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John M. Elmore

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John M. Elmore is professor and chairperson in the Department of Professional and Secondary Education at West Chester University, Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses in critical pedagogy, politics of education, history of education, and philosophy of education. His research and publications have focused primarily on education for social justice, democracy, atheism, and antiauthoritarianism.

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Out of the Ruins: The Emergence of Radical Informal Learning Spaces
Editors: Robert H. Haworth and John M. Elmore
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-62963-239-1
Published: 06/2017
Format: Paperback
Size: 9x6
Page count: 288
Subjects: Education/Politics-Anarchism

Contemporary educational practices and policies across the world are heeding the calls of Wall Street for more corporate control, privatization, and standardized accountability. There are definite shifts and movements towards more capitalist interventions of efficiency and an adherence to market fundamentalist values within the sphere of public education. In many cases, educational policies are created to uphold and serve particular social, political, and economic ends. Schools, in a sense, have been tools to reproduce hierarchical, authoritarian, and hyper-individualistic models of social order. From the industrial era to our recent expansion of the knowledge economy, education has been at the forefront of manufacturing and exploiting particular populations within our society.

The important news is that emancipatory educational practices are emerging. Many are emanating outside the constraints of our dominant institutions and are influenced by more participatory and collective actions. In many cases, these alternatives have been undervalued or even excluded within the educational research. From an international perspective, some of these radical informal learning spaces are seen as a threat by many failed states and corporate entities.

Out of the Ruins sets out to explore and discuss the emergence of alternative learning spaces that directly challenge the pairing of public education with particular dominant capitalist and statist structures. The authors construct philosophical, political, economic and social arguments that focus on radical informal learning as a way to contest efforts to commodify and privatize our everyday educational experiences. The major themes include the politics of learning in our formal settings, constructing new theories on our informal practices, collective examples of how radical informal learning practices and experiences operate, and how individuals and collectives struggle to share these narratives within and outside of institutions.

Contributors include David Gabbard, Rhiannon Firth, Andrew Robinson, Farhang Rouhani, Petar Jandrić, Ana Kuzmanić, Sarah Amsler, Dana Williams, Andre Pusey, Jeff Shantz, Sandra Jeppesen, Joanna Adamiak, Erin Dyke, Eli Meyerhoff, David I. Backer, Matthew Bissen, Jacques Laroche, Aleksandra Perisic, and Jason Wozniak.


“How do we create spaces of learning that will help us to avoid the pitfalls of routine, hierarchy, and passivity? In other words, how do we learn to change the world, together? Those trying to figure this out will enjoy reading about the experiments, strategies, and logics of anarchist education in this rich collection.”
—Lesley Wood, professor of sociology, York University

Out of the Ruins provides a powerful critique of the current state of education—and teaching—by exploring a diverse range of radical pedagogical practices and liberatory educational theories, coupled with on-the-ground case studies of informal alternative learning spaces. Moving beyond simplistic calls for ‘educational reform’ each contributor challenges us in some way to rethink the entire social system as it relates to education, including the ways that inequality and capitalist values shape the prevailing hierarchical, market-driven approaches to learning, teaching, and students.”
—Jake Alimahomed-Wilson, associate professor of sociology, California State University, Long Beach

“A revolution of everyday life comes with our ability to understand and transform the world—the fundamental goal of emancipatory educational practices. Out of the Ruins deconstructs the myth of schools as operating in the public interest and presents compelling arguments for triggering stoppages in the factories of collective illusion—whether those factories are schools that only offer students alienation, spectacle, surveillance, and training for consumption or a corporate media that offers us fear and perpetual war. Haworth, Elmore and the contributors to this book offer unique insights into how and why dehumanizing trends in schools can (and should) be interrupted by taking advantage of alternative learning spaces. When our thinking about the education is divorced from the hierarchical, authoritarian, and hyper-individualistic social relations demanded in schooling new worlds are opened and theories of learning, educational practices, as well as the philosophy and politics of education take on fresh new meaning.” —E. Wayne Ross, Phd, Professor of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Out of the Ruins is a timely book that counters current narrow conceptions about the limits of education and challenges neoliberal hegemony within the way we conceive of educational possibilities and building new forms of educational communities that can think outside these parameters. The editors have called forth an international array of cutting-edge scholars that lay bare a powerful critique of narrow conceptions of teaching, learning and education. A must read!”
—Abraham P. DeLeon, associate professor, University of Texas at San Antonio

“Haworth and Elmore tell us that we have a right to a new utopia, a transformative vision of society and interconnectedness where learning supports justice, redefined relations with the rest of nature and the creation of healthy communities. They call this radical informal learning. We might call it the true purpose of learning. The passion, anger and commitment of the contributors can be found on every page.”
—Budd L. Hall, co-chair of the UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, professor of community development, University of Victoria

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What Others are Saying

outOut of the Ruins: A Review
By Michael James Miller
April 3rd, 2018
Pedagogy, Culture & Society

Out of the Ruins offers an Introduction and 13 chapters with various anecdotes and attempted antidotes, provocations and practical, experiential writing on experimental efforts to create and maintain counter-hegemonic learning spaces and communities. Through different approaches, reflections and emergences this book extends many important considerations. Whether we are starting on our thinking of radical informal learning spaces, looking for examples from other’s experiences, or how we might bring in more criticality, radical intentions and informal pedagogies to our own practices and experiences, Out of the Ruins is intended to be that place.

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outOut of the Ruins: A Review
By Gregory Zobe
Journal of the Study for Technical Communication
May 2018

Anarchism has long attended to education’s importance in social relations and liberation. Sadly, scholarship around these ideas has been limited, often despite the explicit parallels between anarchism and liberatory educators like Ivan Illich and Paulo Freire or John Dewey’s experiential education and learning. Out of the Ruins is a welcome addition. It contributes both in terms of scholarly work as well as helping share practical and theoretical pieces for those interested in challenging extremist authoritarianism.

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outOut of the Ruins: A Review
By James Cox
Midwest Book Review
September 2017

Critique: Out of the Ruins sharply criticizes the entire social structure of the current educational system, especially its capitalistic, market-driven approach, and offers viable alternatives in its assembly of essays by public education experts. While unreservedly recommended as a core addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Education Issues collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers that Out of the Ruins is also available in a digital book format.

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