On learning without a master explicator

“There is no one on earth who hasn’t learned something by himself and without a master explicator. Let’s call this way of learning “universal teaching” and say of it: “In reality, universal teaching has existed since the beginning of the world, alongside all the explicative methods. This teaching, by oneself, has, in reality, been what has formed all great men.” But this is the strange part: “Everyone has done this experiment a thousand times in his life, and yet it has never occurred to someone to say to someone else: I’ve learned many things without explanations, I think that you can too. … Neither I nor anyone in the world has ventured to draw on this fact to teach others. To the intelligence sleeping in each of us, it would suffice to say: age quod agis, continue to do what you are doing, “learn the fact, imitate it, know yourself. this is how nature works.” Methodically repeat the method of chance that gave you the measure of your power. The same intelligence is at work in all the acts of the human mind.

But this is the most difficult leap. This method is practiced of necessity by everyone, but no one wants to recognize it, no one wants to cope with the intellectual revolution it signifies. The social circle, the order of things, prevents it from being recognized for what it is: the true method by which everyone learns and by which everyone can take the measure of his capacity. One must dare to recognize it and pursue the open verification of its power–otherwise, the method of powerlessness, the Old Master, will last as long as the order of things…”

Jacques Ranciere (1991) in The ignorant schoolmaster.

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