I am a passionate self-educator, continuously curious and hungry for new knowledge and experiences. I actively self-forage for new ideas, new knowledge and new practices to improve my work.
As a child, despite excelling academically, I found school oppressive. College was the same and I left when I was 17. Conventional University felt inaccessible and alienating. Compared to my life experience in political organising and the huge amounts I was learning from it, the grey-walled institutions couldn’t match.
Distance education supported me better, and I began studying with the Open University before finding Gaia University in 2011. After being so empowered in the model, I have become passionate about the diverse ways of supporting learning including the powerful role of action learning.
As part of my community organising, how we support learning is essential, whether this is through informal mentoring and skill sharing, or organised courses and workshops. How we learn is important – it determines whether we actually learn (or whether we just consume or ‘bank’ information), whether we feel included or excluded in a group or movement, if we feel empowered to work for change, or dampened and depressed that we don’t have any control of our lives and that fitting in to our oppressive system is the only way we can exist in society.
The below are some ideas about where I’m at in radical education. You can see more up-to-date additions in my anarchist pedagogy blog, as well as examples in practice in my upcoming courses and events, as well as my workshop and course designs (all open source) here.
Popular Education is a methodology first introduced by Brazilian educator and writer, Paulo Freire, as a “process which aims to empower people who feel marginalized socially and politically to take control of their own learning and to effect social change”. Everyone is a student and everyone is a teacher.
Popular education isn’t really just a jumble of participatory learning tools, I feel its more of an attitude. A commitment to a certain style of facilitation and a commitment to social change.
The Popular Education Forum for Scotland, define popular education as:
- Rooted in the real interests & struggles of ordinary people
- Overtly political and critical of the status quo
- Committed to progressive social & political change
- A curriculum which comes out of the concrete experience and material interests of people in communities of resistance and struggle
- A pedagogy which is collective, primarily focused on group rather than individual learning & development
- Attempts to forge a direct link between education and social action
Anarchist Pedagogy: My premises as a facilitator of learning
“Education as an exercise of domination stimulates the credulity of students, with the ideological intent (often not perceived by educators) of indoctrinating them to adapt to a world of oppression.”
– Paulo Friere
The aim of my educational work is to support people to resist exploitative systems and work to eradicate all forms of domination, while designing and creating systems that are liberatory.
I aim to support the re-skilling of my community to increase autonomy and self-determination and use its resources regeneratively. I use my educational energy to promote radical politics, ethics and ways of living that challenge industrial civilisation and all forms of oppression & build a regenerative culture.
I refuse to do educational work that in any way justifies, rationalises, normalises or encourages adaptation to a world of oppression.
I am always a learner and commit to non-hierarchical ways of working with apprentices, associates and participants of courses/events/workshops I organise or facilitate.
I commit to developing my self as an educator and practitioner, both through ongoing action learning and political education, as well as in exploring critical and anarchist pedagogy.
Where there is a financial exchange for my time facilitating learning, I will commit to creating opportunities for accessibility, through tools such as sliding scales, gift-based courses, securing grants to ensure accessibility and so forth. I will respect myself & honour my financial needs but refuse to financially exploit others.
I undertake paid educational work to support me to meet my necessary economic needs by working in cooperative, liberatory ways with focuses that are congruent & supportive of my organiser goals & objectives.
Some people wish to shy away from politics. While I think we can be strategic with our language, with our approaches, I think ultimately everyone is able to reflect on their situation and see the bigger picture as to why they are poor, who oppresses them and why. I’ve done workshops at seed swaps, talking about european politics, and people who don’t particularly think they are ‘political’ are having great long discussions about capitalism, about the profit of the few over the many. Political education is about stripping away the arrogance that some people have ‘answers’ and all we need to do is educate the masses.
“Manipulation, sloganising, depositing, regimentation, and prescription cannot be components of revolutionary praxis, precisely because they are components of the praxis of domination.”
– Paulo Freire
For me, anarchist education is essential. We have so much to learn and unlearn.
In the book, ‘Anarchist Pedagogies’, Jeffery Shantz writes about the importance of anarchist pedagogy:
“Developing and encouraging new forms of socialization, social interaction, and the sharing of ideas in ways that might initiate and sustain nonauthoritarian practices and ways of relating.”
Let’s find those new ways of relating. Lets create knowledge so we can relate well, with nonhumans and humans. Lets recognise our innate knowing, and let our full creativity be expressed. Let’s learn what it means to be human.