Alt Ed talk: Cambridge University Philosophy of Education Seminar Series


TALK DESCRIPTION: Before Coronavirus crisis alternative education was a niche, cute, slightly fashionable, historically troubled but neglected and overlooked domain of education. It was brilliant and those who knew it understood that but those outside the fold of knowledge of this brilliance saw only dysfunction in relation to their norm. Suddenly a world pandemic meant many globally were dabbling by necessity in education without schools, which by definition might be seen as alternative education. What happened the moment schools closed and what happened subsequently? This talk discusses the new norm of educating alternatively in one way or another as no norm at all on account of its radicality as other. In other words, alternative education requires a fundamental change in lifestyle and educational approach, not just necessary action or settlement back into comfortable givens. It cannot be assimilated as any new norm for its promise and premise is in and of a different world from any previously ever known to be the case. A world where democratic relations are the norm? Where voice is the primary premise of transactions? This would represent a shift towards well-being, personal self-care and care of the other so profound and astonishing for its eschewing of drama and binaries that everything would change, including - importantly- responses to environmental stewardship. Too challenging to change that much!? However alternative education, with its characteristics of voice and freedom is surprisingly joyous and rich in feel-good factors - affects that may be hard for many bringing up the next generation to leave behind as they seek to re-embrace any status quo before the crisis. So, is alternative education on account of a pandemic push, going to change the world?

SPEAKER BIO: Dr Helen E. Lees worked for 12 years in university education, specialising in alternative education. She is now a writer, artist and independent scholar, based near Florence. Her books include "Silence in Schools" (2012), "Education Without Schools: Discovering alternatives" (2014, Policy Press), co-editor of the "Palgrave International Handbook of Alternative Education" (2016) and other publications. She is founding Editor-in-chief of the online academic and community journal - - the journal of educational alternatives and co-editor of the book series Palgrave Studies in Alternative Education.