Author Archive

March 4, 2011

Alpha/Omega…Breeding Ideas

People have currency in their day-to-day exchanges. Regardless of the unemployment rate or amount of consumer confidence in the marketplace, people think about how to make do.

Think. Make. Do.

These commonplace and everyday activities are imperative for each and all, he and she, you and me. We can and must accomplish such things daily. Within these simple imperatives, we have much to learn from one another—more than our current educational systems allow for. Likewise, we have much to teach one another—more than we give ourselves credit for.

Learn. Teach.

Three wayward warps of thinking, making, doing. Two willful wefts of learning and teaching. The fabric of community is created through the conscientious and capricious interlacing of our thoughts and activities.

Having room to think and a chance to act is less readily available than perhaps it should be. Such room is either a commodity, available at a price, or a fleeting space hard won from our daily work habits, snatched from the bustling elbows of the everyday. It is very difficult to think, make and do when constrained by our circumstances. We wait for an opening and jump at opportunities to think, make, do, and be together. Or, perhaps if we are privileged enough, we swallow the price of formal education and buy ourselves some time and space to think.

The Wayward School is the notion of school itself become wayward, and so proclaims that the seat of knowledge is to be found wherever you pull up a chair and whenever you choose to be with others who listen to and learn from one another. In backyards and living rooms, on street corners and sidewalks, in galleries and theatres, cafes and kitchens, bookstores and libraries, workshops and studios, churches and temples, community halls and board rooms, gardens and parks–we will meet and exchange thoughts, actions and projects. Together.

By teaching each other and sharing resources and ideas with one another outside of formal institutional settings such as universities, colleges and trade schools, we make the most of what we’ve already got. The more the merrier, and to that end, the Wayward School seeks to develop an expansive platform of co-operatively facilitated workshops, seminars, and community gatherings—a commonplace common space, a thinking breathing fellowship full of purpose and festivity.

We need each other now more than ever, because we work better when we work together. And so we will drift and settle and drift again to occupy the here, there, and everywhere we can find a nook or cranny to settle in…we shall gather and draw crowds…we shall expound, deliberate, and query…we shall learn new tricks and old ones too…we shall think…we shall make…we shall do…and we hope you will come and participate too.

February 27, 2011

1…Easy as Breathing

Why DO we accept a compulsory and one-size-fits-all approach to learning and teaching within our communities, one that spans time and space, ignoring the differences existing between communities (each with their own distinct circumstances and educational needs)?

Perhaps it is because the education system has always been overdetermined by the system, which is another way of saying that education (like every other thing in our contemporary world) is overdetermined by what some have called ‘complex society’. Complex society describes our contemporary circumstance, in which everyday life is dependant upon (and therefore overdetermined by) the smooth flow of manufactured goods, foodstuffs, electricity, water, etc. Add to this the effortless removal of all things filthy, dangerous, and polluting from the sphere of everyday life and we’re left with an image of society that appears incredibly efficient and smooth-running, but is deceptively easy in its operation and with machinations that are dangerously opaque.

Just get your phone hooked up, just pay rent, just go to the grocery store, just flush the toilet, just put out the garbage, just buy some shoes, just put your clothes in the machine, just turn the lights on, just go to school, just get a job, just get some exercise.

Never stop, do your best, never stop to take a rest.

Flow in, flow out; breathe in, breathe out. Feeling too stressed? Stop and take a breather. Recession getting us down? Stop panicking and holding your breath (your money), relax, let go, take deep breathes… in… out… work… spend…

Supposedly, reigning-in the system, and making it work for you is as easy as breathing. Alas, it is not. The infrastructures that support everyday life and its smooth functioning are not managed by any one person, (one person who would accept responsibility and be accountable if something went wrong somewhere throughout the supply and disposal chain). We can breath all the air we want, for it may be all we have power over (so far…even if it is polluted to high heaven).

Interdependency is not all bad of course… it works marvellously in complex and diverse ecosystems. Interdependency, however, in a standardized system—a system that is only complex to the degree that its substance and consistency is confusing, its weights and measures arbitrary, and its “control” panel distant, well beyond our control, and perhaps automatic—leads to tremendous feelings of anxiety, fear and depression. These emotions shudder through the population of mass consumers (i.e. you, me, and everyone we know) in waves and tremors. We barely register these feelings before we quickly lock them out of our daily thinkings, makings, doings: it’s all good, things are fine, breathe in… breathe out… keep calm and carry on…

January 21, 2011

8…Gestural Linguistics

Antiquated Sign Language AlphabetUse your words. Talk with your hands. Talk to the hand. Let me hear your body talk. Words cannot describe. More than words can say. Take my breath away. Leave me speechless.

A word is a gesture, a thought-form in the ether, a movement between minds. A physical vibration in the throat, writhing through the thick conductive air, exciting the fluids in the ear canal of an other to reverberate. Sound becomes signal, becomes sign, through the hand-holding efforts of neurons, axons, synapses and dendrites…to name but a few. A word takes many physical forms and collaborative efforts to become conceptual.

One picture says a thousand words, and the language our bodies make speaks volumes. Non-verbal communication is the dominant mode, if not the hegemonic (i.e. preferred one).

Countless conversations buzz and vibrate and gesticulate in us and around us every moment of every day…we tap in to but a few. Many thousands of informative, but ultimately useless, messages bombard us, in excess of the signals and cues we actually need to make it through any given day, vying for our consumptive attention with diminishing returns. It’s easy for judgement to get clouded in such a blitzkrieg.

But think about the pleasure of comfortable silence between friends, and how much that means. Think about the wordless glance across the room with a potential love (or a sworn enemy), and how much that means. Think about the way bees wiggle and dance for one another, and how much that means. Think about the chatter of birdsong, and/or the lack thereof, and how much that means. Think about the aroma of fermenting fruit, and how much that means. Think about the smell of burnt toast, and how much that (might!) mean. Think about the touch of another’s hand on your forehead, your shoulder, your hip, and all the different things each can mean.

We inhabit worlds beyond words, populated by signals not signs. Electromagnetic, elemental, audible, aromatic, chemical transmissions between animate and inanimate forms, themselves comprised of cacophonous arrangements of sensory perceptions, of sending/receiving animate and inanimate forms.

We have all sorts of ways to describe the act of communicating without words, but very few spring to mind to describe the ability to “listen” to wordless things. (Intuition or sixth senses don’t nearly cover it.) How might we more readily acknowledge and appreciate in our everyday experience that which is outside of verbal expression? In other words, how might we place more trust in and show more respect towards the whole of the sensible world and the myriad ways it informs our everyday experience?

Let’s talk about it…and let’s think about it, make things about it and do it, too.