Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Art of Exposing Emperors

Educators and community activists face a difficult challenge whenever they try to rouse their fellow citizens to oppose the misrule by a powerful elite.

How can they reach beyond the informed minority to get more people to see through oppressive policies that serve only the wealthy, and give their support to more inclusive political alternatives? If they in the name of ‘neutrality’ merely repeat what politicians on all sides claim, they leave their audience as detached as before. If they attempt to expose the vicious iniquities of specific political agendas, they risk being branded biased and may find their funding curtailed.

Long ago, Hans Christian Andersen gave us a hint of how a cautionary tale can prompt people to recognise that servile conformity would only allow the embarrassing folly of a naked emperor to go on.

Since his time, others have produced allegorical and dystopian stories with which political consciousness can be raised, and passion for change can be fuelled. Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury, Wyndham, Vonnegut, Atwood, are amongst those who have used fiction to engage the public imagination in visualising the horrors that lie behind the political stance of callous leaders.

To celebrate and continue this tradition of exposing oppressive rule, the ‘Novel Exploration of Inequality’ project has been developed to provide teachers, adult learning organisers, and community outreach workers with a political fable, Kuan’s Wonderland, and a learning resource, to help them engage more people, young and old, in thinking about the injustice spreading around us and what should be done about it.

In addition to collaboration with the Equality Trust, work is also underway with WEA (Workers Educational Association) to pioneer new approaches to use this resource to promote social purpose education in tackling inequality and exploitation. With the novel’s setting in a surreal world, it is free from any links to party politics. But its allegorical diagnosis is vivid enough to stir readers’ political indignation.

If you are interested in how these materials may help you or other colleagues in your political engagement work, find out more about Kuan’s Wonderland and download the learning resource for free from the Equality Trust.

To discuss how you can make use of this novel and its companion learning resource, contact the author at:
Kuan’s Wonderland is available as an e-book or in paperback.

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