Thinking about updating my curriculum vitae today, I was triggered to reminisce about my senior high-school experiences back in 1974-5. Amazing how sharply some memories came flooding back through the eyes of a 17-year-old. I remember about being part of the Science, Mathematics and Technology group of 4 that all shared dreams of becoming scientists, technologists or engineers: Wayne, Geoffery B,, Jon and myself. At the beginning of senior high, one of the Industrial Arts teachers had suggested that the 4 of us take a lower level of English so we could concentrate on Maths, Science and Industrial Arts. As you can imagine, the English Department was not at all impressed that some of their students were taking a level of English that demanded less than their full capabilities. What happened next is far from what you might expect (read the full story after the jump).
After the 4 of us showed up at the English level 3 class in week 1 of term 1 the English staff remonstrated strongly with me and my compatriots. My compatriots more so than me as I remember. Wayne and Geoffrey B (Geoff more reluctantly) eventually reconsidered and moved up 2 levels of English to where the teachers thought they were best placed. Jon and I remained steadfastly in the level 3 class. I never understood why the teachers spent more time persuading my friends than me. Perhaps they considered me the ringleader and the least likely to be swayed.
[From my perspective now, I wouldn’t ever have advised my 17-year old self to do this. After all, the key to gaining most jobs, then and now, is through outstanding communication skills.]
Our level 3 English teacher was a young, pleasant, mustachioed man not long out of Teacher’s College (as they were known at the time). He considered it his responsibility to give Geoffery B (still in the same class at this time), Jon and me additional reading materials outside of class. This is the surprising part, he gave us Anarchist readings from Proudhon and Bakunin (interpreted readings rather than the original works). I don’t know what Geoffery B and Jon thought, or whether they even read any of the books, but I devoured the reading in the same way that I devoured reading the “Foundation” sci-fi trilogy from Isaac Asimov during the previous school holidays.
So here I was, at 17, the budding scientist, reading Proudhon and learning that “property is theft” with the full (apparently) encouragement of my teacher and the School’s English Department.
As I rethink over this now, I suspect that the English Department made the request that our teacher gives us additional readings but that they would have been horrified if they had learnt that he had selected such Anarchist readings for 17-year-olds.
As it was I was very impressionable and these readings have strongly influenced my thinking ever since. I hasten to add that here we’re talking about political anarchism, not about rioting-in-the-streets anarchism. Over the next few years, I went on to read “Homage to Catalonia” and “Animal Farm” by George Orwell because I wanted to learn more about related political ideologies, especially about the alternative political views in the Spanish civil war which I had read about in one of my extracurricular readings in senior English. I read “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Hemingway for the same reason.
Mostly, my teenage Anarchist readings have contributed to a broader outlook on life and a love of reading on diverse topics, Quite a benefit for a scientist, where you find there are so many pressures to specialise in your particular area of expertise. Deep-down, I haven’t forgotten about those extracurricular readings, in as much as I believe people should be able to organise themselves locally, but I’ve realised it’s not very pragmatic for humans to live without government and rules. Though I still dream that it might be possible at some point for future humanity.
Apart from what I have written above, I have no long-lasting influences from high-school exposure to the anarchist writings of Proudhon, Bakunin, Prince Kropotkin and so on.
Is Dr Mark Selby an Anarchist?
Despite what he claims is this guy an Anarchist? Consider the following evidence:
Whilst at QUT, who openly encouraged his students to think for themselves and to be critical? He even challenged students to disagree with the teachings of their textbooks. Even a well-known Analytical Chemistry textbook in its 10th edition!
Points supporting that this man is an anarchist:
- back in the 1990s he drew wonky freehand straight lines on the overhead projector (OHP) during lectures — anarchists can’t draw straight-lines because they don’t use rulers;
- copies of these same wonky OHPs were reproduced in PowerPoint slides for lectures after 2000.;
- he was known to favour herbal and green teas during one period of his life, anarchists don’t drink proper-tea because property is theft!
The evidence speaks for itself!
Furthermore, this man is suspected of being a perfectionist, a condition that affects many academics and former academics. Though he may be trying to improve.
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
 Image by Shany Kasysyaf from Pixabay
 Image by Shany Kasysyaf from Pixabay