Our political future?

A little bit of serendipity today sent me to my spam folder and I discovered a detailed response to Love Under Will: Explorations in Participation.

Mark Rodgers has suggested a more participatory system of government for Ireland.  And summarised his position as follows:

“I hear your frustration with the current system so I show below my thoughts on a new form of democracy. I’d welcome your thoughts!

The Future
We are now moving into an era when technology can transform the way people are governed and can offer an avenue for the government of the day to connect directly with the people they govern. It will bring true democracy down to the roots of democracy, the ordinary person. Everyone has a voice and a vote.

Dispense with full time politicians and parliaments except for those who make up the Government of the day. They will act as a caretaker government who will facilitate the creation of the new system.

Introduce a Peoples Assembly that is a forum for the debate of policies before we, the people vote. Those attending will be people with interest in the policies being voted on that week. The assembly is televised and streamed live on the internet. Anyone can attend with a weeks notice. The Assembly can move around the country. I envisage that it will be a continuously changing population that will attend as the topics being voted on will vary wildly week from week.

Place policy decision making in the direct hands of the people who will vote via unique electronic voting cards (similar to bank cards) once a week on matters of policy only. People may vote online, by phone or via email/ post. For better or worse the people will decide if they wish to allow, for example, abortion, property tax without regard to ability to pay, water taxes, stay in the EU, cancelling public service giant pensions etc.

Policy details are worked out by the Civil Servants who meet with interested parties to thrash the finer details.

The Government will be a suite of ministers appointed annually by the people to carry out the policies passed in the People Assembly. It is largely a position of honour and ministers will be modestly remunerated for that year and will return to being ordinary citizens at the end of their term of office. These minister’s employers will have undertaken to keep their jobs open for them to return to at the end of their year in office.
Your thoughts?”

As my ‘thoughts’ were somewhat lengthy, I decided to write a post instead by way of responding.

Hi Mark,

Sorry that I didn’t reply earlier to your request.  Your comment went to my spam folder, and it only by chance that I found it.  It is a detailed response and therefore, highly deserving of reply.

As you’ll see in the follow up post, I am a fan of participatory democracy and have begun the process of presenting a case.  I acknowledge the use of technology to facilitate the process of more direct democracy.  The success of the internet in engaging individuals in political issues is witnessed in the success of Avaaz campaigns and other NGO activity.

However, I do have some concerns about this as the only forum for a new system.  As Carne Ross proposed, signing a petition isn’t going to bring about real change.  Research into attitude and behaviour change has shown that just because you believe water to be a valuable resource, and you sign a petition for better water management, doesn’t mean that you’ll stop washing your car/windows/driveway with high pressure cleaners nor start using your grey water to sprinkle the lawn.  I would have a preference for face to face assemblies on a three tiered basis:

  1. Local Assemblies on local issues with local money.  Participatory budgeting initiatives have shown that engagement can be high, and that in seeing your neighbour is worse off than you, more equitable solutions are created.  The community benefits as a whole rather than the 1% served at the moment by the current system.  Also, face to face discussion becomes practical rather than a rhetorical game.  It is more efficient.  The Transition Town movement is also evidence of the success of local democracy.
  2. Regional assemblies with delegates from each local area.  Delegates, not representatives – there is a difference.  Priorities for the region can then be established.  Delegates report back at local assemblies.
  3. National assemblies with delegates from each region.  National priorities can then be established.

Each tier would have its own ‘Caretakers’, elected by the people – I liked the term you used here.  Those who are responsible for implementation.  You suggested annual elections, but I think this may be too often.  The implementation of priority projects would be subject to feasibility studies, tenders, contracts, and the actual building work.  This is likely to take longer than a year, and a caretaker might unfairly be unelected as the project was completed within the year the electorate have given.  A take over administration would also suffer through being unfamiliar with the demands of the projects that require completion.  I’d suggest a three year cycle.  However, I do agree there would be increased accountability.

Another reason why I have a preference for face to face meetings is that the issues are more pertinent and directly experienced by those who attend.  This could be termed as a form of NIMBYism (not in my backyard), but Nimby campaigners often turn from a local issue to having a lifelong commitment to the issue on a more global scale.  E.g. I’m not having a fracking station in my back yard – learn more about energy issues – and no – there are much better solutions than fracking for the entire world – not in anyone’s back yard.  Additionally, political scientists have commented on the phenomenon of ‘voter fatigue’.  There are so many issues and so many votes, that we either disengage, or vote without taking ownership of that vote.  Lack of ownership was evident in the Brexit saga, when those who voted to exit said they didn’t really mean it afterwards.  In local forums, the need to take ownership for decision-making would be more important as you can witness its effects directly. It’s hard to complain about parking outside your house when your neighbour has no sewage facilities.

Finally, there is nothing more empowering than being able to put up your hand at a meeting, air your concern and be listened to.  Witness the support you and/or others have, then be able to take a stand and make that vote.  To me, that is truly participatory democracy.

In response to my own response, I do have an issue with political boundaries.  In a state of nature, land belongs to everyone.  I’ve yet to reconcile this into a political method.  I think a theory for the future needs to address land tenure.  I would love to see a stateless society, which is incompatible with a three tiered suggestion I have proposed above.  It may develop as we explore this further.  A second thorny issue that needs to addressed, but is avoided in discussion is that of population control.  It is unsustainable and nature has been trying her best to cull us.  I don’t mean a return of the eugenics movement, but it DOES need to be addressed.  I have been playing around with one or two ideas that I will return to – but am interested in your thoughts too.  I believe it is important that we have these conversations.

I’d like to thank Mark for jumping in.  It’s certainly helped to make my rusty cogs whirr more freely.

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Leaderless Revolution

Representative democracy is failing.  Capitalism is suffering a crisis of legitimacy.  The 99% will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.  It is time for new politics and a new politics is emerging.

Carne Ross, who I introduced you to in the last post, has named it as a Leaderless Revolution of participatory democracy and his analysis proposes 9 principles that would not only bring this change about, but would also ensure that it works.

In an interview with Bill Moyers, he summarises these principles as follows:

  1. Excavate your convictions: Know what it is that you care about as this will give you the momentum to undertake the long journey needed in order to address it.
  2. Who has the money and who’s got the gun?  This principle is an analytic one.  Who has the power over the issue that concerns you?
  3. Act as if the means are the end:  The ends do not justify the means.  The ends decide the means.  Violence to create a political end only promotes violence for the future.  The goal you want should be reflected in your political process.  If you want an inclusive society, then you need to have inclusive democratic processes.
  4. Refer to the cosmopolitan criteria:  In any political movement, it should never be assumed that you know what others want.  They need to be asked.  They will tell you.
  5. Address those suffering the most:  No-one can know what makes people happy, but suffering is much more measurable.  Addressing suffering is easier than trying to make people happier and actually takes very little.
  6. Consult and negotiate: If you exclude people from the table with a vested interest in the interest, the resulting agreements won’t work.  I remember how Northern Ireland talks failed until Sinn Fein was invited to the table.
  7. Big picture, little deeds: We face overwhelming problems and have overwhelming goals for change, but if you do one small thing everyday and every one does that, change will happen.
  8. Use non-violence:  This isn’t pacificism, nor is about doing nothing.  There are very powerful non-violent means for changing society.  History provides many examples.
  9. Kill the king: It is hard to change things and it takes more than signing an online petition.  Instead, he uses the analogy of chess.  To win the game, you need to keep your focus on taking the opponent’s king.  The focus on the goal is vital for success.

“Now is the time to move from words and protest to action to actually build new systems that embody these values. That is the most powerful form of political change.” (Carne Ross)

Several years ago, I lived on a rather notorious social housing estate, with high rates of unemployment, crime and drug and alcohol abuse.  As part of the European funding to regenerate poorer regions in the UK, the estate received a sum of money to revive it.  There was some consultation about how the money would be spent.

The residents received modernised homes.  They were given a restricted choice of decor as a form of compensation for the stress of  still occupying the building site that your home became.  The estate was divided into four parts and each given an name.  The areas were delineated by the colours of the fences that bordered everyone’s home.  This would provide the residents with a sense of identity.  Some of the green space was dedicated to an ecological education centre.  It was built on top of an old mine and soon had to be closed due to toxic gases in the building.   Artists worked with local school children to create murals so that they’d be disincentivised from defacing buildings with graffiti later in their lives.

However, during consultation, the residents asked for one thing, something that would change the quality of their children’s lives: a public swimming pool.

Unsurprisingly, the project did little to address the issues experienced by the residents.  New jobs created were occupied by the educated middle class from outside the city.  It only served to increase disaffection.  Imagine if they’d been given the chance to engage in some participatory budgeting, how different a world they might occupy now?

Porto Alegre, Brazil, has a population of 1.5 million.  In 1989, the newly elected Workers’ party changed the way that the city would be governed.  They shifted power from politicians to citizens, giving them control over the allocation of the city’s budget.  The impact has been immense.  The citizens operated from the basis of the fifth of the principles and address the concerns of those who were most suffering.  Access to sewers doubled from 46 – 95%.  Tax evasion fells, as people witnessed how their money was being spent (Guardian, 2012).

The system, Orçamento Participativo (OP) has three hierarchical elements.

  1. Regional and thematic assemblies, known as rodadas take place in each of the 16 regions of the city.  Prior to the rodada, preparatory meetings are organised by the community.  These and the rodadas are open to any citizen.  The purpose of a rodada is to define the region’s priorities and demands, the election of delegates and councillors and the public scrutiny of municipal government.  Discussions at the rodadas focus on setting a consensual rank of priorities for each region and a hierarchical list of demands.
  2. Fora of Delegates.  Made up of approximately 1000 delegates from 16 regions, these act as intermediaries between the Council and citizens.
  3. Council of the OP  is responsible for the design and submission to the city government a detailed proposal based on the priorities determined at the regional assemblies and monitors the implementation of the plan.

Aragonès & Sánchez-Pagés, in their study of the initiative, suggested that there are three key benefits of the system.  Firstly, Porto Alegre is an example of improved behaviour of elected representatives.  Politicians face a far more informed electorate, a rise in grass-roots activity and experience a greater accountability.  This has reduced corruption and patronage in the city.  Secondly, citizens are highly engaged.  Participation is high and increasing, even among the city’s poor and less educated.  Thirdly, there is a high level of income redistribution.  Similar benefits have been reported elsewhere.

Of course, participatory democracy isn’t without its problems.  Wood and Murray (2007) reported that resistance in the form of hostile media and from the economic elite plagued both the participatory budgeting of Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte.  The cities also occupy the broader political context of Brazil, and municipal authorities are prohibited from developing land that is occupied illegally.  Land tenure is important for success in the process.  This means that the very poorest sector of the city is neglected.  The bureaucracy of implementation has also meant that building projects are often very slow.  Finally, not everyone participates.  Middle class and the lowest socio-economic areas are underrepresented in the process.

The system is most successful where there has been a local history of grass-roots activism.  The existing civic culture is one of many variables identified that affects the success of participatory budgeting.    System change requires narratives, or a mythos that is very different to that which is ingrained within us.   But we have the capacity to do so.  How far we have come since the British media were reporting on the brainless beauties making their way from the swimming pool to the voting booth shortly after women’s emancipation was achieved!   How long will it be before our narratives shift from party politics to participatory politics?

This post is a response to the challenge presented in Love Under Will.  Feel free to join in!

*The featured image represents Thomas D. Seeley’s thesis that bee colonies are democratic organisations, the queen being little more than an egg laying machine.

Love Under Will: Explorations in Participation

Michael Moore once stated that “democracy isn’t a spectator sport, it’s a participatory event.  If we don’t participate in it, then it ceases to be a democracy.”

“Democracy isn’t a spectator sport, it’s a participatory event.  If we don’t participate in it, then it ceases to be a democracy.” ( M.  Moore)

In many western democracies, the citizenship is estranged from the oligarchy that purports to represent it.  Occasionally, the people are offered the opportunity to participate in a major decision, a recent example being the Brexit referendum in the UK.  But about 30% of those eligible to vote didn’t, and of the 52% that did vote for exit, many changed their minds afterwards.  It could also be argued that since the current government intend to honour the decision, despite many questions over the legality of the referendum,  a (small) tyrannical majority has just undermined the needs of the country, including those of its neighbours.

A similar example was the UK’s referendum to change its voting system from ‘first past the post’ to a more pluralist system.  The outcome was no change, but after the results of the next general election where the flaws of the first past the post system became evident, those who had opted for the long established system changed their minds.

“There are times when the majority opinion turns out to not be just.” (J.S. Mill)

What is required for a fully participatory democracy is a fully informed citizenship.  The rare referenda we are offered however, have become a stage for a clash of personalities and rhetoric, leaving the public to place their cross on the basis of emotion rather than reason, an insidious manipulation.

However, liberal philosophers have argued that participatory democracy is an educative process and one that leads to human and social development.  If there is no arena for debate, then how can the truth of a particular position be questioned and shown to be a falsehood?  Democracy helps truth to emerge.  John Dewey argued that participatory democracy offers the best culture for expressing one’s own talents and life purpose and therefore enables individual growth and realisation.

“Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.”  (J.S. Mill)

Participatory democracy is a process of collective decision making.   Citizens decide on policy and politicians are responsible for policy implementation. Politicians are highly accountable.   Discretionary actions are severely constrained and their performance is judged by comparing citizens’ proposals with the policies actually implemented.   Ability to affect outcomes is positively correlated with a citizen’s extent of participation.  Modern democracies are fundamentally based on relations of rule, whereas participatory systems are based on relations of equality (Arendt).  Hannah Arendt advocates citizenship councils to replace representative party systems.

To make my own case for a more radical democracy, I will present a few case studies of local participatory democracy, commencing with the well-documented participatory budgeting initiative of Porto Alegre, Brazil.  Here’s a snippet to wet your appetite for the next post:

 

For a background to the Love Under Will Challenge click here.  Please join in!!

Love Under Will: A Challenge

As with many of my generation, I experienced the transition from black & white TV to colour, mono to stereo, telephone to mobile, Commodore 64 to iMac, notepad to iPad…..

I consumed an interesting diet of Dr Who (I did use to hide behind the couch), the Magical Roundabout, Andy Pandy, The Adventures of Parsley, The Clangers, Crystal Tipps and Alistair, Mr Benn, The Wombles, Monty Python’s Flying Circus…..

Little wonder I turned out like I did!

But what I want to illustrate is how quickly change is possible.

A conversation with an 83 year old man, an avid local historian, brought this to light.  His grandfather was born in the 1700s.  The oral history he’d inherited was astounding.  The country walks we take, used to be quarries and mines, until the Thatcher years that is.  He’d worked for a mining company, but saw the bright-side of losing his job and reclaimed his autonomy as an odd-jobber.  A keen cyclist, but not quite good enough for the Tour de France, he cycles still.

How quickly change is possible.

“Do what that wilt shall be the whole of the law.” Sayeth the (in)famous Aleister Crowley who proposed it as the fundamental precept of Thelemic magic. It has been taken to mean that “I can do anything I want and sod the consequences,” as if it is a mantra for evil, hedonism and egocentrism.  And so it could be.  Do what that wilt shall be the whole of the law, in this sense, probably underlies the (un)ethical system of transglobal corporations.

But I’ve been meditating on the fuller version of this precept:

“Do what that wilt shall be the whole of the law.  Love is the law.  Love under will.”

To me it is a powerful statement of what is possible if we exert will to a purpose.  This is the essence of magical practice.  I’ve also been meditating on Ché Guevara’s assertion that all revolutions are born from Love.   Meditation,  I’ve learned, can be the guide to a meaningful purpose that requires a will to action in order to be fulfilled.   Love under will.

But for the moment, back to the 70s diet.  It also included Fawlty Towers.

Sometimes it made me laugh, but mostly it made me cringe in social embarrassment.

I had the privilege of working in a bar owned by a Basil Fawlty equivalent.  Myself, Sean and Fitz (oh…..  Fitz…. but that’s another tale for another time) managed to serve customers, keep the glasses clean and line up the warm and cold guinness to order, remember whose was whose, mentally calculate the bill, work the one till, and managed not to get in each other’s way.  We even had a laugh.  Sean told terrible jokes and we’d tease Fitz about the trail of beautiful artistic types who queued to talk to him.  A tight ship we’d run, until Fawlty decided to work instead of counting his money.  And then I’d feel that same awkward social embarrassment and cringe as the assembly line faltered until someone finally someone sent him home.  Usually one of the customers.

I haven’t felt that feeling in a long time.

But then I listened to this Nigel Farage’s Brexit speech to the EU Parliament.

I inwardly joined in with the hecklers.  And then I inwardly cringed (hiding behind the couch).

A few days later my son precedes his announcement that he’s getting married with a political discussion.  He did the same when he told me I was going to be a grandmother.  He rarely rings, but we have to go through the ritual of I’m not going to tell you something important until we’ve discussed something deep and meaningful.  I’d not caught up with the politics of the day yet.  It’s been moving so fast, you need to check in hourly.

“Guess who’s the foreign secretary.” He challenges me.

It was that kind of a discussion, and I jokingly reply, “Boris Johnson.”

My son has a strange sense of humour, and when he replied with a deadpan ‘Yes’, I thought he was joking.

You all now know that he wasn’t.

I’m cringing again.

I came out of retirement and engaged in a contract to mark A-level psychology papers for three weeks.  And during that time, how journalists have clamoured to keep up!   The political news is now the first thing I look at, as I can’t wait to see what other kind of joke our government (we have one now) is going to throw at us next.   Oh yes, Trident, the nuclear deterrent, I suppose it was too much to hope that they’d vote against.

Somethings don’t change.

And when past the post-Brexit reading, I look to the rest of the world and I can’t believe that there isn’t a grassroots call for a post-goverment era.   Do we really need to be governed?  I can already hear the outspoken cries for ‘yes’.  Without government we’d have anarchy.  Wouldn’t we?

Oh, how well-conditioned we are.  Anarchy we’ve been taught is a violent state of disorder, in which we would live in a perpetual state of fear.

But anarchy also means that in the absence of government, you’d have absolute freedom of the individual and freedom of voluntary association.  Anarchy is the freedom to live in a state of a nature – a fundamental right that I believe we have been intolerably denied.

Let’s undertake a thought exercise.

We are going to have a revolution because we love enough to do something about the state of the world we’re in (Love is the Law).  We have will enough to apply it to our purpose (Love under will).   We know how quickly change can happen  (Do what thou wilt).  You are the leader of this revolution.  What is the change you are going to bring about?

Over my next few posts, I would like to propose an evidenced-based future in the form of a kind of tribal socialism.  It is my hope to clarify a position that I’ve been toying with for a while.  I don’t claim that it will contribute anything new as an idea, but my goal is to have it so clear as a purpose that I can bring it under will.

Feel free to respond to the challenge in the comments below, or link to a post on your own blog.  If you do, please pingback to this one.

 

 

The Not-So-Hidden Curriculum

Background

According the Louis Althusser (1970), capitalism is supported by two levels of state apparatus.  The first kind, he argues, functions by violence and hence refers to these institutions as ‘repressive state apparatus‘, for example, the army, the police, the courts and the penal system.  They are also public in nature and as such are unified in their support of bourgeois aims. The second kind do not need to have public status to function.  They are essentially private institutions, and include the family, education, religion, cultural ventures and the mass media.  Their purpose is to ‘function by ideology’.

Ideological State Apparatus

Althusser does acknowledge that the public and private spheres are not so distinct and separate.  There is a great deal of overlap between them, for example, the police are also ideological.  Examples of this in the UK, are lighter sentences for women, a higher number of stop and search actions are undertaken among the black male population, and the majority of crimes for which people are sentenced are crimes against property.  Similarly, ideological state apparatuses can be viewed as repressive.  For example, the institution of the family can be repressive, something which Frederich Engels (1884) commented on in ‘Origins of the Family’.  Anyone (male or female) who has experienced domestic violence, the pressure of a forced marriage, or child abuse, will testify to the repressive nature of the family, despite the claims of Anthony Giddens, in his Reith Lectures of 1999, that the family has globally become more democratised.

My purpose is to consider the role of education as a locus for capitalist ideology and its function as an ideological state apparatus.  But before I continue, I’d like to explain additional concepts.

Cultural Hegemony

The term hegemony was initially used to mean the indirect dominance of an imperial state over subordinate states.  Antonio Gramsci in his ‘Prison Notebooks’ extended the meaning of the term to refer to the prevailing norms and values of a society.  These, he argued, are not necessarily organic, as has been suggested by conservative functionalists, like Talcott Parsons, but are artificial social constructs which support the power of the dominant class (the bourgeoisie) over the subordinate class (the proletariat).  As members of the subordinate class, due to their powerlessness, engage in only their private concerns rather than public issues, they fail to intellectually challenge the dominant world-view.  Their subordination and exploitation is explained (and justified) in accordance with prevailing wisdom.  Cultural hegemony thus serves as a means to prevent the development of class consciousness and so inhibits revolution.

Althusser referred to Trade Unions (TUs) as one of the private institutions which operate ideologically.  It is hard to imagine why this might be when TUs represent the interests of the working class.  Haven’t they achieved better pay, working conditions and generally improved the lot of the proletariat?  However, as one writer put it, the working class has:

‘gained a larger slice of the pie, when the real issue is ownership of the bakery.’

Giving a larger slice of the pie is one means to maintain confidence in a system that thrives on the exploitation and subordination of the majority group in society, the workers and producers.  Even the conservative Disraeli recognised that  social justice is a means to maintain social order (One Nation, rather than two).

Legitimation Crises

A legitimation crisis is a term attributable to Juergan Habermas (1973).  It refers to a loss of confidence, for example, in a political party, system or even management of an organisation.  Legitimation crises occur within capitalist systems.  There are times when capitalism fails.  Economic recessions and depressions often lead to the kinds of civil protests that have been witnessed in Spain and Greece.  These are the times that Marx’s prediction of social revolution would occur – when the legitimacy of capitalism is questioned and the proletariat is not only a ‘class in itself’, but acquires class consciousness and becomes a ‘class for itself’.  These are legitimation crises.

As a result of a lunchtime discussion with my colleagues, it is apparent that we are now in a legitimation crisis.

The Hidden Curriculum

Louis Althusser argued that the function of education is to reproduce the workforce of the next generation.  Schools transmit the ideology that capitalism is a fair and just system and they also train obedient workers to submit to those in authority, namely capitalists and their representatives.  Bowles and Gintis (1976) extended Althusser’s ideas.  They suggested that in addition to the explicitly stated curriculum, there is a hidden curriculum, i.e. an institutional structure which mirrors that of the workplace.  There is a ‘correspondence principle’ between the social relationships in the classroom and those in the workplace.  There is little personal autonomy, obedience is rewarded, criticality and challenge is punished, and inequality is justified through rewarding the ‘deserving’.  However, inequalities in education persistently reflect social class inequalities, not inequalities which arise from a ‘fair’ meritocratic system.  Schools do not promote cooperation, but competition.

Why a hidden curriculum?

The dominant values and norms of a capitalist society are so intrinsic to individual and social consciousness that it appears as ‘common sense’.  Something only appears to be an ideology if it opposes one’s own world view.  But there is rarely a questioning of the dominant view.  If it is questioned, it is not overtly challenged.

The Not-So-Hidden Curriculum

In this blog, I’ve avoided talking about my role as a 6th form teacher within the education system of England and Wales.  The main reason being that I’m leaving the profession in July, and I’ve had no real desire to talk about something that I’ve found to be stressful.  I’ve found it hard to rationalise the source of increasing stress within the profession, but I believe that a fundamental values clash is one source that is chipping away at my sense of integrity.

In the UK, the academic year 2015-16 brings many educational changes.  The A-level Psychology program is one specification that is subject to this change.  My initial reading of the changes seemed positive, as they were closer to the ‘gold standard’ A-level that I was initiated into.  I continue to regard it as the gold standard as it was a thought-provoking course that enabled the development of critical thought and synoptic depth.

Despite not teaching the syllabus in the forthcoming year, I am involved in the department’s preparations for the change and have investigated the demands of the change.  One colleague shared the contents of the new curriculum while we discussed their implications for teaching.  Our discussion came to an abrupt halt when the normally hidden agenda of the approved curriculum is not so hidden:

“In order to gain Ofqual accreditation, we have added the following bullet to the ‘3.2.31 Scientific Processes’ content.

Implications of psychological research for the economy

… Students need to be able to explain the economic implications of the research.  Below are a few examples but there are many others.”

I will share just a couple of examples to illustrate the not-so-hidden curriculum and capitalist agenda:

“If  research shows that people with a disorder such as depression are less likely to suffer a relapse after having cognitive therapy then, even though cognitive therapy might initially be more expensive than drug therapy, in the long-term it might be more economically sound to offer cognitive therapy as people would have less time off work.

“Again, this would relate to people’s ability to work effectively.  Research showing how to cope with workplace stress could be useful to companies whose productivity would increase if members of the workforce are better equipped to deal with stress.

“How research has influenced educational policy and specific educational programmes is relevant to preparing the next generation for work and thus relevant to national productivity and the country’s economy.”

(AQA accessed 15-05-2015, emphases are my own)

I am so pleased that I’m not going to be party to the new curriculum agenda.

The Knowledge Cooperative

One benefit of the internet is that it holds such a wealth of knowledge.  Unfortunately with the popularity of social media sites, it is experienced as a saturation of surface impressions, images and meaningless messages.  (I’m resisting a temptation to start rattling on about Jean Baudrillard, a postmodern philosopher who wrote about such things, but time and energy is a constraint this evening).   In this contemporary age, with a danger of losing a great deal of culturally diverse knowledge and insights, internet communities can aid their survival.

Chaffinch-diptych-for-web

I read a personal account by Kim of Spiral Spun of her inner struggle to balance her sense of self with a culture at odds with her purpose.  I am reminded of the quote ‘To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man”.  (I think it was advice from a father to his son in Shakespeare’s play, “As You Like It”).   I want to say, ‘You are not alone.’ I know that she is not.  I scrolled through to another blog post that caught my interest.  I love the practical advice that Freedomfarmtv regularly offers to the novice in permaculture.  I’ve been carefully hoarding their down-to-earth pragmatic knowledge and experience as I know that I will benefit from it when we design our own permaculture project.  In my second wordpress reading of the evening, FreedomFarmtv saved me a lot of research into perennial edibles by providing a very useful list to consider.

I’ve presented some basics in beekeeping which will turn into comprehensive online manual for the initiate.  I commenced this mission after coming across an accidental beekeeper.  She is learning through experience, succeeding at it, but with very little knowledge of bee colonies.  Another reader also asked about the causes of colony collapse disorder which became the topic of my previous post.

I’ve realised that I’ve become part of a “knowledge cooperative”, and been surprised how quickly this has grown.  It’s an exciting feeling to be part of a community of people with similar goals and aspirations and care about the world in the way that we do.  I hope I contribute as much as I gain.

Please check out my review of related blogs in “The Knowledge Cooperative”  and if you’d like to be included let me know!