[iDC] (no subject)

Danny Butt dbdannybutt at gmail.com
Mon Jan 29 21:31:46 EST 2007

When I do planning exercises in organisations where people reflect on  
significant people and moments in their past, I am always surprised  
at how many mention a teacher or educational experience that created  
a transformation, that somehow formed who they were. This is much  
more common than a book, film, political event, or other kind of  
personal connection, though people do mention these as well. And now,  
having worked across a number of areas, for pay and for free - from  
commercial media, to political postering, to setting up online  
networks, to music,  to consulting, to writing, to policy.... the  
area where I really think I've made the most difference is in the  
classroom. Not only do I miss it, I also resent the consistent  
devaluing of that difference by those proposing a "larger" political  

And at a really basic level, I just fail to see how this desire  
divide people (good/bad, thinking/skills, corporate/non-corporate,  
hypocritical or not, inside or outside the system etc.) actually  
achieves anything much other than a culture which is comfortable with  
rhetorical absolutes. I've made it a bit of a mission recently to  
have conversations with people who over the last 30 years have  
actually led the establishment new educational/research institutions  
in all kinds of fields, some in opposition to the status quo (e.g.  
indigenous learning centres), some not (e.g. private professional  
media education). It seems to me that  conversation, knowledge- 
sharing, alliance-building and, fundamentally, an ability to work  
across difference are central to being able to *really* build new  
institutions, rather than simply gaining agreement on what principles  
such institutions would be in an ideal world.

Principles are very important to me, but they're the price of entry  
into the game of social change, rather than the tools. I think people  
who are deeply embedded in their context of work (education, labor  
organising, government, etc.) understand this, and I have to admit to  
being tired of strident conversations about the need for  
"alternatives" that end up as a half-done wikified manifesto which  
never quite gains traction. If anyone's got a real  plan - with  
detailed fesibility analysis with financials and resource  
strategies ;) -  for a revolutionary alternative to the western  
academic system I'm more than happy to offer some free advice. Until  
then, I'd prefer it if I can go back to learning more from people who  
have expertise and are sharing what they know - this has honestly  
been the most useful month on a mailing list for a long time for me.

Sorry to be such a grouch ;)


On 30/01/2007, at 10:32 AM, saul ostrow wrote:

> What doe sit mean for one to do their best when one's best is  
> without program nor method or communication to anyone other than  
> our students -- when as Luis acknowledges they did not even feel  
> the responsibility to others to leave behind a trace - a lesson - a  
> lead -- that others might build on

On 30/01/2007, at 9:25 AM, Brian Holmes wrote:
> on this list about a year ago, somebody explained that their  
> students had to get a job, so therefore, they had to teach them  
> whatever is required to survive in the system. nice justification  
> for the status quo, eichmann couldn't do any better either. oh boy  
> i don't envy you people very much with your university jobs. you  
> are subject to almost infinite mind control in the name of high  
> ideals.

On 29/01/2007, at 8:54 AM, Luis Camnitzer wrote:
> I suggest a different utopia than the attempt to find the  
> precarious balance
> you are seeking or an impossible institutional reform within the  
> university.
> It is too late for all that. It might be much more realistic to  
> accept that
> the U.S. universities are corporate tools that in fact are  
> competing with
> corporate training at a disadvantage. In art, the Whitney museum is  
> training
> its own artists and being better at it than many schools (partly  
> due to
> better filtering). Let us stop the hypocrisy and have corporations  
> openly
> take over education for "real life," making sure that students  
> survive in
> the market. It will provide a much better and up to date education.  
> With
> this we would have a true education for serving. Let us also have the
> government start from scratch and create a free humanist education  
> system
> that ensures that people learn about cultures and ideas, how to  
> speculate
> and how to make connections. This would be the education for  
> thinking. The
> student could be in both systems at the same time and end up well  
> rounded.
> Some of us are better at teaching skills than thinking, and  
> therefore would
> contribute in the first system. Some of us are better at idealistic
> speculation and would be in the second. We all would lead much less
> frustrating lives, be incredibly more productive, and present  
> ourselves with
> a constructive attitude to our students. Presently, those of us who  
> are
> idealistic can only teach (justified) resentment. Luis Camnitzer

Danny Butt
db at dannybutt.net | http://www.dannybutt.net
Suma Media Consulting | http://www.sumamedia.com
Private Bag MBE P145, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand
Ph: +64 21 456 379 | Fx: +64 21 291 0200

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