Sunday, 5 December 2010

Ruth Rikowski's 44th News Update

This month has been more peaceful than last month, thank goodness, and I have read a lot of good novels, which has helped. Well, it couldn’t really have been much worse, but there you go. Below are some of my latest happenings.


I am delighted to say that my book on digitisation is now finally out. I received a special delivery, with a boxful of books (including copies for the contributors) on the evening of 29th November 2010. Wow! It was really exciting. I love the cover – designed by our son Victor Verne Rikowski, with a mauve background. Hope you do too (cover at the top of this newsletter). Covers are so important, I think.
The information about the book is up on amazon and the Sense Publishing website. More information will shortly be up on the Sense website, including a free preview of the first two chapters of the book. Sense will also be doing an extensive marketing campaign.
Next thing for me to do is to start to organize a book launch, which will be sometime into the New Year! So, watch this space for that one, as they say.

I am very pleased to say that our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website is now live on the British Library archive website, which hopefully will ensure that our website will be preserved for many, many years to come. We thought we would have to rely on our sons to preserve and maintain our website, after our demise. So, it is wonderful now to know that the British Library is also taking it ‘under its wing’, as it were. Once again, we must be grateful to the library and information profession for making all this possible.

My blog, ‘Ruth Rikowski Updates’ is also going to be archived by the British Library. This process will begin in mid December, and I will let you all know once that is live.

The eulogy that Glenn Rikowski wrote for his father, Kurt Richard’s (née Rikowski), funeral, which he read out at the funeral service himself, at St Mary Magdalene Church, Stilton on 25th February 2009, can now be found on our website. It was all very moving and of course, very important for Glenn.

However, as readers of my newsletters know, this has also all been a painful and complex experience for us. Anyway, we both felt that it was time to move on in a particular way, and this meant, inserting this piece on our website.
This is very much a family website; we must and need to try to help and support each other in every way that we can. This eulogy was an important piece of writing for Glenn. Glenn’s dad was very hard-working and determined, and this filtered through and influenced both Glenn and our eldest son Alexander, who both are both hard working, determined and very goal-oriented. So, anyway, we now wanted to make this public; we want and need to move on, and so here it is!

A new piece has been inserted on the ‘Contributions’ section of our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website - ‘Desperate Times at Mesa College’ by John J. Crocitti. John considers the difficulties of trying to undertake worthwhile teaching at community college at places like Mesa College, USA. He focuses on topics such as the problems of burn out, the associated difficulties of encouraging critical thinking, and the difficulties of successfully nurturing advanced and able students.

There are 10 new items up on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog: 8 book reviews of novels, a blog entry about music and one event.

The 8 book reviews are: ‘The Big Picture’ by Douglas Kennedy; ‘The Hand of Ethelberta’ by Thomas Hardy; ‘Alexa’ by Andrea Newman; ‘The Magic Cottage’ by James Herbert; ‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen; ‘Push’ by Sapphire, ‘Little White Lies’ by Emma Blair and ‘Forget-Me-Not’ by Emma Blair.

The event is the Firework Display on Wanstead Flats on 5th November 2010, including lots of pictures of the firework displays, which were all really very spectacular.

6. ‘CRITICAL EDUCATION AGAINST GLOBAL CAPITALISM: Karl Marx and revolutionary critical education’ by PAULA ALLMAN, SENSE PUBLISHERS: Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2010, pbk edition, £35.00 – NOW OUT
The paperback edition of Paula Allman’s very important book, ‘Critical Education Against Global Capitalism’ has finally now been published – but with Sense Publishers, rather than with the original publishers, Bergin and Garvey. When the hardback edition first appeared, back in 2001, Bergin and Garvey said that they would bring out a paperback edition, but this never saw the light of day. In her new Introduction in the book Paula talks about this, offering some possible explanations, as well as some new theoretical analyses. Anyhow, it is very good that Sense decided that they wanted to take the project on, and to publish this paperback edition.

We wish Paula every success with her book and hope that the paperback edition will mean that many more people will be able to read and benefit from the book and from Paula’s important work in general. Also, that, in time, it will lead to some important and worthwhile changes in society. We must, at least, live in hope!


Glenn has been very enthusiastic about blogs and social networking for some years now. He was very much in the forefront of much of it all, in fact. Littlejohn and Pegler commented on this in their book Preparing for blended e-learning, published by Routledge: Oxon, 2007. They referred to Glenn’s MySpace profile and his publicity of Marxism and Education in it, and acknowledged the fact that Glenn was very much at the forefront as an academic moving into this field. Now, of course, many academics use social networking tools, including Facebook, although I must admit, that I do wonder sometimes what the students think to all of this. Our friend, Patrick Ainley is certainly a keen enthusiast of Facebook these days, and uses it on a very regular basis. The film about Facebook, ‘The Social Network’ and the Harvard undergraduate that designed it, Mark Zuckerberg, is something that we will hopefully get to see. It is also interesting to note that Facebook was designed by a man, but is used and enjoyed so much by women. I consider some of the potential problems of social networking for females in an article of mine entitled ‘Females and Social Networking’ that was published in Managing Information, Vol, 16, No. 3, 2009.

Anyway, in regard to Glenn, a couple or so years ago the ELearning Officer at the University of Northampton found out about the Littlejohn and Pegler book and Glenn’s contribution in it, and wanted to consider how the university could benefit from it all. At that time, Glenn was writing blogs for his students (insightful short articles, largely around education policy issues) and this person wanted Glenn to engage with not only writing but with evaluating these blogs of his. Glenn agreed and was quite enthusiastic about it all. However, the whole project became very time-consuming.

At the time, Glenn was writing these blog articles for students, as well as giving these students PowerPoint presentations and handouts. He is currently writing his last piece on this now for students for the EDU3004 module Education, Culture and Society. The piece is entitled Schools in England and Bonus Culture.

Here is some further information about these e-articles – all written for the EDU3004 Education, Culture and Society module, for lecture and seminar topics.

Glenn Rikowski wrote these articles over a 4-year period, and the articles were 1300-1400 words long (although a few were longer). Altogether he wrote over 50,000 words. The results were evaluated via a questionnaire for the 2007-2008 EDU3004 students – and they were very positive. These articles were for informing seminar discussions, as well as hopefully being useful for assignments.

Most of the articles were written to the Volumizer, Glenn Rikowski’s AOL blog, which was started up on 29th September 2005. On 30th September 2008, AOL announced that all of its Hometown products, including its blogs and newsletters, would be closed down on 31st October 2008! However, Glenn ‘rescued’ the articles from the Volumizer and put them on our The Flow of Ideas web site. This involved him writing html code into the articles to make them readable, which proved to be quite time-consuming. This work was finished just before Christmas 2008.

The articles currently available online, via our website are (by Lecture Topic):

LECTURE 1: The Concept of Culture and Fear of a Blank Planet:

Rikowski, G. (2006) Moneythought in Higher Education, 15th October, London, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2007) Fear of a Blank Planet Revisited, 12th November, at ‘Wavering on Ether’:

Rikowski, G. (2008) Education As Culture Machine, 25th September, London, online at:

LECTURE 2: Cultures of Student & Pupil Opposition – The Lads

Rikowski, G. (2006) Stroppy Individuals or Oppositional Cultures in Schools Today? 7th October, London, online at:

LECTURE 3: Cultures of Student-Pupil Conformity: The ‘Boffins’

Rikowski, G. (2006) Conforming Schools, Conforming Kids? 15th October, London, online at:

LECTURE 4: The Culture of Teacher Professionalism

Rikowski, G. (2006) Caught in the Storm of Capital: Teacher Professionalism, Managerialism and Neoliberalism in Schools, a paper prepared for Education, Culture & Society (EDU3004) Students, School of Education, University of Northampton, 30th October:

LECTURE 5: Playground Cultures

Rikowski, G. (2006) Playground Risks and Handcuffed Kids: We Need Safer Schools? 10th November, London, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2007) Learning to the Max, with Play off the Tracks, 27th October, London, online at:

LECTURE 6: The Culture of Bullying in Schools

Rikowski, G. (2007) When Bullies Roam the School, 3rd November, London, online at:

LECTURE 7: Schools and Bonus Culture

Article ‘Schools in England and Bonus Culture’ – to be written.

LECTURE 8: Changing Cultures in Educational Contexts

Rikowski, G. (2006) The Business Takeover of Further Education and the Further Education White Paper, 28th March, London, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2006) The Last Parents’ Evening, 18th November, London, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2007) A Capital-friendly Culture for Further Education in the UK, 17th November, London, online at:

LECTURE 9: Managerial and Market Cultures in School Life

Rikowski, G. (2007) Marketisation of the Schools System in England, 25th November, London, online at:

LECTURE 10: Multiculturalism in Education

Rikowski, G. (2007) Multiculturalism and Faith Schools, 2nd December, London, online at:

LECTURE 11: Cultural Capital

Rikowski, G. (2007) Forms of Capital: Critique of Bourdieu on Capital, 18th December, London, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2008) Forms of Capital: Critique of Bourdieu on Cultural Capital, 6th January, London, online at:

LECTURE 12: The Learning Society and Lifelong Learning

Rikowski, G. (2008) No Learner Left Unhassled, 12th January, London, online at:

LECTURE 13: The McDonaldization Thesis

Rikowski, G. (2008) Are We Loving It? McDonaldization and Education, 23rd January, London, online at:

LECTURE 14: Post-Fordism and Education

Rikowski, G. (2008) Post-Fordism and Schools in England, 26th April, London, online at:

LECTURE 15: Postmodernity, Postmodernism and Education

Rikowski, G. (2008) Postmodern Dereliction in the Face of Neoliberal Education Policy, 27th April, London, online at:

LECTURE 16: The Knowledge Economy and Education

Rikowski, G. (2007) Learning Investments: New Private Schools and New Labour Dilemmas in Educational Services Exports, 14th June, London, online at:

Rikowski, G (2008) Education Incorporated: New Labour, the Knowledge Economy and Education, London, 3rd February, online at: Incorporated

LECTURE 17: Nihilism and the Devaluation of Educational Values

Rikowski, G. (2008) Nihilism and the De-valuation of Educational Values in England, 10th February, London, online at:

LECTURE 18: Education in the Risk Society

Rikowski, G. (2008) Snowballs and Risk in Schools, 16th February, London, online:

LECTURE 19: Communitarianism and Education

Rikowski, G. (2008) The Binding Ring: Communitarianism for Schools on a Foundation of ‘British Values’? A paper prepared for the EDU3004 module, ‘Education, Culture & Society’, Education Studies, School of Education, University of Northampton, at:

LECTURE 20: Globalisation and Education

Rikowski, G. (2008) Globalisation and Education Revisited, 2nd March, London, online at:

LECTURE 21: Neoliberalism and Human Capital Theory

Rikowski, G. (2007) Education Repetition: Brown Follows Blair’s Neoliberal Education Reform Agenda, 8th June, London, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2007) Academy Chains: Building on the Neoliberal Education Policy of Tony Blair, 3rd June, London, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2007) My Tony Blair, and His Neoliberal Education Policies, 12th May, London, online at:

LECTURE 22: The New Marxist Educational Theory

Rikowski, G. (2008) Marx and Education Revisited, 21st April, London, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2008) Marxism and Education Revisited, 25th April, London, online at:

In time, we hope and intend to turn all this valuable material into a book.

Glenn now has 3 other blogs:

Rikowski Point (a Blogspot blog) – with 1,510 visits (since June 2010, when the statistics begin, plus 700 Profile views since December 2008 when it was set up) at:

Wavering on Ether (MySpace) – with 40,563 visits, and 24,386 Profile views, since 2005, at: and

All that is Solid for Glenn Rikowski (a Wordpress blog) – with 87,461 visits since September 2008, at:

What is on these blogs is mainly advertising (books, events, conferences and political meetings). For example, Glenn recently inserted a piece about some work of his friend Mike Neary, as ‘Student as Producer’ - see

However, from 2005-2007 Wavering on Ether includes a number of short articles. Mostly, these were ‘reproductions’ of articles on the old AOL Volumizer blog. There is, however, one significant article which is only on this MySpace blog, which includes music references (on Porcupine Tree in particular):

Rikowski, G. (2007) Fear of a Blank Planet Revisited, 12th November, at ‘Wavering on Ether’:

Glenn has plans to write further articles on his blogs in 2011.

I am very pleased to say that the essays that Alexander Rikowski wrote on ‘Marxist Philosophy’ and ‘Philosophy of Mind’ for his Philosophy degree at King’s College London (for the Pre-Submissions in his 3rd year) are now available on our website.

Here are the Marx essays (he got his best mark in this module incidentally – 69%):

What is alienated labour, and what would unalienated labour be like?’

‘Does historical materialism need to appeal to functional explanation? If not, how can historical materialism otherwise be made consistent? If so, is this a strength or a weakness?’

‘Marx did not think that capitalism is unjust, and in fact, said that it is just.’ Discuss.

Alex explains alienation very well and clearly in his alienated labour essay, I think. He explains that in Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts Marx says that there are four aspects of alienated labour under capitalism. These are: alienation from the product of labour; humankind’s alienation from her/his product (the product that she/he produces); humankind’s alienation from his/her species-being and alienation from others. Alexander examines these 4 modes in his essay.

In regard to alienation from the product of labour, as he says: “Under capitalism the workers produce products, but Marx argues that they are alienated from the products they produce.” (p.1) Whilst, in regard to being alienated from our species-being:

“Man’s species-being is alienated from both his body and the outside world...Marx is saying that we human beings co-operate with one another in order to achieve things – we are essentially social beings. But the problem is that, under capitalism, instead of seeing ourselves as part of a large co-operation of humans, we think in a selfish linear way in order to survive in the system we are in.” (p.4)

And in his concluding paragraph in the essay he says that:

“Marx himself believed that in coming to terms with unalienated labour, the workers would unite in breaking free from their alienated states.” (p.6)

Yes, indeed! And it is this clarity of thinking that we need if we are to effectively analyse capitalism, uncover its integral flaws, and then seek to break free, move beyond it, and overcome it all.

In his justice essay, Alexander says that the capitalist mode of production has its own inbuilt system of justice; this in effect, is what ensures that capitalism is able to function successfully. Therefore, it is, in fact, by necessity (in its own terms) a just system. And to the extent that capitalism does offer some form of a civilised society and some quality of life (over barbarism, for example), then we need to accept this form of justice within capitalism, in some way (‘you can’t have your cake and eat it’ type scenario). However, whether we actually see it as being just depends on what class one comes from to quite a large extent, Alex says.

“Members of the ruling class perceive capitalism as being just, whilst working class persons see it as unjust because they are being exploited by the ruling class...” (p. 2-3)

Furthermore, he says that:

“For Marx, justice and morals are concepts related to the laws of the state, and what is just is that what ensures that the current mode of production carries on working effectively (Wood, 1972, p.11)...under the capitalist mode of production, it is a fact that capitalism is just.” (p.2)

But what we need to do is to get beyond this mode of production and beyond a justice system altogether, and live at some higher, more fulfilled level, in a system beyond capitalism, and beyond simplistic notions of justice, morality and ethics. Then to move towards a system where love, fulfilment and self-expression rather than morals and justice are what motivates and guides us, thereby overcoming our alienated states.

This topic became important for Alexander because when he was growing up he had to grapple with and was presented with various moral and human rights dilemmas. My childhood upbringing was a religious (Christian) one, and in various ways I was brought up according to a strict moral code. Although I have abandoned formal religion, this moral code still very much guides me in much of my everyday life. Aiming to treat people morally and justly on an individual basis is important, I think, but obviously will always very problematic whilst we live in capitalism. However, Glenn said that in capitalism there is not and cannot be any rights. So, Alex grew up with these 2 rather at times seemingly confusing and contradictory strands. It made rough sense to us, somewhat intuitively, I guess, but not necessarily so for our offspring! So, anyway, this is something that Alex had now made explicit.

In this essay of his, Alexander sort to unravel this, and articulates the arguments clearly, and that is a real achievement, and is something that could be of benefit to a lot of people, I think. In its own right, it is ground-breaking, in this way. In capitalism we do and must abide to some sort of moral code, in order to get by; and that of course, is why Christianity can be seen to be so conducive to the continued success of capitalism, and why it has endured so long. But this of course, means that it is all based more on morals and duty, rather than on love. However, if we do not abide by a moral code and some ethical principles in capitalism, then people can get exploited more rather than less, and their lives can get messed up. Sadly, it is too romantic, and just impossible for love to rise above it and solve it all. On the other hand, without love at all, we would be sadly lost. Capitalism could not keep going without people loving each other to some extent, and yet, at the same time, it exploits it. In addition, capitalism seems to provide people with ‘rights’ but they are only rights within the system, to ensure the continued success of capitalism, and are not rights for the essence, for the ultimate good of the human. For love, self-fulfilment, real human rights and self-expression and actualisation to fully and properly flourish, and for humans not to be alienated from their species-being, we need to move towards a world beyond capitalism and beyond simplistic notions of justice.

So, specifically, in regard to Marx, Capitalism, Justice and Communism, Alexander says that:

“...Marx believed that justice is determined by the current mode of production, and according to the capitalist mode of production, exploitation of the workers is just. Marx did not think that capitalism is unjust, because he believed that whatever protects the current mode of production is just....Under the capitalist mode of production, it is a fact that capitalism is just. Also, although Marx believed we would be better off under communism, he thought that a communist society would be beyond justice.” (p.6)

He concludes by saying that:

“ order for us to understand what Marx actually thought about both communism and capitalism, we need to appreciate the fact that for Marx, although justice is a concept used in rationalizing the workings of our capitalist society, it is of no use in helping us to understand what communism is all about.” (p.6)

So, in an ultimate sense notions of justice are not really helpful and we need to move beyond this.
I can see that Alexander’s position and argument will cause problems for many people. I have read and re-read this essay of his many times, and keep thinking about it again and again, weighing it all up, and always end up being firmly of the opinion that he is right. But it is not an easy thing to accept. One’s initial instinct for those of us that are so disturbed by all the injustices that exist in the world is to conclude that capitalism is unjust. But the problem with such a position is that others who seek to defend capitalism will try to prove very hard that capitalism is just, and indeed, bring in various laws, rights, declarations and principles as and when is necessary in order to prove that it can be made to be just, when various stark injustices rear their head – i.e. that even if it is not just now, that it can be made to be just. Then, it can be argued that it is a good system, and there is no need to seek to look beyond it. But if the argument is turned on its head, as Alexander does here, then all that becomes impossible, and instead, we need and can then meaningfully start to think and work towards a system beyond capitalism, rather than thinking that somehow or other, we can get capitalism to work for the ultimate good of humankind, according to some general principles and laws of justice, rights, ethics and morality. We have to be brave to engage with this mode of thinking though; but it is surely the only sensible way forward.

Alexander’s King’s College, London Philosophy of Mind essays are also now up on our website. These are:

‘Is it right to define an action as an event caused by a reason?’

‘What is intentionality? What philosophical problems does it present?’

‘Mary could know all the physical facts, but not know what it is like to see red. So physicalism is false.’ Discuss.

Alexander’s degree, in general, proved to be very demanding; he had to read the raw text of many of the great philosophers (e.g. Kant, Berkeley, Descartes, Marx, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Aristotle, Plato, Hume, Rawls, Nozick Quine, Mill). Not many first degrees demand that students read the raw text of the great thinkers in their subjects to that extent (I certainly did not do this for my degree). Most rely far more on secondary sources.

After all this reading, he concluded that his 2 favourite philosophers were Marx and Wittgenstein, closely followed by J.S. Mill. He also concluded it has to be said, that many of these great philosophers were not actually saying all that much when it got down to it. But still, the groundwork has to be laid, to enable us to move on in our thinking.

In regard to Wittgenstein he said that he laid the ground rules for effective language and communication and that Marx implemented these tools. This was the case, even though Wittgenstein came after Marx. Marx was a genius; he was doing this instinctively without actually having Wittgenstein’s hard core ‘base’ to help him and to work with. He knew that it was absolutely vital to use words and concepts correctly and effectively, in order the unravel the complexities of capitalism, to analyse it and then seek to move beyond it. As Marx famously says: ”The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.”

However, people use words and concepts ineffectively and inappropriately on a daily basis, and this is what Wittgenstein sort to address. He also thought that much of Philosophy was a mistake, so in this way Wittgenstein and Marx also had a lot of similarities (apart from them both being geniuses of course). They both thought Philosophy was useful (and wrote their dissertations in Philosophy), but both could clearly see the limitations of the subject. This is why Wittgenstein left his position as a Philosophy Lecturer at Cambridge University for a long period, and worked as a gardener and a teacher instead. He returned to Cambridge years later, having changed/adapted his philosophical thinking, and because of this we have the early Wittgenstein and the late Wittgenstein. Marx in contrast, never worked at a university at all, was never a lecturer and did not play the ‘academic game’ (wise man, I am now starting to think!). Obviously, he had Engels to support him, but he also worked in the editing and publishing field. So, both Marx and Wittgenstein thought Philosophy was useful, but that it should know its place, and that one should not be spending ones lifetime merely philosophising. Indeed, if we do, Wittgenstein thought that we would be likely to be in the game of creating problems rather than solving them. In this frame of mind, he used to advise his Philosophy students to go off and do some manual work.

Then, finally, we have J.S. Mill. As I have said before, I was heartened to discover relatively recently that Mill’s wife, Harriet Taylor, helped him with quite a lot of his writing, even writing some bits for him. I think this helps to explain why Mill’s writing is so clear, readable and approachable. Because his writing is so very much this way though, I think that it can be rather taken for granted; it can all be seen to be just so obvious. However, presenting and explaining ideas and ways of thinking simply and clearly is a real art, in fact. It is much easier to confuse! Yet, when it seems to be so obvious, it can then seem to be not that important sometimes. This is what Mill is up against, I think. The civilised society that we live in today (such as it is – with all its flaws etc) is partly a result of Mill-type philosophy. You know, the good parts come from Mill (liberty etc). For me, his work on Utilitarianism (originating from Jeremy Bentham) is particularly valuable, and certainly fits in with Marx in regard to the essence of what it is to be human and how we should be aiming to live life in a full and rounded way; whilst also living this way for the good of the many rather than just for the few (‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number’).

In sum, then, I tend to agree with Alexander about who are the 3 best philosophers (even though I have not read all the philosophers that he has read, of course). But certainly, the works of Marx, Wittgenstein and Mill are all brilliant and have helped humankind just so much in general with their overall conception and understanding of life.

So, anyway, in overall conclusion, Alexander’s King’s degree was very demanding albeit rewarding, with weekly essays of 1,000 words in the first 2 years and with 12 pre-submission essays of 3,000 words in the final year. But it was a very worthwhile experience for him, and he can now present arguments very clearly and logically and unravel many complexities in life. All this very much built on the Philosophy Diploma that he studied for at Birkbeck College, University of London, prior to this.

Leading on from item 8 seems an appropriate time and space to talk briefly about the importance of completing worthwhile works in general, I think, as opposed to taking short cuts. Alexander was all very much for doing a very worthwhile, life-changing degree (in regard to his outlook on life, and his ways of thinking and being in general). Not for him the shortcuts and easy options. Whilst it meant that he did give himself a very steep learning curve (having left school at 16 years of age), it also meant that he came away with something very worthwhile and lasting.

Now, many seek to short-change things, I think, and come away the poorer rather than the richer. This can be done for various reasons, such as pressure from society, individuals and well, just laziness sometimes, I think, in all honesty.

Glenn and I have never been into that game, although sometimes despite ourselves, we have got sucked into the mentality for short periods (it can be particularly difficult when one’s writing is valued and various offers are made to one). Our way is, of course, very time-consuming and requires a lot of hard work, diligence and patience. But it is also very inspiring and rewarding. Indeed, for us, it is the only way to achieve lasting happiness, fulfilment and success – that is for sure.

And so, this also of course, leads us to be passionate about books, and indeed, worthwhile, creative works in general. Taking time and being patient is important for creating anything really worthwhile, whether this be writing books and articles, music (composing, dancing, choreography work etc), rearing children, decorating a house, painting pictures, making films, taking professional photographs, writing poetry or whatever. I knew this instinctively in regard to books when I was growing up.
Yet, many people still continue to take short cuts. They often do not realise, appreciate and fully understand the effort that some people put into creating worthwhile, lovely and quality things and how this can enrich ones life, as well as the lives of so many others. Neither do they celebrate the wonders enough (take Mozart, for example, being so very poor, living hand to mouth and dying at the age of 35 years). But let us not be negative; let us rise above things, and aim to celebrate and lead life at the high level, where the human essence is seen to be something that is fundamentally wholesome and wonderful, rather than sick. My Salsa dance teacher, Kerry, incidentally is a wonderful living example of this.
With these thoughts in mind, I will return shortly to my latest important project. Watch this space in time, for further information in regard to this – although not for some while yet it has to be said because as I say, these things take time, work, patience, diligence and determination. But after all that, comes the beauty and the flowers, shining fully and ripely on the world, and then we can celebrate and enjoy.

Best wishes


4th December 2010

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Ruth Rikowski's 43rd News Update

Well, overall, this month has not been good; not been good at all, I am sorry to say. Right now, I have really had enough of certain universities – namely, Kingston University London and London South Bank University! Anyway, read below and you will find out more and why (if you want to, that is!).....That and a few other news items (some of which are, thankfully, somewhat more positive) are included in this newsletter.

Well, I have had a real double-whammy this month with these two new universities. Both Kingston University London and London South Bank University have really let me down big time, and put me through a lot of stress and uncertainty – and this continues. To such an extent, that I have had to visit the doctors! There is also the ‘time of life’ factor of course. Still, writing this newsletter in itself has provided some therapy! The more I look at it, the more I seem to appreciate the wonder and beauty of writing, editing and publishing over the university, the supposed ‘seat of learning’

In regard to Kingston University London, in my last newsletter (No. 42) in the first news item I wrote excitedly and enthusiastically about the Letter of Appointment that I had received unexpectedly from Kingston, offering me a position as a Part-Time Lecturer. Well, what happened next, in fact the day after I sent out the newsletter, was that I received a letter also ‘out of the blue’ from a certain Dawn McGuire, Faculty Finance Officer at Kingston, (as opposed to Beverley Reading, the Human Resource Administrator that sent me the formal offer), saying that this had been a mistake! I was informed that the mistake had arisen through them receiving my CV, and from that they had concluded that I was requiring a Part-Time Lecturers contract, whereas in fact, I had been invited to give a guest lecture. Victoria Perselli asked me to send her a copy of my CV back in July 2010 (shortly after she had invited me to give this Keynote Lecture), which she obviously then forwarded to the Finance Office and Human Resources. Shocked? Well, I certainly was. Totally gobsmacked! How can this behaviour go on? Also, I had not pursued work elsewhere, particularly at London South Bank University because I thought I had this Kingston work and did not want to take on too much. What a dreadful way to treat someone, is it not, especially in this current economic climate!

In addition, shortly after I received the letter with the formal offer, I telephoned the Human Resources Department at Kingston to make sure that all was correct in regard to the contract (because as I say, it had come as a surprise). They assured me that all was correct and asked me to send back a signed copy of the letter along with photocopies of my certificates etc, which I duly did. I also emailed Victoria saying how pleased I was, how much I was looking forward to working with her, and enquiring about what teaching I would be doing, my hours of work etc. I also emailed Sense Publishers, asking Peter de Liefde to change my affiliation in my forthcoming digitisation book from London South Bank University to Kingston University London. I cc’ed this to Victoria, and also emailed her separately, checking that she was OK with this. There was no reply. Meanwhile, Dr Glyn Jones at Chandos Publishing Oxford, on the other hand, was happy for me to insert Chandos as my affiliation, so now my affiliation will read ‘Freelance Editor, Chandos Publishing, Oxford’. And that is certainly the way that it will remain for the foreseeable future, that’s for sure!

Anyway, after receiving this letter from the Finance Officer, I immediately phoned ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) informing them about what had happened and seeking their advice. They advised me to consult with an Employment Law Solicitor, for an initial free consultation/interview. I consulted two such solicitors. They were both of the opinion that this was a breach of contract, and that it was something for an Employment Tribunal and I am currently now investigating all this further.

Upon receiving this offer of appointment I naively thought that I was being offered this contract ‘out of the blue’ because of the high regard that they held for my work – you know, kind of ‘head-hunted’ shall we say. Now, this is not actually all that far-fetched, because I am pretty well-known, after all, am I not, and as I have said before various people over the years have approached me directly and ‘out of the blue’ like this, making me various offers and putting various proposals and opportunities my way. Graham Coult, the editor of Managing Information contacted me this way, way back in 2001, asking me if I would like to be the Book Reviews Editor for the magazine. And then, later, Dr Glyn Jones at Chandos Publishing, Oxford, offered me a position as a Commissioning Editor. And in 2003 Professor Michael Peters approached me, asking me if I would like to write an article for his, at the time, new international refereed ejournal Policy Futures in Education. Then later he invited me to edit a special issue for the journal on digitisation and then a book on the same subject with Sense Publishers.

Indeed, I have been approached by a large number of different people over the last few years, for many different reasons, and on a wide variety of topics. And, so I naturally thought that this was something similar. Well, anyway, Victoria inviting me to give the Keynote was an unexpected invitation in itself. After then receiving the contract I thought that the offer of the Keynote Guest Lecture was some informal way of double-checking whether I was what they wanted, and after that (the lecture did go well), they decided that I was, and so sent out the contract. Well, nothing could be further from the truth, it seems. Dear oh dear!

Mind you, as I reflect, other signs did indicate something rather different; so I guess I should have followed my instincts more. What do I mean by this? Well, when I gave my Keynote, Victoria Perselli did not really seem all that interested in my work and my writing, it has to be said (even getting my affiliation wrong in her introduction, saying that I taught at the University of East London rather than London South Bank University). Neither did she distribute copies of my articles to the students even though I laid out copies for people to take (with so much on my mind, I forgot to distribute them myself). People usually take loads of my articles when I give presentations. So, I sent Victoria some copies in the post afterwards but she did not acknowledgement receipt of them and I have no idea whether or not she actually received them and distributed copies. Also, in my lecture I spoke about the importance of trying to preserve the valuable collection housed at the Feminist Library in London. Victoria said, in passing, that perhaps it could be moved to Kingston; somewhat like the way in which the Philosophy Department had been moved from Middlesex to Kingston. But then she quickly made it pretty clear that she did not want to pursue that idea much further.

However, the biggest concern is in regard to the filming of my talk. Toni Samek asked me if it could be filmed (see item 1 in my previous newsletter, No. 42 for a little more information in regard to this). I made this request to Victoria way back in July, shortly after she invited me to speak. I received no reply from her. She went on holiday for a month to Turkey (which apparently she badly needed!). Lucky her – we didn’t manage to get away at all this summer, not even for a weekend, and I told Victoria this. Anyway, just a couple of days before I was due to give my talk, she emailed me asking if the technician at Kingston had been in touch in regard to filming my talk. I replied, saying that he had not, but not to worry, because my son Alexander was willing, happy and able to come and film it on our small digital camera – not ideal, but at least then we would have a recording. Victoria replied, saying that was good, and that probably Alex would be more dedicated to the job anyway, as he was my son (or some such words). And so Alex came along to video it (a long way for him to go). On arrival then, we were most surprised to find a technician from Kingston with some flash, new equipment there; he was also going to film it after all apparently. So, rather than have no film, we now apparently had two films. Strange old life! I then forgot about the filming and got on with my talk. The lecture turned out to be very interactive; they were the type of students that were keen to engage and contribute. That was all very good. Alex filmed the students talking, as well as filming me.

However, upon returning home and watching the video I could see that consent forms from the students that spoke and were videoed would need to be completed. I had some experience of this following on from the speeches at the book launch for my globalisation book. Deian Hopkin, the then Vice-Chancellor introduced this; I explained to him that someone from the States wanted to come over and film the whole thing, and asked him how best to proceed in regard to this. He said that all the speakers would need to complete consent forms, saying that they were happy to be filmed; but not that everyone at the book launch had to complete these forms. It seemed obvious to me then, that the students that Alex actually filmed needed to sign the consent forms. I emailed Victoria about this. She replied saying that some of the students had been concerned about the filming, even though they had enjoyed my lecture and it had generated much food for thought. She was not happy about the existence of the films. I replied saying, that how then, did she propose to raise some of the important issues that I talked about, particularly in regard to the possible digitisation of some of the Feminist Library material, as this was something that she had actually inspired me to think about. I suggested coming to Kingston again perhaps, giving another similar talk for payment, but this time, getting the consent forms signed properly (I also cc’ed all of this to both Toni Samek and Anne Welsh; as I wrote the original article about the Feminist Library with Anne). Victoria did not reply to this. When I got the contract in the post, I thought I understood why. Victoria was making me a better offer; and a better offer for the Feminist/Marxist cause in general of course. Rather than just doing a one-off lecture raising awareness about the topic, I was being offered an actual Lecturing position there, which would give me/us ample time and space to be able to explore and promote these topics further. Can you wonder that I became so excited? But apparently, nothing was further from the truth!

In addition, when Victoria and I went out to dinner afterwards, in terms of publications we really only talked about Marxism and education stuff; including her own chapter for a book with Palgrave Macmillan, based on the Marxism and Education: Renewing Dialogues III seminar. Neither did she seem unduly concerned that Glenn Rikowski was no longer involved in the book series, or with the MERD seminars in general come to that. Instead, she spoke about how she was also going to re-jig her chapter and use it elsewhere; and within this context she mentioned the Discourse, Power and Resistance conference. I am shocked to discover Marxist Educators treating each other this way, I must say. Having said that, on another level I should not be shocked; I have had many indications giving a different, even opposing message; see item 5 in this newsletter below, for one such example. Is it any wonder then that Glenn’s enthusiasm for it all has somewhat waned? Or perhaps the message that they are trying to send out is that Glenn should separate from me; divorce me, because I am no good to him; hindering him with his Marxism and education stuff? But if that is the case, then why are they not keener to promote Glenn’s work better and more effectively in its own right? In all of those MERD seminars that Glenn organised, for example, we received no indication that the people that attended had actually read and engaged with Glenn’s work all that much; it seemed to us that they used it all more for their own career purposes, than anything else (although some used it for political reasons – e.g. Movement for a Socialist Future). But it does seem to us that the main ‘name of the game’ for the academics is to use Marxism and Education, both in terms of the seminars at the Institute and publishing with Palgrave Macmillan, to further their own careers, as well as helping them to cope with their, at times, difficult academic lives; having to deal with organisations and inconsistent policies etc. MERD-stuff was a way of ‘cheering them up’; a legitimate and safe way of enabling them to ‘think outside the box’. And of course, Glenn by putting Marxism and Education back on the map in this way, through all his hard work (both practically and theoretically), re-invigorating it, making it respectable once again and taking it to new pastures, has made all this possible. Again, dear oh dear! Victoria also mentioned the fact that she was the external examiner for the education department at Middlesex University where Dave Hill now works. All this should have been a clear warning to me. But there you go – we live and learn!

So much for me re-invigorating my enthusiasm for MERD-type stuff a little in my last newsletter - that was clearly a big mistake. So much, also, for me speaking so warmly and positively about Victoria – how wrong could I have been!

This is no way to treat supposed fellow Marxist Feminists (or indeed, any human being in general) is it - and when I phoned Victoria, about this supposed ‘mistake’, she was cold and distant, and said that the ‘mistake’ was nothing to do with her, and there was certainly no hint of an apology. In fact, it was almost cruel. I came away from the phone upset. Why ever did I give her all that praise in my last newsletter (No. 42) I kept asking myself? I only sent my CV to Victoria; she was the only one that could have forwarded it to Human Resources, so the blame simply cannot be laid completely at the door of Human Resources. At the very least, Victoria’s wording in the email that she sent, forwarding my CV, must have been ambiguous, and that is very serious, when it concerns people’s work and way of life; and ends up upsetting ones lifestyle. And as I say, because of this, I did not seek employment elsewhere, and now I find myself currently without any university work. Great! And I am supposed to take all this in my stride, am I?

In regard to London South Bank University, well this one has been brewing up for a long time, so is not such a shock, but even so, it is very serious; on one level, more serious in fact, as I have invested a lot of time and energy into South Bank over the years in one way or another. It is shocking to witness that writing and publications, apparently, are given so little regard there, or is perhaps something else going on, such as prejudice? Anyway, I was not given any teaching work at South Bank this semester. This did not over concern me much at the time because I thought I had the Kingston work; and that would have been postgraduate work, which I prefer. But after the letter from Dawn McGuire, I obviously had to rethink things. I quickly made contact with the union (University and College Union), and a meeting was arranged at London South Bank University. Following on from this, there was a meeting on 20th October 2010 that included my Head of Department, Milo Crummie, Dipo from Human Resources, Stephen Bellas, the union representative and Lee Rose, as a friend and writing colleague.

To begin with, I asked if I could tape-record the meeting and I was informed by both Dipo and Milo that I could not. Great! I wanted to do this, because when I had a meeting with Milo on my own which included talking about me studying for the teaching certificate a few years ago, Milo said that if I did that, he would then make sure that I had some teaching work, but as you can see, that certainly has not come about – far from it. So, clearly, trust is breaking down here. But anyway, it couldn’t/didn’t get tape-recorded. So that was that.

I asked why I had not been given any teaching work this semester; I also asked who was teaching on the course that I taught on this time last year, and whether there were any hourly paid/sessional lecturers teaching on the course, or whether it was only full-timers. Milo said that he thought that there was one sessional, but that he could not be sure. I asked him if he would go and check this, but he said that he was not prepared to leave the meeting to do that. I looked to Lee Rose for support; I wanted him to ask Milo to go and check the time-table/staffing, but no joy there either. And this was despite the fact that it was only due to me that Lee started getting his writing published at all anyway. I find this very strange; the ‘pen is mightier than the sword’ in many ways, but people largely do not want to acknowledge this until they actually get stabbed (heavens – got to bring a bit of humour into this!). Anyway, I then said, well ‘forget about that one’ then. Lee Rose asked what the criteria for selection was. Milo said that it was to do with ones area/level of expertise. I said that I had loads of experience; and asked what experience the person had that was doing the work now. But as I say, I was getting nowhere. Steve Bellas asked if I had ever been appraised; Milo said that I had not and that I had never asked to be. We both referred to the teaching certificate that I studied for though.

I then moved the meeting on. As I had not been given any work, and leading on from the European Directive and the 4-year rule, this meant that, in effect, I have been Unfairly Dismissed, I said, and that as such this would be something for an Employment Tribunal. Milo disagreed with this, and said that it had to be looked at over the whole academic year, and not just one semester. But, at this point Dipo in Human Resources seemed to be getting a bit jittery and I could see that his thought processes were immediately then going down the redundancy path. ‘Quick – send her out a redundancy letter, with a 7-week notice period, and let’s finish this matter, for heavens sake’, he seemed to be thinking. I pushed for this; I wanted clarity. Either I am given work; I take out a legal case on an Unfair Dismissal charge, or I am made redundant and given some redundancy money and a package. Dipo’s thoughts were going quickly down the redundancy path, which is what certain people had been angling for, for some time anyway, I feel sure – all because I have got a mind of my own and write and publish boldly. I am too dangerous it seems; I write and think too much! Is that what comes then from choosing to work at new universities, where I thought I might help some of those students that are not so well-off in various ways? Or is something else going on? Is it prejudice? Perhaps, they do not like white educated women with working-class accents! I explained though, that this would not be a free ride/a free ticket. If the redundancy path was chosen, then I would write articles and make it all very public in prominent places. I told Dipo something about my writing and publications, especially in regard to my Knowledge Management book and the fact that the then Vice-Chancellor, Deian Hopkin, wrote a Foreword for it and that there were contributions from other academics at South Bank. This cut a bit of ice with him, but not overmuch. When I said that I would write and expose it all, he seemed to think that I would write some boring report, that could be forgotten and put in the bin. He seemed a little bit more concerned, when I made it clear that I would make it public; although not overly-so, it has to be said. I said that part of the remit of a university was research (along with teaching etc as well of course). And that to ignore writers was rather like going into a bakers shop, but not being able to buy bread, but only being able to buy cars. It was a complete nonsense. I said that you would think that a university would be bending over backwards to try to encourage people such as myself who write and publish to stay, rather than seeking to give them the boot. Furthermore, that I had inspired many students, including those from the developing world, particularly with the guest lectures that I had given to masters students (on the MBA) on topics such as globalisation, knowledge management, leadership etc.

Milo said that it was possible that I would be offered some work next semester, but not likely. If we go through a whole year with no work, then I can see that it will be easier for them to go down the redundancy path. I need to think this all through more, but so far, the clarity that I seek from them still very much remains elusive. I also really want and need to look towards the future.

In general, though, this all certainly makes you think. To what extent are universities (especially perhaps the new ones) places for new ideas and theories, critical thinking, writing etc, rather than just being sophisticated sausage-making factories, churning out ‘rubber-stamped’ graduates, one wonders. Also, of course, the old universities are starting to take on some of the ways of the new universities anyway of course; the new universities are now the leading lights, the beacons it seems (talk about ‘putting the cart before the horse’). Consistency in academic standards is essential for sanity and survival, but somehow, the universities are trying to bypass this one; indeed, to turn it on hits head, in many ways. When it comes to the marking and giving of degrees, there is still a lot of consistency; indeed, that is what we have moderation meetings for. But in other areas it ‘goes out of the window’. I remember our son Alexander talking about one of the lectures he had at King’s College, where the lecturer was talking about the inconsistency and irrationality in policy (leading on from the proposed redundancies at King’s at the time), whilst the lecturers were in the business of trying to teach students logic and consistency. Crazy eh. This is the type of thing that we are now starting to witness starting to take place more and more in universities.

On a final note, if anyone has any suggestions in regard to how I might best handle/deal with any of this, then please do please feel free to get in touch!

There are 7 new items up on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog. There are four reviews of novels; two items about feminism and one about musicians.

The book reviews are for the following novels: ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell; ‘Shadows in the Watchgate’ by Mike Jeffries; ‘To be the Best’ by Barbara Taylor Bradford and ‘Hold the Dream’ by Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Also, two people made contact with me, saying that they liked my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog, which was nice, and then told me about a couple of short pieces about feminism on the web, asking me if I would include a link to these pieces on my blog. I agreed, and so, there are now these two entries. One is entitled ’10 Fascinating Sub-Movements within Feminism’ and the other is entitled ’10 Essential Works of Feminist Fiction’. I think the titles are fairly self-explanatory!

Finally, there is an item about how Elton John is supporting talented musicians, which I think is truly wonderful. Doing something positive for young people, rather than keep ‘putting the boot in’, which is what these politicians seem to be largely about. Let us hope that this is something that can be built on further by Elton himself, as well as by some other musicians.

I went to this ‘Libraries in a Digital Age’ conference (which Martyn Everett kindly informed me about) and it proved to be quite an interesting day. It was organised by The Association of Independent Libraries and was held at the Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, London on 14th October 2010. It focused on the problems and opportunities facing libraries in the age of the Internet.

The session was opened by Gwyneth Price, from the Institute of Education London library on the topic of: ‘Social networking: just a lot of twittering?’ Gwyneth began by saying that the institute library held the most comprehensive collection on education in the UK, and probably the largest in Europe. She then referred to the LASSIE (Libraries and Social Software in Education) project which she has been involved with. She spoke about various types of social networking and their advantages and disadvantages. She made the point that blogs, for example, make things very live, whereas websites can be rather flat.

In particular, I was most surprised to discover that the Institute library has a rota for blogging; two people each week are expected to produce something for the blog. So far this has been through professionals volunteering, but even so, I am not quite sure that this is quite in the spirit of blogging! But anyway, it seems to work for them. Whilst Delicious is Gwyneth’s favourite shared resource – see e.g. Things that are useful can be collected and shared here and she jokingly said that her life goes into Delicious! Someone in the audience mentioned the issue of control; and the possible dilemmas in establishing boundaries between the personal and the institutional. Gwyneth thought that this was not such a problem at the Institute, because they are so innovative, although personally I remain somewhat sceptical on that score!

Meanwhile, Tim Coates (author and head of Waterstone’s bookshop in its early years) sought to defend public libraries in his talk. He also said that he thought there was too much management in libraries. Whilst Michael Popham, Head of the Oxford Digital Library spoke about the The Oxford-Google Book Digitization Partnership, which is something that I also refer to in my digitisation book. The Bodleian Library, founded in 1602, has a ‘Republic of Letters’ principle, he made clear, focusing around sharing resources, and it was this principle that led the Bodleian Library to couple up with Google for the Book Digitization Partnership. Google, on the other hand, wants to organise the world’s information, and to make it accessible universally, of course; and so this makes it a good partnership. Discussions between the Bodleian and Google started in 2003. The Bodleian and Google staff worked closely together, handling and evaluating the material. Google said they would commit for 20 years, which as Michael said, is a long time for them! There is now a massive amount of digitised content apparently; which opens up the collection to new readers and users, and provides new ways to add value to content and services. See:

Next, was John Thompson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, giving a talk on the publishing industry in the 21st century, which was very interesting and John was certainly in love with his subject. John has undertaken 500 interviews with people in the publishing industry, resulting in years of analysis. In his talk he gave us the benefit of some of his overall conclusions from all of this. He said that there have been three crucial changes in regard to the way that the publishing world works. Firstly, there was the growth of the retail chains; secondly, the rise of the literary agents and thirdly, the emergence of publishing corporations. Now, there are many large publishing corporations and many small publishing businesses, but few middle-sized publishing companies (Bloomsbury being one of them; courtesy of J.K. Rowling of course). He said that it is hard to survive as a medium-sized publisher today apparently. John spoke about ‘extreme publishing’, where there must be 10% growth, and where some books that are not selling are quickly removed (sometimes after only about 3 weeks). He thought there was too much ‘short-terminism’ in the publishing industry. Some authors reach middle-age finding that they haven’t ‘made it’, but on the other hand, he did not want to be over-negative. Some good stuff does get published; and some excellent writers and editors are able to shine through, despite it all, he said.

Finally, Martyn Everett spoke on the topic of ‘Copyright and the Knowledge Commons’, saying that libraries have an important role to play in the creation of knowledge. I also spoke to Martyn Everett at lunch and found out more about ‘The Association of Independent Libraries’, which is an organisation for subscription libraries. Martyn said that he does some voluntary work for a subscription library in Saffron Walden. I was also reminded of the good subscription library that there used to be in Norwich, which has now been turned into a restaurant, although still retains the name of ‘The Library’. When we were there we asked a member of staff where the original collection had gone; she did not know, but thought that it had probably gone to the University of East Anglia. Not much interest in the library there then! That saddened us. Still, at least Norwich has a lovely, spacious, comparatively new public library (after the old one sadly got burnt down a few years ago).

Whilst speaking to one of the delegates I also found out about the British Federation of Women Graduates, which was interesting. See:

In addition, we were given a tour of the Royal Astronomical Society Library and looked at some of the material, which was interesting. It is now largely a library for historical interest; rather than much live usage, as most members now obtain their material through the web (subscription-based ejournals etc), and many of the subscriptions for hard copy journals have been stopped.

Paul Catherall inserted quite an interesting piece on the Information for Social Change website recently, about ebooks and education. Here is the link:

In February 2010, Glenn Rikowski received a surprise email from one Baris Baysal from a Turkish publishing company in Istanbul, called Kalkedon Yayinlari. Baris said that this publishing company said that they had been reading some of Glenn’s articles on our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website, really liked the material, and wanted to translate some of these articles into Turkish and publish them as a book.

Kalkedon Yayinlari translated into Turkish and published Red Chalk: on schooling, capitalism and politics, by Mike Cole, Dave Hill and Peter McLaren and Glenn Rikowski, published originally in English by the Institute for Education Policy Studies, London, 2001. It was published in 2006; entitled Kizil Tebeşir’

Kalkedon Yayinlari also publish the Turkish edition of Monthly Review, an ‘independent socialist magazine’, which they have been doing since January 2006. When Baris wrote they were reaching the 22nd Turkish Monthly Review and were very proud of that, of course. Also, of course, Albert Einstein wrote an article for the very first issue of ‘Monthly Review’, back in 1949, in a piece entitled ‘Why Socialism?’

In addition, Baris made the point that it is relatively difficult to publish some Marxist books or journals, in countries like Turkey. He thought that there were a lot of reasons for this, including the “conjuncture and the characteristics of the readers”. Still, as Baris said, Kalkedon Yayinlari manage to overcome these obstacles, and they continue to publish Marxist books, especially the ones that include topics such as critical pedagogy and neoliberalism vs ecology. He was clearly proud of this, and rightly so.

Baris then listed the articles that they wanted to translate into Turkish and publish and were now seeking Glenn’s permission to do this. The articles were:

The Binding Ring, Ten Points on Marx, In Retro Glide, Fear of a Blank Planet Revisited, Educational Theory 1, Education and the Politics of Human, Distillation, Critical Pedagogy and the Constitution of Capitalist Society, Caught in the Storm of Capital, Against What We Are Worth, Marx and the Education of the Future.

Glenn replied to this, saying that, yes, certainly, he was very interested in having these articles of his published with Kalkedon Yahiniari.

He did also make the point, though, that the presentation of his work was very important to him. He said that he wants “ make sure that readers appreciate the nature, purpose and origins of what I write.” And that, for this reason, he proposed an additional chapter; namely Introduction: Education in a Crisis of Capital. Such an introduction would place the articles in some sort of context, and would also introduce each article, he said.

In addition, he said that he would eventually want to publish two volumes of his previous works: Vol.1 on the early works (1990-2003); and Vol.2 (2004 - present day) and that both of these volumes would be in English. The volume of articles that Kalkedon Yayinlari is proposing would correspond to Vol.2. Due to this factor, Glenn said that he would obviously need copyright. He noted that in the translation of Red Chalk that Kalkedon Yayiniari had the copyright. With this book, he would want copyright to be awarded (and clearly stated) to Glenn Rikowski.

He also wanted the book to have a proper Foreword, written by someone that knew his work. He also thought it would be useful to have an index, even if it is was only basic. Obviously, he would be looking to the publisher to do this, as he does not know Turkish. He said he would be interested in Baris’s views in regard to all of this and noted that Red Chalk did not have an index. He also asked about the contract and royalties.

Glenn said that he was also interested to know how and why they chose the particular articles that they did. On the whole, he said that he liked their choice of articles.

Glenn then listed the articles that they wanted to publish, with full bibliographical details, in chronological order. Here is the list:


Rikowski, G. (2004) Marx and the Education of the Future, Policy Futures in Education, Vol.2 Nos. 3 & 4, pp.565-577, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2005) Distillation: Education in Karl Marx's Social Universe, Lunchtime Seminar, School of Education, University of East London, Barking Campus, 14th February: Rikowski, G. (2006) Education and the Politics of Human Resistance, Information for Social Change, Issue No.23 (Summer):

Rikowski, G. (2006) Ten Points on Marx, Class and Education, a paper presented at Marxism and Education: Renewing Dialogues IX Seminar, University of London, Institute of Education, 25th October:,%20Class%20and%20Education

Rikowski, G. (2006) Caught in the Storm of Capital: Teacher Professionalism, Managerialism and Neoliberalism in Schools, a paper prepared for Education, Culture & Society (EDU3004) Students, School of Education, University of Northampton, 30th October:

Rikowski, G. (2006) In Retro Glide, Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, Vol.4 No.2 (November):

Rikowski, G. (2007) Critical Pedagogy and the Constitution of Capitalist Society, A paper prepared for the ‘Migrating University: From Goldsmiths to Gatwick’ Conference, Panel 2, ‘The Challenge of Critical Pedagogy’, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 14th September 2007, online at:

Rikowski, G. (2007) Marxist Educational Theory Unplugged, a paper prepared for the Fourth Historical Materialism Annual Conference, 9-11th November, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London:

Rikowski, G. (2007) Fear of a Blank Planet Revisited, London, 12th November, online at 'Wavering on Ether':

Rikowski, G. (2008) The Binding Ring: Communitarianism for Schools on a Foundation of ‘British Values’? A paper prepared for the EDU3004 module, ‘Education, Culture & Society’, Education Studies, School of Education, University of Northampton, 24th February, at:

Rikowski, G. (2008) Against What We Are Worth, a paper prepared for the Post-Graduate Programme: Gender and New Educational and Employment Environment in the Information Age, ‘Summer Workshop on Gender’, at the University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece, 4th July, at:

However, as Glenn pointed out, publishing the articles in chronological order would not he particularly helpful for the reader. So, he proposed the following outline/structure for the book:

Proposed Structure


Introduction: Education in a Crisis of Capital


Distillation: Education in Karl Marx's Social Universe (2005)

Ten Points on Marx, Class and Education (2006)

In Retro Glide (2006)

Marxist Educational Theory Unplugged (2007)


Education and the Politics of Human Resistance (2006)

Caught in the Storm of Capital: Teacher Professionalism, Managerialism and Neoliberalism in Schools (2006)

Fear of a Blank Planet Revisited (2007)

The Binding Ring: Communitarianism for Schools on a Foundation of 'British Values'? (2008)

Against What We Are Worth (2008)


Marx and the Education of the Future (2004)

Critical Pedagogy and the Constitution of Capitalist Society (2007).

Glenn thought that this structure gave some coherence to the book, whilst also having an eye on chronology. He said that he was interested to know what the publishers thought of the proposed plan. He thought that the plan would also make for a good English edition. Incidentally, it was very important to Glenn that the articles were not published just as the publishers initially seemed to want, because that might have lead to further marginalisation of his work.

So, Glenn concluded by saying that he looked forward to hearing from Baris. And guess what – he never heard from either him or the publisher again. What does this say, one wonders? Whatever is all this silence about?

Still, it clarified Glenn’s thinking in this area; and he now has the ‘red print’, as it were, for English editions of these works (something that he had been thinking about anyway, but had not got round to putting pen to paper, as it were). But still, hopefully, you also take my point that Marxist Educators are not always exactly what one would hope or think! Perhaps, should just concentrate on the theory and less on the people! That’s the opinion that we are starting to form and is certainly one possible, sensible, solution!

Finally, after all that, I thought I should end on a positive note, so decided to talk about dancing, which is something that I have been very much enjoying over the last few months or so.

I have always loved dancing; all kinds of dance. But somehow I thought that the traditional dancing was not perhaps ‘hip’,’ trendy’ and ‘cool’ in some way or other; and/or I thought that there was not that much of it about any more. How wrong I have proved to be on both counts.

The dancing that I first really loved was Barn Dancing. I discovered this on Holiday Fellowship holidays that I went on every year with my mum and dad as a child and a teenager. HF has guest houses all over the country; in wonderful scenic places, such as Devon, Cornwall, Wales, the Lake District etc. As a child, I visited most of these beautiful and scenic places in Great Britain with my parents in this way. HF were walking holidays; with graded walks – A for the most difficult, which included a lot of mountain climbing, very long walks etc; B for the medium walk and C for the easiest walk. The walks were taken by ‘leaders’ who knew what they were doing and where they were going; compasses, maps, mountain boots, mountain lunches etc. abounded. And in the evening, there were various forms of entertainment, and for me, the best here, was the Barn Dancing. I loved it. ‘Strip the Willow’ – heaven, being swung round like that, skipping up and down; that was my favourite. Then there were dances like the ‘Mississippi Dip’. Those memories have always remained very vivid in my mind. Then, in my mid-teens at school, I did part of the Duke of Edinburgh award for a while, and for that, I did some ballroom dancing, including the waltz, quick-step and the cha-cha. But then at university, and since then, disco dancing took over; all that free expression; wonderful. And boy did I travel. Mind you, not for me the club dancing in a small square.

Anyway, earlier this year, I decided to really ‘go’ for the traditional dancing, once again, and to properly learn more of the steps this time. I looked around on websites, trying to decide what I wanted to do. In the end, I decided to focus on five main types of dances: ballroom, latin American, sequence, salsa and the Argentine tango.

It was and still is a wonderful journey; a journey of self-discovery, as much as anything else. I absolutely love it; dancing is really me! Why did I not do more of this before now, I ask myself? My life has been transformed. I have learnt just such a lot in the last few months; it has, and continues to be just so wonderful. And I have made some nice new friends. What could be better? And also as I go from one dance to another I am now starting so see some familiar faces.

At the traditional dances – both social and tea dances, there is ballroom, latin American and sequence dancing. I would now quite confidently get up and attempt any dance, as and when I am asked. That, for me, is a real achievement in itself. I have overcome the barrier. Whilst Salsa is lovely because it is lively and includes a wide age range. I actually go to free salsa dance classes in Newham; amazing eh! And I have gone to a few Argentine Tango classes at Conway Hall in Holborn. The Argentine Tango is just so elegant; also intimate. It is sensational. I am reminded of the film ‘Evita’ that Madonna starred in. Wow – wonderful. I love Madonna.

Kerry who teaches the free salsa classes is an amazing person; she is just so positive and lovely; knows everyones names; has a wonderful figure and posture - a real role model. Well, I find all these dance teachers real role models, to be honest. I went to some formal ballroom dances somewhat earlier in the year at Wanstead House, and Sylvie who takes these classes also has a wonderful pose and posture. Such elegance; such style!

Having returned to my early love, I will never, ever leave it again. Books and dancing - two real passions of my life. Not exercise classes though; I learnt that all over again as well. And interestingly Kerry, after having her baby, took a course for teaching exercise; she then got a job teaching exercises but when they discovered that she could teach dance, they wanted her to do that instead. And she loved that, and she wondered what on earth had possessed her to go into the exercise regime. Dancing can be a wonderful workout in itself as well anyway; but such a pleasurable, sensational one, as opposed to yucky exercise classes. Kerry adores dancing; all types of dancing – and so do I.

The rhythm; the music; the engagement; the intimacy; the beauty; the importance of thinking, self-expression and yet letting go (as a follower) all at the same time – breath-taking, sensational, brilliant. At its best, it can take you to another plane.

Kerry has also been talking about ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – I must try to remember to watch that. Mind you, I don’t want to take a competitive attitude to it all; it is the sheer wonder, elegance, style, beauty and art that is where it is all at for me; that is what I love.

So, as you can see, I am hooked and will continue to keep on dancing, dancing, dancing.

Best wishes

P.S. Writing this newsletter has proved to be therapeutic for me, and has helped me to cope with these very difficult issues. It must also be remembered though, that it has been written in a very stressful phase of my life (also in the middle of a very difficult family situation right now). But writing the newsletter has also helped me to overcome some of my own hang-ups and inhibitions, and has helped to enable me to now move on. Once again, the wonder and beauty of writing!

1st November 2010