Symposium-‘Learning Through Manual Labour in Schools’

This symposium is focused on the relationship between education and work, specifically the relation
between learning and collaborative forms of manual labour. The participants in this symposium neither share the same perspective in terms of how they envision work being effectively integrated into school curriculums, nor do they necessarily agree on the relationship that automation and technology should have to the kinds of work they envision in formal educational settings. In spite of their differing positions however, they do agree that new aspects of global capitalism along with associated changes in our relationship to technology, necessitate a reconsideration of how work is being conceived of within the context of school curriculums. In two different ways, the participants in this symposium discuss the benefits of different kinds of manual work as a way to open up students to new collaborative processes while reinforcing the corporeal dimensions of learning in the increasingly immaterial conditions found in school environments today.

Lars Bang’s contribution utilizes the work of Baruch Spinoza and Gilles Deleuze in the process of
demonstrating how practical work can, and should be utilized in contemporary approaches to science education. Bang argues that a pedagogical approach that emphasizes the importance of work can effectively counter the dominant ad hoc approaches to science education currently in operation today. Matthew Carlin’s contribution emerges out of a re-engagement with Hannah Arendt’s discussion of the difference between work and labour, and the potential influence that such an approach could have for a theory of learning that recognizes the crucial pedagogical elements in collaborative and manual forms of labour within the context of schools. In both presentations, the participants will draw from actual examples of school-based forms of manual work in order to instigate a discussion about how collaborative work/labour can potentially serve as a buttress against the kinds of existential desperation endemic to our vocational future.