Pedagogies and Space

All my graduate courses in the department of Performance Studies at NYU took place around a table (maybe with the exception of the intro class, which was a well-attended class). As a teacher, I found myself craving the table, that shared stage in which we could all see each other’s papers, take some time to think, throw ideas and impressions “on the table” and participate in a banquet of shared learning.


4 Responses to Pedagogies and Space

  1. KZ says:

    I agree. I find it interesting that graduate courses in the humanities often take place around a shared table, while undergraduate courses are structured with separated desks. The shared table permits more eye contact and (I would contend) more vulnerability…which is good!

    I also find it difficult to create performance spaces in the classroom’s physical space and would like some ideas and thoughts on how others have addressed this question.

  2. davidcameroncalder says:

    When I first taught my first-year theatre seminar, our classroom featured small, rectangular tables that were usually arranged in a large, hollow square. This proved ideal. Most of the time we would keep the tables as they were, occasionally leaving a space so that someone (usually me) could enter the center of the square if need be. I never stood there to lecture, but I would frequently enter to pass out papers. We also were able to reconfigure the tables into a group of smaller squares spread throughout the room (for peer review of paper drafts) and push them aside for student performances. Luckily they were very light!

  3. KZ says:

    It’s funny about that hollow square: I feel like my students are sometimes shocked that I like to position myself in unusual spaces in class. This always seems normal to me, but I wonder what they think when I try to break down the instructor/student divide by sitting “at their level” when lecturing or entering the center, etc. So much of teaching is about positionality.

  4. marshagall says:

    I think that the choices we make in terms of the learning space are also integral to the issue of teaching performance. Interesting to see how, in certain universities, when you request AV-ready rooms, you get stuck with a lecture room. AV- ready rooms are usually thought of for screenings, more apt for film studies folks than for those of us who need more spatial flexibility.

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