I grew up hearing the feminist mantra that “the personal is political” (I always misquote that, and add an “always”, maybe because I believe it needs to be emphasised). It means different things to different people, but to me it means that humans are not discrete individuals who are parachuted into society at birth, we are born into a culture and are inextricably interlinked with other people. No (hu)man is an island. As Aristotle says, a (hu)man is a zoon politikon – (a political, or social, animal) – it is part of our nature to be thus. My personal actions have an effect upon those around me, as do theirs on me – the personal is also political.
It has a more sinister undertone, as well, for me. It reminds me that I am part of a 21st century capitalist society, whether I like it or not, and all of my actions and all of my thoughts are a result of the State Apparatus that looms over us all. I was educated by the State, for the good of the State. Here by the grace of the State go I.
And there is more. The State educated the educators, and the State dictates the curriculum: the pedagogical is also political.
So, for me, the problem with modern pedagogy is not that it is not political, it is rather that it is political in the wrong way. It reinforces a neo-liberal ideology. The pedagogical does not need to be more political, but it does need a better politics to drive it.
[I]t seems imperative that educators revitalize the struggles to create conditions in which learning would be linked to social change in a wide variety of social sites, and pedagogy would take on the task of regenerating both a renewed sense of social and political agency and a critical subversion of dominant power itself (Giroux, On Critical Pedagogy, p71).
Enter the Nomad War Machine …