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Beyond Education: Radical Studying for Another World

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A bold call to deromanticize education and reframe universities as terrains of struggle between alternative modes of studying and world-making   Higher education is at an impasse. Black Lives Matter and #MeToo show that racism and sexism remain pervasive on campus, while student and faculty movements fight to reverse increased tuition, student debt, corporatization, and ad A bold call to deromanticize education and reframe universities as terrains of struggle between alternative modes of studying and world-making   Higher education is at an impasse. Black Lives Matter and #MeToo show that racism and sexism remain pervasive on campus, while student and faculty movements fight to reverse increased tuition, student debt, corporatization, and adjunctification. Commentators typically frame these issues as crises for an otherwise optimal mode of intellectual and professional development. In Beyond Education, Eli Meyerhoff instead sees this impasse as inherent to universities, as sites of intersecting political struggles over resources for studying. Meyerhoff argues that the predominant mode of study, education, is only one among many alternatives and that it must be deromanticized in order to recognize it as a colonial-capitalist institution. He traces how key elements of education—the vertical trajectory of individualized development, its role in preparing people to participate in governance through a pedagogical mode of accounting, and dichotomous figures of educational waste (the “dropout”) and value (the “graduate”)—emerged from histories of struggles in opposition to alternative modes of study bound up with different modes of world-making. Through interviews with participants in contemporary university struggles and embedded research with an anarchist free university, Beyond Education paves new avenues for achieving the aims of an “alter-university” movement to put novel modes of study into practice. Taking inspiration from Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and Indigenous resurgence projects, it charts a new course for movements within, against, and beyond the university as we know it.


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A bold call to deromanticize education and reframe universities as terrains of struggle between alternative modes of studying and world-making   Higher education is at an impasse. Black Lives Matter and #MeToo show that racism and sexism remain pervasive on campus, while student and faculty movements fight to reverse increased tuition, student debt, corporatization, and ad A bold call to deromanticize education and reframe universities as terrains of struggle between alternative modes of studying and world-making   Higher education is at an impasse. Black Lives Matter and #MeToo show that racism and sexism remain pervasive on campus, while student and faculty movements fight to reverse increased tuition, student debt, corporatization, and adjunctification. Commentators typically frame these issues as crises for an otherwise optimal mode of intellectual and professional development. In Beyond Education, Eli Meyerhoff instead sees this impasse as inherent to universities, as sites of intersecting political struggles over resources for studying. Meyerhoff argues that the predominant mode of study, education, is only one among many alternatives and that it must be deromanticized in order to recognize it as a colonial-capitalist institution. He traces how key elements of education—the vertical trajectory of individualized development, its role in preparing people to participate in governance through a pedagogical mode of accounting, and dichotomous figures of educational waste (the “dropout”) and value (the “graduate”)—emerged from histories of struggles in opposition to alternative modes of study bound up with different modes of world-making. Through interviews with participants in contemporary university struggles and embedded research with an anarchist free university, Beyond Education paves new avenues for achieving the aims of an “alter-university” movement to put novel modes of study into practice. Taking inspiration from Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and Indigenous resurgence projects, it charts a new course for movements within, against, and beyond the university as we know it.

52 review for Beyond Education: Radical Studying for Another World

  1. 5 out of 5

    n

    I thought I'd like this book, even though the title put me off. I don't think it's possible to go "beyond education" because the word 'education' means 'learning' and 'cultural transmission' and has been a word that, in a lot of ways, has found a 'subverted' meaning beyond what the original intention might have been. The author explicitly uses it to mean institutionalised learning, such as schooling. I disagree with him on that point. But as a result of reading this book, there are two phrases I' I thought I'd like this book, even though the title put me off. I don't think it's possible to go "beyond education" because the word 'education' means 'learning' and 'cultural transmission' and has been a word that, in a lot of ways, has found a 'subverted' meaning beyond what the original intention might have been. The author explicitly uses it to mean institutionalised learning, such as schooling. I disagree with him on that point. But as a result of reading this book, there are two phrases I'd like to avoid for the rest of time: "I contend" and variations on "take the baton." Both of these phrases were used often enough for it to be annoying. The lack of cohesive definitions makes this book frustrating to read. There's a lot of jumping between phrases, which is just annoying. There's also a point where he's used versions of "modernist/colonial" to describe actions a ridiculous number of times, but he suddenly remembers on page 155 to define what he means. I bring this up, because him doing this turns a lot of people in the 1500-1600s into "modernists" despite the movement not developing until the 19th century. It's weird. He tries to claim that he's written "genealogies" for aspects of schooling, but it comes across as confused history. While much of it isn't incorrect, a lot of it has interpretations that I also don't recall existing in sourced material; much of it is conjecture. With regards to school movements and pedagogical theorists, some basic facts get distorted by careless phrasing (such as Paulo Freire "developing" popular education, when popular education had been largely developed after the French Revolution in 1789 -- he contributed to it). The parts this book could've been really good at are left to the end with minimal discussion. Apparently, the author was part of organising a 'free university' called EXCO. There were a lot of lessons that he could've drawn upon and written about. If the book was framed more around EXCO, drawing upon theoretical and historical inspiration to either explain why EXCO did something or why EXCO should've tried something? It would've been fantastic. It's unfortunate. The part that would've been more engaging and useful for the overwhelming majority of the audience is the bit he shrugged off for the most part. Oh, and another thing: He opens and closes this book by saying it is him "snapping" at education. In the introduction, he sort of analogises himself (writing a book to be published at a university press house) to Sara Ahmed (resigning in frustration after she called out harassment at her university and their lack of response) and Corey Menafee (the Black man who smashed a stained-glass window that depicted slavery at Yale). This book is not "snapping," especially not since he's still retained a university position when both of those people's actions have either seen them removed from post or entirely silenced.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh

    At first glance the cohort of those struggling within and against institutions of higher education for whom Beyond Education was written seems to overlap with those who identify with the undercommons approach to the university— those who are “of but not for the university” and who channel its resources to projects for those whom the university does not usually serve (p. 17; quoting Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, 2013). Yet at many points in the book, M At first glance the cohort of those struggling within and against institutions of higher education for whom Beyond Education was written seems to overlap with those who identify with the undercommons approach to the university— those who are “of but not for the university” and who channel its resources to projects for those whom the university does not usually serve (p. 17; quoting Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, 2013). Yet at many points in the book, Meyerhoff addresses a more indefinite and perhaps broader audience. The book begins, for instance, with a vignette of Corey Menafee, the 38-year-old African American man who worked in Yale University’s Calhoun College dining hall and who one day “snapped at his university” (p. 2). While at work, Menafee took a broomstick and smashed a stained-glass window that depicted two enslaved peoples of African descent picking cotton (p. 3). His action, and Menafee himself to some extent after he undertook it, participated in a wave of activism around Yale’s historic and ongoing implication in white supremacy. On Meyerhoff’s telling, Menafee, alternative education activists, and some unknown number of academics share a sense of strain and impasse in relation to the university, despite their different positions in its structures of rewards and exploitation. What they share, however, does not appear to orient toward a project of sustained subversion within academia but rather toward a common potential to snap at it. Snapping at the university means getting out of it. There are many strategies short of abandoning the university that Meyerhoff discusses, of which more shortly. The “snap” response—a broad refusal and indefinite opening—is the only positive program that one can offer that does not end up in partial accommodation to one or more features of the education-based mode of study. These features include a vertical imaginary and romantic narrative of upward ascent through levels of education, framed as a journey of individual self-realization and triumph over obstacles; the positioning of teachers as experts in the sense that they hold objective knowledge and use techniques to shape students, who should be obedient; and a separation between “students as producers and the means of studying;” and “an affective pedagogical economy of credit and debt” (p. 15). Most of the book traces these elements of the education-based mode of study from their development in early modern Europe to their adaptation in contemporary neoliberal education politics and policy in the United States. Full review: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journa...

  3. 4 out of 5

    RS Rook

    For a book that is supposedly about going beyond the established structure of academic education, the imagination here is surprisingly insular. It does seem to be largely aimed at an audience already invested in academia, because its critiques of the "romanticization of education" only make sense if you are already enraptured by that narrative (i.e. those already invested in academia). I would liken this book to an experience I had while working as a baggage handler for a major airline--there was For a book that is supposedly about going beyond the established structure of academic education, the imagination here is surprisingly insular. It does seem to be largely aimed at an audience already invested in academia, because its critiques of the "romanticization of education" only make sense if you are already enraptured by that narrative (i.e. those already invested in academia). I would liken this book to an experience I had while working as a baggage handler for a major airline--there was this kind of pompous leftist college kid who said he got a job there specifically to engage in unionizing. And in retrospect, unionizing was desperately needed--we were working with unsafe, old and often broken equipment, dealing with draconian time card rules, and pay that was so low, I had several co-workers who depended on supplementing their food budget by pilfering uneaten airplane meals off grounded flights. But the thing was, this guy was so full of jargon, so out of touch with reality, that we all just avoided him. It probably didn't help that he flat out admitted that the only reason he was there was part of some Marxist idealism--meaning he wasn't depending on that paycheck to make rent the way I was. This book reminded me of that guy--sure there are some good ideas, but they are coming from a group of people who still expect to be in leadership roles while not really understanding the lived reality of the working class. A bunch of rich kids LARPing as radicals until they realize how much actual, tedious work is involved. I was neither impressed nor surprised by ExCo (the experimental free school) in either its inception or its dissolution. To the credit of the authors, and everyone involved in ExCo, they are trying to grapple with these contradictions. But for me, the effort falls flat. But again, I am not the audience here. They are speaking the language of academia on its terms. Perhaps this will help break through to people on that side of it. Feels pretty navel-gazy to me though, and fundamentally useless to the average person.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christy

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ashby

  6. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  7. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vi

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zach

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hayden

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chris Garcia-Wilde

  13. 4 out of 5

    Xavier

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zaina Alsous

  15. 4 out of 5

    Justine

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lance Eaton

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael McIntyre

  18. 4 out of 5

    Connor Spencer

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Hatrick

  20. 5 out of 5

    F

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shiera

  22. 4 out of 5

    CJ Venable

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul Eaton

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Noe

  26. 4 out of 5

    PF

  27. 5 out of 5

    James

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Garcia

  29. 5 out of 5

    J Haydel

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gianna Mosser

  31. 4 out of 5

    CRispr

  32. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  33. 4 out of 5

    mafe

  34. 5 out of 5

    Sirad

  35. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Leanne

  36. 4 out of 5

    G

  37. 4 out of 5

    Linda Crawford

  38. 4 out of 5

    J. Brook

  39. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  40. 4 out of 5

    Beverley Ketel

  41. 4 out of 5

    Ann

  42. 5 out of 5

    Jo

  43. 4 out of 5

    Milo

  44. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  45. 5 out of 5

    Mumei

  46. 5 out of 5

    Erik Gunnarsson

  47. 5 out of 5

    Natalia

  48. 5 out of 5

    Corey

  49. 4 out of 5

    Kai

  50. 4 out of 5

    Sonya

  51. 5 out of 5

    Words

  52. 4 out of 5

    Allegra

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