Neoliberalism has hijacked education and is holding it hostage. It demands ransom in the form of obedience, conformity and free labor, whilst also disciplining the curiosity, creativity and imagination out of students, faculty and workers. The neoliberal university itself is sterile, negligent and conformist; as well as suffocating, lonely and gray.

In the spirit of equality, Zapatistas maintain neither hierarchical distinction nor vertical rank amongst their “faculty members.” Everyone is simply, and humbly, an education promoter. This jettisoning of professional titles and institutionally-legitimated credentials highlights how the Zapatistas are able to thwart assertions of ego/hierarchical authority and abolish the competitive individualism that so often corrupts neoliberal universities. Fundamentally, they are unsettling the rigid boundaries dividing “those who know” from “those who do not know” — because there is nothing revolutionary about arrogance.

They also do not distribute final marks to signify an end to the learning process, and no grades are used to compare or condemn students. In these ways, the Zapatistas underscore how education is neither a competition, nor something to be “completed”. These transgressive strategies have essentially aided the Zapatistas in eradicating shame from the learning process, which they deem necessary because of just how toxic, petty and vicious neoliberal education can become.

Zapatismo versus the Neoliberal Univers…

The School of Alternatives is a reaction to the current manifest decrease in the spectrum of considered and implemented alternatives, and a shattered reflection of the dominant neoliberal view that There Is No Alternative. The school's sole purpose is to propose alternatives for tomorrow, rather than merely create solutions for today. It will identify complexities, contradictions, side effects, secondary consequence, and incidental narratives, rather than merely solving or capitalising upon immediate problems and opportunities. The school sets out to question mainstream pedagogy and education practise in order that it better prepares students to define and inform the next economy, rather than continually remoulding us into the last one.

The school is run as an alternative, and is alternative. Staff, students, researchers and technicians are no longer labeled as such, members of the school are considered equal faculty in residence. The structure of programming is dismantled, faculty spend as long or short a time in residence as desired. From a day to a decade. Time spent being directly correlated to the conclusion of the alternative(s) in question. The school is entirely self and socially funded, free from the narrow interests and agendas of the state, industry, individuals or institutions.

The School of Alternatives believes that to be unrealistic is now entirely realistic. And indeed to be unrealistic may be one of our only remaining strategies to break free from the stranglehold of a totalitarian level of industrial scale 'illogical logic' and 'inefficient efficiencies'.

Ted Hunt, 2016