Education is not oppression

Having given myself the challenge of writing every day, I realise now that to keep this whole thing going, I’m going to have to get more and more personal. But don’t worry, I’m not going to be so open as to be embarrassing or cringey.

But last night as I was watching Thor Ragnarok with Leo, I was reminded how important it is in life to have a sense of humour. I spend way too much time on Twitter and there is a certain ‘tribe’ in the world of Edutwitter who are absolutely devoid of any sense of warmth or humour. This tribe is earnest, judgmental, holier than thou and always on the lookout for what they see as discretions. They are the modern McCarthyists. They view education as a form of oppression and spend way too much time angsting about identity and victimhood. Their negativity is relentless and I often wonder what they are like in the classroom. The thing is, they are probably very fine teachers but their worldview is such that they assume everyone who doesn’t think like they do is some sort of alt-right fanatic.

Let’s be clear about one thing. I’m a traditionalist. I think traditional education is not oppressive; in fact it’s the exact opposite. Education opens minds and gives one the capacity to think, to change, to challenge others, and just as importantly, to challenge oneself. It is liberating.

Education has always been my lifeline; it has provided me with an outlet such that no matter how bad life got, I could draw on my education and use it to escape from the harsh realities of life. In 2001 when I was in the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle being assessed for a double lung transplant, my mindfulness involved solving equations and exploring new ideas for my lab modules. I still have my notebook from those days and I look at it, along with my dialysis membrane, whenever I’m having a bad day and need to get a grip.

Education, which some people describe as oppression, literally saved my life.

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