Neuroqueering education through rhizomatic community networks
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When considering the pervasiveness of neuronormativity, nowhere is it more visible and prevalent than in the education system. Educational institutions place a great deal of pressure on students to engage with behaviour policies, uniform policies, curriculums; more so, they define not only how one should learn, but how one should embody that learning and the ways we think about that learning.
Schools are, for the most part, completely ill-equipped for students who can’t conform to the restrictive ideals placed upon them by a school and institution that functions as a machine, creating apostles of our neoliberalist economy. Far too many children are traumatised and subsequently excluded from their human right to education because of the normatively violent approaches of the education system.
So how might we subvert and redesign education?
I have spoken recently of rhizomes. Vast networks of points that are connected while remaining independent of each other in terms of their survival. Such rhizomatic communities take a post-structural approach to the creation of community and the sharing of knowledge by ditching hierarchical notions of milestones and targets and instead allow us to take an interest-led approach.
Allowing communities to form around mutual interest creates different points within the rhizome. Through exploration and knowledge exchange, intrinsic connections form through the understanding that all knowledge is inherently connected. This is the basis of how one might queer the education system.
By allowing people to engage with interests and learn through that which they are intrinsically motivated to explore, the natural connections between points in the rhizome can be used to expand learning into other areas while maintaining and interest-led approach. Such a world would have no need for institutional education as knowledge creation and sharing would be a community endeavour.
Everyone would be the educator and the learner.
Some may worry about the standard of education that a person can achieve outside of the traditional institutional structure; truthfully, how much of the knowledge you hold now was attained within the walls of a school? Most learning is community based. School systems offer a very limited basis of knowledge that often seems pointless thanks to a lack of context.
Education should not be reliant on normative standards of teaching. We should be empowering each other to share the knowledge that we gain over a lifetime. Such a world would take us away from the self-reliance of our current society while allowing us to retain our individuality. Through a rhizomatic network of learning, we create a multiplicity in our individual existence that can not be achieved within the confines of the institution.
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