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Geographies of alternative educationDiverse learning spaces for children and young people$
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Peter Kraftl

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447300496

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447300496.001.0001

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Towards the ‘good life’: alternative visions of learning, love and life-itself

Towards the ‘good life’: alternative visions of learning, love and life-itself

(p.209) Eight Towards the ‘good life’: alternative visions of learning, love and life-itself
Geographies of alternative education

Peter Kraftl

Policy Press

The argument of this chapter is that alternative learning spaces offer alternative versions and visions of life-itself. That is, they do not just proffer alternative approaches to education, but to the very thinking and doing of life. This argument is inspired by a trans-disciplinary series of thinkers who have propounded distinct but overlapping theories of life-itself. Their theories have, in some circles, come to be termed ‘vital materialisms’ – inspired by poststructural theories of materiality, diverse economic practices, and ongoing developments in biology, neuroscience and social psychology. Significantly, these theorists say little about education, explicitly. Using extended empirical evidence from alternative learning spaces, the chapter explores how the social and the biological are interwoven in the constitution of autonomy as something that is more-than-social and collaborative. An emphasis on the biological and material represents a departure from previous theorisations of autonomy. The chapter also examines how alternative educators are intimately involved with other attempts to live life differently – from local food networks to (inter)national developments in sustainable building. Thus, the chapter closes by understanding some alternative learning spaces as utopian – but in ways that are more obdurate than the prefigurative, experimental utopias favoured by poststructural utopian theorists.

Keywords:   Life-itself, Vital materialism, Materiality, Diverse economic practices, Autonomy, Nature, Biological processes, Utopia

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