09 June 2007

CASAE Conference

I've been at the annual conference of the Canadian Association for Studies in Adult Education, joined with the Adult Education Research Network. What I like about these sorts of things is not so much the formal sessions - although most were pretty good - but rather, the conversations with the interesting people who attend. Two sessions, however, really impressed me. One was Peter Jarvis's session on the political and economic forces behind the discourse of so-called lifelong learning. Jarvis pointed out how LLL is promoted extensively by the OECD - in other words, the developed countries - and supported by global corporations. He critically questions the influence of western, consumerist values, especially when applied in the context of emerging countries under the auspices of global institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Jarvis has an impish and wry style about him as he delves into a critical analysis of global economic forces. The room was packed, and Jarvis's controversial stand prompted a lively discussion.

The second session I loved was Jenny Sandlin's paper on the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. "Billy" is a performance artist who creates popular theatre to bring his anti-consumerist message to retail stores, mall parking lots, and even to the putative shrine of consumerism, New York's Times Square. Jenny's presentation focused on the Shopocalypse Tour, in which Reverend Billy invades Disney stores, Wal-Marts, and even Disneyland with his revival meeting, gospel-singing style. Here's a sample of his activist performance:

By the way, my roundtable on cyber-education in the wiki environment (which I unexpectedly had a chance to do twice) went over pretty well.

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