my words are someone else’s. What but philosophy, of a certain kind, would tolerate the thought?

It is a nice way to think about the teaching-learning gap: to place the figure of an “attainable self” at the centre of the pedagogical enterprise. And around it all the play of disguise and production.

And so for day 885

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