Since its publication in English in 1991, The Ignorant Schoolmaster has caused people of many different ways of life to revisit arguments about rights and access to education in Europe. In the short book, Rancière tells the story of the teacher Joseph Jacotot, who following the French Revolution, developed a method of teaching in which the assumption of a ‘circle of emancipation’ demonstrates that ‘all men have equal intelligence.’ Rancière’s understanding of the presupposition of equality as an artistic and intellectual force has since become celebrated as well as criticised.
In the first two sessions of an ongoing reading group, led by Andrea Phillips, we will examine the introduction, first and last chapters of The Ignorant Schoolmaster and ask how it is relevant to debates about education today. Future reading groups in the In Need of Education series will examine writing on meritocracy, comprehensive schooling, HEI politics and funding, the Black Supplementary Education movement and debates about what art schools do.
Reading edition: Jacques Rancière, The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five lessons in Intellectual Emancipation, translated and introduced by Kristin Ross (Sanford University Press, 2008).