The Education of a Radical

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In they began working explicitly with practices of popular education, setting up learning experiments for students, artists and community organisers under the name the School of Echoes. No one received remuneration — apart from some free food — in the making of the guide. What is history for? What historical events should every child know?

Should history be used to promote national identity? Or should history be focused on teaching skills and concepts? It sets out key concepts that every student studying history should understand: chronology; cultural, ethnic and religious diversity; change and continuity; cause and consequence; significance; and, interpretation.

The plans for the history curriculum appear as a re-invention of a nineteenth-century imperial teleology, the story of how wealthy, white Englishmen later with a few Scottish collaborators came to rule over everybody else. His unapologetic capitalism spills over into racism and sexism.

Thoughts about career and other stuff from Tristram Hooley

We do know they killed a hell of a lot of bison. If this debate is reflective of wider society, then it stands to perpetuate the structures of prejudice racism, classism, sexism and ableism that we are fighting against today. Aside from general outrage, our discussion explored the question of using history to shape identity and whether this could ever be desirable. We largely agreed that history should not be used to promote national identity, although it is difficult to understand historical narrative without the framework of the nation state.

Is it possible to elide a national narrative and still study history in a coherent form that is accessible to young people? Perhaps, if we explicitly shape our study of the past according to questions that we raise in the present which we do anyway, whether acknowledged or not. With care and nuance, thinking historically can be a creative way to think through situations that look similar but may turn out to be different or have resonances with our own world.

Keywords in Radical Philosophy and Education

We shared times that history has been inspirational for understanding our own worlds better and situating ourselves within them. Our discussion generated more questions than answers — can the ability to think historically about contemporary questions only come about if a knowledge of the past is already extensive? Yet we also agreed that with different methods, finding creative ways of exploring the past and not worrying when, as teachers, we do not have the answers, history can help students to explore their own identities.

Feminist Fightback is an anti-capitalist feminist collective for self-defining women. All of these developments are moving us further away from comprehensive SRE for young people, which has always been inconsistent in quality and quantity of provision. Following discussions about our own experience of SRE, Feminist Fightback set about thinking about what we wished we had been taught, told, made to think about and allowed to ask. Our collective experience was mainly characterised by scientific and medical approaches. Anecdotes included human reproduction being learnt about alongside plant reproduction, and nurses coming in to run sessions about disease prevention.

Overall, it was clear that provision was patchy — different people got different amounts of SRE at different levels, but all of us felt we were missing the same things: discussion of sexuality; relationships; non-reproductive, non-heterosexual sex; self-pleasure and, in some cases, any discussion of sex outside marriage. This is because they are already socially constructed as having lower levels of sexual desire and being able to experience sexual pleasure less easily than young men.

The image of women as passive recipients of active male desires is reinforced through curricula which take girls off to learn about periods and sanitary towels while boys are free to ask lots of questions about erections and wet dreams. Male orgasms are present in the curriculum, while female orgasms are not. In this way, SRE fails to convey a sense of empowerment and entitlement to sexual pleasure for young women.

At the same time, for young men, although SRE is more likely to provide a discourse of sexual desire, it offers them limited ways of understanding their sexuality. As dominant expressions of male sexuality require young men to exercise power over women, such discourses limit alternative expressions of male sexualities, including homosexuality. After all, SRE lessons are only one of the many sources from which young people can learn about sex and relationships, with peers, television, films, the internet and social media playing a much more prominent role. We believe schools should be supporting young people to think critically about these messages, challenging them rather than imposing an agenda, such as abstinence, that would in practice work to reinforce them.

With the rise of right-wing and religious groups organising to limit access to any kind of SRE and promoting a narrow and moralistic agenda in the classroom, it seems more important than ever that those concerned with education for liberation go on the offensive and envision and practice something better.

As many of us work in education and health, have brought up children and are part of a group of feminist activists that have experience of contributing to workshops in and out of schools, we felt able to put together some resources aimed at young people in and out of formal schooling.

We created two resource packs: the primary pack is a looser collection of ideas for discussion, activities and everyday practice, while the secondary pack is a more structured scheme of work. Both are available on our website: www. These materials aim to offer educators tools and exercises for teaching about sex and relationships in an honest and positive way.

The Radical Changes Taking Place in Education Sector | TheHigherEducationReview

They deal with relationships from an emotional perspective as well as a physical one, acknowledge diversity and individuality and enable open discussion of gender and sexualities. They help students to consider respect and consent in a way that is relevant to their own experiences. They provide activities and resources for teaching about the language, social myths and media messages surrounding sexuality, as well as for confronting the prejudice surrounding female sexuality and non-heterosexual relationships.

They aim to give teachers practical tools to add to their SRE teaching, to help address what we felt was missing from our own experiences of learning and teaching SRE. Pockets of good practice are a starting point. Educators who promote values of sexual and gender equality and empowerment can often feel like they are fighting a losing battle. An hour a week six times a year of progressive SRE is easily drowned out by the atmosphere, behaviour and language prominent across the rest of the timetable or institution, and of course in life.

Teachers are acutely aware that the standards regime allows no time or space for dealing with the day to day instances of sexist, homophobic or any other kind of harassment. If we want to precipitate a cultural shift rather than just presenting an alternative to mainstream ideas, a holistic approach is essential; opportunities for exploration and discussion of issues of equality and choice with regards to gender, sex and relationships need to be recognised and exploited throughout the curriculum, timetable and institution.

We are now at the stage of promoting the resource packs to educators, inviting suggestions and additions to the materials and discussing the opportunities and challenges of putting them in into practice. This involves making the case within our workplaces and communities for a feminist approach to SRE. It also involves continuing to challenge the idea, prominent in current attacks on SRE, that young people should not be empowered to think about, and make decisions about, their own sexualites.

The struggle between rich and poor is not social reality, which politics then has to deal with. It is the actual institution of politics itself… Politics exists when the natural order of domination is interrupted by the institution of a part of those who have no part. Citizenship Education was introduced as a compulsory element of the National Curriculum in primary and secondary schools in It is essentially political education, with a focus on active involvement — supporting students to develop the knowledge and skills needed to become active citizens in communities ranging from local to global.

We would hope that the two are very different in nature. However, although Citizenship Education is clearly not about having a British passport or learning the names of the longest rivers in the UK, there are still significant ambiguities in its aims. Or is citizenship about being an active citizen? Despite its origins in this context, Citizenship Education offers a unique space for critical educators within the state education system to explore political issues with young people. For example, ways to protest against the cut to Educational Maintenance Allowance, legal rights during stop and search, the causes and consequences of the riots.

Given the character of our education system, there are challenges being made for the space opened up by Citizenship Education. This lowers the status, time and resources available for Citizenship teaching. It is likely to become non-compulsory, replaced with a more fixed and traditional set of subjects.

It is an important struggle to fight for all young people to have an entitlement to Citizenship Education in their schooling. Below are a series of examples from educators who have used Citizenship Education or the values and approaches it can embody to facilitate critical education in a school and college. We have found it possible to introduce some of the active aspects of Citizenship to an A-Level politics course. In a module on pressure groups, a campaigns officer from a large environmental organisation was invited to come and do a campaigning simulation with the students.

We devised a scenario where oil had been discovered outside the college and the Government and an oil company wanted to extract it.

Extreme Parenting: 'Radical Unschooling'

The aim of the game was for all groups to successfully complete their objectives; they either wanted the oil to be extracted or to be left alone. The more media coverage the groups got, or the more they stopped the actions of the other groups, the more points they were awarded. Ultimately a winner was decided. Beyond entertainment, this game highlighted to the students the disparity in access to power between public and private interests, and also that collective action between the campaigning and direct action groups, sympathetic journalists and MPs could limit the actions of government and ultimately lead to secured rights.

Students can be encouraged to look at the media with a more critical eye once they have had the chance to be editors themselves. After all, what goes on inside school should not be seen as separate from the community outside the gates. These in particular can dominate global Citizenship Education in schools.

Many of the mainstream educational resources for this area of Citizenship Education are produced by the big NGOs, who see Citizenship lessons as a way of marketing their work to young people. For example, after learning about the Eurozone crisis and what teachers and students in Spain were doing to protest against cuts to education — which left blackouts in schools and slashed salaries — students from London wrote questions to students in Valencia.

They asked them about its impact on their lives and how they felt the protests were going. Citizenship lessons can be planned to give students the opportunity to take action on an issue they care about, and to support them in the campaign planning process. Setting an aim, breaking it down into measurable and achievable targets, identifying who has the power to help, or how power could be built up amongst people who currently have too little, and so on. When invited to create an action for an issue they care about, students will often resort to the standard examples to which they have been exposed, such as cake sales or sponsored sporting events.

The kinds of questioning and reflection we do in Citizenship lessons can lead students to think for themselves about whether these are in fact the best ways of tackling issues such as war and poverty, while developing their ways of taking action for next time. By drawing on a rich seam of successful, radical educational visions. Part of openDemocracy's "Left governmentality" mini-series. Among our initial tasks there are three that, taken together and learning with and from each other, seem to me to be of special significance.

Firstly, if we are to develop a life-affirming, sustainable contribution to a future worthy of democracy in its richest and more creative sense we need to root our advocacy in the soil of radical democratic traditions of education. We must reject the poisonous betrayal of education by the current re-invention of schools, colleges and universities as profit-driven exam-factories — and partner that rejection with an equally firm commitment to affirm and demonstrate that another way has been and is possible.

We must also deepen our understanding of how best to prepare for and sustain the realities of its emergence. What is particularly pertinent to the enabling aspirations of a progressive left governmentality is deeper understanding of the conjunctures — the key factors within the contexts of culture, place and time - that enabled alternative realities to flourish — and those factors that contributed to their later demise. Take Alex Bloom, arguably amongst the most radical progressive secondary school headteachers the UK has ever seen.

How was it possible for him in the immediate aftermath of World War 2 in the bombed out ruins of Stepney, then one of the poorest and toughest neighbourhoods in the East End of London, to create a radical democratic school that rejected all forms of regimentation, that refused the then widespread use of corporal punishment, that utterly rejected any form of competition and instead developed creative, co-operative, life-affirming alternatives?

Education needs radical reform

How was it possible in the most challenging of circumstances for Alex Bloom to create and sustain a school that within four years of opening was, through sheer force of numbers, reluctantly forced to turn away further requests from international visitors? What kinds of things enabled and supported the realisation of an educational vision of democratic living and learning that remains a beacon of inspiration over half a century later?

Hard to answer of course - a tricky, contested terrain.

From my research on Alex Bloom and from my own professional experience as a teacher working in radical comprehensive schools in the s and 80s and then for the next 30 years as a university teacher and researcher, I can identify three influence factors - a mobilising existing progressive movements for reform, b a framework of legislation that not only legitimates democratic experiment but actively encourages it, and c nurturing values-based local, regional, national and international networks.

And if we are to achieve and sustain democracy as a vibrant way of living and learning together in community it must also be committed to caring, creative forms of human encounter that express its purposes and aspirations. The point of politics — the view of human flourishing that gives politics its legitimacy and its energy — must of course inform its structures and processes. But it must do much more than that.

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The administration has a clear map of how it will manage the schedules of school timings, appointment of teachers and addressing the infrastructure issues and is constantly tracking their own performance in helping the schools. Section X of the National Policy of Education, , laid down several principles for managing education in India. Unfortunately, successive governments failed to implement the spirit and letter of the policy.

Illustratively, the policy required us to set up central, state and even district advisory boards of education to play a pivotal role in education at various levels. Our Central Advisory Board for Education — which is regarded as the highest decision-making body in education — has met 64 times since when it was first established. Among other things it would have ensured developing a cadre of people who understand the perspective of education including the philosophy-sociology and psychology in education.

It would have ensured a long-term perspective rather than launching several short-term programmes that have lacked continuum at central and state levels. Even within the Ministry of Human Resource Development, several sections tend to view their work in a unidimensional manner. Mere application of ointment will not help. We need radical structural changes that have the potential to address the following pivotal issues:.

People working in the education department must have deeper knowledge and abilities that include a social and educational perspective on the role of the teacher, and belief in the abilities of the children. The various education advisory bodies at central, state and district level must be truly empowered bodies to make decisions and not merely act as rubber stamps.

The Education of a Radical The Education of a Radical
The Education of a Radical The Education of a Radical
The Education of a Radical The Education of a Radical
The Education of a Radical The Education of a Radical
The Education of a Radical The Education of a Radical

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