The Really Free School has moved from its Bloomsbury Square location to 34-35 Fitzroy Square (London). Below is a a communique where they explain their project.
What is a really free school? Perhaps its easier to explain what a not really free school is…
A not really free school is one that comes with a price tag so high that most will never consider attending, whilst those that do will spend a good chunk of their lives working to repay the bill instead of living. And yet it is all too easy to say this. It would be mistaken to think that education would be really free if it simply didn’t cost anything to receive. For whilst the price of attendance has been slowly rising, something far darker has been going on. The learning process has been completely transformed from within – and so even if we were to break open the gates to the ivory tower, what we would find inside might be little more than the training program for our future life at work, The keys to our own dungeon.
Now this all seems rather bleak, and of course it’s not entirely true, there is some ‘useful’ knowledge still lingering in the nooks and crannies of academia, should you be lucky enough to hunt it down. There are supposedly some good jobs out there too, if you are lucky enough to get them. How long though, before the last of this is culled? And do we want to wait around for this to happen? Let’s not be naive about the aims of those funding, running and legislating the so called ‘schools’ and ‘universities’:
“We are in a period of considerable social change. There will be unrest, but we can cope with the Toxteths… but if we have a highly educated and idle population we may possibly anticipate more serious conflict. People must be educated once more to know their place”
– Department of Education official in a leaked secret report, 1983
Like so much in life, we can’t rely on those in charge to give us an education that suits our needs and interests. Just moments ago we saw a world renowned philosophy department axed for making ‘no measurable contribution’ to its university (read: generating just 52% of excess revenue after paying for itself, rather than the required 55%). What has generated so much hype recently has been the rise in the cost of education, the real hype however is to be found in the cutting of almost all teaching budgets – what education will be left even if we can pay for it? That’s right, you guessed it, the education that ‘the market’ wants. ‘The market’ of course being young, job hungry and soon-to-be-indebted (not forgetting the inevitable minority of ‘luxury consumers’, packed off to elite institutions, trained to rule rather than to serve).
It seems important then to not just demand a free education (from whom, lets remember, would we be demanding this?), but to create a really free school. One that does not aim to ‘add value’ to your employable persona, or equip you with valuable ‘skills’ for a life of drudgery and obedience. Instead one that will de-school you – not to know your place, but to make it along with those around you. We hope that in this space, aside from the fact that you will not spend one penny inside these doors, you can also come and engage in a collective learning process directed by your own desires, ideas, questions and problems. We hope that here knowledge and skills will not simply be transmitted – but created, because:
“We learn nothing from those who say “do as I do”. Our only teachers are those who say “Do with me”, and are able to emit signs to be developed in heterogeneity rather than propose gestures for us to reproduce”