By Gregory Zobe
Journal of the Study for Technical Communication
Out of the Ruins: The Emergency of Radical Informal Learning Spaces is an edited collection with its guiding concept of Radical Informal Learning offering thirteen chapters, thirteen dofferent approaches, for actively teaching and educating against authoritarian institutions, policies, and practices. Some chapters are idealistic while others are confrontational; several chapters o er subtle but potentially effective strategies to work against the corporatized and surveilled learning environments where so many of us work and teach.
Four sections nicely divide the book and scaffold effectively. First: critiques of education. Elmore’s “Miseducation and the Authoritarian Mind” is oneof the strongest pieces in the text; it sets the book’s tone. is work will probably be reprinted in multiple future collections—thus, this is the key piece to
take from this collection. Next section: “ theoretical Frameworks for Educational Praxis.” Blending an array of critical pedagogues, anarchists, anti-colonialists, and related revolutionaries, these chapters’ authors o er multiple structures and frameworks to move against abusive power.
The third section is likely most relevant to technical communication readings: using official institutional space for radical learning while not being of the space. Resistance from within the system. Sadly, no chapter was entirely persuasive. In their favor, each chapter represents a practical, hands-on approach to making their theory live and real. As such, their suggestions and insights need not be either effective or persuasive; what matters is that they shared tactics and experiences and allow us to learn from their work. at sharing in community is what is most notable. From that view, this section succeeds.
The last section, “Of the Streets and the Coming Educational Communities,” offers four chapters about ways to engage, teach, and learn outside of the university. is section is most interesting because it blends direct experience, such as working in Anarchist Free schools or developing horizontal pedagogy, with visions of the future. In a sense, they are forecasting or planning a bit, but this planning is not based just on theories—it’s based on work that they are already engaged in.
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.