Building Education for the Commons
A learning environment worthy of its name must be an emancipating and empowering process whereby knowledge is acquired through overcoming ignorance and enslavement. Acquiring knowledge can thus be a painful process. Learning is about growth, and growth must abide with both pleasure and pain. It is painful to confront inconvenient truths (about our world and ourselves). How we as subjects are always and already part of the social world premised upon inherent inequalities, power differentials, and disempowering forms of power, is not an easy lesson to learn. And even harder is the lesson of how our subjectivities reproduces these inequalities (racism, sexism etc.) merely by functioning in the social matrix of everyday life.
This is why a school committed to learning must be part of the rejection of the social matrix that functions as disempowering our collective body, our collective “soul” as an organ of existence. Learning is about connecting, even in the most primordial ways.
What a school must do (to be worthy of the name) is create a certain distance in which serious reflection and analysis can be done in a way that opens out new alternative spaces, imaginative futures and subjective possibilities. To imagine a future is not a simple “day-dream” but a crucial part of learning how to live into a new and different imagination. This is a very practical and essential pedagogical tool. For not to imagine anything new is to have already given up; it is a moment of resignation in which learning and growth are already subverted. The opposite of imaging is fascism. It is a settlement of the mind, propaganda.
A school’s responsibility therefore is to identify the blockages of growth, to unclog the lines of communication and of our primordial truth of our social organ. It is also to challenge, in the most concrete way possible, the reigning social hegemony in order to create a different world of life, joy, and belonging.
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