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Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Kristin Ross Translator. This extraordinary book can be read on several levels.

Primarily, it is the story of Joseph Jacotot, an exiles French schoolteacher who discovered in an unconventional teaching method that spread panic throughout the learned community of Europe. Knowing no Flemish, Jacotot found himself able to teach in French to Flemish students who knew no French; knowledge, Jacotot This extraordinary book can be read on several levels. Knowing no Flemish, Jacotot found himself able to teach in French to Flemish students who knew no French; knowledge, Jacotot concluded, was not necessary to teach, nor explication necessary to learn.

The results of this unusual experiment in pedagogy led him to announce that all people were equally intelligent. From this postulate, Jacotot devised a philosophy and a method for what he called "intellectual emancipation"—a method that would allow, for instance, illiterate parents to themselves teach their children how to read.

The greater part of the book is devoted to a description and analysis of Jacotot's method, its premises, and perhaps most important its implications for understanding both the learning process and the emancipation that results when that most subtle of hierarchies, intelligence, is overturned. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about The Ignorant Schoolmaster , please sign up. I once gave a 'lecture' on 'the ignorant schoolmaster' ;- Any comments? See 1 question about The Ignorant Schoolmaster…. Lists with This Book.

Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Oct 08, David Schaafsma rated it really liked it Shelves: education , engspring The Ignorant Schoolmaster is a strange and strangely inspiring little book in the romantic tradition of Rousseau.

Published in , it would have been popular in the romantic educational sixties, focused as it is on individualism and deschooling Ivan Illych.

And, since it favors families over teachers who are usually stultifying explicators rather than emancipa The Ignorant Schoolmaster is a strange and strangely inspiring little book in the romantic tradition of Rousseau. Conformity, not freedom. Both tend to explicate instead of liberate, according to Rancierre.

Argument reigns. Narrative and the imagination are in the back seat. Rancierre is uncompromising, though, in response. Only stultification. Schools teach for conformity. We are not all alike, Rancierre says; human variety is the nature of the world. Learning to be emancipatory has to be free of prescribed curricula. I tend to look at this position as not literally true, but as a metaphor. As he says elsewhere, everyone is equally intelligent or we are differently intelligent, or all intelligent in our own ways.

The point as I take it is for the teacher to embrace humility, or to approach students democratically, not with arrogance but willing to listen to students sometimes and learn from them. To be an ignorant schoolmaster is to be a humble one, not starting with an assumption of the ignorance and inequality of the students. They can be bored, passive. But the solution in part is to keep honoring students and help them to engage in ways and ideas they see as fruitful and interesting.

Rancierre takes a pragmatist position, not one outlined in advance; his is responsive teaching, reflective, inquiry-based. Freedom is key to learning. But is it always practical? Can you learn organic chemistry, for instance, completely through inquiry, through answering your own questions? He thinks politics are basically futile.

But how can you change the world? Not through mere individual freedom, surely. Or maybe he is implying we have to become free and self-efficacious human beings before we become citizens.

But a teacher has things to contribute obviously, and should be part of the conversation, hopefully guiding it in useful ways. Holding back may be a good thing in some conversations, but complete silence on the part of the teacher seems stupid, a denial of experience. Are they all born good vs. Has he ever taught seventeen last period sophomore boys, as I have?

This sounds familiar and somewhat escapist to me. Possibly selfish. Starting humbly with a view of everyone as fundamentally equal or equally deserving of rights sounds like a good approach especially in this vicious American political and educational environment. View all 11 comments. May 26, Chris rated it it was amazing Shelves: critical-theory , political-philosophy , history , continental , favorites. This is, quite literally, one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. Ranciere basically tells the story of one Joseph Jacotot, a professor who, during the restoration in early 19th century France was forced to leave the country, wound up in Flanders, and found himself asked to teach local students the French language, which they did not know.

Unfortunately, Jacotot himself knew no Flemish and was without a common language with his students. Not to be dissuaded, he left his students with a This is, quite literally, one of the most inspiring books I have ever read.

Not to be dissuaded, he left his students with a recently published bilingual edition of a work of French literature and advised his students to go through it, simply relating the French they didn't know to the Flemish they did, and report back to him on their progress in a few months.

To his utmost surprise, all of his students obtained fluency in French in a few months time with little more than his injunction to work it out themselves. Jacotot set up an experiemtal school in Louvain and most of the book involves Ranciere recounting the various results and observations made on the basis of this experiment at intellectual emancipation, and its eventual reception by the wider society and the educational establishment.

This book is not without its flaws--the biggest one being Ranciere's apoliticism, his assertion that intellectual emancipation is a personal endeavor and not in any way the basis of a political movement. But his rigorous and devoted effort to proclaim that equality is a principle to start from whose consequences must be verified and practiced, and not a result to be obtained in some indefinitely postponed future, is an example and an inspiration. Read this book: it will not fail to inspire you with the idea that you are capable of understanding anything you want.

Oct 26, Oralmajority rated it liked it. Instead of making the qualitative leap from a radical Enlightenment notion of universal equality to grounding such possibility in objective, transformative social practices, we are left with the same old antinomy of potentially rational individual and ontologically irrational society. An almost literal retreading of Kant, steering us from 90 pages of "emancipation" within the palace of individualist reason to the violent, confusing bad-infinity of citizenship and the social which ahistorically conflated.

Instead, we are told, the key to "progress" a concept that re-inserts itself on the social level after being justly destroyed in the early chapters , can only be obtained through the missionary-like intervention of enlightened masters in the "self-contemptuous" plebeian masses.

Steering a middle road between Althusserianism and post-structuralism proper, we wind up trapped in an individualist, liberal voluntarism. Such a politics dovetails with the author's turning away from history and back towards philosophy, vis-a-vis the "master" Jacotot as well as the Classical masters, concatenation with the Enlightenment conte philosophique.

An astonishing, enigmatic fall from his early work, especially "Proletarian Nights. View 1 comment. May 06, adam rated it really liked it. Jacotot found himself in a position where he was asked to teach French to a group of Flemish students. The problem, however, was that the students knew no French and he knew no Flemish.

Language, for example, plays an important role in the entire argument because Jacotot concluded that intelligence was prior to, and corrupted by, language: we are not intelligent because of language; rather, language is merely a tool by which we communicate with and understand each other.

Truth, therefore, cannot be expressed in language but must rather be grasped or felt in spite of its inadequacies. On the whole, the conclusions of the book are at once hopeful and discouraging. Progress, especially in terms of the refinement of social institutions to reflect rationality, becomes a negative term because it constitutively perpetuates the very inequalities that it supposes itself to be overcoming.

Equality, therefore, can never be realized on a social level because we need social institutions and they necessarily produce inequality. At the same time, however, the book is hopeful and potentially revolutionary insofar as emancipation is always possible — at least intellectually — because every human being has the capacity to realize his or her capacity for intelligence by submitting his will to rationality.


The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation

The work expresses Rousseauist ideas, e. Its arguments draw heavily from the French socialist party's debates on education during the s. It was translated to English in by Kristin Ross. Translator Kristen Ross writes: "The very act of storytelling, an act that presumes in its interlocutor an equality of intelligence rather than an inequality of knowledge, posits equality, just as the act of explication posits inequality" xxii. The book is equally relevant to history as to philosophy of education; in the U. Stultifying Master vs.


Jacques Rancière: The ignorant school master; Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation


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