I do not read self-help books, even though I am acutely conscious that my self needs a lot of help. Part of my aversion stems from the ubiquity of these tomes on US bookshelves, crowding out other genres and other possibilities with an endless stream of ever more far-fetched recipes for happiness. Another source of aversion is my suspicion that I need a lot more than just some carefully structured advice. A self- help book often only convinces me that it may be too late for me.
I make an exception for the works of Stephen Covey, whose The Seven Habits of Effective People has sold millions of copies, spawned an industry, and morphed into a Gnostic religion.
The first habit he encourages his readers to develop is summed up in the phrase: Begin with the End in Mind.
I have pondered this phrase when writing the first of what I hope will be many blogposts written by many different people for LC Press. What is the end that we have in mind at our beginning, as we launch LC Press into the world?
LC Press is a publisher. It is a place or platform or organisation which publishes art, music, podcasts, and reflection about the experience of education. I anticipate that the two most common questions about this idea or project might be: “Why do we need yet another publishing platform about education?” and: “If we do need it, why do these people think they are qualified to operate such a platform.”
To the first question, I would answer that we need it because it does not exist elsewhere. The educational publishing platforms are operated either by commercial publishers, media companies, or by private individuals and think tanks. Do you know of any school which publishes reflections on education? How many reflections on education by front line teachers and pupils are published beyond the curated pages of the TES, Schools Week and the recently expanded 280 -character limit of Twitter? The fact that no or very few schools publish reflections on education is, in my view, a symptom of what is wrong with education. The people who actually experience education on a daily basis in a particular school community are neither heard nor encouraged to speak from their experience or express a coherent view of education based on their own experience. They are instead presented or confronted with various theories, plans, ideas from sources other than their own experience and asked to implement or endorse ideas which are not their own. This valorisation of expert opinion stifles imaginations, and prevents those actually living in schools from pursuing and constructing meaning in their work or studies.
LC Press publishes some ideas and voices which are as yet untainted by the processes of bureaucratization, professionalization, and academization which aim to divorce the personal and particular from the universal. We hope that our press will publish voices from our school and other schools, voices which may never have spoken about their experience of education and their hopes for education before.
To the second question, I would answer that we are not qualified, only passionate and determined. If every voice heard about education is the voice of a research- fuelled educationalist or policymaker, we arrive at the position we are in today where there is limited interest and discussion of the purposes and possibilities of education in wider society. LC Press wants to engage people, those who are educators and educationalists and those who are not, in a conversation about their experience of and hopes for education. Everyone goes to a school, and in this sense, everyone is an expert on what school meant for them. Listening to these voices and celebrating them democratizes education and allows it to be inspired by a diversity of experiences. It expands the imagination.
LC Press hopes to inspire and stimulate teachers, pupils, and others to contribute their thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Please do so by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, following us on Instagram and Twitter, subscribing to our podcast “Imagination in Education” and joining the conversation
Picture by Anna