[iDC] Can DIY education be crowdsourced?

John Bell john at novomancy.org
Wed Sep 7 22:30:44 UTC 2011

I have to disagree, if for no other reason than based on my own experience and education.  I would submit that, when the surrounding environment is one of fear and submission, the only way to escape is to have contact with somebody who is outside of that environment.

**story time follows, apologies**

I grew up in the back woods of Maine, an environment that by and large doesn't exactly find value in deep contemplation or big thoughts.  Please, don't get me wrong - I love the area and the people, I have chosen not to leave the state when given multiple opportunities to do so, but in some areas and some communities that's just the way it is.  

When I hear fear and education mentioned together I immediately think of an incident where an art teacher in my middle school was fired because she was a fan of Georgia O'Keeffe and kept a cow skull on her desk.  A student had recently committed suicide, you see, and the local church decided it was because he was into satanism.  The pastor took the fear that suicide created and multiplied it many times over until simply having that cow skull was enough to have her removed.  Two other teachers were also almost removed because they had the temerity to show a Jim Henson movie in class, who was clearly leading the children into damnation or some such thing (I stopped trying to follow the logic at a certain point).

All this, of course, happened face to face.  Given the speaking abilities of the pastor in question, it likely could not have happened any other way--certainly not at the time, but now either, I think.

By the time I reached high school the school system had given up on me.  I had health problems, and none of the tutors the district could hire were willing to teach me because (direct quote) "I don't want to deal with having a kid that's smarter than I am".  (Please believe me when I say that I take no particular pride in that quote, nor do I vouch for its accuracy.)  The only way that I was going to get a face to face education was to submit, to conform, to think the sort of small thoughts that you are putting firmly in the domain of online interaction.

This was all happening right around the time that external modems started to get cheap enough and fast enough to be useful.  The next year Mosaic came out, and then Netscape, and suddenly instead of being trapped and forced to submit to what I suspect you'd call programming I had access to enough information and enough people to educate myself.  The education may have been coming through a CRT, but that made it no less glorious to me.  What I ended up with may or may not meet your political and epistemological criteria for education, but I will say that is in all likelihood far closer to them than it would have been had I valued having another warm body in the room over having a pipeline to another world.

I submit that fear and submission come from contact with other human beings, whether it is virtual or face to face.  The trick to avoiding it is only in finding the right human beings to have contact with.  Trying to find ways to identify them online is the reason for creating the type of system I'm talking about.

- John

On Sep 7, 2011, at 1:20 PM, Brian Holmes wrote:
> I submit that the chance to escape from total fear and submission 
> depends on having some contact to another speaking body in the room.

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