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This Issue: Back to School
Education – about the world, and about social change in particular
– is a key element in the work that Connexions does. In this issue of
Other Voices, we explore a few aspects of the ways in which education
and educational institutions are changing. We also look at ways in which
education is used to bring about change.
George Monbiot shares his concerns about how children’s lives are
increasingly lived indoors or looking at screens, while their experience
of nature and the outdoors - once a significant part of children’s
lives – is shrinking.
David Stratman casts a very critical eye on the so-called
education reform movement that is transforming public education in the
United States, Britain, and other countries. Another article looks at
the devastating effects of the privatization of public education,
specifically via charter schools.
Very different ideas about education animate the Escuelita
Zapatista, a community-based educational gathering created by the
Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico.
The widening gap between scholars working in academic institutions
is the subject of two articles, “Academics can change the world -- if
they stop talking only to their peers”, and another by the late Ellen
Meiksins Wood on The Retreat of the Intellectuals.
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The entire Connexions website and Connexions archive are
educational resources. Explore a few of the many materials related to
education in the Subject Index under headings such as Education, Schools, School Reform, and Popular Education.
This Week on Connexions.org
George Monbiot worries about the removal of children from the natural
world. “There is no substitute,” he says, “for what takes place
outdoors; not least because the greatest joys of nature are unscripted.”
“Studies in several nations show that children’s games are more
creative in green places than in concrete playgrounds. Natural spaces
encourage fantasy and roleplay, reasoning and observation. The social
standing of children there depends less on physical dominance, more on
inventiveness and language skills. Perhaps forcing children to study so
much, rather than running wild in the woods and fields, is
counter-productive.” Read more
Keywords: Children - Nature Education
School Reform and the Attack on Public Education
In this 1997 article, David Stratman warned that the so-called
school reform movement which was then gathering steam in the United
States and other western countries constitutes an attack on public
education and on our children. According to Stratman, the "education
reform movement" is part of a wider corporate and government plan to
undermine democracy and strengthen corporate domination of our society.
Its goal, he said is:
- not to increase educational attainment but to reduce it;
- not to raise the hopes and expectations of our young people but to narrow them, stifle them, and crush them;
- not to improve public education but to destroy it.
Keywords: Public Education - Education Reform
Charter Schools Increase Fraud, Corruption, Chaos, and Anarchy
Privatization in the neoliberal context cannot but give rise to
the outrages taking place in the charter school sector (and other
sectors). Everywhere, charter school laws are written in a manner to
allow minimal oversight and many loopholes. This is not an aberration,
accident, or the result of some “bad thinking” by otherwise
“well-intentioned” legislators. The worsening economic conditions and
contradictions in a decaying society necessitate greater lawlessness and
impunity for the ruling elite. Read more
Keywords: Charter Schools - Privatization in Education
At the Escuelita Zapatista, Students Learn Community Organizing and Civil Resistance as a Way of Life
The Zapatistas brought more than 1,500 people into their
communities to attend the Escuelita Zapatista, the Little Zapatista
School. The Escuelita is not your typical school, in many ways. The
teachers have no degrees, the textbooks do not cite prestigious academic
predecessors, and the classrooms has no blackboards. Class was in
session 24 hours a day and the question and answer period was open all
the time. And, to be sure, the subject matter was out of the ordinary. Read more
Keywords: Popular Education - Zapatistas
Academics can change the world -- if they stop talking only to their peers
Research and creative thinking can help to change the world. This
means that academics potentially have much to contribute to social
change. But the overwhelming majority are not shaping today’s public
debates. Instead, their work is largely sitting in academic journals
that are read almost exclusively by their peers. An average journal
article is read completely by no more than ten people. This suggests
that a lot of important thinking and many potentially world altering
ideas are not getting into the public domain. Why, then, are academics
not doing more to share their work with the broader public? Read more
Keywords: Academics - Academic Fads & Fashions
Who's downloading pirated papers? Everyone
Researchers are increasingly turning to Sci-Hub (http://sci-hub.bz)
the world’s largest ‘pirate’ website for scholarly literature. Sci-Hub
is becoming the world’s de facto open-access research library. It is
easy to understand why journal publishers might see Sci-Hub as a threat.
It is as simple to use as Google’s search engine, and as long as you
know the DOI or title of a paper, it is more reliable for finding the
full text. Chances are, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Along with
book chapters, monographs, and conference proceedings, Sci-Hub has
amassed copies of the majority of scholarly articles ever published. It
continues to grow: When someone requests a paper not already on Sci-Hub,
it locates a copy and adds it to the repository. Read more
Keywords: Scholarly journals - Science & Society
Website of the Week
Founded in 1932, Highlander (http://highlandercenter.org)
serves as a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building.
The founding principle and guiding philosophy of Highlander is that the
answers to the problems facing society lie in the experiences of
ordinary people. Those experiences, so often belittled and denigrated in
our society, are the keys to grassroots power. Through popular
education, participatory research, and cultural work, we help create
spaces -- at Highlander and in local communities -- where people gain
knowledge, hope and courage, expanding their ideas of what is possible.
Find them here
Keywords: Organizing - Popular Education
Book of the Week
We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on education and social change
By Myles Horton and Paulo Freire
Coming from different backgrounds,
Myles Horton, the founder of the Highlander Folk School, and Freire, a
Brazilian education leader, come together to share their views on the
use of participatory education in bringing about social change. Read more
Keywords: Critical Pedagogy - Learning
Critique of Nonviolent Politics: From Mahatma Gandhi to the Anti-Nuclear Movement
Howard Ryan accepts that sometimes nonviolence can be effective,
but says that sometimes it is not: "a principled insistence on
nonviolence can in some circumstances be dangerous to progressive social
movements." He says that nonviolence theory "is troubled by moral dogma
and mechanical logic." Read more
Keywords: Non-violence - Consensus decision-making
At the forefront of revolution
The gains won by the women’s liberation movement during the 1960s and
1970s, such as the right to divorce and increased reproductive rights,
are real material gains. Women are told that in Britain we have never
had it so good. And on the surface that can appear to be true. But, as
Judith Orr points out in Marxism and Women’s Liberation, "much has
changed for women, but too much has not". While "women have never had
more freedom in their personal lives" women’s oppression still pervades
society, and some aspects of sexism have got worse during the last
decade. The situation facing women today falls far short of what women’s
liberation sought to achieve. Read more
Keywords: Women’s liberation movement - Marxism and Feminism
The Uses and Abuses of ‘Civil Society’
In this essay, published in the 1990 edition of The Socialist
Register’s issue on The Retreat of the Intellectual, the late Ellen
Meiksins Wood writes that “We live in curious times. Just when
intellectuals of the Left in the West have a rare opportunity to do
something useful, if not actually world-historic, they - or large
sections of them - are in full retreat.... many of us appear to be
abdicating the traditional role of the Western left as critic of
capitalism. Just when more than ever we need a Karl Marx to reveal the
inner workings of the capitalist system, or a Friedrich Engels to expose
its ugly realities 'on the ground', what we are getting is an army of
'post-Marxists' one of whose principal functions is apparently to
conceptualize away the problem of capitalism. Read more
Keywords: Academic Fads & Fashions - Postmodernism
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September 17, 2016
Hamilton launch of Showdown!
Join Rob Kristofferson and Simon
Orpana for the launch of the graphic novel Showdown! Making Modern
Unions. Art from Showdown! is also part of the exhibit “Draw the Line!
Graphic Histories of Work, Struggle and Activism” at the Workers Arts
and Heritage Centre.
September 24, 2016
6th Annual Toronto Disability Pride March
Why we’re Marching:To bring
recognition of the struggles and value of people with disabilities as we
fight against ableism and other forms of oppression.To be visible and
show that we have a voice in our community and a right to be heard by
taking to the streets.To celebrate and take pride in ourselves as a
community of people with disabilities.
September 24, 2016
Book launch: Facing the Anthropocene
Science tells us that a new
and dangerous stage in planetary evolution has begun - the Anthropocene,
a time of rising temperatures, extreme weather, rising oceans, and mass
species extinctions. Humanity faces not just more pollution or warmer
weather, but a crisis of the Earth System. If business as usual
continues, this century will be marked by rapid deterioration of our physical,
social, and economic environment. Connecting Earth System science and
ecological Marxism, Ian Angus examines not only the latest scientific
findings about the physical causes and consequences of the Anthropocene
transition, but also social and economic trends that underlie the
September 27, 2016
Toronto launch of From Homophobia to Homonationalism, by Tim McCaskell
did a social movement evolve from a small group of young radicals to
the incorporation of LGBTQ communities into full citizenship on the
model of Canadian multiculturalism?Tim McCaskell contextualizes his work
in gay, queer, and AIDS activism in Toronto from 1974 to 2014 within
the shift from the Keynesian welfare state of the 1970s to the
neoliberal economy of the new millennium. A shift that saw sexuality -
once tightly regulated by conservative institutions - become an economic
driver of late capitalism, and sexual minorities celebrated as a niche.
The Connexions Calendar is an
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justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite
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September 12, 1837
Confrontation at Niagara-on-the-Lake
Hundreds of black Canadians confront British troops attempting to
deport Solomon Moseby, an escaped slave from Kentucky, back to the
United States. Slavery is illegal in the British Empire, so slaves who
reach Upper Canada are supposed to be safe, but U.S. authorities have
demanded that Moseby be deported back to the U.S. because he stole a
horse from the slaveowner in order to escape. When news of the planned
deportation becomes known in late August, blacks encircle the jail in
Niagara-on-the-Lake in Upper Canada in order to prevent his removal.
When the authorities make their move on September 12, the crowd attacks
the troops guarding Moseby and enable him to escape. Two people are
killed by the soldiers in the melee, and 40 are arrested.
September 14, 1867
Public of the first volume of Das Kapital
Writing more than a century later, Marshall Berman asked why Marx’s
Capital has had such an enduring impact. He says “What makes Capital so
exciting is that, more than anything else Marx wrote, it brings to life
his vision of modern life as a totality. This vision is spread out on an
immense canvas: more than a thousand pages in the first volume alone;
hundreds of characters – shopkeepers and sharecroppers, miners and
millowners, poets and publicists, doctors and divines, philosophers and
politicians, the world-famous and the anonymous – speaking in their own
September 19, 1905
Apostrophes lead to a revolutionary upheaval
On September 19, typesetters at a Moscow printing plant go out on
strike. The strike arises out of a demand by the typesetters, who are
paid on a piecework basis according to how many letters they set, to be
paid for apostrophes. They also ask for a shorter working day. The
employer refuses. The strike spreads: by September 24, fifty print works
are out on strike. On the 25th, police attempt to crush the strike.
They fail: other workers, including bakers, and then railway workers, go
out on solidarity strikes. By October 7, Russia’s entire railway system
is shut down by the strike, by October 12, a Russia-wide general strike
is underway. Revolutionary soviets (councils) form in St. Petersburg
and other cities.
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Connexions 2015. Contents are licensed under a Creative Commons
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Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter, is available online here
This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.
812A Bloor Street West, Suite 201
Toronto ON M6G 1L9 Canada
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