The Awful Truth and Budgies: What Liberation is offered by Learning?
In: 11th EPEA International Conference Learning for Liberation, 13th - 17th June, 2007, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.
Education for Liberation is an ambitious title for a conference and a remarkable concept for those in a place that is defined as not free. Education for Liberation could mean education for release, as that is often seen as liberation. But of course that is not exactly what is meant in the conference title. Liberation is a complicated idea and I am reminded of Umberto Eco’s comment (1990) on ‘Disneyland’. He said that the unreality of society is hidden from our view by creating an experience where unreality is heightened. Behind the spectacle, the façade hides all the tricks of capitalism, with a new twist. Toy houses are fronts for shops.
In this way the unreal quality of everyday experience is made invisible to us. In the same way the injustices of society, the oppressions and absence of freedom are heightened in prison so that we can harbour the illusion that there is freedom outside prison. I must be free because I am on the outside. We might ask how much freedom do we really have?
In these moments I am going to try to tease out in a very preliminary way how adult education might be of some use to us in reframing an understanding of learning that is liberating for prisoners.
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