Continue the Discussion on the Record’s Forum
There’s a lot of irony in this document and its appearance, obviously professionally produced and presented in a fairly polished fashion but ambiguously signed, a collective ‘we’ of an untold number of heads and hands that, by all accounts, speaks a future of Antioch College without involving the trouble of an open discussion in the present with the people who over the last several decades have done the work of continuing the much lauded tradition of exceptional educational outcomes, often in conditions of institutional distress that would have predicted anything but the levels of success Antioch has enjoyed. This document makes its gesture to past successes but looks back much further to supposed greener fields before any of us personally remember, to Mann and Morgan. A substantial number of exceptional young people have gotten their start here much more recently, up, very nearly, to the present and that’s in large part connected to a committed faculty who have resolved to make things happen without remorse about resources lacking.
I’m calling signature of this document ambiguous and a little odd for what it excludes. It’s not the first time we have gotten this feeling reading about Antioch action and policy with surprise. This isn’t a matter of content, although I believe there are matters of content that need to be discussed. It is a question of process, and for the aggrieved faculty of Antioch College to read this report waxing optimistically in a vague future tense about a newly empowered faculty of the college as a future project is where it gets ironic, and it might even be a little funny except we’re all in a very serious and precarious position that doesn’t much lend itself to laughing.
A report about moving forward, if it is going to do justice to the present and especially if it is going to learn from mistakes of the past, benefits immensely from an open dialogue and constructive partnership with the faculty who most understand what has distinguished Antioch even in its hard times; an intellectual and professional partnership that can serve as a basis forward. In this past year in which for the broader American culture so many of the smug ‘wisdoms’ of the market status quo have proven to be puffed-up nonsense, pyramid schemes built only on personal acquisitive ambition rather than any sound sensibility for how we all might better move ahead, Antioch’s values have not been found bankrupt. There has not in recent decades been a time better suited for Antioch values to find a receptive ear, and again consultation and collaboration with the most recent Antioch faculty seems one of the simplest and surest ways to pursue a renewed vitality and an educational plan that arises from the educational offering this new Antioch community would embody.
Of course the document on the table is just a document on the table and not necessarily the last word on what is planned or what might be hoped for. I would though find my confidence better bolstered and much prefer to see a renewed inflection on the newness that gets talked about here brought to practice in the present by favoring fully inclusive process.
M.Arch. and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Cultural Studies