Keith Hart, who kicked off the Open Anth Co-op, commented on teaching and Tim Ingold in another thread started by Jeremy Trombley, .Toward an Anthropological Pedagody. My master in all this is Jean-Jacques Rousseau whose Emile: or on education is my all-time favourite book. It is so revolutionary that the Archbishop of Paris unleashed the hit squads on its author by issuing a fatwah under which Rousseau's killers would receive the benediction of the church. Essentially he was saying that we are normally in too much of a hurry to make children like oursleves. We reward the speed with which they acquire familiar habits. Any child can learn to entertain dinner guests with a Mozart violin sonata at the age of five if they sacrfice all other activities to that end. Rousseau's revolutionary idea was that children should be allowed to enjoy doing whatever they are suited for especially at a given age. His book is a fictitious accopunt of hmself as tutor to the boy, Emile, and his girlfriend Sophie, according to what J-J considered to be natural principles of self-development. The goal of his educational system was to help someone become the best person they are capable of, without concern for how this might fit him for contemporary society. At least he went to the root of the problem rather than complain about some of the surface manifestations.
It is worth noting that Immanuel Kant's Anthropology from a pragmatic point of view (1798) was likewise designed as a primer for self-development. The romantic movement as a whole dumped the idea of education as a means of adapting to existing social structure in favour of equipping individuals to do the best they could by relying on what was between their own ears. Renaissance humanism and 20th century existentialism shared some elements of this philosophy and I would prefer to found 21st century anthropology on something similar.
What we take for grantedpo as 'education' is based on a formula first articulated by Hegel in The philosophy of right (1821). He prosed states to manage the unequal excesses of capitalism and the latter to discipline the abuse of power by politicians. The common interest would be addressed by a class of university-trained bureaucrats. This programme was realised in stages after the first world war and it is unravelling now. The emphasis on academic research rather than teaching was exclusively a Cold War phenomenon. From now on in we can expect the focus to shift back to bums on seats, teaching in other words. Universities have been around for a millennium, but what we think they are was only established in the 1960s and has been running out of juice ever since. I will leave it there, but at this point I am clearly seguing into the discussion on Ingold and students are natives. This overlap is hardly accidental, since we need to rethink social models and anthropology offers an off-centre vantage point for doing so."
There is so much in Daniel's message; it reminds me of a banana split with three flavors of ice cream, chocolate and caramel sauce. Delicious but where to begin. I proceed from silly to serious. Re Hegel: I recall Hal Walsh, a philosophy professor at Michigan State (the time was circa 1963) that, "Hegel was the first great philosopher who was both a university professor and a married man. It's been downhill ever since." Re Rousseau and Kant: Don't both assume a universal goodness/rationality that is bound to emerge once human beings are freed from the distortions and corruptions of society, an idea that reaches its apotheosis in rational choice theory and market fundamentalism, in which all human beings are assumed to behave rationally in pursuit of their own interests? How does this square with the anthropological observation that human infants take a long time to be socialized into some particular kind of human being, and Clifford Geertz's assertion that there is no universal actor behind the lines and costumes some particular culture provides?
Hegel is a joke and Rousseau/Kant subscribed to the same philosophy as the market fundamentalists today. They have been superceded by Geertzian anthropology.