Learning through [not] teaching

8 February 2009 | ,

I have completed 3 weeks of the 15-week “Psychoanalysis in Art and Culture” course for postgraduates I devised last Autumn. Focus on my own subject area won over my busy schedule and despite lacking time above anything else, I agreed to fit this in. I tend to stretch towards the impossible, sometimes to my own detriment, but I think one regrets more what one doesn’t do than what one does. Us Spaniards have an expression for this: que me quiten lo bailao (kind of “you can’t take off me what I have danced”).

The course has been as interesting as I had hoped for, thanks to a great bunch of students. Still, the sessions take far too long to put together, anxious as I am to make complex concepts clear, to bridge between two disciplines and to make it exciting, relevant, useful. Teaching psychoanalytic thinking is not teaching psychoanalysis and I have to remind myself of that every time I over-theorise.

My last session was not satisfactory, at least to myself, but I did not expect otherwise. I had to factor in a class where I would develop a shared set of meanings so I know that, when we talk about the ego, we talk about the same ego. It did not work because I talked too much. Like in analysis, I have to give the course’s ownership to my students, let them work it out and let them work through it, as it were. Only this way I can be coherent with the curriculum, which I ask them to devise, mirroring more or less a client-service approach instead of the Discourse of the University. Just a little example of one of my recent teaching experiments, which, so far, has made the whole thing more exciting for me. After 5 years teaching generic research skills, I have become jaded of the topic and I would hate for psychoanalysis to follow the same path.

So now that the difficult class is over, I hope to enjoy myself more. I have psychopathologies, construction of the subject, detectives, family romances, transference, interpretation, self-analysis and afterwardness to get through. All favourites of mine. On this journey, I also hope, by letting them talk, to learn: something about myself (as a teacher, as an artist), and about art and psychoanalysis. This has already happened during the three weeks of the course we have just completed. A golden moment was when one of the students brought “The Century of the Self” by Adam Curtis, into the Eye of My Consciousness, from the pleasant Pre-Conscious drawing room it had been laying about. See for yourselves:

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