# On lecture

For some time we have supposed that facilitating discussion is the appropriate stance for the teacher: that learning manifests in the students' ability to speak for themselves, and that the classroom happenings which form the memories that constitute that learning can only be participation in the discussion itself. Carried to its extreme, this logic interprets strong intervention on the part of the teacher as stultifying dominance. It leads then to a classroom modality of constant restraint, withholding, leaving space.

Though this modality has become familiar, perhaps we have carried it to its logical extreme; maybe it is now time to consider what lies beyond it. For the assumption, that our interventions displace the students', that the weight of our disproportionate power in the classroom means that any use of it risks harm, must itself have a limit. Cautiously (for the understanding of teaching that we have arrived at thus far has served us well), we can look beyond it and wonder whether and where a more robust intervention may not be entirely unhelpful.

The trap set by the stultifying master, laid out by Rancière in *Le maître
ignorant*, consists in the inability of the master's inability to release their
grasp on disciplinary power. The student is trapped in a discursive and
conceptual prison: the exits are all guarded by the stultifier's hold on the
norms of discipline and the institutional levers which confer formal
credentials. The student can step outside only through rebellion, which is
contingent on a recognition of their position which must derive from somewhere
other than the master.

But if the student is not trapped, if the exits and paths are constantly illuminated and elaborated by the teacher who themself, however imperfectly, has achieved some measure of intellectual emancipation, then the teacher's interventions are not necessarily just so many bricks in the wall (so to speak). If each one is modest in its aims, is offered and not imposed, creates without destroying, bends without breaking, then they could be liberating toeholds which contribute to, and do not only take away from, the students' learning.