Smoke bombs, trashing the Treasury building, attacking the Prince of Wales’s car: The fierce student opposition to a huge hike in student fees and commensurate cuts in British education that erupted last fall— that was quashed by a brutal police crackdown—has not stopped, even as its furor has been taken up by the latest round of urban unrest in London. Throughout Europe, the decadelong implementation of the Bologna Process of educational reform and university restructuring continues to trigger protest and outrage.
Named after the Italian city where it was proposed, the Bologna Process was set up in 1999 by members of the Council of Europe in an attempt to rationalize European degree standards and make them compatible with the US education market. The “Bolognafication” of education—in other words, its privatization—has since intensified across the continent.
Completely private, for-profit universities have been proposed in the UK, a combustible idea in the wake of massive cuts in public funding for the arts and humanities. But at the same time, insurgent programs have arisen in opposition to privatization.
As universities and schools become more corporate-like in their design and organisation, where education is seen as a commodity - making Paolo Freire's critique of a "banking system" of teaching more poignant than ever - the research and practice of alternative forms of learning and the creation of different spaces in which learning can happen has become increasingly urgent.
Student-led learning and self-organised schools have a long and interesting backstory. In the UK schools set-up by working people, particularly women, were closed down once compulsory education became law in the late 1800s. Anarchism and left struggles have had distinct and revolutionary implications for education from William Godwin's Eighteenth Century writings on education to the Black Panthers Intercommunal Youth Institute and the recent free universities and learning spaces of the camps of the Occupy Movement. Education and learning doesn't have to look like the way it does now, contrary to what neoliberal ideologues and their robots might tell you, there are alternatives!
This section will expand as these areas of research are developed and will be updated as material is accumulated through traditional research methods and the practice of what bell hooks calls Engaged Pedagogy.
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