This is an excerpt from "Education from a Clinical Perspective—The Opening of a Conversation Field", part 2 of "Listening of Production" by Paula Chieffi, PhD of Stillpoint Spaces Zürich, published in June on Stillpoint Spaces' International Digital Publication. 

After this return to the clinical field, I feel invited to share some effects of clinical listening as described above in the educational realm. It is worth saying that these effects are part of a chart in process – a mapping of impressions, results, small and not-so-small pieces of more than ten years working with students and educators in  the public school system in Brazil. I analysed this multiplicity of material precisely in the last four years, during my Phd research.

I would like to highlight a general but important aspect of this work. Clinical listening can contribute to education when understood as a form of listening to what is alive. This listening to what is alive is potential in all educational processes, despite its absence in traditional modes of education focused in a specific content program.  Put another way, when the practice of listening is activated in an educational context it is possible to affirm and to consider that these spaces are spaces of life.

If we understand educational spaces as spaces of life, it is important to think how life can be accompanied by an educational perspective. Clinical listening, when practiced in educational contexts, is a way to do this. It is a simple practice despite the complexity of its unfolding. The complexity is related to the procedural aspect it requires. In other words, clinical listening in an educational context is a process without a known end. Besides that, it is a process involving learning that cannot be calculated or evaluated because of its existential nature. How can we calculate an existence?

Though we cannot calculate an existence, we can certainly follow it. Clinical Listening is a radical but simple attitude that requires no contents, plans or subjects – the traditional issues of education – but rather, the mobilization of a certain kind of perception. In order to describe, detail and experiment with this mode of perception I propose a shift of  clinical listening into the educational context: what if we could listen to gestures, behaviors, happenings (and also to the unexpected) as something that can produce collective sense and subjectivation rather than something to be punished, avoided or a subject that cannot be discussed?

Previously I said listening is a radical but simple attitude. Let’s follow some words from Deleuze in order to better detail this affirmation:

"If the protests of children were heard in kindergarten, if their questions were attended to, it would be enough to explode the entire educational system. There is no denying that our social system is totally without tolerance; this accounts for its extreme fragility in all its aspects and also its need for a global form of repression." 

These few words can sound optimistic, but what would happen if we would truly listen to children’s questions, and gave them  consequences? We can pick up very common issues in students’ claims as the permission to go to the toilet, to use smartphones during classes, or the frequent complaint about the hours spent seated on a chair. What can these simple questions do to the planning of classes, collective rules and to the frame of teacher/student relations? If we take them seriously and understand their complexity instead of giving simple answers in order to keep everything working properly to achieve preformulated learning goals, we could rethink the whole learning system.

Read the rest of part 2 here: