Collective Construction of Emancipatory Learning Processes at BİRARADA Institute

BİRARADA Institute brings to bear the emancipatory education practices as part of the construction process of ‘another academy’. The learning processes, carried out in the Institute are founded on the approach that considers peace as the basis for relations among humans, society and nature. The learning processes, the selection of topics, analyses and discussions are considered and problematized with reference to this approach. As the Institute builds these processes it excludes any epistemological and methodological approach that turns knowledge, science, education into a means for power and domination, instrumentalizes, commercializes them, makes them dependent on the free market. Recognizing that the construction processes of emancipatory learning processes are continual requires to promote emancipatory imagination continually. It is apt to consider that the notions of equality and freedom that we embrace from the start would be nourished, developed and transformed through our collective practices and this would, in turn, lead to new practices of emancipation.

i) Knowledge Production and Learning Processes

Starting from the fact that power relations determine what we learn, how and to what extent we learn it, which knowledge on which we land our understanding we especially see to it that the learning and knowledge production in the Institute are built as processes of political problematization. Learning processes differentiate on the basis of individuals’ subjective experiences, interests and conditions. Hence, in the pursuit of educational activities the goal is to regenerate learning environments collectively, to organize the re-construction process through reflexive practices, while the diversity in learning is observed.  It is important to monitor the learner-teacher duality and related hierarchy and to build self-assessment mechanisms collectively. BİRARADA Institute offers the opportunity spaces for the development of horizontal, mutual, creative, productive relations among all subjects in the learning process – i.e., facilitators of the educational works and participants in these works. It works towards the collective construction of ntersubjective, interactional, mutual and emancipatory learning environments. In this respect,

– Starting from the fact that science is basically about understanding and interpreting nature, society, and human beings it prioritizes the production of paths to knowledge production where one does not consider knowledge as a means for domination and does not instrumentalize nature, society and human beings.

– It is of utmost value that the subjects who participate in the process, experience learning as a pursuit for their concerns and interests without instrumentalizing knowledge. Assessments on the learning process  are limited to the derivations that are based on the individuals’ transformation and that orient toward the value of knowledge in-itself. Emancipatory learning is experienced without resorting to any assessment which utilize external factors (like exams).

Starting from the fact that both knowledge production processes and education are political it requires a critical perspective to understand for whom, by whom and how knowledge is produced, and for what, for whom the education serves and how it does so.

– Frer and fare life is the goal of knowledge production and educational activities. Methods that are out into use do not reproduce hierarchy and violent relations among living beings.

– The priority is to pursue knowledge production and educational activities in a way that they would enable colective production, creativity, equal allocation of resources on the basis of egalitarian relations with nature and society.

– The aim is to keep the design of knowledge production and educational activities outside the capitalist paradigma which creates dominance and labour exploitation.

– Learning methods, syllabi, workshop programs are designed in accordance with the ethical principles of science.

– The aim is to eliminate learner-teacher, facilitator-participant dichomoties and adoption of an approach, based on dialogue in knowledge production and educational activities. In this respect, workshops, lectures, seminars and other activities is left open to collective planning that involves all the subjects.

– Knowledge production is constituted as a collective process to prevent the functioning of knowledge as a resource for force/power. In knowledge production and educational activities egalitarian and democratic knowledge sharing, interdisciplinary communication and cooperation, reliable and accessible resources are considered as the referential frame.

– Starting from the fact that knowledge production processes and educational activities are dynamic, any form of emancipatory educational experience, where everyone can realize themselves and present their creativity, is supported, multiplied and shared. (For example, collaborative writing, close reading meetings, game workshops, journal writing that offers the space for the encounters between daily experiences and theoretical reflections, auto-etnographic narrations.)

– In the learning environment, solidarity culture that promotes learning together is constituted – as opposed to competitive principles and values. Relationality among local-cultural knowledge, experiences, otherized/banned oppositional knowledge types – excluded from the dominating learning environments that embrace hierarchical classification of knowledge types.

BİRARADA Institute creates the conditions and offers the opportunities for the working of knowledge production, education and learning processes in the direction, stated above, and by the ways and methods that will be determined collectively.

ii) Anti-Discriminatory Principles and Values in Learning Environments

In capitalist patriarchal societies we frequently encounter violent, hierarchical and discriminatory practices since the educational policies in force promote the continuous reproduction of class, gender identity, gender orientation-based and cultural inequalities.  BİRARADA Institute does not allow the display of practices that produce discrimination and inequality, securing human rights and freedom of expression, prioritizing the presence of differences within the scope of relations among equals, development of mutual trust relations and peace offers the grounds for the constitution of new forms of social relations. In this respect, the Institute works toward the construction of egalitarian, democratic, participatory and emancipatory learning environments. Thus:

– Learning environments are designed as spaces that do not allow hierarchy, and offer the opportunities for everyone to participate in equal relations with their cultural identities, belongingness. Seminars, workshops and other activities are designed and conducted as egalitarian, emancipatory and democratic processes.

– In learning environments, the vocabulary in use is designed so as to exclude hate speech, sexism, homophobia and violence, and to refrain from exclusionary and otherizing expressions. Ways and methods are developed to eliminate all kinds of discrimination (language, religion, culture, gender and sexual orientation), including ableism and discrimination against disabled people and speciesism. The Institute also ensures that the modus operandi in the learning environments is designed to pre-empt the formation of privileges and hierarchies, based on age, status and titles.

– Collectivity, solidarity and inclusion form the basis for the discourses and practices in learning environments. Emancipatory and peaceful values that rely on equality, democracy and the co-existence of differences are decisive.

– Learning environments are susceptible to fundamental rights and freedoms, human rights, freedom of thought and expression.

– Learning environments are designed to be open to the formation of participatory processes and reflective mechanisms, required for horizontal, mutual and intersubjective learning experiences.

– The subjects of learning processes engage in collective decision-making processes to designate the communication modes that are required for safe-enough spaces in learning environments. Time allotted to speech, creation and sharing is determined according to subjective conditions of the actors. Safe-enough spaces are built on the priorities of problematization, scientific approach and experience sharing. They are constituted in accordance with the group dynamics. In doing so, the subjects show utmost care in the face of prejudices, prejudgments and exclusionary tendencies.

– Equal representation of the subjects is a priority in learning environments. The needs and demands of the individuals and groups who have been subjected to discrimination due to class, gender-based, cultural inequalities are taken into account in promoting the production, multiplication and sharing of empancipatory works. The Institute offers the space and the means to develop opportunities for quantitatşve equality of groups/actors who have experienced unequal and unfair teratment in access to education.

– In learning environments workshop facilitators do not refrain from expressing their worldviews and thoughts for the sake of impartiality. But at the same time they show maximum care to create the democratic environment that welcomes all participants to express their own worldviews and thoughts. In. brief, in the learning environments the priority is distancing from propagandizing a single thought.

– Instead of one-sided knowledge transfer, workshop facilitators appeal to problematization, based on sophisticated, authentic questions, or methods that involve assigning carefully designed works/tasks. Problematization helps the participants to connect their experiences with new knowledge. Hence, participants have the opportunity for political and personal improvement – so long as the connection between the new knowledge and real world topics that are important for the participant(s).

iii) BİRARADA Institute’s Relations with the Educational Organizations

BİRARADA Institute designs annual plans on communicating, cooperating, conducting joint workshops, co-publishing, organizing joint conferences, conversations and similar activities with the national, regional and international organizations which aim at realizing another form of education and research processes. In the light of the advantages, enabled by the definition of knowledge production, education and learning as collective processes, the Institute encourages the togetherness of individuals and groups who are keen to pursue emancipatory learning, critical, feminist and queer pedagogies; it creates spaces for such activities. In this respect, first it sustains its relations with the Solidarity Academies. It takes part in union-professional solidarity practices, produces joint works with the educational institutions and connects with international educational organizations in accordance with its he collectively constituted educational approach.