Thursday, October 19, 2006

Realpolitik/power politics

The word realpolitik makes me picture this man.

John Connell used 'realpolitik' to criticise my talk and perspective, teaching is dead - long live learning. I appreciate the criticism actually, John recommends further reading for me, and makes me perhaps realise that I didn't speak enough about the 'real' work I do within an institution.

John writes:
...but loathing is not in itself enough to make a difference to the inertia that resides in the structures and processes that make up most state education systems around the world. He is right, absolutely, that IllichÂ’s notion of the Learning Web was created more than a generation before the maturation of the technology that now makes his vision achievable, but he shares Illich'’s inability, ultimately, to engage with the real political and institutional issues that would make a difference.
So to say I am not engaged with institutional issues is ignoring what I am outside the talk. I wish I had of pointed to it more. It is true that back at Otago Polytechnic my points are tempered somewhat, but the principles and ideals remain the same. I am searching for ways to deschool inside my organisation, so what is this realpolitik John is refering to? Is it simply power politics?

If I hold onto the principles and ideals that John has philosophicalal and emotional sympathy for, AND I stick to coming up with ideas for it in my work inside an institution, what is missing? I'd point to my ideas evolving in the posts Out from under the umbrellas and what would it be like to be the rain. They are ideas that I am reasonably comfortable with philosophically, and they are ideas I am really working on at Otago Politechnic. I hope John will make comment on those ideas.

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Tony Forster said...

Maybe innovation always occurs outside institutions. Institutions are power structures that reluctantly respond to outside pressures. They have to be engaged constructively and patiently.

(To quote Bill) Did the monasteries, carefully hand copying their bibles recognise the innovation of Gutenberg's press or were they dragged along reluctantly a century later?

Stanley said...

I thought your presentation was excellent and it helped me structure my thoughts about the summit. For me, the changes - indeed transformation - that need to happen in learning institutions are not attainable through 'realpolitik'. The complexity of organisations needs a different understanding of power, a more ecological view. The same applies to global politics if only Bush Howard and co could grasp it! Anyway .. I've summed up my view of the summit at my blog at Flexilearn