Updated: Oct 5, 2020
Editorial Chris Duke
‘Only connect’. Never was this injunction more fitting than today. I scan the material in this issue and realise how much each is part of an interwoven web. As Chris Brooks observes below, we see ‘how poorly policies are tied up into a coherent strategy: housing, education, skills and infrastructure are all conceived and implemented as separate and non-connected policies'. If only one could find a clear beginning and untangle strands into a neat and orderly ball. But there are too many ends and no free ends at all.
Like the shipwrecked sailor in an old and very British AA Milne children’s poem, I think of so many things to do, so many ways to start. But each time, something else needs doing or saying first. In the end, the puzzled sailor did nothing at all, but just sat wrapped up in a shawl, waiting for rescue So far, no rescue mission has arrived in this Year of COVID-19. Like the people in Casablanca at another difficult time, too often we wait--- and we wait--- and we wait.
There are populist leaders in ‘democracies’ old and less old who assure us that rescue is in sight; that being shipwrecked is not so bad; soon we will all be back to normal; black is - in fact really - white. If Black Lives Matter, so do other lives - what is the fuss about? Eventually, we are swamped by rumours, untruths, and deceptions. We despair of understanding and acting confidently. Like the beached sailor we get flooded by fake news, drowned in lies, choked with false bribes: waiting in a looking-glass world. PIMA sets its face against such fatalism.
Little wonder that with lockdowns and self-isolation there is a boom in individual reflectiveness: good if stocktaking, revaluing what matters for health and happiness; bad if in the ‘fake solutions’ of cults and phobias, irrational flights into private hells unreached by familiar therapies. A ‘good crisis’ may helpfully disrupt bad habits and assumptions, clearing the way for cultural and identity renewal. But rebuilding community – older and simpler time multigenerational families, new neighbourhood camaraderie – can be inward- or outward-looking: a basis for renewal or a remaking of prejudicial hostilities.
PIMA is committed to building: to identifying and addressing sources of social malaise in and by our human species. Tough pragmatic optimism needs courage, open communication, and firm action. Our exploration here of learning life deep as well as lifelong looks inward, to affect outward. Our critical dialogue seeks to resolve problems, step by step, on a road without end or remission. Maybe ordering and clustering papers into themes matters little: so long as we realise that all interweave and interact.
Some contributors share how lockdown is experienced; and how global news is heard and judged. Others identify central issues that if engaged may turn a downward cycle upwards. Hopefully, we will all call out the misuse of statistics and will name what infects and corrupts.
Educators may like their familiar role: teaching well the way they know. But we cannot ignore the content of what we teach; and the totality of what learners imbibe – the full experienced curriculum. If that does not explicitly connect with the ‘perfect storm’ of crises ‘outside the school gates’, it is unfit for purpose.
Our credo is adult learning and education (ALE) within lifelong learning. For sure, let us collaborate and co-campaign for ALE resources. But let us also ask why such a fast-rising proportion of lonely citizens live alone; why is it that very young woman from Pakistan and Sweden are better known, loved and honoured – or feared -- than many world leaders. Why are early teenagers in rural-remote Australia today initiating a class action against their government’s climate-heating practices, trying to save our shared future through the courts as well as on the streets?
Please read each item below for what it says, and implies, where it points, and connects.