Union of Initiatives for Educational Assembly
Prospectus » HISTORY 


The Union Of Initiatives for Educational Assembly (U.O.I.E.A.) follows up on the proposition of The Agency of the Orphan (AofO) to diagnose and treat a cultural ailment. At the heart of both projects is a playful engagement with the plausibility of self-improvement.

The focus of the AofO is the psychological entrapment created by the polarization of childhood and adulthood. According to the theory, an abreactive cry of frustration was articulated through the abundance of fictional orphan characters – the embodiment of child and adult – cast as protagonists in the literature, film, theatre, painting, illustration, cartoon and comics produced since the second half of the 18th century. Writers, artists and audiences alike recognized their divided selves in the pathos of this character, and saw the potential for personal progress in the Orphan’s triumph.

The Orphan as an archetype for personal liberation also appears in educational theory.

“In the emotional framework created by the pedagogical relationship, all students are, like Emile, [The protagonist of J.J. Rousseau’s seminal 1762 treatise on education] orphans. Every student has been given over by his biological parents to a teacher who... must now promote the development of his charge… The student gets the chance to find what every human wants: the chance to make a new beginning and to make it better this time. And the teacher gets the chance to provide this opportunity.” 
Donald L Finkel & William Ray Arney, Educating for Freedom

If the Orphan is a mascot for human potential, then education is the means by which to manifest this promise, “to make a new beginning and to make it better this time.” However, if compulsory education is a major culprit perpetuating one of our most insidious psycho-social limitations: the child/adult opposition, then this chimerical prospect for resurrection is instantly demystified. 

“Through… the school, adults found themselves with unprecedented control over the symbolic environment of the young, and were therefore able and required to set forth the conditions by which a child was to become an adult…. Compulsory schooling effectively bars the young from fully participating in the life of the community–that is, prevents them from being adults.” 
–Neil Postman, The End of Childhood

Age-based developmental classification is only one of many contested ideas informing the policies and ideologies that define the history of education. Such controversies are embedded in the very nature of the pedagogical pursuit.  In his 1937 essay Analysis Terminable and Interminable Sigmund Freud called psychoanalysis “...the third of those ‘impossible’ professions in which one can be sure beforehand of achieving unsatisfying results. The other two, which have been known much longer are education and government.”

Education is “impossible” because it is a social institution:  a fabrication of language and systems that translates the complexity of the interpersonal into the order of the scientific. The U.O.I.E.A. is an examination of how we measure and attempt to shape human development in order to reshape ourselves. There is both pathos and paradox in the vanity and limitations of this endeavor; a Herculean ambition marred by the sobering scale of human imperfection. Education simultaneously assists and undermines its subjects.

 “The history of educational theory is marked by opposition between the idea that education is development from within and that it is formation from without; that it is based upon natural endowments and that education is a process of overcoming natural inclination and substituting in its place habits acquired under external pressure.” 
–John Dewey, Experience and Education

“Liberal education aims at the free mind. If we could force men to be free, we would.” 
–Joseph Tussman, Experiment at Berkeley

The U.O.I.E.A profiles how the desires embedded in teaching and learning are transformed into aesthetic and ideological systems.