Wednesday, February 11, 2015

In a cage?

I noticed this tweet.

It made me think.

  • Is being an anarchist pedagogue enabling learners to recognise the bars of the cage?
  • Is being an anarchist pedagogue enabling learners to find the doors out of the cage?
  • Is being an anarchist pedagogue enabling learners to build an explosive device to destroy the cage?
  • Is being an anarchist pedagogue enabling learners to ignore the bars of the cage and talk about other stuff?
  • Is being an anarchist pedagogue enabling learners to design their own alternative cage?
  • Is being an anarchist pedagogue enabling learners to imagine that cages are unnecessary?
  • Is being an anarchist pedagogue resigning from all attempts at pedagogy and walking out of the cage?

Then I started to wonder.

  • Is the cage a country?
  • Is the cage an institution?
  • Is the cage a community?
  • Is the cage a culture?
  • Is the cage a narrative?
  • Is the cage a body?

I am sorry, I have more questions than answers.

I have been watching the #moocmooc hangout, people were popping up and down, in and out in their screened boxes.

I enjoyed it.

They seemed to be having fun.

Some of them didn't turn up.

Some of them were not on time.

Somebody couldn't make it to the hangout.

I was left with the thought that community is hard work.

I was left with the sound of a song.

It authentically popped up here.

My body is a cage.

No body is perfect?

I have been hopping from post to post.
I apologise for this post. I have no idea what its point is. I shall think it over while I hop...

Throw me some seed if you will.


  1. And what happens outside the cage when inside, some of the caged learners have been slowly appropriating others' seeds, and those inside have come to understand somehow that the stockpile has been earned?

  2. I really love this post Simon. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. -I haven't seen the whole hangout yet - seem to be trailing behind all the courses and formal chats, but that's only because of projects and happenings that keep springing up and taking hold beyond any formal classroom (like taking a handful of students to America in 3 months to connect with a school). Reading your thoughts I can't help but feel aligned to much of it, but that I don't want to be an 'anarchist pedagogue', but I kind of really like the idea of 'liberated learning' that is outside - outside the box, outside the cage, and maybe even just outside.

  3. When in doubt, I look up the etymologies of words... and reading your post, I realized that I had no idea, not even a good guess, about where the word "cage" comes from. And imagine my surprise:
    early 13c., from Old French cage "cage, prison; retreat, hideout" (12c.), from Latin cavea "hollow place, enclosure for animals, coop, hive, stall, dungeon, spectators' seats in the theater" (source also of Italian gabbia "basket for fowls, coop;" see CAVE.
    We are cavemen! We are theater-goers! We are prisoners! We are bees! We are chickens!
    Wow. Lots to ponder here. :-)

  4. Quick suggestion: One problem with the cage metaphor is that it conjures up an image of the individual and the oppressive institutional nexus as being antithetical to each other, but the great achievement of the world we live in has been the nearly perfect unification of the individual (with all the energetic pursuit of her personal freedom) with the institutional nexus that ultimately makes a mockery of the ideal of freedom. There is no need to keep individuals down in the way Huxley and Orwell imagined. The system thrives on individuals passionately insisting on their individual freedom. The sytem is a dynamic one that needs individuals to have a thirst for a little creative destruction, keeping things flexible and motile. And the free play of the systemic imperatives nees people to continually question authority figures (like those horrible old teachers) that might want to change the general tide of events. In a sense, what is really cagey is that unity of the individual with a bad social totality (one that can also be depicted as a runaway train).

    Only listened to the first half of that MoocMooc video (didn't find it fun) and got the impression that critical pedagogy has been pared down to techniques to get more personal freedom in education, which, I imagine, will tend to achieve an even better unification of the individual with the whole. "Look how much you can enjoy yourself as you get deeper into debt. Look, we can tear up the syllabus. Doesn't that give you a feeling of your personal agency? Now go out into the world and enjoy your agency to the full as you pay off your debts."

    1. INDEED. No agency without karma, and the word "karma" literally means "action" (just as agency is from same Latin root that gives us action). So, yes, very glad for excuse to make both Karma and Dharma both part of the dialogue. The stories of India figure in both of the classes I teach.

  5. That is why I finished with "my body is a cage." Body is perhaps more helpful to dig into than cage.