During this week-long workshop you will learn what an ideology is and how to escape its influence, how ideology is (or was) connected to education; how places of study, including architecture schools and universities, affect how we think; and what makes a modern university teacher – dictator, guru, master, or a researcher equal with his disciples?Just like anyone else, each teacher has his or her own point of view on a wide range of issues. From culture to history to economics, and even in the pure sciences, teachers have a personal position coloured by personal and political interpretation. As such they are like unwitting dictators, inadvertently affecting the as yet unformed minds of their students. Since teachers themselves are unlikely to change this state of affairs, it is up to students themselves to pay careful attention to their own learning.
You will also be taught to spot the ideologies associated with particular teaching styles, create models for new educational spaces; effectively self study, and also how to think more critically, productively, and creatively.
The workshop will be led by Arseniy Khitrov (The Higher School of Economics), Felix Madrazo (INTERNATIONAL DESIGN), Max Zolkwer (POP ARQ), and Stefan Damsin (QUEST ARCHITECTURE).
Madrazo, Zolkwer and Damsin are architects from the SUPERSUDACA research center, a think tank that works on projects that affect the environment around us. Their work focuses on answering the question: How can we continue to believe in the best, despite the horrors around us? Supersudaca advocates the use of different methods for dealing with each issue, including the use of humour to bring attention to more serious problems.
Arseniy Khitrov is associate professor of Social Sciences at the Higher School of Economics. He is currently engaged in the study of how various forms of contemporary culture including television serials, films, the media, and popular literature, create or translate ideology.
1. How do the idea of workshop was created? May be you led the same ones before?
Like many things in Supersudaca it started like a joke, we thought we should do the inverse of postgraduate studies, we should do a pregraduate course. Why? Because postgraduate studies usually come too late, many students are already brainwashed, its suddenly too late to find that many of their values and convictions learned at university years were shaky or the result of brainwashing masters. Above all, pregraduate studies (or techniques) are needed as only very few students actually arrive to postgraduate levels, so the questioning of values never occurs.
2. What are your thoughts about modern education? In Russia there are many talks about crisis of system education here, what’s your opinion?
We think we are beginning a very exciting era in which many places around the world will develop a very specific way of education, even to cancel the project of education altogether. The big debate remains whether education should serve to help you find a job after university or to develop other skills that prepare you to be an independent thinker. The second one is the riskiest but the one that needs more protection from the standardization protocols. Our experience is that European education at university level prepares you better for uncertain situations, specially independent research skills are more developed, while most of other countries we have worked with -perhaps also Russia from our brief experience- puts much more emphasis on learning and praising accepted knowledge. When compared to Caribbean (Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, even Cuba), Latinamerican (Chile, Argentina, Peru) or Cambodia we feel those places are full of optimism inside the university, students project an ambition that they can change the world and are eager to find out how, though most times they become frustrated by standardization requirements and curriculum rules. We feel Russian students have this ambition layer present as well, but it remains more concealed or repressed. We are interested to find out how to untapped this potential.
3. Why are you concerned about ideology questions in education? Is it something personal or not?
It most have been cooking inside of us for sure! Specially because all schools put an emphasis on diminishing this aspect of education. Everything seems to be decided on neutral standards of good and commonly agreed ethics. But this is more complicated, a city obsessed with achieving cero CO2 emissions does not mean that it is apolitical or does not follow a certain agenda. An architecture that advocates regional or local construction techniques as thought in school is not as innocent in its good ethics, chauvinism or ignorance might be the driver of those advocates (sometimes). Specially we get nervous when architecture is thought as something detached from society and its politics, the so called autonomy of the profession. It is for some the most tempting answer to seclude ourselves in the history and independence of forms or technology, but that position is also ideologically based. Ideology for many of us was supposed to be ended when the Soviet Union fell. Many relaxed their discourses, ideology was ‘defeated’. But ideology is there! specially present in the different visions the world offers, and it is based on the promoters personal morals. Therefore it should be debated openly and more much often