About Revolutionary Learning
Revolutionary Learning supports the need to transform stale, traditional and often antiquated models of education and learning into a dynamic, forward thinking and fluid model that engages learners and organizations in greater levels of understanding and ethical action. Revolutionary Learning supports social justice and advocates that all learners have access to transformative learning tools, technologies, and systems.
The idea of Revolutionary Learning goes back at least to Socrates and his dialectical engagement of learners through the continual questioning of received and accepted knowledge. Socrates articulated a revolutionary method that burst apart accumulated prejudices and unsubstantiated opinions in a quest of enduring truths. What distinguishes Revolutionary Learning will be an emphasis in games for learning, game-based learning, and design thinking as the underlying paradigm for educational transformation and improvement. Games are preeminent in their ability to elicit learning by doing- the praxis of revolution. However, just as insight without action ends in stagnation, so too does action without insight. Action and insight must work together- reflection and feedback-propel the revolutionary learning paradigm forward.
Ultimately, significant transformative learning must operate on both micro and macro levels. An incredible curriculum, innovative teachers, and dynamic leaders are all important, but if the learner leaves the formal learning environment for a home environment with self-destructive peers, absent parenting or leadership, poverty, and pervasive inequity then the aspirations instilled in more formal learning can quickly dissipate outside conducive learning systems. Our promotes and engages progressive learning, social justice, diverse perspectives, healthy life-affirmative behaviors, ethical decision making… all most certainly in the spit of games or what Nietzsche so brilliantly called, “joyful wisdom.”
Mentors: In Memoria
As founder of Revolutionary Learning, I want to pay homage to three amazing teachers who had a direct impact on my education and my thinking to this very day. All of us to whom education matters owe much to our teachers, therefore, I want to remember here those who made the most difference to me. All three were multilingual, brilliant and dedicated scholars. Two represent a genuinely revolutionary and radical mind set. They all refused to ascribe to the status quo, mainstream or orthodox.
Hugh J. Silverman (1945-2013)
Professor Hugh H. Silverman, Professor of Philosophy at Stony Brook, was a life-long mentor and friend. Cofounder and Director of the International Philosophical Seminar in Alto Adige, Italy, Hugh was a multilingual (fluent in French and German, nearly so in Italian), cosmopolitan thinker. He was also a model professor. Every day the line to his office would stretch down the 2nd floor of Harriman Hall, and he would not leave until every student had a chance to speak with him. Hugh would provide a van so graduate students- and undergraduate too, could attend philosophy conferences in the northeast. He introduced me to Professor Leo Duroche, a pioneer in Men’s Studies, from the University of Minnesota, who gave me my first professional speaking engagement. I cannot say enough about how kind and helpful Hugh was to me over a 30-year period. He was the long-time Executive Director of the International Association of Philosophy and Literature (IAPL). This organization started in High’s office at Stony Brook, but grew over time to true international stature with conferences all over the world. These conferences featured world renowned philosophers but always gave students a chance to speak and participate. I can think of no better model for Revolutionary Learning than the IAPL.
Jan Kott (1914-2001)
I met the late Jan Kott, an undergraduate Political Science major when taking his “Introduction to Drama”. Dr. Kott’s broken English and unorthodox manner- at the time he smoked a pipe in class, mixed with a true European Man of Letters intelligence, to bring reading dramatic texts to life. As a dramaturge and theater critic in Warsaw, Poland, Professor Kott brought an inside perspective on theater to the classroom. He lived theater just as he loved life, with passion, humor, and conviction. Reading Jan’s Still Alive: An Autobiographical Essay (1990) will give you a sense of what living and creating history really means, and why Professor Kott so loved Shakespeare. He attended underground theatrical performances, fought the Nazis, and praised the communist liberators, only to quickly grow disillusioned with Stalin, and leave for the United Sates where he obtained asylum in 1969. Dr. Kott survived amidst daily terror. The nightmare of Hitler and then Stalin makes real Shakespeare’s tragedies and histories; a world of betrayal, treachery, violence, and hunger for power. His classic book Shakespeare Our Contemporary showed just how timeless the great bard’s work remains. Inspired by Professor Kott’s thinking, Peter Brook’s production of King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1964 is one of the great triumphs of 20th century theater.
Edward W. Said (1935-2003)
Edward W. Said is buried in Brummana, Lebanon. His modest gravesite overlooks Beirut and the Mediterranean. Like Jan Kott, Professor Said was a true Man of Letters with encyclopedic knowledge of many disciplines including literature, philosophy, culture, journalism, politics, and music. Born in Jerusalem and raised in Cairo, Egypt, Dr. Said lived history just as Dr. Kott did, and remained, like Professor Kott, a nomadic intellectual. I first met Dr. Said in his office on the third floor of Philosophy Hall at Columbia University. He had just published the masterpiece Orientalism (1978), which I would argue is the foundational text of postcolonial studies. I had a copy of Louis Althusser’s Pour Marx in my hand and we chatted about the value of culture criticism at the dawn of that field. Dr. Said’s lectures were so enthralling, other Columbia professors would sit in on classes. He was also an accomplished pianist and cofounded with Daniel Barenboim, an orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra that brought together young Israeli and Palestinian musicians. Most inspiring, however, was Professor Said’s commitment to the public role of the intellectual, and he devoted his life to bettering the cause and situation of his displaced, native Palestinians. Essentially, a rootless, nomad, Dr. Said represented a revolutionary thinker in the fullest sense of the word.
The homepage photograph of Sylvannus Windrunner is provided curtesy of Tree Dragon Cosplay @treedragoncoplay; www.facebook.com/treedragoncosplay/?fref=tr from Seattle, Washington. Coplay is an important and dynamic part of game culture and we want to often give voice to players, so called amateurs or hobbyists, and others who make games the fun and learning tools they are. Sylvanas Windrunner is an iconic character for the world’s most popular Massively Multiple Online Role-Playing Game, the World of Warcraft, designed and produced by Blizzard Entertainment. She is leader of the Forsaken undead and has a rich and complicated game history. What matters to me, is that Sylvanas is a dynamic warrior woman and leader, for Revolutionary Learning.