Mycroft, Helen Louise (2020) Strange Times: The creation of a nomadic community education Imaginary. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

“Community education would be an act of courage. A leap of faith. A reimagining of ourselves and each other.”
Participant 42

The intention of this research is to re-think English community education through a set of posthuman lenses, in order to re-imagine how it might adapt to make an effective contribution to twenty-first century lives.

The definition of ‘community education’ proved slippery throughout, and my conception of it shifted a great deal throughout the lifetime of this research. If I could not pin it down, I hope at least to have held it still enough to stabilise the findings.

Posthumanism offers the research a set of navigational tools, rather than a philosophy for life(though it can do that too). Instead of a traditional literature review, a posthuman ‘cartography’ attempts to map a political and theoretical landscape which guides the development of a bespoke methodology and inspires activist projects which run alongside the research and inform it in turn. Overlaid on this theoretical map is the material from amass observation survey which engaged just under 400 participants from an intentionally broad demographic (not just community educators). A final layer is provided by the mapping of an affirmative ‘posthuman’ ethics.

The threads of enquiry which emerged are presented as a Community Education Imaginary, with existing and potential activist projects woven in and some recommendations for action identified. Five ‘lines of flight’ were identified, for research and activism. The writer is accompanied by a symbolic ‘companion species’ in the posthuman style: the figuration of the Bowerbird represents the affirmative ethics of the piece, which are woven through the narrative.

The Imaginary presents a whole-hearted vision of community education as being a practice of care, diversity, equality, joy, love, openness, place, trust and unity. This has implications for the role of the educator, ‘teacher’-training and professional identity, design and pedagogy, political influence, funding and organisational ‘structure’. It is both practical and unapologetically utopian, containing within it the seeds of radical hope.

The research narrative sprawls across centuries, philosophies, services and projects. I hope to find enough ‘crossing places’ to tell a coherent story.

FINAL THESIS - Mycroft.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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