Learning by Practice, Teaching and TextPractice:
My preferred methods of learning:
- Find an excellent educator and assist them in the process of educating others.
- Find someone who is really good at the discipline or field of knowledge and follow them around making myself useful while they do what they do.
I teach myself a new subject by teaching it to others as I go. (My students often think I'm teaching them. It's the other way around, really).
I think of this as an experiential approach to learning. Artists, on the whole, prefer this approach, and it is the best way to learn the skills and techniques of a craft.
These projects have two purposes. One is to entice mentors and experts into participating in them, so they're around for me to pick their brains. The other purpose, not incidentally, is to create a job where I get to listen to raconteurs and artists talk all day:
Working in Story and Song
A Mother of a Job
Here's a project I'd love to join, in order to pursue this self-directed apprenticeship:
And this is my own version of a travelling history circus:
And a participatory social research project:
First World Ethics: Starting a Workers Co-operative in AdelaideText:
I am, temperamentally, an intellectually oriented type. A bookworm. Since I'm a scholar in the empirical disciplines, I apply the experiential approach to my thinking work. I take a text or case study that has taught me a lot, and try to reverse engineer the technique through imitation. This oral history project is an example. I want to learn how to do what Studs Terkel did in Working. If I can learn to be half as good as he is at drawing poetry from people, I'll be happy.
Then I apply what I've learned to theory and philosophy. (For other intellectual types, my interests here are, broadly, historiography, pedagogy, ethnography, epistemology, and on some occasions, ontology. Ideally, all at once. Insert adjectives like "radical", "subversive" "anarchist" and such in front of all of those, and you'll get the idea).
A scholar must have a reading list. Here's a random list of the texts that currently set off the bells and whistles in my brain:
David Graeber, Direct Action: an Ethnography
Will Kaufman, Woody Guthrie: American Radical
Studs Terkel, Working
Spook Handy, America's Story Through Folk Songs
Richard Wolff, Democracy at Work: a Cure for Capitalism
This Doing Oral History course online
David Rovics (he's not a text, but he is a great subject, and he does inspire new ideas)
William W Pilcher, The Portland Longshoremen: a Dispersed Urban Community