#becomingeducational W18 blog: Critical Pedagogy: Is education about socialisation or actualisation?

Are you following critical pedagogy discussions via #moocmooc? This week they are discussing the oppressive nature of an education system totally geared to employment – and ask whether it is possible to create anarchist educational alternatives. This is what they say:

MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy is a six-week exploration of critical pedagogy. During this fourth week of MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy (MMCP), we will be discussing Jeffery Shantz’s  essay, “Spaces of Learning: The Anarchist Free Skool” (chapter 7) in Anarchist Pedagogies and considering the impulse to dissent as seen in Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience.” Feel free to read as much or as little of these selections as you are able. We promise there will be no reading quizzes.

Schedule of Events:

  • Wednesday, February 11 at 5:00 pm EST –#MOOCMOOC Twitter chat
  • Friday, February 13 at 8:00 pm EST –live, digital roundtable featuring the author of this week’s reading, Jeff Shantz.
  • Ongoing –Participant blog posts, casual conversation, and questions shared on the community hashtag #moocmooc.

Critical pedagogy asserts that learning is an act of freedom, the practice of becoming free. And, yet, the education system, of which we are all products (and which many of us continue to participate in), is a highly regulated and structured environment. Students, teachers, support staff, and administrators all lack the personal autonomy they deserve and are therefore often limited in their actions. Anarchist educators, working both within and beyond the formal education system, resist these limitations, seeking to maximize personal freedom and autonomy.

This is no easy task.

The current shift in education toward an emphasis on job training and employable skills interferes with the practice of critical analysis. It perpetuates the myth of an American meritocracy based off formal credentials. Young people are told that a college degree, not critical faculties and autonomy, is the key to success; and this “success” is defined in terms of capital, the value one’s life contributes to GDP. Popular discourse and reform efforts dismiss the effects of race, class, and gender on one’s future prospects. Without the crucial space to practice critical analysis, many students are left without the skills necessary to challenge and disrupt the oppressive reality. Free Skools and other counter-cultural institutions that engage in anarchist practices often try to reskill participants in these often forgotten areas of study.

While contemporary schools prepare students to productively contribute to the current social structure, anarchist learning promotes critical engagement with society. The former builds social stability while the latter encourages dissent, critique coupled with direct action. Many anarchists contend that to comply with a broken system — one founded largely on race, class, and gender disparity — is to strengthen it. We must act in defiance to the systems which oppress us, and in doing so, establish radically different ways of structuring (or unstructuring) society.

This is possible through anarchist educational practices. According to cultural critic and radical educator Jeffery Shantz, anarchist pedagogies work toward building “infrastructures of resistance” where participants may “learn and practice skills which are undeveloped in authoritarian social relations” (125). An anarchist pedagogy, then, “aims toward developing and encouraging new forms of socialization, social interaction, and the sharing of ideas in ways that might initiate and sustain non-authoritarian practices and ways of relating” (126).

Social structures embody a particular sort of character or ethos that emphasize and reinforce certain beliefs and behaviors. Chain charter schools are in the habit of directly announcing these core beliefs. Other schools may promote certain characteristic more subtly, or even unconsciously. Regardless of the type of education, however, contemporary American schools regularly reflect and encourage the values strengthening global capitalism by reinforcing beliefs and behaviors that would benefit an individual participating in this economic superstructure.

But the primary aim of education, especially an anarchist education, isn’t economic.

The values learned in schools shape our social behaviors. Thus education holds a deeply civic purpose. Education teaches us how to act. Yet, today, many graduate feeling a lack of agency, an object to be traded on the global marketplace. And this feeling is anything but new.

Henry David Thoreau critiqued American’s passivity and compliance in his 1849 essay “Civil Disobedience,” suggesting that “those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform.” And when the government proved itself to be an unjust machine, as Thoreau often believed, he encouraged citizens to “let [their lives] be a counter-friction to stop the machine.”

Anarchist pedagogies promote the critical skills necessary to be that counter-friction.

So let us come together and discuss how to build alternative education structures, both within and beyond traditional learning spaces, that challenge and subvert the dominant education paradigm here-and-now. Let us discuss education as a site of resistance, a space of unlearning and reskilling. On Wednesday, February 11 at 5:00 pm EST, students, teachers, parents, activists, and concerned citizens are encouraged to participant in a #moocmooc chat on how to shift educational values towards social justice. Check out worldtimebuddy.com to see when to join us in your time zone. In this conversation, we will consider questions such as:

What are the aims of education? Ideally? In reality? Now, speaking from your position and experience within and beyond the education system, what is your role in defining these aims? What social structures and institutional systems limit our ability achieve these aims?

How would you describe the character or ethos of your school or institution? What values do they promote and how does the institution describe these values? What does the institutional narrative hide?

In your local community, where would you go to learn skills not taught by formal education institutions? If you have participated at these countersites, consider your experience learning in this alternative environment. Was it effective? What worked, and what didn’t? Thinking beyond what you’ve experience: what do you imagine these infrastructures of resistance could look like?

How can you act as a counter-friction to oppression structures? In what ways can you meaningfully dissent, defy, and resist harmful educative forces? Where are there opportunities to build countersites in learning? What are the risks of doing so?

Secondly, live, digital roundtable using Google Hangouts on Air featuring the author of this week’sAnarchist Pedagogies chapter, Jeff Shantz, will occur on Friday, February 13 at 8:00 pm EST. Joining Jeff in this conversation about countersites in learning will be three educators dedicated to idea that education is a means of social justice. While all four speakers share a commitment to the values described in this article, each participant works within a different educational context.

If you cannot join us for our synchronous chat or viewing the roundtable live, feel free to post your thoughts throughout the week on the #MOOCMOOC hashtag or in the comments below. The video will be archived for future viewing. We’ll also be curating highlights from the community’s blog responses on the MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy homepage, where you can also find the schedule for the rest of the MOOC.

Their full post can be accessed here: http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/announcements/mmcp-countersites-learning-constructing-anarchist-educational-alternatives/

AND – there are online discussions  – and even if you miss them – they will be cached so you can catch up!!!

#becomingeducational W17 blog #2: Analyse THIS!!

So – we engaged in TMD:
Cheating – friend, foe or scapegoat?
• What does it say to you about learning?
• About teaching?
• About the relationship between students, teachers and the university?
• About the wider social and cultural context we’re working in?
• About the purpose of higher education?
– and some people wrote brief poems in response to their discussions about the prompts…
And here they are!!!
How would you analyse these as qualitative data gathered on the subject of ‘cheating – friend, foe or scapegoat’?

Cheating is cheating, we’ve all done it…
Cheating is cheating, we hide from it…
Cheating is cheating, don’t show it…
Cheating is cheating, we’ve all done it.

Small or big, wrong!
Cheat to win, strong!
Get caught out, long!
You’re a cheat, be gone!

Get away with it, winning!
Tell your friends, singing!
Done it once, just the beginning!
Got the result, grinning!

What is classified as cheating?
Would sharing your own knowledge
be classified as cheating?
You know,
That friend in need
Who could do with a gentle push
Towards the right answer
I’m not giving away the answer
Just merely suggesting…
You look on
Page 13
Paragraph 3
Line 4.

Am I saying the right thing?
I’m reading the same literature
I must be saying the same things
The same words
They must have heard this
A million times over
How can I make them hear me
The way I hear their words?

Can help you when you are stuck
Have you ever?
Everyone does it
As long as you hand it in 1st
That is the deal
Idea sharing could be another term
Negativity is not the key.
Go away and copy someone now!

Why did you cheat?
Why did you cheat?
Why did you cheat?
It was never my first decision to cheat.
Why did you cheat?
Your teaching methods weren’t working.
Why did you cheat?
Your method didn’t apply to everyone.
Why did you cheat?
I couldn’t ask you for help.
But that didn’t answer my question
On why you cheated?
Because there’s 30 of us and
you’re teaching one way.
Why did you cheat?
Everyone was doing it.
I don’t believe you,
Why did you cheat?
Because I’m struggling.
You cheated because you
were struggling?
I cheated because you never
showed us different ways of teaching.
I struggled because, I struggled
because you never created an
environment where I felt comfortable.
Lastly I struggled because I’m
Dyslexic but to you ‘I cheated’.

That is lost in translation.
Society failed.

Plagiarism is dumb,
You lose your voice in others.
Let your shout be heard.

When you’re in a rut and feeling stressed,
And know full well your words works not at it’s best.

‘Why did I leave it to the last minute?’ you say –
And now, ‘How can I push my guilt away?’

If only I hadn’t spent all of my time
Dossing and glossing
And more working and searching

The maybe the due date wouldn’t loom over me
And my anxiety wouldn’t chase after me
Thinking I could outsmart turnitin and
Then wouldn’t have to turn it in
In the state it was in

Still cheating?
Stop grinning you’re not winning!

Cheating is time concealing,
That can be revealing,
When your head is observable
And being less considerable.

Aim of the game never to be obtained
Use your tricks and trades
And make it your own
Never concede even when
The cows come home.

To cheat or not
To learn or not
Knowledge is the end
Or can I cheat?

Learning is the answer
Cheating is the answer
Is this the truth
Or is this a lie?

Knowledge is the key
Wanting the answer
Wanting the end
May be cheating is the end.

To cheat or not
To learn or not
Knowledge is the end
Cheating is not the key.

And just for fun – here’s a collaborative playful poem – with clues! – from the guy who gave us ‘Steal this poem’ – http://dogtrax.edublogs.org/2015/02/10/a-poem-a-puzzle-an-act-of-playfulness/

Steal This Learning Log – Week Seventeen

#becomingeducational W17: Analysing data
Chloe entitled here post: Steal this Learning Log
So we have!!
Yes – it was W17 – and yes – for some – that was an Enhancement Week…
But we carried on regardless…
And Chloe has captured the whole session here – and in detail!!
For those wondering why we are analysing poetry – well – we need to analyse written data that we collect the same way that we wrestle with a poem- any poem!
Sandra & Tom


So were now in week Seventeen and coming closer to the end of the year which is scary to even contemplate!! I remember when we all just began!! From my recent learning logs, you will gather we have been focusing a lot on our research project. This morning we went through our research project some more but not as in-depth as our last lesson. Anyone who missed this lesson due to the enhancement week confusion, here’s what you need to know:

  •  This assignment will not be submitted online unlike all our other assignments, for this one in particular, you will need to print it out, along with a cover sheet and then hand in on week Nineteen, at the hub. Sounds simple enough?
  • Hopefully you will have noticed I mentioned a cover sheet, this isn’t one you make yourself and attach to the front. For this you will need…

View original post 2,121 more words

#becomingeducational W16: A little bit more on METHOD: Topic Mediated Dialogue and WRITING

Topic Mediated Dialogue is where conversation between two or more people is facilitated or mediated by a specific topic or set of topics. The speakers are given the topics and then asked to speak about those subjects in as free and un-censored a way as possible and for a set period of time.
Following on from the discussion the participants can be asked to write or draw or produce a set of notes… practically anything – that has been suggested to them through the course of the conversation that they have had.
The prompted but un-scripted nature of the conversation is thought to facilitate those ‘authentic’ and non-performative responses that researchers are always looking for.

This is what we considered in our session: Topic Mediated Dialogue
*Talk: In twos or threes, talk about the topics below in as free and wide ranging a way as possible for fifteen minutes.
*Reflect: After 15-mins: Individually or in pairs – WRITE ABOUT EDUCATION – in poetry or prose…
*Write: Write for 10-mins…

How does the notion of ‘cheating’ help you to think about and understand education – the what, why and how of it?
(Thank you for the idea – Dave Cormier – and the #rhizo14 MOOC.)

Cheating – friend, foe or scapegoat?
• What does it say to you about learning?
• About teaching?
• About the relationship between students, teachers and the university?
• About the wider social and cultural context we’re working in?
• About the purpose of higher education?
Discuss for 15-minutes

Then write for 10-minutes:
• Individually – or in pairs – write a response to your discussion
• In poetry
• Or prose.
(NEXT WEEK – bring in that poetry or prose for ANALYSIS!)

DISCUSSION: NOW – do you like that as a METHOD for research?
Why not?
Compare this Method to the zig-zag that we covered a couple of weeks ago – and to the notion of the ‘overheard’ conversations that we covered last week.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of these various Methods for collecting WRITTEN DATA to analyse?
Finally: Why are we pushing you to consider these ways of gathering written data rather than, say, a Questionnaire?