Free and Community Education
The state education system is the main apparatus of indoctrination of the society. The premise is that education is more and more a commodity and not a fundamental human right. The institutions do not hold legitimacy to educate the futue generations for the benefit of a capitalist marketplace, focused on consumption, competition, violence and individualism. Obsesssed about deshumanizing the person, we reduce the activity of learning activity to memorization, repetition, routine and totests.
Besides rebelling against the submission of childhood to dominant institutions, we need to practice the right to continous lifelong learning, without having to assume the payment of the price imposed by public or private institutions responsible for education.
We share knowledge and learn to create self-managed initiatives, to defend human potential that the system tries to annihilate.
Free Education Initiatives
Free schools and various educational experiences encountered in community centers or also often cultural initiatives promoted by families, are born from the desire to stimulate integral growth of the person and encourage a fully autonomous being.
On the basis of free educational practice can be considered free expression, stimulation of all the senses, experimentation and co-creation, thus fostering personal and collective freedom. The existing multiple pedagogical lines show the diversity of intuitive methods in their practices. Thus we can find the Montessori method, libertarian pedagogy, the intuitive method of Pestalozzi, popular education… among many others that can reinvent or emerge with experience.
There are different experiences in this regard. Examples include Catalan Exchange Networks (XIC in Catalan), which operate in Catalonia and elsewhere, where people participate by offering and receiving knowledge, enhancing exchange and community cooperation. Another example in Catalonia is Free Education Network (XELL) that hosts and links many initiatives and free education projects. At the statewide level the Association of Free Aducation or the Free Education Collective (CEL in Spanish) which try to link people and groups who develop alternative models to formal education.
The need to investigate, understand and learn are present throughout the life cycle, so many projects focus on providing opportunities for all to access knowledge uncoditionally if one holds the interest in learning and in cultivating curiosity and imagination. Free Universities emerging in this context; besides the content, provide the society with tools that facilitate its own liberation.
We are finding ways to coordinate these efforts to establish solid bases of the educational system that we want have. Legal protection is a challenge for the free education movement.
The task of liberation and breaking with the dominant educational system is not simple. From 6 years-old on, educational alternatives that are not regulated under the rules of regular schools enter into a legal vacuum, to which there is usually no governmental response, but nothing that assures them that they can not be prosecuted or controlled. In return, there are different strategies to address these legal risks, defending the right to choose the free education of their children by the family. Some options may be the creation of education cooperatives or legal recognition through distant learning. An example is the case of Clonlara School or Epysteme, which provide academic certificates to families who want to educate their children at home or through alternative education projects, differently from classroom education.
In any case, the best defense is mutual support and self-organization among all those who believe in the right to education outside state control. So we appeal to address the cases of educational pursuit that can be generated in a coordinated manner.
Towards a self-managed education system. Education offices and collective learning spaces
Setting specific definitions of each initiative would be a great first step to classify the information and thus facilitate access for everyone interested in free education. To enable constant updating of resources, there is an ongoing education office. In order to allow for a common descriptive framework for different projects, forms were designed to collect information on the particularities of each project and each educational or pedagogical activity. All information collected will be available on the web page for easy access.
The personalized support will be provided by a person accompanying and advising individuals, families and groups interested in participating in the various projects based on the overview of the various initiatives, trust relationships and support, respecting their particularities and encouraging the development of their potential and interests.
Education offices promote the creation of new initiatives by encouraging synergies between people and groups sharing common interests.
As an organizational model it can be replicated and recreated anywhere, facilitating links in the local environment and ensuring the autonomy and self-management of each one of them, with the support of the entire network of active projects.
The educational network that we are talking about constitute infromally a set of free school projects, social libraries and free universities.
Autonomous and self-taught learning is enriched exponentially if given within a collective framework. So it is important to facilitate the creation of these spaces of open and self-managed collective learning, where the public use can be expanded. To facilitate the growth process and creation of new areas, facilitators shall assume the role of mobilization and creating contact between individuals, groups, collectives and communities that can develop new projects.
As i is likely that we will have no state resources, and since we want to keep education as an inalienable right, it is essential to implement a new model of community self-management, where everyone collaborates in order to sustain the educational spaces not only depending of the financial contributions of families, but on the commitment and mutual support of all users. The professional educator will take responsability on a comprehensive economic model, meaning, progressively getting rid of the materials needs related to the official currency, so the exchange, the social currency and the communal economy will be incorporated into one’s own lifestyle.
It is our responsibility to work on building and developing together a free educational system, open and accessible to all. This is necessary and indispensable for the development of the society that we want.
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