Will the recent cuts and tuition fee trebling serve to further privatise education, and deepen divisions for access to knowledge? Or will it stimulate an era where critical thought becomes dislocated from market forces making intelligence and unquantifiable product?
Invited participants to the discussion:
- MA Activism course leader, (Sara Gonzalez) Leeds Met: Learning structures are dis-empowering, no staff mobilisation. http://www.geog.leeds.ac.uk/study/masters/courses
- Café Scientifique. (Duncan Dallas) A place to discuss ideas, not discuss the location and production of ideas. Less inwardly critical. http://www.cafescientifique.org/leeds.htm
- Representatives involved with the Cuts Cafe (Feb 2011) http://cutscafeleeds.wordpress.com/about/
- Strategies for free education. (Teri Slater) Self initiated MA, peer learning structure.
- Black Lab. (Yvonne Carmicheal and Andy Abbott) A collaborative learning and artistic knowledge-exchange project initiated in Leeds in 2010 which ran for 3 months.
This discussion hopes to think critically, realistically and also optimistically about the probable outcomes of cuts to education, funding and tuition fee increases.
What do we mean by the term ‘amputations’?
• Alternatives are completely dislocated from market forces.
• The people excluded from institutional education through high pricing.
‘Staff are sick to the back teeth of being told that their pay and pensions need to be cut to pay for an economic crisis created by others’
John Beagles on the problems of class exclusion in education –
‘ A solution is a renewed, re-imagined, core insertion of comprehensive education values.’
-What are these?
Not just about economics but core values of universal access based on fairness and equality: the alternative.
Many members of the discussion are not sure whether Beagles’ proposed solution could be achieved from within the university.
So, is there now a complete disillusionment in the institution following the recent spate of cuts?
Does the institution now perpetuate class structures rather than encourage mobility through emancipation from learning?
General consensus from the table is agreement.
Now more than ever is the zeitgeist accommodating to educational platforms that are not tied to market/governmental forces.
How do we work towards the willed new era in learning? How do we contribute to the alternative landscape and prepare for, and facilitate a greater audience?
First question to ask: why is there the desire to study?
For people with a degree, what was their desire to study again? -Shelter and a period of digesting and locating your personal practice? Or, the space to open things back up again?
Can these things be provided within an alternative?
What is the desire to study in an alternative program?
Do alternative platforms provide a ‘free’ option to attain the knowledge accessed on an institutional program?
Or do they provide a completely different form of knowledge too?
Much learning can be seen to perpetuate class structures – hierarchy of tutor to student - canonical formations from art history etc.
Alternative learning is often more reciprocal. If people embark on a program of learning based on shared skills and collaboration the repercussions on society would be evident and potentially positive.
Different types of Alternative Learning:
- Café Scientifique, set up by individuals wanting to have stimulating discussion and learn within the field of science. An individual is invited, 20 min presentation and then a discussion. The discussion is crucial; this is where the learning happens. This model has proved to be quite productive so it is naturally repeated. No time is spent critiquing the structure, people engage with it if they think it works. The model has grown rapidly and can potentially be applied to many different subjects.
- Participants from Black Lab consider this in relation to how much time they spend reflecting on the structure and methods they apply to their mutual learning. They believe that it is useful and sometimes necessary but questioning the amount of time it might detract from learning about these other things.
- Strategies for a free education, a group of five people collectively practicing a self organised MA. Based in several cities across the UK, Wished to further there study but didn’t want to buy into a MA. United by the idea of what they are doing, not so much a physical location or point of contact such as with the cafe scientifique.
The exclusivity of formal education may inaugurate a new era within education that is potentially more ethical. The alternatives now have the power to transform from a minority pursuit.
Thinking about the possibility of legitimizing these alternatives.
‘A bureaucratic nightmare.’
Wouldn’t we prefer to de-value the current system to level the playing field.
Alternatives are shaped by anyone who participates in them, collaborative activity instigates growth, empathy and community.