Matt Hern: Left Cross

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About this talk

I have had a long and fairly contentious relationship with the home/un/alternative schooling world. I am obviously a supporter and advocate for deschooling, homelearning and all kinds of alternative and democratic schools. I'm also a long-time unschooling parent who has been involved with alternative community and democratic projects with kids for a couple of decades. That said I do not feel all that optimistic about the future of these movements. I see ostensibly progressive alternative learning communities all-too-often fixated on individualistic self-fulfillment, comfortable lifestyles and a smug concretization of racialized privilege. In a time of explosive inequality, catastrophic climate change, biodiversity collapse, and ongoing neo-colonialist expansion (among much else) this seems entirely inadequate. Dominant arguments in favour of compulsory schooling have long argued that state schooling is necessary to create meritocratic class mobility, milieus of difference and socialized values, and without state schools cultures will become increasingly unequal and calcified. Far too often home and alternative schoolers seem bent on proving this argument correct. And still, I remain very hopeful about the possibilities that deschooling, unschooling and progressive school resistance promises. I think there remain the seeds of a genuinely participatory democracy, an economics beyond predatory capitalism and an ecological ethics. In that spirit I want to challenge all of us, myself certainly included, to think and act with an eye to a better world, not just a better life for us and our kids.

Matt lives and works in East Vancouver with his partner and daughters. He has founded and directed the Purple Thistle Centre, Car-Free Vancouver Day and Groundswell: Grassroots Economic Alternatives among many other community enterprises. His books and articles have been published on all six continents, translated into ten languages and he continues to lecture globally. He holds a PhD in Urban Studies, and teaches Education at UBC, Urban Studies at SFU and Community Economic Development in CBU’S MBA program.

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