Sunday, August 10, 2008

F_ck you Antioch University

2004-2006 I was in the Whole Systems Design program at Antioch University in Seattle. In the summer of 2005 I took a course called "Visual Literacy Studio: Capturing Mental Images for Creative Thinking" in order to get enough credits to graduate in the standard target time of two years enrollment.

In the course instructor Farouk Seif imposed an anti-rational, anti-literate, anti-language point of reference when he said "in this course, and to be a whole systems thinker in general, we need to access a pre-language portion of ourselves to truly create". It was at that point I knew I was screwed. I have no memory of movement in my visual memories. I have only faint and infrequent memories of still pictures. When I remember a visual of a place I've been, there are no people or moving things in the visual.

I've been researching my autism more intensely these days. One cool thing occurring in the community is a pride, and slogans such as "neurological diversity" that contend that autistics are just another way of thinking, and there is also a growing opinion the asperger autistism is a good mental disposition for internet technology jobs. In my reading on autism I came across this:

"I don't think in pictures. I'm a kinaesthetic thinker, a systems thinker, a musical thinker. Mine is a physical and sensory world of pattern, theme and feel. My mind is like a mosaic, my conscious thoughts intangible until I experience them after they've been expressed- usually through arts."
-Donna Williams
(prolific autistic writer of many text books now used in special ed courses)

One thing they talk about at Antioch is diversity. Almost every portion of dialogue is framed to allegedly respect diversity. Unfortunately, Antioch is an old institution fighting a specific cultural war, and have hardened into an orthodoxy that can only pursue the overthrow of Anglo-American business-culture and heterosexual hegemony to free any 'people' who are under-represented or repressed by that hegemony. But my own under-representation in mainstream dialogue was not one of the "types" Antioch cared to enable a creative or professional development for, nor even acknowledge. I had spent years identified as a great performance artist in my hometown, and moved on to accolades in the music scene of Seattle, but when I arrived at Antioch I was constantly treated by students and faculty as a "computer geek" and prone to too much logic.

Antioch is famous for providing the underground railroad with volunteers, getting many slaves out of the South and on to freedom in the North. Now they provide an underground railroad, and the cars are jails of orthodoxy in which no minority, either in skin color or neurological type, is well served. It is no wonder that most African-Americans that enroll in the C3 programs at the Seattle campus drop out within the first year. I wish I had been that smart.

1 comment:

BFGalbraith said...

That is hands down the most damning thing about AUS that I have ever read. There is some good news:

1) The "strategic communication" program has injected new technology-oriented faculty into the AUS C3 program.

2) The success of the PsyD program and that success tied to their plone-based ePortfolio system has made AUS generally more open to technological change.

3) The open source radicals that have spent the last half decade infiltrating the whole Antioch University system have finally had their first significant step in bringing Antioch University into the 21st century when it comes to social change:

But yeah, in general, you'de expect an organization that brags the first women and blacks in higher education and an origin in 1852 to have it together much more so than Antioch (especially AUS.) It's a little disturbing that they aren't on the "cutting edge" of anything anymore.