Thursday, June 21, 2007

If only ...

I am tired, unbelievably tired. Sometimes I think it is the years that are catching up on me in a demanding job, but at others I blame the labyrinthine bureaucracy of education. At times like this I turn longingly to the work of educational idealists who gave us a tantalising vision of what might have been.

The following quotation comes from the great Scottish polymath Patrick Geddes and is a favourite that speaks to me now. Geddes' anarchism is poorly understood by much of the secondary literature. However, he was a friend of Kropotkin (who taught for him on adult education summer schools!) and close to Elisée Reclus. Amongst his many projects and schemes was the initial design for the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The administration block was tiny and tucked away at the back. When questioned on this his response was:

Universities do not exist to be administered. The Administration exists only to serve Universities. Though records are indispensable and regulations may be useful, even necessary; the true regulation of the University comes from the mind, conscience, and character of those who make it up. Hence I have segregated the administrators … for when they usurp the central position of a University, as so often in Britain or America, they become the very worst of masters.


Freens In Springburn said...

One of my heroes. WEA in Edinburgh are based in Riddle's Court which was one of his Town and Gown university hostels. Very appropriate that adult education continues in that particular site.

The Plump said...

Glad you like him. An important and much misinterpreted thinker. Have done some work on him but need to do more.

PPP said...

Similarly i continually find inspiration and insight in Geddes's thought and action. From an anarchist perspective Colin Ward is someone else who frequently refers to Geddes.

Cheryl said...

Not really familiar with Geddes myself but my own experience of University, and education generally, has taught me to totally agree with these sentiments. Whatever happened to learning for the sheer joy of learning? (That's also my excuse for not having even thought about your assignment yet!!!) I'm also very altruistic and don't want to cause you any more tiredness!!