involves the private appropriation of collectively owned resources (Sale 1996; Bowers
2006, 2008; Bollier 2002).
Enclosure is deeply problematic because it disproportionately benefits the ruling
and corporate class and deprives everyday citizens of access to resources that they need
to survive and have formally owned or governed in communal ways. The result is a free
market that occupies and governs natural resources, eroding public life and democratic
processes. While we acknowledge with Bollier (2002) that the terms commons and
enclosure are unfamiliar to most teachers, we introduced this vocabulary as it addresses
the general need for teachers’ knowledge to be systematically connected to this largely
unexamined phenomenon now occurring in societies.
In effect, the new metaphors, the commons and enclosure, which also have their
roots in the distant past (but one that existed before and during the early stages of the
Industrial Revolution) represent the early steps in the recovery of life sustaining
vocabularies––which many non-western cultures, as Vandana Shiva (2004) points out,
have not entirely lost. The recovery of vocabularies essential to the revitalization of the
cultural commons of ethnic cultures will be a special challenge as many have been
marginalized by the process of linguistic colonization carried on through the media and
other educational processes.
A discussion of the commons and enclosure helps bring into sharp focus a
dramatic but largely unexamined phenomenon of contemporary American society, that is,
the forced privatization and commodification of large areas of shared wealth and social
life. Today, familiar and sophisticated language for talking about economic exchange is
largely focused on market efficiency, but we have no such collective language that