Education is a compulsory, forcible action of one person upon another for the purpose of forming a man such as will appear to us to be good; but culture is the free relation of people, having for its basis the need of one man to acquire knowledge, and of the other to impart that which he has acquired. Instruction, unterricht, is a means of both culture and education. The difference between education and culture lies only in the compulsion, which education deems itself in the right to exert. Education is culture under restraint. Culture is free.
Faith in the power of intelligence to imagine a future which is the projection of the desirable in the present, and to invent the instrumentalities of its realization, is our salvation. And it is a faith which must be nuturued and made articulate: surely a sufficiently large task for our philosophy.
If education should really mean anything at all, it must insist upon the free growth and development of the innate forces and tendencies of the child. In this way alone can we hope for the free individual and eventually also for a free community which shall make interference and coercion of human growth impossible.
There is no such thing as “anarchist education.” There are just different kinds of educational experiments which anarchists have supported and been involved in.
The task of the anarchist philosopher is not to prove the imminence of a Golden Age, but to justify the value of believing in its possibility.
Herbert E. Read
The segregation which kills the vitality of history is divorce from present modes and concerns of social life. The past just as past is no longer our affair… The true starting point of history is always some present situation with its problems.
At the very least, educators can connect knowledge to the operations of power in their classroom, provide a safe space for students to address a variety of important issues ranging from the violation of human rights, to crimes against humanity. Assuming the role of public intellectual suggests being a provocateur in the classroom; it means asking hard questions, listening carefully to what students have to say and pushing teaching against the grain. But it also means stepping out of the classroom and working with others to create public spaces where it becomes possible not only to “shift the way people think about the moment, but potentially to energize them to do something differently in that moment,” to link one’s critical imagination with the possibility of activism in the public sphere.
Henry Giroux, quoting Lani Guinier and Anna Deavere Smith
And if there are questions in my mind how to undertake this communication, and there are many, I must let the least of them be, whether I am boring you, or whether I am taking too long getting started, and too clumsily. If I bore you, that is that. If I am clumsy, that may indicate partly the difficulty of my subject, and the seriousness with which I am trying to take what hold I can of it, more certainly, it will indicate my youth, my lack of mastery of my so-called art or craft, my lack perhaps of talent. Those matters, too, must reveal themselves as they may. However they turn out, they cannot be otherwise than true to their conditions, and I would not wish to conceal these conditions even if I could, for I am interested to speak as carefully and as near truly as I am able. No doubt I shall worry myself that I am taking too long getting started, and shall seriously distress myself over my inability to create an organic, mutually sustaining and dependent and, as it were musical, form: but I must remind myself that I started with the first word I wrote, and that the centers of my subject are shifty; and again, that I am no better an “artist” than I am capable of being, under these circumstances, perhaps under any other; and that this again will find its measurement in the facts as they are, and will contribute its own measure, whatever it may be, to the pattern of the effort and truth as a whole.
//An American/ is a complex of occasions,/ themselves a geometry/ of spatial nature/ I have this sense,/ that I am one/ with my skin// Plus this–plus this:/ that forever the geography/ which leans in/ on me I compel/ backwards I compel Gloucester/ to yield, to/ change// Polis/ is this
Charles Olson from “Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [witheld]“
True education flowers at the point when delight falls in love with responsibility.
Phillip Pullman in The Guardian, January 22, 2005
Meanwhile, the poets have the best of it. But even though the poets have told us nearly all we need to know about life, we cannot understand what they mean except by living… Education, instead of being the acquisition of a common stock of fundamental ideas, may well be a learning of a common way of doing things, a way of approach, a method of dealing with ideas or anything else. What you do with what you know is the important thing.
John Andrew Rice, from “Fundamentalism and the Higher Education,” Harper’s Monthly Magazine, 1936.
Talk about slavery! It is not the peculiar institution of the South. It exists wherever men are bought and sold, wherever a man allows himself to be made a mere thing or a tool, and surrenders his inalienable rights of reason and conscience. Indeed, this slavery is more complete than that which enslaves the body alone…. I never yet met with, or heard of, a judge who was not a slave of this kind, and so the finest and most unfailing weapon of injustice. He fetches a slightly higher price than the black men only because he is a more valuable slave.
Henry David Thoreau, Journal, Dec. 4, 1860
What is mysterious to me is not an argument that it does not exist.
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion sacrifice and kindness… and if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
Our struggle must be towards the construction of a new and surprising world, not the preservation of identities shaped and distorted by capital.
If this seems like a forbidding and daunting task, it is. But we can start to engage in many prefigurative activities right now. Actually, such activities would go beyond pre-figuration – they could start a virtuous cycle, a self-fulfilling prophecy in which bourgeois modes of subjectivity are dismantled and a new universality starts to build itself. We need to learn, or re-learn, how to build comradeship and solidarity instead of doing capital’s work for it by condemning and abusing each other. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we must always agree – on the contrary, we must create conditions where disagreement can take place without fear of exclusion and excommunication.
We need to think very strategically about how to use social media – always remembering that, despite the egalitarianism claimed for social media by capital’s libidinal engineers, that this is currently an enemy territory, dedicated to the reproduction of capital. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t occupy the terrain and start to use it for the purposes of producing class consciousness. We must break out of the ‘debate’ set up by communicative capitalism, in which capital is endlessly cajoling us to participate, and remember that we are involved in a class struggle. The goal is not to ‘be’ an activist, but to aid the working class to activate – and transform – itself. Outside the Vampires’ Castle, anything is possible.
Mark Fisher from Exiting the Vampire Castle (2013), Opendemocracy.net
Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’
We must decide what ought to be the case. We cannot discover what ought to be the case by investigating what is the case.
Paul Taylor from Normative Discourse (1961)
Soyez realistes, demandez l’impossible (“Be realistic, demand the impossible”
The task of the historian is less to remind men of their obligation to the past than to force upon them an awareness of how the past could be used to effect an ethically responsible transition from present to future.
Hayden White, paraphrased in Katz, The History of Education Quarterly (Winter 1976)
Whoever wants to know a thing has no way of doing so except by coming into contact with it, that is, by living (practicing) in its environment… If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality. If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself… If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.
Mao Tse Tung “On Practice” (July 1937), Selected Works, Vol. I, pp. 299-300.We do not believe in telling ourselves stories. History, class struggle, and the production of knowledge proceed by way of unexpected encounters, which do not correspond to the narratives that comfort our imaginations. The course of history is not foretold at the beginning, but is rather the product of contingency. New political possibilities open only when different class fractions encounter one another in struggle – sometimes taking hold, other times disaggregating, and in some cases creating the conditions for future recombinations.
“A child that is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.”
African Proverb, quoted by a Seattle BLM Activist and high school senior of color, Angelina