The State of Play

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“Draw back the curtain, follow the tireless motion of cogs and wheels back to its source, and you will find the engine driving our civilisation: the myth of progress.” Paul Kingsnorth & Dougald Hine

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The world is in a very particular historical moment. Old narratives, always contested, are becoming increasingly obviously false. The central collective myth of our time, the myth of progress, which imagined humanity on an inevitable trajectory towards an ever more stable and prosperous future, is crumbling around us.


In light of the objective realities of vast and increasing economic inequality, increasing social and political polarisation, the existential threat of climate change, and the instability and insecurity that these and other factors create, it is now more common and arguably more rational to imagine a dystopian than a utopian future.


At first glance this may seem tangential to an educational project for young people. What does the troubling state of the world have to do with the organisation of a school? As soon as we pose the question, the answer becomes obvious; everything. Schools do not exist in a vacuum, separated from the world. They are responses to it and they are active in its ongoing production. The real question is: In the world as it is what should a school look like?

 

Banana Mountain is our attempt to answer that question, eyes wide, consciously and responsibly. At the heart of our answer is a simple truth, as radical as it is blatant; it is always today and never tomorrow. Where education has traditionally orientated itself towards an imaginary future, we choose to focus on our real present. Our mission is not to prepare young people to create a better world, it is to co-create one with them here and now, knowing that as we do so we open space for the emergence of futures we can't yet imagine.

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