Report: IoE-KU Leuven Research Seminars
IoE-KU Leuven Research Seminar, May 2014
The sweet, syrupy fragrance of Belgian beer hangs heavily over the warm spring evening, as the participants of the IOE-KU Leuven Philosophy of Education colloquium make their way to dinner. Walking through the cobbled medieval streets of the old city centre of Leuven, the conditions could not be better to process an intensive day of philosophy that included seminar presentations, followed by collaborative reading sessions of texts by Hannah Arendt and Martin Buber, and of course the traditional film screening. This year, for the second time, the colloquium watched “Dogtooth”- a somewhat disturbing Greek film that echoes many of the educational and philosophical themes of the seminar. At dinner, our table was no doubt the loudest in the restaurant- so much to talk about, so little time. Heated discussions about language and meaning, responsibility and judgment, and the perils and rewards of PhD life felt like they could go on all night, but, alas, the early morning session demanded we get some sleep.
Despite the long daily schedule, the two days spent together under the auspices of the Laboratory for Education and Society at KU Leuven and the Philosophy Section at the IOE seemed to fly by and soon enough we were all on our way home with a substantial portion of food for thought (and a slight hangover). For a first time participant like me, what was most striking about the colloquium was the good-natured seriousness. Everyone - from Professors Jan Masschelein, Paul Standish and Stefan Ramaekers who facilitated the discussions, to recent PhDs and graduate students - was generous and engaging in their comments. The only time I felt reluctant to make my comment was in the closing session when we considered which movie should be screened in the next colloquium - I wish I had the courage to suggest we wait for the forthcoming new release in the Star Wars franchise!
As a graduate student immersed in what seems an endless lonely road towards a PhD in philosophy of education, participating the colloquium was a welcome change. It allowed me a peek into other graduates' work, their dilemmas and inspirations, as well as a chance to present some of my work to an audience that was surprisingly attentive (I presented last on the second day) and offered comments and suggestions that were as creative and challenging as they were supportive. I would think any student, at any stage of research, would benefit immensely from participating in these colloquia. Also, they're really fun.