Based on peer-learning and collective research practices Teaching To Transgress Toolbox* is a research and study programme on critical pedagogy in the arts.
Funded by the European Union and developed transnationally by three art schools: erg (BrusselsBE), HDK-Valand (GothenburgSE) and ISBA (BesançonFR) this Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership (2019–2022) consists of workshops, public events and an open access publishing platform that shares the resulting works, methods and tools with others to use in their specific educational contexts.
* The title is inspired by bell hooks’ book Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (1994).
Over the past ten years, tendencies towards polarization and discrimination in wider society have had a perceptible influence on attitudes and behaviours within education, with forceful impacts on inclusive learning and teaching in our classrooms.
In attempting to meet these threats to diversity and pedagogical inclusivity we identified the pressing need to respond to these political and social issues. Intersectionality asserts that oppressions (based in racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, ableism etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. Critical intersectional feminist pedagogies have, by now, been proven to provide valuable conceptual and practical tools with which to focus on inclusivity. This is particularly true in the field of art, where teaching is known to be open to devising and applying new critical frameworks, tools of analysis and creative practices.
The explicit aim was fostering inclusive pedagogies and questioning the so-called neutrality and equality in systems of schooling, production and consumption in the arts. Addressed to artists, researchers, activists, students, teachers and administrators, the TTTT programme invited people from various backgrounds, fields, abilities, gender identifications, sexual orientations, ethnicity and religion to collectively explore how intersectional and de-colonial approaches could activate and spread theoretical and embodied knowledge.
The programme was built on collective research and peer learning. This meant that roles were constantly negotiated and not necessarlily based on a normative teacher student distinction. A range of working groups formed around a set of proposed issues – laid out in the application — that felt urgent to be explored at the time. We had to stop some activities that relied on physical meetings (such as boxing) due to the pandemic. Other topics followed a new line of inquiry informed by the interests and urgencies of the respective working groups. Each group developed a different approach and the resulting works range from a guide to facilitating a pronoun round to a Bingo equipping the reader with quick-witted responses to stupid questions. In short, the works we share with you on this platform consist of collages, interviews, sound-pieces, videoclips, workshops, assignments and pedagogical guidance material to be used by others.
The working groups’ findings, the "Works, Methods & Tools", listed in the left hand navigation menu (in green), form the centre of this platform. Each contribution invites you to enter its universe, to test its proposals and guidance materials, to watch video and listen to audio interviews, to inform yourself about already existing activist organizations and networks, and to download and delve into the books, articles and resources we used.
The working groups’ collective research includes, for example, an investigation into the complexities of facilitating a pronoun and access go-round to create a safer and more inclusive classroom. The extensive and illustrated piece Who is in the Classroom? comes with Teaching Materials, including video and audio conversations and a PDF Pronoun Go-Round Guide in English, French and Swedish to download. The working group Questioning the Notion of Neutrality in the classroom presents ten interviews with teachers, scholars and activists from across Europe and Latin America, who critically discuss hegemonies of knowledge, structural exclusions and inequalities, and the concept of the “neutral” teacher from a range of different perspectives. Talking about inclusive classrooms, the Rethinking Admissions — Confronting Segregation research into dominant admission practices looks at one crucial moment of inclusion or exclusion – that of admission to higher education in the arts. Mapping current admission practices at one of the partner institutions, HDK-Valand, this piece interrogates affirmative action as a method of widening participation in arts education. The Bingos created by the “Language is a Virus” group provide suggestions on how to respond to microaggressions embedded in daily life at the art school and in jury work.
Other contributions explore the role of Emotions in the Classroom, and the Complexities of the Institutional Body referring to the bodies forming the institution as well as the bodies formed by the institution. The work of Vibes&Leaks looks at the ways tongue and gender are interrelated. Engaged Pedagogy describes experiments with collective interviews.
One work we would specifically recommend reading, if you are invested in these questions, is the Inclusive Reflection Methods presenting a framework for collective reflection. Here we present the collective reflection on the TTTToolbox programme itself, which is a roller coaster of emotions and a must-read for anyone trying to organize intersectional, decolonial projects in the future.
On the Activities page, you can follow the trajectory of our journey. It lists the activities in chronological order, from our most recent public events to the first exciting in-person meeting in Brussels. Mapping the programme's activities that share the methods and findings in workshops and other events at art exhibitions, activist spaces, universities, and art schools also show who helped us develop the work, who invited us to share our findings and who was invited by us to give inputs, food for thought, or challenges. This page is illustrated by snapshots, pics, video clips and podcasts of entire public talks, such as Teresa Cisneros' talk Undoing the Institution – one person at a time
After a Call for Application and through a careful selection process a team of roughly 30 people formed. Originally planned as four joint moments during 2020, most of the planned worksessions and Activities had to be moved online. After the first work session "How to say it" that was still able to happen in person in Brussels just before the pandemic started, the subsequent worksessions had to take place virtually. This was exhausting, at times frustrating and demanding, because the social bonding, the bodies, the quick chats and informal check-ins in the corridor, the getting to know each other during communal dinners, the laughter, could not happen. Due to the impact, stress, and disruptions COVID placed on everyone, the programme was extended for six months. Although this decision was taken collectively, it meant that some people dropped out because they could not sustain their involvement. Others did not want to sustain their commitment for different reasons.
The coming together of two forces in the framework of this European-funded project – (i) the development of a critical collective and decolonial programme and (ii) the reliance on the funding with its coercive regulations – can be described as an explosive encounter that made us aware that we and the programme are contaminated by the biases we are criticizing. These biases and constraints seem to be intrinsically embedded within the principles of this state funding, within the higher-education institutions involved, and within us, the project coordinators as white feminist actors within these institutions.
For a comprehensive reflection on these processes, their pain and pressure points, and for a method of facilitating a group reflection, please see Inclusive Reflection Framework.
Something we could not have anticipated was the harassment accusations within one of our partner institutions and how it tried to use its participation in TTTT to whitewash its reputation. This had major implications for the TTTToolbox programme. Nor did we expect the fire in the first weeks of March 2021 that destroyed the OVH server building in Strasbourg and with it the material we had stored on the cloud up to then.
- Proofreading/editing: John Moseley, Eleanor Ivory Weber, Eva Weinmayr
- Translation: Aubrey Birch, Yves Cantraine
- Conceptualization: Camille Circlude, Sarah Magnan, Laurence Rassel, Stéphanie Vilayphiou, Eva Weinmayr
- Coding/design: OSP (Sarah Magnan, Stéphanie Vilayphiou)
- Font: Miaouw! designed by Camille Circlude with Metaflop, 2019
- Nino André
- Emilie Bauer
- Flo*Souad Benaddi
- Lani Fusako DuVall
- Alexandra Eguiluz
- Chloe Elvezi
- Zoya Feltesse
- Ida Flik
- Inga Gunnlaugsdóttir Söring Kolbrún
- Danielle Nicole Heath
- Helio Hoarau
- Samantha Jane Hookway
- ReussMaureen Leprêtre
- Gloria López Cleries
- Yusha Ly
- Aroun Mariadas Savarimouttou
- Fallon Mayanja
- Emmanuelle Nsunda
- Åke Bo Martin Sjöberg
- Sylvain Souklaye
- Nontokozo Survive Tshabalala
Initial Organizer Team
- André Alves
- Rose Brander
- Camille Circlude
- Andreas Engman
- Loraine Furter
- Xavier Gorgol
- Sarah Magnan
- Isabelle Massu
- Emilie McDermott
- Laurence Rassel
- Stéphanie Vilayphiou
- Eva Weinmayr
- Lucy Wilson
- Elsa Abderhamani, Céline Chazalviel, Solène Collin, Enz@ Le Garrec, Martha Salimbeni, Chloé Stevenoot, Daphné Targotay and Tiphaine Kazi-Tani who contributed to the “BINGO GGGO” work.
- MC Coble, Nika Dahlberg-Melin, Jean-Paul Weaver, Sam Message, Kasra Seyed Alikhani and Reb Molin for the audio and video interviews that greatly informed the “Who is in the Classroom?” working group.
- Teresa Cisneros for her help facilitating the “Reflection Workshop”.
- Femke Snelting for her vision in summarizing the long transcript of the reflection workshop.
- Jara Rocha and Kym Ward for the “Vibes & Leaks” workshops.
- Lena Besenhard and Julian Knop (Stuhlkreisrevolte, Berlin) for the workshop “Conflict and Conflict Patterns”.
- Jeanne Revel for the Organon workshop.
- Adrián Groglopo, Agnieszka Bułacik, Cecilia Eguiluz, Cesy Leonard, Costanza Rossi, Just for the Record and Richard Dietrich for the “Neutrality” interviews.
- Troels Degn Johansson (at the time prefect HDK-Valand) and Sean Bellamy (Democratic School) for the “Institutional Pathology” round table.
- Ram Krishna Ranjan for the permission to show his art work in “Who gets in? Rethinking Admission–Confronting Segregation”. Behjat Omer Abdulla, Elisabeth Hjort, Jeuno Kim, Nils Kristofersson, Nina Mangalanayagam, Linda Sternö, Arne Kjell Vikhagen, Mick Wilson and the teaching staff at HDK-Valand for talking to us about admission practices.
- Hedjerassi Nassira, Sylvia Iweanya, Joëlle Sambi Nzeba for the Brussels workshops.
- Carolina Serra for being our person of trust.
- Igor Lievin as Bartender at De Markten.
- L’Usine à Vapeur for their cooking in Brussels during the first work session.
- Magali for her cooking and letting us use her restaurant during the last days of the project.
- Lorenzo Albiero, Sammy Del Gallo and Lorenzo Spangaro for their invaluable help with administrative follow-up and care.
Collective Conditions for (re-)use (CC4r), 2022
Copyleft with a difference: You are invited to copy, distribute, and modify this work under the terms of the CC4r. https://gitlab.constantvzw.org/unbound/cc4r
Published interviews: CC BY-NC-ND: You are invited to download and share, but neither modifications nor commercial use are allowed. This is to protect our interviewees. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/