In the comments to my recent post on Techno-Pedagogy, Jenny makes a very good point:
The point of Anthropology is to engage with the world, and neglecting the progress of technology and the interest and NEEDS of one’s students, makes an anthropologist–in my opinion–hardly an anthropologist at all.
This is something that I’ve written briefly about in the past, and was thinking of writing another post about – so Jenny has given me an excellent excuse!
The thing is, anthropologists spend a lot of time thinking about applying various theories and methods to their research, and that’s very important. However, I would suggest that the bulk of our time, and the bulk of the difference that we make, if it were to be calculated out, would be in teaching students (at least in academia). But few professors that I’m aware of spend much time thinking about the implications of anthropological theory and methods for the classroom (techno or otherwise). So the question that I have is what would an anthropological pedagogy look like? That is, what would a class be like if we took seriously the ideas of collaboration, building rapport, participant-observation, and the co-construction of knowledge, not just in the field, but in the classroom itself?
I don’t have answers, this is really just a speculative question meant to foster thought and discussion. If, as Jenny says, the point of anthropology is to engage with the world (and I clearly agree on this), then it seems like we ought to be considering the implications for this engagement in the area we spend most of our time doing and where we can potentially make a very large difference. I think this could be a revolutionary way of thinking about pedagogy – at least within the discipline. Mike Wesch is an excellent example of this, in my opinion.
This is not to say that anthropologists who don’t apply anthropological theory and methods in the classroom are bad teachers – I’ve had many very good simple lecture style classes with anthropologists, and have learned a lot. All I’m suggesting is that it’s an area for consideration.