Strands of research/issues and our response/action

A lot of what I am about to write I would assume you have all considered but I think we need to concrete each of the certain areas, even if we decide that they will resolve themselves naturally. I am keen for us to have considered what it is we are doing and defining our path ahead as I am keen to avoid the vaguarities of doing something that is learning and educational, and to fully understand what these mean and where they fit in.

I think this is very important especially as when our reasons for embarking on this become more defined then our responses to that should do as well. If we are positioning our project in opposition to an idea of debt slavery for instance then what have we done to oppose that. It would be frightful if our only reaction is to say that we have embarked on our own education and this naturally opposes. For me it would not be good enough. What were our other options, who else has set out to solve this problem, who have we spoke to specifically in relation to this, does taking charge of our own education offer a real solution, is it applicable elsewhere, are we left with a different sort of debt?

All this may sound obvious but in order for us to direct ourselves these questions must surely be asked. Also when assuming the role of education body, teacher and student all at once, several points come up concerning how we organise ourselves and others and what part of this triad we/they fit and where are the overlaps. These three areas are very distinct and encompass a whole swathe of other points. If we are going to truly map this then I think we need to have a structure to begin with, key points to address, areas of research, frameworks for intervention and so on. When we approach someone to collaborate in what context will we be doing so? I would want to avoid a vagueness on our part as it would probably invite a similar response on theirs.

Anyway here are some points I have outlined below. These will need extending and working through. Perhaps we can all respond and then skype afterwards. I think it will help us galvanise.

Blueprint for Education
Identify strands of research/issues and our response/action:

* Funding/fees
* What constitutes education
* what constitutes learning
* what is valuable as a curriculum
* what constitutes a curriculum
* who can teach
* how do we assess
* how do we position knowledge, intelligence, skills
* what role does research play, what forms can this take, what structues validate this
* what do we make open (do we make it open)
* how do the social, political, ethical and egalitarian figure
* how do we approach being the education body, teacher and student. Do we tackle them one by one? where do they overlap?
* How do we structure our education? Do we need to have an initial period of formulation or can this develop as we progress?
* What wider discourses impact upon this project? How are these approached incorporated into our dialectic?

Wider Issues

* Marx
* Class
* Money
* State
* Political economy
* Activism/fatalism
* locating location
* Badiou
* Notions of skill
* configurations of value
* utopia
* socialism
* hierarchy
* accepted knowledge
* autonomy
* the expert/amateur
* language
* the value of work/labour

People

* Department 21
* Imogen Stidworthy
* Becky Shaw
* Paulo Friere
* David Harvey
* Terry Smith
* Keller Easterling
* Dan Smith
* Ele Carpenter
* Peter Thompson
* Derek Horton
* Cat Moir
* Andy Abbott
* The Radical Aesthetics Research Group
* Dissent at Home
* iDC (institute for distributed creativity)

Possible Structures

* Research studios/trips
* lectures
* projects
* mail-lists
* blogs
* publications/journals (our own and others)
* flying structures
* reading groups
* essays/dissertations
* guest speakers, tutors, module leaders
* the marx library
* the public school
* pop-up school

All this covers a lot and can be quite vague. What I hope it does show is the breadth of what we are proposing and what it touches upon. What we choose to cover is up to us but perhaps it would be useful to seriously consider understanding all that will act upon us and define new positions. For now though I would like to say that Badiou’s points for a new communism are something which I would like to instill into this as much as possible, that the marx library offers us one of our first resources and points of convergence as a school and that us all undertaking writing and passing it between us is a wonderful place to start in defining our position, procuring an education but also is translating our resources and experiences through the project into something that others can access.

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2 responses to “Strands of research/issues and our response/action

  1. What I would like to ask though is how we see this fitting in with what we are doing. Like I said in the previous email there are a lot of things to consider here if we are going to say publicly that we are embarking on a project about education and that we need to talk these things over first. I want us to know what we are aiming for from each other. I don’t want the notion of education to be taken as read and that doing activities like partaking in a reading group is naturally tackling the concept of education without thinking and talking about it first. The reason why is I feel this is because of what other projects have done around these themes and quite a few operate round a vague notion of “well I’m learning so this must be education”. I would also be careful how we label things as I would hazard to say that reading Marx is not insurrectionary in itself, but rather the interpretation and application of that body towards subversive means. That’s to say that you could read Marx in order to keep in with dominant ideologies (for instance to complete an assignment at uni), which I would say is what we are trying to unpick with our foray into education. It is quite misleading to assume a text in itself is reactionary. It would be like reading the vedas and then saying that you are hindu because of it.

    This is very important for me at this stage as I don’t want us just steaming into projects, linking them back to the education project and then deconstructing them to fit into that framework. I want us to be sure as to why we are doing these various things and where they fit in. I am playing devils advocate a bit here as I do not think that you haven’t done this but rather that I would like us all to have spoken about it first to a greater extent so that we have an awareness of structure, each others notions and a way to proceed.

  2. Ultimately I think we need a structure in which we all have the freedom to pursue our various lines of inquiry without feeling like we are speaking or acting for everyone.

    I am keen to ask all of the questions that you have raised in your emails but I can feel them weighing down on us and worry that trying to answer them without any activity could become paralysing. The way that I would like to answer them is by attempting to ask them by doing stuff and hopefully having some answers in a couple of years’ time, even if the answer is just uni is the best option! However, I do not think that is to say that you should also ask those questions by doing stuff as you may prefer have clear predetermined ideas that you are hoping to pursue.

    So, that’s why I feel it necessary that we all have a sense of individual agency within the group, using our collectivism as a support that is always in the background rather than feeling burdened a sense of responsibility to act on behalf of the group. I also think that in terms of having a really broad review of education that the different routes we take will enable us to cover more ground.

    Sorry, that this is probably exactly the sort of vagueness that you are referring to but at the moment I don’t feel like I have any of the answers!

    Reading Capital: we reckon that reading capital without the support of a discussion group (even with the help of Harvey’s lectures) would be extremely difficult and potentially impossible, also Gary in our reading group brought it up without us even mentioning it so it seemed perfect that we would do it with him and hopefully some other peeps in Liverpool. The idea of setting up tandem groups I suppose fits in with a way of operating that I am keen to develop through the MA course (but I am happy to do this without any reference to the MA if contacting people). The insurrectory element of it is not the text itself but the idea of people developing and sharing Marxist ideas in different cities all at the same time (it is based on the idea of the communes in The Coming Insurrection).

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