The Third University has been learning about content and form

11 Apr

The Third University met at lovely Natterjacks Bar on Braunstone Gate in Leicester. The subject at issue was alternative teacher training. There was no prescription for the ills of normalised, institutionalised teacher training. But as one of the lovely participants highlighted “I just want to listen to people who care about stuff. I might learn things.” The things that were highlighted were a wonder and amplified so many connections that are hinted at in formalised teaching but that are never delivered within the commodified realm of monitored and precarious education.

The things were various.

  • Evolutionary technology and the creation of good enough algorithms for contextual problems. The Third University wonders how we might develop this model to look at narratives around solutions to our environmental crises, like climate change, decarbonisation and peak oil.
  • The place of hidden politics and cultures in East Germany after reunification. The Third University wonders how the lessons from the lost popular cultures of the GDR refract our views of lost cultures in the here-and-now, in the face of capital and the market.
  • Mixing cocktails and foraging for/drying apples. The Third University wonders how this might develop into a shared mechanism for exchanging goods, and for laughing.
  • Mental health and the arts. The Third University wonders how we can learn from those whom society marginalises and demonises, in order to recast our relationships.
  • The art of understanding reptiles, serpents and fish. The Third University wonders how this might enable us to understand our relationship to nature.
  • The relationship between international relations and the media in representations of the ostracised and the alienated and the marginalised. The Third University wonders how this might lead to new forms of action in the world, and to more smiling.

So there was new content. But there was also a discussion of forms. It was noted that teachers constrained learning, because they were constrained by a performative logic of quality and outcomes. So how might learning and teaching in public, based on shared interests and curiosity, help? How might analysing Shakespeare be achieved through performance in public? How might it develop confidence? How might algorithms be discussed through movement and performance in public spaces? How might it encourage hugging? How might popular public bars be used to discuss the politics of representation in marginalised communities? How might it help us share a drink and a smile? How might informal field-trips challenge the geography of content and subjects? How might radical spaces like libraries be re-radicalised for reading in public rather than private? How might we liberate our souls from the cloying commercialisation of the social factory?

The Third University is in love with the possibility of new content. Of listening to and learning from people who care about stuff. The Third University is excited about the public and shared forms this might take, in opposition to the precarity of learning in the academy. The Third University is excited. There will be more stuff.


2 Responses to “The Third University has been learning about content and form”


  1. Reflections from the @thirduniversity – Leicester, see you in May! « The Third University - April 16, 2011

    […] or digital environment. We shared examples of what worked and what might work for us. Importantly, the focus should be on content and form – which was touched upon during alternative teacher training – and there will be more […]

  2. The @thirduniversity on the @thirduniversity « The Third University - December 16, 2011

    […] The Third University ran a alternative teaching training session at NatterJacks Bar – who were also very nice and offered us space any time that we feel that we might need it. We set our objectives of teaching – if it is your first night, you have to teach. And teach people have. We learned about what people knew already, what they would like to learn and really, it is just nice hanging out with people who are passionate about the things they like. This has framed much of what the Third University has been about. Here is a list of the things that we discussed and the things we might learn. […]

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