Passions

Interactive History Publishing - Participatory Social Research and Education - Production and Promotion of Progressive Art - Anarchist Philosophy and Historiography

(Self) Education: My Iconoclastic Apprenticeship

Learning by Practice, Teaching and Text
Practice:
My preferred methods of learning:
  • Find an excellent educator and assist them in the process of educating others.
I have done all kinds of education support work over the years, including being an experimental subject for my mother - an extraordinary libertarian educator and a multi-genre artist - for most of my life. So I have learned all sorts of things I might never have come across otherwise, and added to the perambulating scrapbook of knowledge about people and history in my head.
  • Find someone who is really good at the discipline or field of knowledge and follow them around making myself useful while they do what they do.
Ideally, I combine these two methods in one project.
Teaching:
I teach myself a new subject by teaching it to others as I go. (My students often think I'm teaching them. It's the other way around, really).
I think of this as an experiential approach to learning. Artists, on the whole, prefer this approach, and it is the best way to learn the skills and techniques of a craft.
Apprenticeship Projects:
These projects have two purposes. One is to entice mentors and experts into participating in them, so they're around for me to pick their brains. The other purpose, not incidentally, is to create a job where I get to listen to raconteurs and artists talk all day:
Working in Story and Song
A Mother of a Job
Remembering Brad
Here's a project I'd love to join, in order to pursue this self-directed apprenticeship:
And this is my own version of a travelling history circus:
And a participatory social research project:
First World Ethics: Starting a Workers Co-operative in Adelaide
Text:
I am, temperamentally, an intellectually oriented type. A bookworm. Since I'm a scholar in the empirical disciplines, I apply the experiential approach to my thinking work. I take a text or case study that has taught me a lot, and try to reverse engineer the technique through imitation. This oral history project is an example. I want to learn how to do what Studs Terkel did in Working. If I can learn to be half as good as he is at drawing poetry from people, I'll be happy.
Then I apply what I've learned to theory and philosophy. (For other intellectual types, my interests here are, broadly, historiography, pedagogy, ethnography, epistemology, and on some occasions, ontology. Ideally, all at once. Insert adjectives like "radical", "subversive" "anarchist" and such in front of all of those, and you'll get the idea).
A scholar must have a reading list. Here's a random list of the texts that currently set off the bells and whistles in my brain:
David Graeber, Direct Action: an Ethnography
Will Kaufman, Woody Guthrie: American Radical
Studs Terkel, Working
Spook Handy, America's Story Through Folk Songs
Richard Wolff, Democracy at Work: a Cure for Capitalism
This Doing Oral History course online
David Rovics (he's not a text, but he is a great subject, and he does inspire new ideas)
William W Pilcher, The Portland Longshoremen: a Dispersed Urban Community