We’ve been having a few interesting conversations about Ron Barnett. He’s the man of the moment, standing fast against the dark forces of moribund sameness that pervade the halls and low budget coffee areas of higher education.The philosophy of higher education that he builds and tears down and rebuilds is more relevant now than it might ever have been in the past fifteen years. Ideas about conflicting forces at work in the higher education cosmos, internal and external, personal and organisational, and the beauty of the transformation process and all its perceived values mean everything in a world which now exists only to change, never again to build for any monument to history, tradition or some timeless (academic) skills value chain. Ron Barnett is Nietzschean in his approach to the individual, once they are empowered to free themselves of limitation, and ‘disencumbered’ of any neurosis surrounding their own voice. This isn’t a licence to who shouts loudest gets the most, much more that if you can find yourself in terms of range of knowledge and innovation then there is only your ability to express in terms that can be understood, challenged or empathised with that stands in your way to progress, personally and otherwise.
His work is vast, and dense. Words fly at you like shining bullets of truth, with multiple meaning and context. The urge to re-read every line is sometimes overpowering, in case you may have missed some small nuance he has implied as obvious, but you’re too thick to have even noticed at all.
He often quotes Martin Heidegger, an ‘interpreter’ of Nietzsche amongst other things, who has written copiously on ‘being’, the favourite topic of Barnett. Of course, this affiliation to these two and their National Socialism associations does not sit easily in a post ideology world where only clear black and white, right and wrong exist. The argument about ‘being’, the nature of truth, and knowledge, and their understanding are all but lost in the fight for populist adulation.
And yet Barnett keeps on going. To delve into his works is to enter a world far more fabulous than any Harry Potter or Game of Thrones. It is the very real battle for human progress and how to achieve that between the generations. The wasteland that exists between each socio economic class and the power elite of any nation is the battleground, the prize is the advancement of civilisation as we know it. The stakes therefore, could not be higher.
- http://www.ioe.ac.uk/staff/lcen/lcen_3.html Ronald Barnett
- http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/head-in-the-clouds-feet-on-the-ground/422221.article Times Higher, R Barnett, January 2013
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Heidegger Wikipedia page for Heidegger