The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom with all its limitations remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labour for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom. — bell hooks
While putting together Shameless’s education issue, I had the chance to think about my own relationship to learning, both in and out of the classroom. I went to public school, then to university, then to college. And in each of those spaces, I had the opportunity to learn a lot. I took classes in science and grammar and history. I learned how to submit assignments on time and raise my hand when I had answers.
I’ve been out of school for a number of years now, and in that time I’ve had to unlearn a lot. I’ve since negotiated how to balance textbook science with intuition, English grammar with debates around the politicization of language, and capital-H History with the herstories we embody every day. While I still know how to submit assignments on time (a bit of a requirement when running a magazine!) I have since learned to raise my hand when I have questions; I have since learned that real answers are complicated and are few and far between.
Education for me, then, has become less about diplomas, degrees and course credits and more about the ongoing process of learning and unlearning, imagining and reimagining, failing and trying again. Education is just as much about the conversations we have over meals and the ways we share our stories as it is about assignments and tests. It’s about listening, and while it can and does often happen in the classroom, it also happens everywhere, and this process lasts a lifetime.
I continue to learn a lot from working on Shameless: from my fellow staffers, our wonderful writers and artists, our readership and our community. After every editorial meeting, I return to my work with newfound energy and perspective, and with every issue we produce, I continue to feel grateful for sharing this process of learning with you.
It’s with this spirit that I’m proud to present our education issue. In it, we explore alternative education models (p. 18), break down the Québec student protests (p. 24) and study up on Aboriginal education (p.28). We debate single-sex schools (p. 10), give advice on challenging your teacher (p. 12) and imagine an education designed for a better world (p.48). This issue just skims the surface. We hope to inspire you to continue the dialogue and to take control of your education, regardless of where you’re at, to make it work for you, to create your own paradise, your own possibilities and your own freedom.