Anarchist Atheist Punk Rock Teacher: A memoir of struggle, grief, philosophy and hope by Dan McKee (Earth Island Books)
“There are some things they don't tell you in careers lessons at school. Like how this crazy fucked-up world is out to crush the free spirit, smear shit on its iridescent soul, and then leave it to go mad, mechanically living in a grossly unacceptable daily life while it's beautiful dreams fade to beige, and all the time chanting the mantra, “We are where we are, and it is what it is, that's life, get used to it.”
In his late 20s DaN puts his dreams on hold to enrol on a teacher training course. His background in philosophy makes him prime material to front religious education classes, whose curriculum encompasses the subject. If that hasn't compromised his punk rock outlook, his first gig is at a grammar school - a pretty lopsided educational system to any fair minded person. He undergoes an internal tug of war: ‘As an anarchist who does not live in an anarchy, I am used to the ideal of what ought to be, falling far short of what is.”
Listening to his calling to teach philosophy he resolves to stay. And does for a decade.
Through the prism of DIY punk ethics DaN talks us through the politics of the classroom, the ethics of contemporary religious teaching, and even the authentic-self in the workplace. “Conformity was a trap” he says. “But I also learned early that being brave enough to be yourself, in all its confusion and opposition to norms, came at the cost.” Dan ends his story when he bags a job at a private school in Winchester. He reasons, “My job was to make students ask questions and think critically.”
I like DaN, we interviewed him on the radio a few times and I am truly worried about his follow up to this book. Whether this bright lad from a comprehensive school was complicit in educating generations of evil Tory bastards, or whether his punk-rock spirit resolved in the pistol-and-petrol-bomb solution, rising phoenix-like from the ashes, to wreak Bakuninian havoc on the cruelly biased British class system.
You can order a copy of Anarchist Atheist Punk Rock Teacher: A memoir of struggle, grief, philosophy and hope by Dan McKee now.