23 SES 03 D, Europeanisation and National Policy
Parallel Paper Session
Since 2008 opposition to austerity and unemployment has given rise to social movements, to which school and university students, as well as recent graduates, have been central. Questions of learning, knowledge and culture have been important to these movements: they have expressed a critique of the commodification of knowledge by neo-liberal imperatives, while attempting to create through their own activity alternative forms of learning and knowledge production.
Such tendencies can be seen in the Italian onda of 2008-9, the 2009 conflicts around higher education in France, and the Austrian student movement that developed later in the same year (Jones 2011). Recognising this context, and the transnational flow of ideas that shapes it, the present paper focuses on England, and on two interlinked movements:
1) The university and school student movement (2010). This developed in response to the decision of the British government to raise student tuition fees to £9000 per annum, and to withdraw state funding from the teaching of humanities and social sciences. Vigorous national demonstrations accompanied a wave of university occupations.
2) The ‘Occupy’ movement (2011). Stimulated by the Spanish indignados and by events in New York, this involved the occupation of public space outside St Paul’s Cathedral, and of a disused bank building a mile away. Occupy London saw itself as a protest against the rule of a financial elite (‘the 1%’) over the remaining 99%. Without expressing specific demands, it called for social and economic reconstruction.
For educational researchers, what is striking about both movements is their focus on learning and knowledge production. This was evident in several forms:
· teach-ins, and teach-outs, about the causes and effects of economic crisis. Teach-outs took the form of impromptu classes in public spaces such as banks, shops, the national gallery and railway stations. Teach-ins were a feature of university occupations, as was the establishment of assembly-based forms of direct democracy, which were designed as transformative learning experiences for those who participated (Mason 2012).
· The production of websites, blogs, and online video; the utilisation of social media spaces such as Facebook and Twitter.
· Demonstrations conceived as dramatisations of cultural conflict.
· New spaces of learning – e.g. Tent City University, a feature of Occupy London.
The paper will explore:
- What conceptions of learning & knowledge production these forms embody?
- What critiques of official (state-authorised) educational practice have developed?
- What are the pedagogical characteristics of the learning events that occur in Movement activity?
- What intellectual and cultural resources do participants draw from?
- Why questions of knowledge and learning are important to the movements, and their place in the movements’ overall strategies;
Theoretically, the paper will draw a) from aspects of social movement theory (Melucci, Eyerman and Jamison) that focus on the production through social movements of knowledge and identities; b) pedagogical theories developed at the interface of academic, artistic and activist practices – the work, e.g. of Rogoff (2010), attempting to understand education as a creative practice that might occur ‘elsewhere than expected places’.
Eyerman,R and Jamison,A (1991), Social Movements: a cognitive approach Cambridge, Polity Jones, K. (2011) Patterns of Conflict in Education; England, Italy, France in T. Green, ed Blair's Educational Legacy Palgrave, New York Jones, K. (2011) ‘Democratic Creativity’ in Sefton-Green et al Routledge International Handbook of Creative Learning Mason, P. (2012) Why it’s kicking off everywhere: the new global revolutions London, Verso Rogoff, I. (2011) 'Education Actualised' editorial, e-flux, Issue 14, March http://www.e-flux.com/issues/14-march-2010/
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