Building Education for the Commons
By Creston Davis
There are many challenges we face in our contemporary moment. These challenges are framed on different levels of existence. There is the global level, the national level, the local, and even the subjective (or personal) level. From the global to the subjective levels many challenges obscure and undermine our collective ability to live well, to live in harmony with our environments, and even ourselves.
An example that connect us all together, universally, would include the environment. The health of our world to sustain life is crucial to the very meaning of survival and flourishing. But the ability to be part of decision making when it comes to planning out the health of our world’s environment is impossible for almost all of us, including experts and scientists. This raises the question: Why is it that we are unable to voice our opinions on something so fundamental as the environment? We ask ourselves: “Where is our voice?” and in the very asking of the question, the irony is, we can’t even hear ourselves ask the question!
If our voices and opinions are not taken seriously we inevitably give up and just go with the flow. We are disempowered, and leave decisions about the future, the environment, society, to others who’s interest takes into account profit making potentials extracted from national resources (trees, oil, even water). The corporate, profit making interest and approached to our world is opposed to a common interest whose destiny is health and future. The corporate outlook is the very essence of patriarchy, a patriarchy that some versions of feminism sadly fall prey too. It is time to develop empowering zones not premised on a patriarchal outlook that seeks destruction of others, but a zone committed to healing our scares of fragmentation, of dis-community, of the pain of doubt. Patriarchy freezes us through the pain of doubt.
New forms of how we live must develop. Habits of living must become more simplified more sustainable more democratic.
One way to do this is by creating new learning zones in which learning becomes an empowering process that transcends the subjective experience. Learning empowers when it happens on the level of a trans and intersubjective level. Where voices of great diversity begin speaking with each other with the destiny that knowledge doesn’t have an end-game in-itself, but emerges within the power of the social, collective body. Knowledge is not material profit, but a way of life!
This is because inasmuch as you try to make knowledge “top-down” to absorb learning into a standardized “test” you will never experience the power and miracle of learning. Learning is necessarily social, material and de-centralized. Learning happens when the opening of the universe merges with the opening of your life, enfolded with others.
This is why GCAS is organizing the concept of “Workshop” in which learning is explored in a de-centralized manner. It is a risk because there is no final answer, but rather the “answer” is the process of the experience of others coming together because they believe and risk that something new is possible.
By embodying learning as “process” a process of becoming (over-coming), we, at the same time, construct a democratic possibility–that a different horizon is created on the canvas of life. And through this process of hope new formations of ourselves emerge empowered by a power that breaks and refuses obedience to the reigning ideology of patriarchal profit.