Turn the Strike to a Force for the Common Good
University staff across the UK are striking this week over pay, working conditions and pensions. Photo:theguardian.com
Neoliberalism has Eroded our Ability to Know What it Means to Be Human
Neoliberal Education: From Delusion to Destruction
Neoliberal University: A marketised and dehumanised place that has prioritised profit, upmarket student accommodation, super-duper gyms, and cafe-culture over good education and the welfare of staff and students.
The physical and emotional landscape of the university has fundamentally changed under neloliberal fundamentalism. The devastation wrought cannot be overstated in terms of reduced standards, entrenched inequality and the significant rise in mental, emotional and physical illness amongst all those working for universities.
So, Colleagues, Rise Up, and Make Your Strike Good for the Common Good
Fighting for the Heart and Soul of Public Higher Education
No more neoliberal teaching. No more neoliberal praising. No more neoliberal consulting and research! No more market knows best! No more neoliberal textbooks from the neoliberal editors and publishers. No more neoliberal bosses harassing the faculty into submission! No more neoliberal garbage at your university!
Only you can do that by joining me and many other concerned observers by reflecting upon and asking some timeless questions, questions of meaning and purpose:
What is Education? What is a University? What is Knowledge? What is Information? What is Wisdom? What is Teaching? What is Philosophy? What is Research? What is Success? What is Work? What is Vocation? What is Life? What is Spirituality? What is Kindness? What is Love? What is Humanity? What is Nature? What is Being? What is Home? What is the World?...What is to be Human?
Having done that, then, we, as values-led educators, will rise above the ignorance of the current neoliberal political economy which functions as a mechanism to farm humans and harvest the wealth they create.
This is the path to a valued education system and the creation of a world class university, which we all wish to be part of.
So, Colleagues, Universities must become places of hope for a better world by saying NO to the neoliberal fandangle!
Stop the Neoliberal Attacks on You and Your University
‘There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels ... upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!’- Mario Savio, the Berkeley Free Speech leader, addressing the students and faculty, in front of UC-Berkeley’s Sproul Hall, December 1964
This week’s pay, working conditions and pensions strike is important – but so is the impact of the inhumane neoliberalism and austerity on everything that was once good in the world, including education, universities, the entire aspect of learning experiences, and relationships.
Your strike, your fight for justice, should be extended to end this false socio- political and economic ideology and replace it with goodness, beauty, wisdom and kindness. In short, make education and universities, once again, for the common good.
As you begin your eight-day strike, you will know that many people across the country support your aims and wish you all success.
But colleagues, your struggles, your pain and agony will be in vain, if you do not do your utmost to destroy and dismantle the seeds of your pain, namely, the inhumane and false ideology of neoliberalism, that has given you the neoliberal university that now you feel so unfortunate and unhappy to work for.
Although many have sympathy for you and your cause, we must not forget that many in your ranks have been the cheerleaders for neoliberalism. Many in your ranks have been found guilty of causing, via your neoliberal teachings, the 2008 financial crash, with the ensuing inhumane and unjustifiable austerity, imposed on the 99% (Which ironically includes your good selves!) , by the neoliberal governments, with the heartless, vision-less, arrogant ministers and officials ‘educated’ at your universities!
Now that you, yourselves, have come to feel the pain, agony, and humiliation of neoliberalism and its consequences, please become an instrument of change, fight this cancerous and false ideology, change your neoliberal curriculum and make education, once again, values-led and for the common good.
Universities with your full support and moral force, must become a place of hope, kindness and happiness, so that, together with students, all can begin to reimagine a better world, to be designed and built by all the stakeholders.
If you need inspiration, I am more than happy to oblige! I started the struggle many years ago, and I will be delighted to share the experience and the journey. (See a few links below).
With my best wishes,
For your reflection
The phenomenon that pulls humanity together — Kindness
Kindness is What Makes Us Human- Lest We Forget
Neoliberal Education has Eroded Values of Kindness and Compassion.
As long as this inhumane and false ideology reins, we will not know what it means to be human.
The Neoliberal University: A House of Fear and an Anxiety Machine
‘Education of the mind without education of the heart is no education at all.’-Aristotle
“Don’t just teach your students how to count. Teach them what counts most.”
“The one continuing purpose of education, since ancient times, has been to bring people to as full realization as possible of what it is to be a human being.”-Arthur W. Foshay, author of ‘The Curriculum: Purpose, Substance and Practice’
Kindness University: The 'Antidote' to an Unkind World
For more reading see:
A Must Read Book
Austerity Blues: Fighting for the Soul of Public Higher Education
'Public higher education in the postwar era was a key economic and social driver in American life, making college available to millions of working men and women. Since the 1980s, however, government austerity policies and politics have severely reduced public investment in higher education, exacerbating inequality among poor and working-class students of color, as well as part-time faculty. In Austerity Blues, Michael Fabricant and Stephen Brier examine these devastating fiscal retrenchments nationally, focusing closely on New York and California, both of which were leaders in the historic expansion of public higher education in the postwar years and now are at the forefront of austerity measures.
Fabricant and Brier describe the extraordinary growth of public higher education after 1945, thanks largely to state investment, the alternative intellectual and political traditions that defined the 1960s, and the social and economic forces that produced austerity policies and inequality beginning in the late 1970s and 1980s. A provocative indictment of the negative impact neoliberal policies have visited on the public university, especially the growth of class, racial, and gender inequalities, Austerity Blues also analyzes the many changes currently sweeping public higher education, including the growing use of educational technology, online learning, and privatization, while exploring how these developments hurt students and teachers. In its final section, the book offers examples of oppositional and emancipatory struggles and practices that can help reimagine public higher education in the future.
The ways in which factors as diverse as online learning, privatization, and disinvestment cohere into a single powerful force driving deepening inequality is the central theme of the book. Incorporating the differing perspectives of students, faculty members, and administrators, the book reveals how public education has been redefined as a private benefit, often outsourced to for-profit vendors who "sell" education back to indebted undergraduates. Over the past twenty years, tuition and related student debt have climbed precipitously and degree completion rates have dropped. Not only has this new austerity threatened public universities’ ability to educate students, Fabricant and Brier argue, but it also threatens to undermine the very meaning and purpose of public higher education in offering poor and working-class students access to a quality education in a democracy. Synthesizing historical sources, social science research, and contemporary reportage, Austerity Blues will be of interest to readers concerned about rising inequality and the decline of public higher education.' Click here to buy the book