I am interested in a project of engaged autonomy

14Apr14

Sarah Whiting

July 2013

Excerpt from Log 28, Summer 2013
PETER EISENMAN: Is there any energy in the schools? What’s your feeling? Sometimes it’s in practice, sometimes it’s in the schools. Is there any energy anywhere?

SARAH WHITING: There’s a potential energy out there, but not a clear or focused one. It’s an unchanneled kind that, on days where the glass is only half full, can sometimes feel more like vapors than fuel. Twenty years ago, schools had a clear focus: there was postmodernism and there was the reaction to postmodernism; there was poststructuralist theory; and there were strong historians. All camps (where you belonged, how to respond, with whom you aligned) couldn’t have been more clear. These polarities were great for pedagogy: the influences were strong, making it easy for students to choose for or against.

We don’t have that same clarity today: no stance has the critical mass to generate that kind of strong influence, or the strong influence to generate that critical mass. On the one hand, it’s a liberating state: new paths can be forged, not by choosing sides, but by developing opinions. But that’s harder. It’s harder to see where to go and to know what to do. Did the strong camps that defined the 1980s and ’90s generate new voices or did they simply result in further and further diluted versions of the originals? Strong camps have existed in our field forever–the ones that I grew up with in the ’80s and ’90s were reactions to the strong voices of prior decades. Is the system now broken? Have there been vaporous moments like ours before now? Probably yes. It’s an interesting question right now. Are we in a unique moment or simply a typical lull before the next wave? Are we experiencing what you would call a moment of lateness? It’s hard to tell when you’re right within it.

Read the full article here.
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