Swing, pendulum

Is the education project caught up in a momentum away from itself? It seems that somewhat self-consciously, the university presses toward some rhetoricalised efficiency utopia where at its end point, it collapses: the education project itself is gone, subsumed into the morass of the shared political economy. Education: done.

But it is impossible to not also notice the increasing schism between the business of the university and the business of education. What is at risk is some deeply but tacitly understood sense of what is ‘right’ – let’s boldly call it an orientation to ‘human values of learning’. Everywhere, educators on the ground hold fast to their own version of this whilst bearing up under the strain and stretch of this ‘away’ motion.

Whatever this ‘left behind’ thing is that we are so care-fully holding fast to, I wonder if it can perhaps only be discerned for what it is when compromised by other-than-human orientations. Can we only see the human when the human is left behind? Does the away motion makes it possible for us to see human being standing in the wake of the educated human? ….Another way already inheres the space the movement away is opening up.

In any case, it is helpful to think of this ‘away’ motion not as a trajectory but as a pendulum swing. The pendulum is already in motion, and by its own momentum unable for now, to stop – but it has its own natural end. In some indeterminate future time the pendulum will reach its natural end, pause for a while, and then return, arcing back in a ‘toward’ motion; back toward to ‘human values of learning’.

Stranding firmly on a moving point of hope, I can already sense the pendulum gaining on its poise-point, stretching and straining, increasingly insubstantial, exhausting its sweep. I wait.

As I wait, I hear myself predicting the pendulum swing in every conversation, as if by saying it out loud, I can bring it more quickly into that return motion. I want to be there when it comes rolling back, compelling us to think again.

Swing, pendulum!


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