What, how & where do we want to learn?

Documentation of a narrative conversation

In december 2021, during a public event, Etcetera launched a publication about “School Maken”. Etcetera, together with Hans Bryssinck, invited people to take part in a narrative conversation about meaningful learning experiences. May Abnet and Hans Bryssinck turned the documentation of that conversation into a text and a visual essay.

Can you tell us something about a valuable learning experience? From whom* did you learn something in a way that was special to you? What was your relation to them? In which way do the people* from whom you learned something contribute to what you do today?

*(or) any kind of life form

Re-thinking knowledge in the world.

Giving voice to those who have knowledge but are not heard.

Not so much who has knowledge but what is knowledge.

Does the wood have knowledge?

Of course. It gives its knowledge quietly.

I think knowledge is great, but I forget things quickly. I don’t think it is so important. But I remember all the experiences.

In what way do we own knowledge? You learn it, you have it, it becomes your precious property… but in a way you cannot grab it, you can not hold on to it.

To start to understand that we don’t own knowledge, that changes everything, also our position in the room. The need to own knowledge comes from a place of fear.

It was in Athens in a refugee camp.

It was a temporary school.

It was a primary school.

It was 1982.

It was a 14 day seminar with Nicolas Luhmann.

It was at the time of the murder of George Floyd.

It was on Instagram; a lot of people sharing about racism, history, the gaps.

It’s every day, every time you click.

It was a project inspired by Boaventura De Sousa Santos.

It was via my son. I didn’t think about that, because it seems so obvious.

It was when I was working as a barkeeper.

It was at theater school.

It was in a course about learning to negotiate “master the gap”.

It was with my theater company, theater with gift economy, including learning experiences.

There was someone in the audience who was a philosophy student.

They started to teach me Arabic .

Working with people who don’t share the same language, doing something together becomes crucial.

You had to work hard.

Do we need that kind of hardness in the work, in creation?

I had to stop to observe & listen.

There were set ups for conversations.

How can we listen better? How can we frame the listening? To practice listening in an active way. We need to practice it all the time. We also have to put limits to it.

It brings a memory about a colleague. She really listened to me. Maybe she taught me that I exist, that I’m worth to be taken care of.

I started to read this book about spoon carving. It was written in a way so that you want to carve a spoon out of the wood.

In my mother tongue you can carve a person. We refer to it in relation to learning processes.

I went there to teach but I learned so much.

I learned about: strength, passion, life experience and privilege.

Trying to teach each other, as a gift. A sustainable learning experience.

I learned a lot by doing.

Who had taught me to take better pictures? Time & being busy with something.

I learned about trees, that it is an intelligent system. I learned from the wood.

I learn a lot from my children and I apply it to my professional life: keeping calm in a situation, negotiation tactics.

I was inspired by the energy of my boss. The way someone can give a lot of energy without asking others to give the same. This energy, is something that keeps following me. If you do something with students it should be something that they never forget. I try to create a setting for the experience of possible knowledge, so they don’t forget it.

What marked me was the struggle between extreme systematicity (and the desire for that) and to become aware of the impossibility of that systematicity

Instagram became a platform to learn something, to help find things, critical sources, I learned a lot from these sources.

I learn all the time.

Learning through socializing. How we often copy each other, language, movement, a smile…. How we are all the time learning from each other.

The repetition helps to learn, you repeat it from a different angle.

I learn a lot from books, it is a continuous practice, but what was more valuable was, when I got sick and when this practice stopped. To be closely connected to your body, something more experiential, something more embodied.

I had a fantastic teacher of Heidegger. There was one specific moment, when he stopped the class of Heidegger and started reading Proust. It was incredible to discover Proust like this.

That you don’t go to a place where you expect to learn, that you don’t plan it, but that it happens to you. Maybe it doesn’t happen the way you expect it.

In Arabic culture you travel, you meet a stranger, and by experience with these people you learn from them.

We need to have time, to do something for a while, investing that time…

Being open and receptive enough, than learning is just receiving and through that changing and transforming.

A little bit of daily life and an element of surprise.