How to Make a Collective Newspaper. The Pedagogy* of Working Otherwise

Posted on February 4, 2011

0


In this edition of The Paper we ask ourselves: what are the lessons and what is to be learned from making a collective newspaper?


As many of us have experienced in these last months, the classroom is only one of many sites of learning. Education does not only happen in places zoned for it but in the very ways we organise ourselves for change.

There are many issues facing the education movement today. In the urgency of the moment sometimes we forget to talk about what is at the very heart of our struggle, that is, what kind of education are we fighting for? This paper allows us to explore what we want: what pedagogies, what processes of learning and teaching we would like to transform; what relations between students and educators we desire; upon what histories of radical education can we draw, and what world our education efforts support.

Instructions

The Paper, a collection of 12-16 pages of compositions of various voices of participants in the struggles against austerity in education and beyond, printed on A3 sheets with a Risograph, folded in half, usually appears monthly.

1. Writing from experience

While much of what we do in school and university starts from the knowledge and analysis formed by others, the making of a paper allows us to draw from the questions, problems and joys that we produce in common struggle. Our experiences, stories and confusions are points of departure from which we look to others: other texts, times and parts of the world for inspiration.

2. Producing an analysis for change

Where the analysis of the classroom is similarly focused on the production of abstract assignments for grades, just as the research of teachers is oriented towards scores on government assessments and the production of university brands, The Paper can be a place for analysis. Issues might be not only the recording of collective discussion and reflection, but also the basis for moving it forward. Dialogue in its production will be important and time will need to be taken for this. In undertaking such a process, The Paper becomes a planning tool for future action, intricately connected to its actors, rather than the space for professions of strategies disengaged from doing. The reason to read and write here is not simply to receive a qualification or to progress one’s career but to reflect upon a common struggle, generously and critically.

3. Thinking and doing together

While demonstrating at Trafalgar Square during one of our many recent mobilisations, a passer by shouted at us: “Get a job”. They were making a false though common division between those who study and those who work. In spite of the fact that most students work and that many workers continue to study, many of the regressive education reforms echo this polarised perspective: that education should be practical, useful and oriented towards producing good workers (even in the face of mass unemployment). This false separation between work and thought enforces an active process of forgetting

the many theories and practices of radical education that have connected intellectual and manual activity. It also produces divisions between people along class lines. This division is replicated within structures of education itself: poorer students are trained to do manual labour (called work), middle and upper class students to have careers (sold to them as thinking or creativity and not labour). Vocational training is pitted against thought. Can a newspaper be a way of marking our refusal of this division, of replicating and recording the way the education struggle brings people from different classes, ages and backgrounds together?

4. Making together: paying attention to the kinds of relationships we make in a collective production

It would be easy to make a place for a few people to control the analysis of the movement, for people to make or elevate academic careers, to become authors or leaders. What has been incredible so far in this struggle has been the many people, voices and organisational forms that have taken place. Thinking about the structures of collaborative production: rotating editorial teams, diffused and collective authorship, fake names and having fun, are all forms of learning how to be otherwise. The pedagogy of The Paper is in its production. Also, the dissemination process has to have as its goal the alteration of traditional hierarchies of privilege of those working both within and outside of the education frame. Could those networks that produce, but also that pass the paper around, develop their own processes for collective discussion around its contents?

5. Connecting the production of language to the production of an object in the world

While we have many blogs and some amazing online platforms for connecting our work, making and seeing something that we can hold, keep and put on our walls helps to construct a collective imaginary of our movement. Not imaginary in the sense of non-existent, but in the sense of something that helps us to understand and map the processes we are in. The deadlines and discussions attached to collective production create a sense of urgency and necessity that is different in impact to sending out an email or posting to a blog – often solitary activities experienced by the body in a chair.

* pedagogy | peda gäje ; – goje | noun ( pl. -gies)
– the method and practice of learning and educating

Posted in: 1. Ed Minus One