Why imagining educational change?
There is a quote in a book I read a few years ago which has stayed with me a long time and which I think about often. The book is called The Neoliberal Subject: Resilience, Adaptation and Vulnerability (Chandler and Reid, 2016) and considers a critical exploration of resilience – it’s a fantastic book, and no doubt at some point I’ll add a review of it to this site. The quote which I have mulled over time and again is this
‘Dominic Colas has shown how the liberal war on humanity’s psychic powers of imagination has effectively entailed the will to pathologize all political utilizations of the imagination as fanatical and mad (Colas, 1997).’ (Reid, 2016:19).
The reason I have turned this quote over in my mind so many times is the result of what I have observed, and at times been involved in debating (and at times arguing), on social media when discussing education. Since the rise of the Conservative party to power in 2010 there has been a radical and often vitriolic shift in the education system. In my opinion this has been a shift from a very imperfect system developed under New Labour, to a different imperfect system, one which at times is both incoherent and detrimental to the well-being of some of the children who are a part of it.
No political party has ever created a perfect system, and there will always be debate and disagreement, but the last decade or so in England has been characterised by a period where anyone who suggests education might look different to the State sanctioned narrative have been presented as either fanatics who want to see children fail, or as generally just mad, unable to see the common sense and evidence before their eyes that the government’s view of how education should be micromanaged is patently wrong. And much of the vilification, sometimes dressed up as ‘banter’, has come from a loose confederation of teachers, turned consultants (for the most part) who suggest that any deviation from a narrowly defined set of cognitive perspectives, aligned with a particular way of seeing things like curriculum, are by definition selling children short, are lacking in any evidential base, and are generally to be sneered at.
This blog, as it emerges over time, is a space I want to use to pursue an imaginative process, one which asks lots of questions, perhaps begins to answer some of them, but hopefully opens up new ways of seeing, imagining and thinking, for myself if no one else!
As the static pages on this website suggest, I am coming at this process from a particular perspective, one based on a mixture of process philosophy and complexity theories and will mix evidence and insight from lots of different directions, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, economics, education, organisational sciences and even cognitive sciences to name but some. The blog will also cross paths with the other two blogs I’ve started on this same site – one on general musings about change, and the other summaries of things I’m reading or watching/listening to which I think are interesting. The blog will hopefully have a general direction, but will meander along the way as I try to navigate the ideas and interests which will emerge as I think through this main question - if I imagine change in education and navigate that imagination, what might my idea of education end up looking like?
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This is a blog which hopes to explore and navigate a different way of doing education