“The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another… We are the State and we shall continue to be the State until we have created the institutions that form a real community.”
― Gustav Landauer
Lessons to be experienced, not taught. The revolution that we need to make and not wait for. The responsibility we need to take in the now, and not in some projected version of future reality. The anarchy that is already here, waiting to be revealed, like a seed underneath the snow (as Colin Ward stated).
Francesco Codello guided the second encounter of Anarchy Lessons through the entanglement of theories and institutions, paradigms and terms, and above all, through our own biases and ready-made visions of the world that we so easily (and mindlessly) pass on to children.
With a passionate and open speech, Codello was quick to jump to the core of the problem: seeing children as empty vessels that we need (and have the right) to fill with knowledge, principles and rule abiding ideas; a toxic univocal dynamic between adults and minors that requires an urgent reassessment, as an age difference should not, in the end, translate into a rights difference: deciding how a human being should be is not a right that comes by default with age and experience. If anything, said Codello, children are the only true philosophers left, asking questions and actively learning without needing someone to treat them as tabula rasa.
Codello slided through some eye-opening etymologies as well: it’s funny how we got from the latin ex-ducere (meaning to bring out, to pull out) to an education that only seems to stuff things in, instead of bringing them out. Not to mention how school started off with the Greek skhole, meaning “spare time, leisure, rest, ease; learned discussion;” a place of lively buzz and thought provoking discussions, of time well spent- now a place of killing time and ideas. And how about study? The verb studeo in latin meant desiring, which I think it’s safe to say has lost most if not all of its original meaning: just take a look at random students during the exam sessions – apart from the rather desperate desire to get it all over with, there’s no other trace of it left. Today’s acceptance of the term revolves more and more around the concept of suffering.
So what’s there to do? Well, start, first and utmost: stop waiting, stop delegating, but rebel in a responsible act of social self-determination that starts with taking a good look at ourselves. Surpass worn out paradigms, allow space for children to be and to learn, give them the power to choose, to think critically, to discover, and encourage them to ask new and new questions, time and time again. Encourage them to try, to fail, to find their own answers, to change their minds about it, to actually think outside that box and not just give them a pretty personalised box of their own. And understand that there can be no education without relation.
And if it’s true that no one cannot actually not learn, maybe it’s not too late to jump on the incidental learning and libertarian education wagon, as adults and society as a whole. Just don’t forget to let the children drive.