Notes on My Dunce Cap
By Jesse Ball.
A text for those curious about education as a context for creativity and collaboration, and for teachers who want to reconsider hierarchy in their classrooms, Jesse Ball’s Notes on My Dunce Cap includes advisory material regarding the creation of syllabi and the manner in which groups may evaluate the work of an individual without harm. Ball is renowned for the unique courses he teaches at the Art Institute of Chicago, which are compiled in this volume along with extended notes on pedagogy. His meditations consider pedagogy in terms that are at once usefully broad and insightfully profound: "When it is possible for any of us to simply go and sit somewhere in the grass, and when it is such a delightful thing to do, to go and sit in the grass, whether by oneself or with others, then it is important to remember that anytime we think about teaching, or indeed, about any other activity—that we do it instead of sitting somewhere in the grass. We are passing up on the joy of solitude, and all its virtues and pleasures. Therefore, it is crucial that what happens when we teach be of the same value as time spent alone. And that is true both for ourselves and for those we teach."
Jesse Ball (born 1978) is the author of five novels, including The Curfew, Silence Once Begun and A Cure for Suicide, which was longlisted for the 2015 National Book Award, as well as several collections of poetry, including March Book. His work has appeared in numerous publications including The New Republic, The Paris Review, Oberon, Circumference and Guernica Magazine.