Bodies without Organs: Experimenting in the Gaps and Fissures of our Actively Blended Pedagogically World.

UAL EdEx21: EPRG Workshop

During UAL’s Education Conference Edex21 07.07.21

  • Mark Ingham: Reader in Critical and Nomadic Pedagogies , LCC/Design School
  • Ana Vincente Richards: Senior External Moderator , UAL Awarding Body
  • Jonathan Martin: Foundation Course Associate Lecturer/PhD Student, CCW
  • Sara Ortolani : Learning Zone Advisor, CSM/Library Services

How can we disinvest ourselves of age old myths about how we learn? Ideas of ungrading, assistance instead of assessment, compassionate pedagogies and decolonising the curriculum / university amongst other ideas are being discussed fruitfully at the moment. But we still persist with teaching and learning methods and course structures that are rigid and oppressive? How can we radically change our thinking about the myths of education so that all our students now and yet to come can thrive in inclusive and eventful spaces? Come and join UAL’s Experimental Pedagogies Research Group (EPRG) in thinking about these urgent questions.

Google Doc Link

Questions and Prompts around Experimental Pedagogies

Please contribute/ share your thoughts about these questions by populating the in-between spaces with writing, images, links and/or more questions. These will be used to get a collective bank of ideas together, to  fuel and/ or challenge the EPRG continuing discussions.*

Our Beta Website: 

What is experimental pedagogy?

A safe place to co-teach and co-learn

unlearning, unknowing, lowering hierarchies of knowledge

Pedagogy without borders 

Can happen in and out of the university

Something from which something emerges / some things emerge. Tuned in to conditions rather than ends.

learning to use confusion as a space for developing understanding

taking risks without knowing if things will work

Seeks to uproot in order to see – radical pedagogy? 

definitions of experimental are “innovative and untested” but innovation is not necessarily ‘new’. So its a method for learning which builds on existing T+L methods but is untested.

What differences are there between experimental pedagogy and critical, radical, militant pedagogy. What about study – what we do together? 

Recently, I have noticed an increasing use of the term “Radical” and “Critical” in front of the noun in developing new pedagogic frameworks and key concepts in teaching & learning. For example, Radical Empathy, Radical Kindness, Critical race. Why? What’s the difference between radical empathy and empathy? 

Every lesson should be an experiment in improving the previous lesson. Never stop experimenting. 

What do we want knowledge to be when we think about experimental pedagogy research in the context of UAL? Are there protocols for this knowledge and what are their demands?


multiple, many, interconnected


who confirms it as knowledge? Who is the gate keeper?

fluid and porous 

(Who judges knowledge?)

There may be a soft structure which allows for common goals or approaches. It may need to be analysed and compared


Staying with the originating mode?

we need knowledge to be detached from assessment – can you get a good grade from not knowing

 A passionate lecture by Rosi Braidotti at Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 2019- discussing Posthuman Knowledge (the title of her new book), the future of humanities and the role of universities.:

Irit Rogoff presentation in Sonic Acts 2019 on her current investigations around ‘Becoming Research’:

Can you tell us when and how you experienced or performed experimental pedagogy? 

I’d like to think i ‘perform’ experimental pedagogy most of the time! 

for me EP is about providing frameworks for self-learning / self-discovery, not bodies of knowledge. 

(Bodies Without Organs?)

Sometimes I think am doing experimental pedagogy then find out it is normal practice! 

My practice has adopted some ‘performative pedagogy’ by exploring multi-modal approaches to teaching and learning. Experimenting with different senses in ‘conventional space’ was enlightening. i.e. how sound played a part as an unexpected tool.  

Group experiments with sonic objects – intending one thing; other things emergent 

we ask students to walk a 1000 seconds from their front door without any criteria for their observations – removing most criteria and parameters for what they do and how they document. 

VR seminar and workshop

As a reaction to an established academic curriculum – looking to the students to see the peripheral technical areas that needs attention – working from employment backwards.

Every time I teach, I experience experimental pedagogy. 

How can we create teaching and learning communities where greater creative risk taking (experimentation?) can take place?

expect to fail but not as a negative experience

removing marking criteria

(Assistance rather than assessment?)

sitting with problems, not rushing to solutions, trying to shift away from goal orientated education (which is difficult when universities have to function as businesses, and pedagogy is a selling point rather than a fundamental reason for existence)

Prior to the event, co-design T&L agreement between teachers and learners in which learners have equal importance.

Changing government? Or surfacing the voices in government (i.e. education) who understand this?

Accepting failure is essential,  but we don’t do it. We search for the best scores, best student feedback – so once you’ve got it right, it’s difficult to try anything different. 

How will you see it develop in the future? (dream big!)

Shifts of power, a truly activist university in continual experimentation

Open and transparent institutions – or beyond institutions

Always asking “who is privileged by [xyz]?”

A curriculum that starts with each individual’s prior experience. No frameworks. No grading of that experience. Learning outcomes tuned in to “experiencing xyz” only.  

Moves to interdependent learning and interdependent practice.

Interdependent learning.

close formal education  institutions as a business 

across institutions, global, inclusive

student engaged assessment, technology lead student autonomous learning, student led pedagogy, developing communities of practice

Compassion towards staff, workload and pay. 

Ideally, how your experimental pedagogy class will look like? Is it indoor? Is it multispecies? Are words being used? If so, in which language?

ethically informed

let order emerge from chaos, don’t be prescriptive

what does the most inclusive class look like? tension between free to do whatever vs overstimulation

it focuses on the what can be

it is transcultural, trangenerational, trans-…

it shifts between the studio, the field and the laboratory, it is situated, it is exploratory, it is inclusive (between disciplines, human/non, academic/non), it is grounded, it is tangible, it is embodied, it is transformative – as all education should be.

small and intense

collaborative 3D sketching immersive session (VR) without sound nor avatars.

Less us and them and more we in all our pedagogies

This is how it should be done. Lodge yourself on a stratum, experiment with the opportunities it offers, find an advantageous place on it, find potential movements of deterritorialization, possible lines of flight, experience them, produce flow conjunctions here and there, try out continua of intensities segment by segment, have a small plot of new land at all times. It is through a meticulous relation with the strata that one succeeds in freeing lines of flight, causing conjugated flows to pass and escape and bringing forth continuous intensities for a BwO. (Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 1980/1987, p. 161)

Do you know what micro-affirmations are?

Micro-affirmations: “small acts which are often ephemeral and hard-to-see, events that are public and private, often unconscious but very effective, which occur wherever people wish to help others to succeed. Micro- affirmations are tiny acts of opening doors to opportunity, gestures of inclusion and caring, and graceful acts of listening. Micro- affirmations lie in the practice of generosity, in consistently giving credit to others—in providing comfort and support when others are in distress, when there has been a failure at the bench, or an idea that did not work out, or a public attack” (Rowe, 2008, p. 46).

Rowe, M. (2008). Micro-affirmations and micro-inequities. Journal of the International Ombudsman Association, 1, 45-48.

How do we facilitate a culture where micro-affirmations are the norm

the opposite of micro-agressions!?

micro-affirmations by their very definition happen all the time without us noticing them — a smile from a colleague or student, the space for you views to be heard, a nod…


Yes: Duna Sabri’s report (2018) which has called for a “site of intervention” between tutors – students interaction. Sabri argues that “the concepts of micro-affirmation, identity formation and recognition are recommended as tools for reflection, analysis, discussion and change in day-to-day practices (Sabri 2018, p.26).

When did you experience micro-affirmation in education? 

Were you a student or a teacher? 

Was your role important or relevant in the experience of it?

this should be fundamental to any teaching/learning experience, but is worth highlighting so that we don’t forget, and to think about how we can amplify this practice, particularly with increase of remote delivery/engagement. how can you affirm on a small and individual basis in a large group online sesion? or on a miro board? or chat?

as a teacher, hearing from students this year that we had a very inclusive and supportive environment compared to their previous studies – a collective, peer supporting approach

Within social spaces – physical or online – how an experimental pedagogical approach can take into account shyness, quietness and introversion? How do experimental pedagogies make space for listening rather than talking?

Shy Radicals: The Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert (2017, Fourth Edition, 2020)


allowing for silence and different modes of engagement. some students prefer online interaction – for some it flattens the hierarchy. ideation doesn’t need to be verbal, but too often relies on that which discourages quieter more introverted students or those who have english as a second language.

online chat in teams lectures has helped students  ‘speak’

We will entertain you and you will entertain us. Come as you are, as you were, as you are going to be, as you want to be. 

Democratic Space

“Many professors have conveyed to me their feeling that the classroom should be a “safe” place; that usually translates to mean that the professor lectures to a group of quiet students who respond only when they are called on. The experience of professors who educate for critical consciousness indicates that many students, especially students of color, may not feel at all “safe” in what appears to be a neutral setting. It is the absence of a feeling of safety that often promotes prolonged silence or lack of student engagement.

Making the classroom a democratic setting where everyone feels a responsibility to contribute is a central goal of transformative pedagogy.”

  • hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York, NY: Routledge.

How do we do democratic spaces?

a democratic space has to recognise the multiple subjectivities present, including a refusal to be part of the space, or moving what the parameters of the space — what is democracy in pedagogy? 

What do you feel your pedagogic practice most needs right now? How can you attend to those needs as a teacher/ student?

facilitate the space, not the people

What would be a good university? 

this is a good question in the current climate – where is and what is the university when we cannot ‘be there’? What constitutes it? Where is it? Who is it and what connects those who are part of it?

how is key

the utopian university- is this what we need?

What are the values of the utopian university? 

What are your values as teachers?




learning for learning’s sake

life long learning

creativity / criticality

compassion, patience, empathy, active listening and care.

What do I really want to do as teacher? And student?

create space for individual and collaborative growth, whilst also nurturing my own curiosity

What if …(i.e. no assessments, pass/fail grading)

there were no top-down policies to fight against or constrain us?

self-assessment, what if students assessed their own learning, development and achievements?

What does an activist, radical university look/ feel/ move/ like?

situated, project orientated

non located, ephemeral according to need, fluid . without assessment

How to teach collaboration, peer to peer model?

teach through doing, recognising that collaboration is difficult and needs facilitating, nurturing and tending. creating opportunity within and beyond the university.

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