Experimental Community Education of the Twin Cities: Tools for Struggles Within, Against, and Beyond the University
37 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2011 Last revised: 21 Apr 2011
Date Written: February 1, 2011
This paper examines a project, Experimental Community Education of the Twin Cities (EXCO), which seeks to transform the dominant education system while creating an alternative. From our perspectives as both organizers of the project and critical analysts of it, we describe how EXCO emerged from struggles within, against, and beyond universities, how it operates, and how it compares with its historical and contemporary influences, which include experimental colleges, anarchist free skools, and popular education. To overcome its predecessors’ limitations, EXCO attempts to prefigure a model of liberating, mutually supportive, community-led education while, simultaneously, realizing those values on a wider scale through transforming the dominant institutions, resisting their mechanisms of co-optation, and re-appropriating their resources. Recognizing the tensions involved in walking these multiple paths, we offer some theoretical guidance for understanding what EXCO seeks to accomplish. We highlight the importance of affective relationships for enabling communities of resistance to self-organize, while recognizing the obstacles to forming cross-community relationship that arise from relations of oppression, along lines of race, class, language, and education. We draw from anarchist, autonomist, and other critical theories to offer strategies for overcoming these relational oppressions and working through these tensions in practice.
Keywords: free school, anarchism, popular education, commons, minor politics, undercommons, relational oppression, university politics
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