The venue is not stated, nor is it dated, but my guess is some time in late 2004 or 2005, because of references in part 2) to the Foreshore and Seabed Hikoi.
“We Make the Road By Talking?”
Greetings to the earth, to the indigenous people of this land, and to the indigenous people of this specific place. I acknowledge your land and history, alive beneath this layer of colonisation, and alive beneath the steel and concrete of this city. Greetings to all other cultures and to our hosts. Many thanks for the opportunity to participate.
The speech title is a clear reference to the book “We Make the Road by Walking“, conversations between Myles Horton and Paolo Freire>
I am speaking as a Pakeha (of Irish/English descent) from Aotearoa New Zealand. I am also speaking as an activist educator/educator activist. I bring greetings from Kotare Trust, Research and Education for Social Change, the small community of educator activists of which I am part.
Kotare was established in the mid nineties by people from a range of political movements to be a centre for radical and liberating education for social change.
In this speech I want to share some of our story with you and to talk about the relationship between education and action, and the belief that social change education must be part of the action for change. Otherwise we risk institutionalisation, sterilisation and collusion.
But first I want to talk about Kotare, how we struggle with these issues and with the framework of liberating structural analyse which inspires us.
Kotare was a response to the bloodless coup by far right neo liberals in my country in the 1980’s. Since then we have never regained our humanity as a society (if indeed we ever had it) as we have been poisoned by corporate globalisation, and the wholesale commodification of every aspect of our national life.
Since colonisation Aotearoa New Zealand was always a vigorously dishonest country. The comparative wealth of our Pakeha citizens has been built on a massive land theft and the use of “democratheid” (apartheid). But now neo liberalism has taken us to a whole new level of economic and social polarisation.
The cult worshippers of this ideology point to the benefits e.g. many more telephone companies to put you on hold, and access to better types of coffee beans. They extol the virtues of globalisation while promoting prisons as one of more stable growth industries.
Blaming “Rogernomics” for all social ills is a constant theme of the NZ far left. While the left wants racial seperatism in order to divide and destroy our society, we are blamed for inflicting “Apartheid” on Maori because we want them all peoples to stand on equal footing. The term “Orwellian” comes to mind.
Education in this context has, as always, been the handmaiden of the oppressor. Hence the need for a school for social change. Radical educators worldwide also provided our inspiration, notably Paolo Freire and the Highlander Folk School, the Phillipino activist educators we have met, and particularly the indigenous sovereignty movement in Aotearoa which has always had a strong radical education component.
Unemployed workers rights activists, radical Catholic nuns, feminist adult educators, anti racism workers, unionists and community development workers, thus formed Kotare in 1995. Since then the Trust members have expanded to include environmental activists, gay liberationists, disability rights advocates and other bona fide troublemakers. Some come from the middle class left and some from the marginalised working class.
They don’t miss many strands of the revolutionary socialist left do they?
Since 1999, when I was employed to co-ordinate the education programme, we have been running workshops on a wide range of social change themes. The themes are developed from an ongoing structural analysis of the current political, economic and social dynamics in our country, and from working with key people and groups for mutual liberation.
“Sructural analysis”, is an actual process. When it was first introduced in this country in the ’80s, was originally called, “Marxist Structural Analysis”. The Marxist bit was dropped, probably to make it more acceptable to the churches where it was and is, widely promoted.
Many of you will know Paolo Freire’s work, and probably understand it better than I do. Freire’s work has been a major influence upon Kotare because of his underlying analysis of power and his educational methods based upon a respect for people’s wisdom. Myles Horton from the Highlander Folk School and Freire were both practitioners of this approach who have particularly inspired us by their active involvement in campaigns for social justice as well as learning
Freire’s literacy campaigns and Highlander Folk School’s work with workers rights, civil rights and opposition to strip mining in the Appalachian mountains, made sense to us as educators. We come from the unemployment street protests, the direct action campaigns against gold mining, and the fringe unions and from the Pakeha solidarity movement in support of honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi
As activists of our time we also uphold the feminist values of womens liberation as well as class struggle. The key themes change but at the moment the focus is on indigenous rights, corporate globalisation resistance and alternatives, radical community development, youth empowerment and welfare issues.
Class struggle? Where have I heard that phrase before?????
Our practice can be loosely described as radical participatory education or as “keeping the fire alive” for social justice. ur aim is to resist the educational practices we were brought up with which were summarised by radical Maori educator Makareta Tawaroa as “ good kids shut up” and “the educator knows everything”.
Our programmes can be divided into two main strands, the work to strengthen activists and community workers with a critical analysis to carry on their work, or the conscientisation of potential activists and social change workers. Both strands are a vital and unique form of adult education in our country. As you can imagine funding is a permanent issue and takes us hours of time which could be better spent on transformative trouble making.
Conscientisation-in my humble opinion, a euphemism for brainwashing
Each year we work with 14-17 year old high school students on their issues of the day. Unsurprisingly these include loss of community, the search for identity in a globalised corporate framework, and the old favourite, and the need for an educational experience that treats them with respect. Youth wages, suicide, animal rights, racism and date rape as a part of their daily concerns. Using role-plays, artwork, song and drama we work with young people to name their issues and develop both visions and strategies towards a world they want to live in.
14 to 17 year olds!!!!!!! So here we have a partially taxpayer funded school, employing Marxist educational methods teaching young teens to change their world. I call this indoctrinating children. It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that there is a clear link between Kotare School and the group Radical Youth, organisers of the recent “youth rates” demo in Queen Street, Auckland.