In this address, delivered at a pedagogics conference held at the University of Breslau in 1913, Benjamin argues for an integration of individual and collective experience in the form of an “educational community,” understood not as a circle of common interests but as the consciousness of the whole student body concretely instantiated in the life of each individual student. This dialectical idea of solitude in community entails “an inwardly grounded and, at the same time, highly social form of action among the students,” a life form that would maintain independence from all existing political factions without assuming an attitude of neutrality. The fostering of this social-political consciousness is the task of the student body, conceived as a cultural avantgarde. Benjamin calls for a “new philosophical pedagogy” that would provide an arena for the confrontation of youth and cultural values. Out of this encounter was to issue the learning community, an individuated collectivity of study emancipated from the hierarchies and power relations characteristic of traditional academic institutions.

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