Episode 1.1  Tomatoes in the Classroom   Show Notes

Today’s keyword is TOMATOES. There is a peculiarity to classrooms that is rarely noticed. It involves tomatoes, the weird and wonderful (and occasionally woeful) techniques that professors deploy in order to spark learning in their classrooms. This episode explores the artistry of teaching practices. Erin Manning reflects poignantly on the risky practices at the heart of teaching, giving voice to the tagline of this podcast project: “listening for things we don’t know how to listen for.” Namrata Mitra’s depictions of tomatoes open up the macabre, as well as the truly nutritious, dynamics of classrooms. Kyle Kinaschuk, a grad student in Toronto, shares a stunning portrait of a tomato. And Kaitlin Rothberger, the podcast’s undergrad field reporter, identifies what might be the best kind of tomato. This is the first of a series of episodes that tracks and explores the design work at play within classrooms.

Erin Manning


Selfie of Ada Jaarsma & Namrata Mitra
Ada Jaarsma & Namrata Mitra


Thanks so much to these participants in The Learning Gene‘s first episode, which was written and produced by Ada Jaarsma. 

Erin Manning – this project, The Learning Gene, takes inspiration from a recent article by Erin Manning that explores the risky and critical nature of “starting in the middle.”  Erin Manning holds a University Research Chair in Relational Art and Philosophy in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). She is also the director of the SenseLab, a laboratory that explores the intersections between art practice and philosophy through the matrix of the sensing body in movement..

Podcast collaborators–  Kaitlin Rothberger, Namtra Mitra, Anna Mudde and Kyle Kinaschuk are regular contributors to this podcast.  Learn more about them here .

Recommendations for further exploring

Anna Mudde:   I recommend bell hooks’ “Teaching” series: Teaching to TransgressTeaching Community, and Teaching Critical Thinking are striking, thoughtful, challenging calls to take up “tomatoes” in self-conscious, yet non-navel-gazing, ways. They first gave me language for teaching practices that matter negatively and practical advice for those that matter positively.

Kyle Kinaschuk:  I’d like to recommend Caroline Levine’s Forms for this episode because Levine proffers a more capacious way of thinking about form beyond the spatial, which can be productively read in the sonic contexts of the classroom. 

Works cited in episode

Jaarsma, Ada S. “Design, Disability and Play: The Animal Politics of Education,” Gender and Education.  28(2) 2016: 195-212.

Smith, Zadie. On Beauty (New York: Penguin, 2005).

Manning, Erin. “10 Propositions for a Radical Pedagogy, or How To Rethink Value,” Inflexions 8 (2015): 202-210.

Music Attributions for this episode

“Open Flames” by Blue Dot Sessions from Free Music Archives (License Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International)