Part of Ellesworth’s goal is to move away from binary modes of thinking and “create concepts and languages that release and redirect the forces now locked up in such binaries by addressing them not as separate and in relations of opposition but rather as complex moving webs of interrelations” (3). In doing so, students can experience modes of learning and thought which embrace “the lived experience of our learning selves that make the thing we call knowledge” (1). Of course there is no single pedagogy that can be transplanted in each classroom in order to enact this type of learning, but I was most interested in Ellesworth’s use of architecture to provide examples of how this type of Learning (with a capital L) can be experienced. Although Ellesworth may only be using these examples to express how this type of knowledge creation functions, I think it could be beneficial to express the theories behind this pedagogy directly with students. Within a composition classroom, a main goal could not only be allowing students to experience this active knowledge making, but promoting an awareness of it that also disrupts the many binaries that often limit thought processes. This awareness could be promoted in a manner similar to Jody Shipka’s questions about the rhetorical choices made in multimodal compositions (114).
However, the questions could not only be applied to students’ choices in their compositions, but also their responses to previously composed pieces or environments, specifically with a focus on more corporeal experiences, such as that modeled in the “The Materiality of Pedagogy” chapter, which focused on responses to Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Center for Contemporary Art. More specifically, it may be important scaffolding to reflect on where most of their formal education occurs – within the traditional classroom. Students could examine the ways the material aspects of a classroom function to promote a specific type of learning or even a limited format of discourse. What classroom features work to influence this? What changes in classrooms influence modes of thought? Are changes still limited within the confines of a classroom setting? Exploring these ideas directly may help to disrupt the mind/body binary into something more fluid. However, these ideas would have to translate to student’s own compositions, which is where the theories and examples of Alexander and Rhodes would be useful.
How could we apply some of the activities of Alexander and Rhodes to Ellesworth’s discussion?
Think of the classroom specifically as a material environment, in what ways do you see it affecting students in a corporeal sense? How does this relate to the type of learning promoted?
Ellesworth mentions the thinking/feeling binary. In what ways do you see this binary affecting the ways students currently see their compositions and the compositions of others?