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Absence, Ignorance, Presence (AIP) – An Exformative Approach to Confronting Legacies of Oppression in Education

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Francis Laleman 

Like when laying bare the root subsystem of a very old tree, for systems to be able to confront legacies of oppression in education, we must develop a grammar, a syntax and the appropriate semantics that permit the object matter of “confrontation” to be brought to the surface. To confront, in other words, is an activity of exhumation – and a confrontation is when we stand face to face (con + frons) with matter that was hitherto covered beyond a knowledge horizon separating the worlds of the knowable from the realms of the unknown. This workshop is an act of exformation – a concept that was first described as “information withheld,” (Nørretranders, 1998), later as “a communication method making things unknown” (Hara, 2015), and finally as “a process of learning by incrementally separating the knowable from the unknown” (Laleman, 2020). The workshop process aims at extracting the oppressive character of education from the unknown by creating an exformative space in which the activity of con+frons is embedded into the space by facilitated affordances.

Like the seed of a tree has a relatively simple design that ultimately leads to possibly life-changing tree-dependent experiences, so do facilitated affordances require minimum design for maximum outcome. Through the process of exploring these facilitated affordances, quite counter-intuitively, the legacy of “oppression” in education is not just recognized in the space of dominance and subservience (both aspects of the “presence” of education) – but in different guises of “absence” or “assumed redundancy” of education too. AIP is a workshop on systemic discovery in space. Facilitation is gentle, almost oblique, and restricted to ad-hoc translation of group-emergent features into affordances. Participants explore and learn cooperatively – with, from and among each other. They work with objects and grids as temporary placeholders of ideas – and build mental models that provide for experiential revelation of facets of oppression in the realms of skills and knowledge “management.”

Keywords: systemic workshop, design for social innovation, confronting legacies of oppression, exformation, education, educational reform, design for change 

Posted September 2022

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Suggested Citation Format (APA)

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) Symposium. rsdsymposium.org/LINK.

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