Well, here goes nothing...[said in that nervous, self-deprecating way, one does when on the verge of trying something new].
Anyways, hello friends! And yes, I presume most of those of you who have signed up for this, are friends in one sense or other, and not a few of you have been my students...and, despite the distance of such relationships as they are conceived of today (seriously, how many of you would say you are friends with your college teachers?), I'd like to think of you as friends. Great teaching involves friendship and mutuality--and look, here I am already with the cliches! (But hey, it's substack, no editor! I can use as many exclamation points and semi-colons as I please, and gawd dammit, I will! Speaking of which, this short essay in praise of the semi-colon by Lauren Olyer is lovely. Enjoy! But I digress, as I tend to, usually even intentionally. More on which below.)
So, a few things. First, welcome to Anti-Education. (I'll spell it a few different ways, sometimes with the hyphen, sometimes without, cause, well, sometimes one feels right, sometimes the other, and short of using the right url, there is no actual requirement for consistency. Don't believe me, just ask those early modern authors and typesetters. Spelling is a convention. Conventions change all the time.)
The subjects of Anti-Education will be many (because, as noted earlier, dammit, I like digressions and tangents—well, as long as one circles back; because, as Henry James rightly noted, “Really, universally, relations stop nowhere, and the exquisite problem of the artist is eternally but to draw, by a geometry of his own, the circle within which they shall happily appear to do so”— of course, it's the end of this sentence that's the kicker, and what is most often quoted...but the beginning is right as well) because relations never actually end.
I'm starting this for a variety of reasons. I want to write more. I want to create a space for play and experiment. And I want to do that in particular with regard to education, which is too often idolized today. It is, after all, a false god.
This venture is an experiment, just like Abe Lincoln said about our democracy (not to be grandiose or anything). Experiments are good, for thinking, for acting, for one's soul. Tinkering is healthy. It's about, ideally, being curious, skeptical, open. I want to, most importantly, help, in some small way, to build a space for a bit of tinkering and discussion about learning, a place to call a spade a spade, a place for a little healthy irreverence, iconoclasm, and passion. What will this mean—well, subscribe. Or rather, thank you for already doing so. Really!
For now it will mean lots of stray observations, hopefully interesting and amusing links, of book reviews by yours truly (or other ones I’ve found worth sharing), of Pensées (if I have any good ones—ha!), and anything else I (or you!) think worth putting out or curating.
"Well, that's a lot of throat clearing, Herr Professor Levy-Eichel? Do you actually have something to say?!”
Why yes, yes, I do. Two things.
First, I think the field of education and the study of education, in general, are extremely stuffy, narrow, and inertial. I suppose this is true of many fields (I mean, it totally is, but I'll get to that later). What's especially ironic about this when it comes to education, however, is that, well, it's just education. It's just learning. It's just ideas. We can more than afford to be just a little outrageous when it comes to ideas! There is a fear of fun, a fear or play, a fear of disorder. There are many reasons to fear disorder (and many not to), but we should not let our usual way of talking about it (which is in regard to politics) pollute other spheres. Disorder in the books is not disorder in the streets. So, however you feel about political anarchy, a little more intellectual anarchy is...for the good!
Secondly, this is subject to change, but for the moment, I am going to make this substack Freemium (some features and posts free, some for payment—all for the low price of 5 bucks a month!) AntiEducation, the substack, will be twinned with a podcast—yes, also entitled AntiEducation—I am developing. Most of the episodes will, ideally, involve guests, but I am going to make the first one about homeschooling and myself (how modest of me, yeah, I know). For those who sign up for the paying version, you get to ask questions I promise to answer on the first episode. (And other benefits I'll figure out, like more posts...or maybe you'd like less, eh...paying certain people to be quiet is all too rarely tried strategy—and just think of how that would improve our public sphere!) Oh, and a reading group! That sounds like fun.
Well, screw it, I don't know what I'm doing, and if I'm doing it wrong—tell me!
And, more importantly, friends, Romans, and country(wo)men, I hope you'll join me for the ride.
Be in touch!