10 RULES FOR TERRANAUTS (Pandemic Edition, after John Cage and Bruno Latour)

Like many of my colleagues, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what the fall is going to look like for educators. Looking back on this spring, one of the things that struck me was how quickly faculty pivoted to remote delivery of classes without really considering what the experience would be like for students. The assumption for many was that the current generation of undergraduates—so comfortable with using technology—would unproblematically adjust to online delivery. This ignored the fact that in a majority of contexts technology use among most students is as a distraction in spaces of residence or leisure. Suddenly relying on “distraction tech” as a primary mode of delivering educational content was challenging in ways that many didn’t expect. I think that as faculty prepare for an increasingly uncertain fall semester we are making the same mistakes again.

Used with Permission from Scott Listfield. https://www.astronautdinosaur.com

This past spring, when we went online during lockdown, I began to think of my students as space travelers and that our class had become a remote connection between different explorers at different landing sites on a new world. This conceptualization was a foundation for thinking of new pedagogical approaches—a “pedagogy for Earth-bound astronauts.”

As a colleague reminded me, however, they are actually travelers on Earth—albeit a pandemically created new one. The more I have been thinking about this in recent weeks, the more I have been connecting it to Bruno Latour‘s idea of “Terrestrials” (see Latour 2017, 2018)—humans that stay in contact with the down-to-earth materiality of an attachment to where we are. This as opposed to the illusions of transcendence or ignoring the limitations of our current social and economic system—the “out-of-this world” thinking that pretends we can ignore the pandemic as “just a flu” or that we need to ignore it and continue with business as usual. This instinct is, of course, the same instinct that pretends the climate crisis is not real.

In a sense would it be possible to take advantage of the unfamiliar conditions of life and remote education during the pandemic to think of the students and instructor of a class as a class of “terranauts” embarking on an analysis of the fauna and flora of a “new world”—our pandemic Earth—with an attention to the ways things have changed in their own ways locally. This past spring the challenging arrival of the novel virus immediately revealed the constructed nature of our quotidian lives and the taken-for-granted and previously unseen entanglements between humans, non-human life and environments and systems. To those who have been paying attention, this revelation has been as enlightening as it has been uncomfortable. And, I think that amid the struggle and distraction to “get back to normal” we forget that there is no going back—we are still on our new world. Could this understanding form the foundation for approaching teaching this fall?

This morning Facebook greeted me with a memory from two years ago when I shared John Cage’s 10 Rules for Students and Teachers. Re-reading them, I got to thinking how useful most of them would be as we head into the fall. As I though more, I considered the ways I would revise them to be better. So this afternoon, I decided to rewrite them as “10 Rules for Terranauts.” While this is a first go-around, I think it might be useful to share something like this with my students when we begin classes this fall—in person, online or hybrid—as a way to orienting ourselves and our work. However classes end up starting, they are almost certain to be disrupted and disoriented yet again before the end of the semester.

𝟷0 𝚁𝚄𝙻𝙴𝚂 𝙵𝙾𝚁 𝚃𝙴𝚁𝚁𝙰𝙽𝙰𝚄𝚃𝚂 (𝚙𝚊𝚗𝚍𝚎𝚖𝚒𝚌 𝚎𝚍𝚒𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗)

𝚁𝚄𝙻𝙴 𝙾𝙽𝙴: 𝙻𝚘𝚌𝚊𝚝𝚎 𝚊 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚏𝚘𝚛𝚝𝚊𝚋𝚕𝚎 𝚜𝚒𝚝𝚎 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚎𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚋𝚕𝚒𝚜𝚑 𝚊 𝚜𝚎𝚌𝚞𝚛𝚎 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚛𝚞𝚜𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝚋𝚊𝚜𝚎 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚔. 𝚃𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚙𝚕𝚊𝚌𝚎 𝚠𝚒𝚕𝚕 𝚋𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚙𝚘𝚒𝚗𝚝 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚎𝚡𝚌𝚞𝚛𝚜𝚒𝚘𝚗𝚜 𝚝𝚘 𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝚕𝚘𝚌𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗𝚜.

𝚁𝚄𝙻𝙴 𝚃𝚆𝙾: 𝙰𝚜𝚜𝚞𝚖𝚎 𝚗𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚍𝚘𝚗’𝚝 𝚖𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝚊𝚙𝚙𝚎𝚊𝚛𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎𝚜. 𝚃𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚒𝚜 𝚊 𝚗𝚎𝚠 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍. 𝚆𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚙𝚎𝚛𝚌𝚎𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚊𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚛𝚖𝚊𝚕 𝚒𝚜 𝚗𝚘 𝚕𝚘𝚗𝚐𝚎𝚛.

𝚁𝚄𝙻𝙴 𝚃𝙷𝚁𝙴𝙴: 𝙳𝚘 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚋𝚎 𝚞𝚗𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚏𝚘𝚛𝚝𝚊𝚋𝚕𝚎 𝚘𝚗 𝚞𝚗𝚏𝚊𝚖𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚊𝚛 𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚛𝚊𝚒𝚗. 𝙴𝚡𝚙𝚕𝚘𝚛𝚎 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚒𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚗𝚎𝚠 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍. 𝙲𝚘𝚗𝚜𝚒𝚍𝚎𝚛 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚗 𝚎𝚡𝚙𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚖𝚎𝚗𝚝.

𝚁𝚄𝙻𝙴 𝙵𝙾𝚄𝚁: 𝚆𝚎𝚊𝚛 𝚗𝚎𝚌𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚊𝚛𝚢 𝚙𝚛𝚘𝚝𝚎𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚐𝚎𝚊𝚛 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚖𝚊𝚒𝚗𝚝𝚊𝚒𝚗 𝚜𝚊𝚏𝚎 𝚙𝚑𝚢𝚜𝚒𝚌𝚊𝚕 𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎—𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚜𝚘𝚌𝚒𝚊𝚕 𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎. 𝙷𝚞𝚖𝚊𝚗 𝚙𝚛𝚒𝚖𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚜 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚜𝚞𝚛𝚟𝚒𝚟𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚌𝚑𝚊𝚕𝚕𝚎𝚗𝚐𝚎𝚜 𝚘𝚏 𝚖𝚒𝚕𝚕𝚒𝚘𝚗𝚜 𝚘𝚏 𝚢𝚎𝚊𝚛𝚜 𝚋𝚢 𝚜𝚞𝚛𝚟𝚒𝚟𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚝𝚘𝚐𝚎𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛. 𝚂𝚝𝚞𝚍𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚜, 𝚙𝚞𝚕𝚕 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚝𝚎𝚊𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚌𝚕𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚖𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚜. 𝚃𝚎𝚊𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚜, 𝚙𝚞𝚕𝚕 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚜𝚝𝚞𝚍𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚜.

𝚁𝚄𝙻𝙴 𝙵𝙸𝚅𝙴: 𝙱𝚎 𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚏-𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚌𝚒𝚙𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚎𝚍 𝚒𝚗 𝚌𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚗𝚎𝚠 𝚛𝚘𝚞𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚎𝚜. 𝙴𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚑-𝚋𝚘𝚞𝚗𝚍 𝚛𝚘𝚞𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚎𝚜 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚋𝚎𝚎𝚗 𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚛𝚞𝚙𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚛𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚊𝚕𝚎𝚍 𝚊𝚜 𝚊𝚛𝚋𝚒𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚛𝚢. 𝙰𝚜 𝚊 𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚙𝚘𝚗𝚜𝚎 𝚠𝚎 𝚖𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚋𝚎 𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚏-𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚌𝚒𝚙𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚎𝚍 𝚒𝚗 𝚌𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚗𝚎𝚠 𝚘𝚗𝚎𝚜: 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚖𝚎𝚊𝚗𝚜 𝚒𝚍𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚒𝚏𝚢𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚒𝚍𝚎𝚊𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚊𝚛𝚎 𝚠𝚒𝚜𝚎 𝚘𝚛 𝚜𝚖𝚊𝚛𝚝 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚌𝚑𝚘𝚘𝚜𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚝𝚘 𝚎𝚗𝚐𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚖. 𝚃𝚘 𝚋𝚎 𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚌𝚒𝚙𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚎𝚍 𝚒𝚜 𝚝𝚘 𝚎𝚗𝚐𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚗 𝚊 𝚜𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚜𝚏𝚊𝚌𝚝𝚘𝚛𝚢 𝚠𝚊𝚢. 𝚃𝚘 𝚋𝚎 𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚏-𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚌𝚒𝚙𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚎𝚍 𝚒𝚜 𝚝𝚘 𝚎𝚗𝚐𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚗 𝚊 𝚋𝚎𝚝𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚠𝚊𝚢.

𝚁𝚄𝙻𝙴 𝚂𝙸𝚇: 𝚂𝚝𝚊𝚢 𝚒𝚗 𝚌𝚘𝚗𝚝𝚊𝚌𝚝 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚖𝚒𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚌𝚘𝚗𝚝𝚛𝚘𝚕. 𝚆𝚘𝚛𝚔𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚝 𝚊 𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎 𝚒𝚗 𝚞𝚗𝚏𝚊𝚖𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚊𝚛 𝚜𝚞𝚛𝚛𝚘𝚞𝚗𝚍𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜 𝚒𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚎𝚊𝚜𝚢 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚛𝚎𝚚𝚞𝚒𝚛𝚎𝚜 𝚎𝚏𝚏𝚘𝚛𝚝. 𝙴𝚟𝚎𝚗 𝚠𝚑𝚒𝚕𝚎 𝚘𝚙𝚎𝚛𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚝 𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚒𝚖𝚞𝚖 𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎𝚜, 𝚒𝚏 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚗𝚎𝚎𝚍 𝚜𝚘𝚖𝚎𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚖𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚖𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝚒𝚝 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠𝚗.

𝚁𝚄𝙻𝙴 𝚂𝙴𝚅𝙴𝙽: 𝙴𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚖𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚔 𝚒𝚗 𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚙𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚎𝚗𝚝 𝚜𝚒𝚝𝚞𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗. 𝙳𝚘𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚔 𝚕𝚎𝚊𝚍𝚜 𝚝𝚘 𝚗𝚎𝚠 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜. 𝙸𝚝’𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚙𝚎𝚘𝚙𝚕𝚎 𝚠𝚑𝚘 𝚍𝚘 𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚔 𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚝𝚒𝚖𝚎 𝚠𝚑𝚘 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚞𝚊𝚕𝚕𝚢 𝚌𝚊𝚝𝚌𝚑 𝚘𝚗 𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜. 𝚃𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚊𝚛𝚎 𝚗𝚘 𝚖𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚔𝚎𝚜. 𝚃𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎’𝚜 𝚗𝚘 𝚠𝚒𝚗 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚗𝚘 𝚏𝚊𝚒𝚕, 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚘𝚗𝚕𝚢 𝚖𝚊𝚔𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚍𝚘 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚖𝚊𝚔𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚗𝚎𝚠.

𝚁𝚄𝙻𝙴 𝙴𝙸𝙶𝙷𝚃: 𝙳𝚘𝚗’𝚝 𝚝𝚛𝚢 𝚝𝚘 𝚌𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚎 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚊𝚗𝚊𝚕𝚢𝚣𝚎 𝚊𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚜𝚊𝚖𝚎 𝚝𝚒𝚖𝚎. 𝚃𝚑𝚎𝚢 𝚊𝚛𝚎 𝚍𝚒𝚏𝚏𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚗𝚝 𝚙𝚛𝚘𝚌𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚜. 𝙼𝚊𝚔𝚎, 𝚊𝚗𝚊𝚕𝚢𝚣𝚎, 𝚌𝚛𝚒𝚝𝚒𝚚𝚞𝚎, 𝚛𝚎𝚟𝚒𝚜𝚎, 𝚛𝚎𝚖𝚊𝚔𝚎.

𝚁𝚄𝙻𝙴 𝙽𝙸𝙽𝙴: 𝙱𝚎 𝚑𝚊𝚙𝚙𝚢 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚗𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚌𝚊𝚗 𝚖𝚊𝚗𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚝. 𝙴𝚗𝚓𝚘𝚢 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚏 𝚘𝚗 𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚗𝚎𝚠 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍. 𝙸𝚝’𝚜 𝚕𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚗 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚔. 𝙻𝚊𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚑𝚎𝚕𝚙𝚜.

𝚁𝚄𝙻𝙴 𝚃𝙴𝙽: 𝚃𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚒𝚜 𝚊 𝚐𝚎𝚗𝚎𝚛𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗𝚊𝚕 𝚘𝚙𝚙𝚘𝚛𝚝𝚞𝚗𝚒𝚝𝚢 𝚝𝚘 𝚛𝚎𝚠𝚛𝚒𝚝𝚎 𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚛𝚞𝚕𝚎𝚜. 𝙴𝚟𝚎𝚗 𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚘𝚠𝚗 𝚛𝚞𝚕𝚎𝚜. 𝙰𝚗𝚍 𝚑𝚘𝚠 𝚍𝚘 𝚠𝚎 𝚍𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝? 𝙱𝚢 𝚛𝚒𝚍𝚒𝚌𝚞𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚝𝚠𝚒𝚗 𝚍𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚑 𝚌𝚞𝚕𝚝𝚜 𝚘𝚏 𝚌𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚒𝚝𝚢 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚕𝚎𝚊𝚍𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚑𝚒𝚙 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚕𝚎𝚊𝚟𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚙𝚕𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚢 𝚘𝚏 𝚛𝚘𝚘𝚖 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚌𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚒𝚝𝚢 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚕𝚎𝚊𝚍𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚑𝚒𝚙.

𝙷𝙸𝙽𝚃𝚂: 𝙰𝚕𝚠𝚊𝚢𝚜 𝚋𝚎 𝚊𝚛𝚘𝚞𝚗𝚍. 𝙲𝚘𝚖𝚎 𝚘𝚛 𝚐𝚘 𝚝𝚘 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐. 𝙰𝚕𝚠𝚊𝚢𝚜 𝚐𝚘 𝚝𝚘 𝚌𝚕𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚜. 𝙸𝚏 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚊𝚛𝚎𝚗’𝚝 𝚟𝚒𝚜𝚒𝚋𝚕𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚊𝚛𝚎𝚗’𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎. 𝚁𝚎𝚊𝚍 𝚠𝚒𝚍𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚋𝚛𝚘𝚊𝚍𝚕𝚢 𝚎𝚗𝚐𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚖𝚎𝚍𝚒𝚊, 𝚋𝚞𝚝 𝚜𝚙𝚎𝚗𝚍 𝚕𝚎𝚜𝚜 𝚝𝚒𝚖𝚎 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚜𝚌𝚛𝚎𝚎𝚗𝚜. 𝚂𝚘𝚌𝚒𝚊𝚕 𝚖𝚎𝚍𝚒𝚊 𝚒𝚜 𝚘𝚏𝚝𝚎𝚗 𝚊𝚗𝚝𝚒-𝚜𝚘𝚌𝚒𝚊𝚕. 𝚂𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐. 𝙸𝚝 𝚖𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚝 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚎 𝚒𝚗 𝚑𝚊𝚗𝚍𝚢 𝚕𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚛.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: