Free Schools - any experiences?

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freedum
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May 10 2006 21:18
Free Schools - any experiences?

Brooklyn Free School - a friend's daughter goes to this school and loves it. I 've heard very brief and vague stuff about the Modern School Movement (Francisco Ferrer's La Escuela Moderna) and I've yet to read Paul Avrich's book about the US offshoot of Ferrer's thing. I emailed Alan, the BFS founder, asking if he'd heard about Ferrer's schools and he said he's not familiar with the Modern School Mvmt but that the BFS sounds closer to it than to Montessori (NYT article). I can see the John Dewey connection (article) from little fragments I've read in Chomsky's books (he himself went to a Dewey school).

One of the cooler things about it: 60% of students attend the BFS on reduced tuition. Then again it is a private school with all that that implies. So were Ferrer's schools, if I'm not mistaken.

Has anyone had any experiences with Free Schools? Has anyone read Avrich's book or A.S. Neill's "Summerhill"?

p.s. Sorry about the super long article below... posting it cause it may not be available on that site for too long in the future and we don't always have access to lexis-nexis, etc.

Quote:
Land of the Free

NY Times, May 7, 2006

By AARON GELL

IT was a gray Wednesday morning, and the weekly Democratic Meeting of the Brooklyn Free School had been called to order. In a bare-bones classroom in a Methodist church on 16th Street in Park Slope, two dozen students, ranging in age from 5 to 16, sat in a circle on mismatched folding chairs, along with their three teachers, a couple of volunteers and Alan Berger, the school's 49-year-old founder and director.

The agenda turned to a crucial issue.

"I've had a bunch of people come up to me and say, 'I'm so bored, I need something to do,' " began Sophie Danish-Brown, a dark-haired 14-year-old who for some mysterious reason was wearing a pair of silvery fairy wings. "And I've felt it myself. So I just wanted to open it up for discussion, ways to, basically, alleviate boredom."

This was no small matter for a place where boredom is not so much a minor annoyance as a pedagogical imperative. The Brooklyn Free School, which winds up its second year of operation next month, is arguably New York's most radical center of learning, a romantic gamble on the idea of laissez-faire education and an audacious repudiation of the regimented curriculums and high-stakes tests that increasingly dominate the city's public school system.

In theory, students at the Brooklyn Free School can go for weeks, even years, without ever laying eyes on a No. 2 pencil or one of those fearsome grids of ovals used to identify answers in standardized tests. Students are not graded or ranked in any way. The only homework they are likely to get is the kind their nervous parents take it upon themselves to assign.

What's more, students are not required to attend classes — ever. Instead, they are encouraged to design their own education, or not, the idea being that real learning occurs only when it is self-directed and "noncoercive," as free-school disciples put it, rather than imposed from on high. This can make for some long and tedious days as children figure out how to fill the hours.

Mr. Berger views the approach as particularly well suited to the information-age economy. "Kids going out with an education like this will be more creative, more inventive, and more adaptive and flexible, which is going to be a big thing as the economy changes," he said. "People with standard credentials figure, 'I'm set.' But what happens when your job is outsourced and you have to figure out what to do next?"

In the eyes of others, the Brooklyn Free School represents, at the least, pedagogical pie in the sky.

"There's a certain kind of student and family that will thrive in the free-school environment," said Victoria Goldman, who with Catherine Hausman wrote "The Manhattan Family Guide to Private Schools and Selective Public Schools." "The right kid will do beautifully. But if you don't come from an intellectual home or a reading family where the parents are true professionals, this thing is not going to be good. I don't think every kid needs to be whipped, although, dare I say, most do."

And E. D. Hirsch Jr., founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation and the author of "Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know," added in an interview: "The public school approach isn't very benighted. But that doesn't mean that this providential approach to education, where by some natural process the child will end up being educated, is going to work either. It may work for children from well-educated homes, but it doesn't work for children who haven't had those advantages."

Plato and Flying Socks

Bold, visionary institutions tend to have eccentric figures at the helm. Think of Stanley Bosworth, the irrepressibly outspoken founder of Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights. The city's last free school, Fifteenth Street School in Park Slope, which closed in the 1980's, was led by a blacklisted actor, Orson Bean. By contrast, Mr. Berger seems almost religiously self-effacing. Tall and lanky, with a monkish haircut and a soft-spoken manner, he began his teaching career 10 years ago at Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers in Lower Manhattan.

"I was really idealistic," said Mr. Berger, a former cable company manager who took up teaching after becoming disenchanted with the business world. "But it turned out the education system was the same: a big, dehumanizing bureaucracy. Instead of profits, the bottom line was G.P.A. and test results."

In 2001, Mr. Berger was promoted to assistant principal at Murry Bergtraum. Shortly after, he read an article about a free school in Woodstock, N.Y. "It just grabbed me to the core," he said.

Free schools, which trace their lineage to the work of progressive educators like John Dewey and Maria Montessori, had their heyday in the 1960's after the publication of A. S. Neill's best-selling book "Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing." The philosophy is predicated on the theory that the less quantifiable benefits of the child-centered learning — self-reliance, enhanced critical thinking and social awareness — will more than offset the lack of traditional skills. For Mr. Berger, the appeal was powerful.

In October 2003, he outlined his idea for a free school in the newsletter of the Park Slope Food Co-op, a nerve center of hummus-and-sprouts Brooklyn liberalism. Less than a year later, the Brooklyn Free School opened for business in the bottom two floors of the Brooklyn First Free Methodist Church on 16th Street with 30 children, three teachers and a provisional charter from the state.

Most of the students are from middle-income families — a number of the parents are teachers, struggling artists or former hippies — and most live in Brooklyn. Tuition is $9,500, administered on a sliding scale; fewer than half of the families pay full tuition, and one struggling parent just slips Mr. Berger $20 now and then. The school, which has an annual budget of $200,000, is $20,000 in debt, scraping by on grants, donations and the occasional good-will gesture.

Any child can apply and visit the school for a five-day orientation, after which the admissions committee (made up of students, teachers and parents) must vote unanimously to admit a child based on two criteria: whether the parents and child all want the child to attend the school, and whether the school has the resources to work with the child.

Many students go there to escape the stress of more conventional settings. And no one would accuse the Brooklyn Free School of being conventional. Children make soap and study Japanese. Mr. Berger has taught classes in cheese-tasting — last year, the students sampled more than 80 varieties, learning some geography, biology and chemistry in the process. An active book club spent a month discussing "America (The Book)" by Jon Stewart.

There are seminars in philosophy (Plato's "Euthyphro," anyone?), psychology, sociology, video making, astrology, business, storytelling and circus arts, many of them initiated and sometimes conducted by the students themselves. A course on Tibet, taught by Nick Gulotta, 15, is among the most popular offerings.

There is also fair amount of sword fighting, wandering around and napping. One morning, a visitor narrowly escaped getting beaned by a tube sock, collateral damage in a game called Asoxination in which participants assassinate their opponents by walloping them with athletic socks. But all of it, Mr. Berger insisted, is learning, all of it valid. "We try not to pass judgment," he said.

The Upside of Boredom

Student empowerment at the Brooklyn Free School is not limited to how children spend their days. To a large degree, they run the institution themselves through the weekly Democratic Meetings. At these sessions, nearly every element of the school's day-to-day management — from behavioral issues to admissions criteria — can be debated, and everyone, from the youngest child to the director, has an equal vote.

One of the more hotly contested issues was the playing of video games on school computers. Over several months, a Talmudic set of guidelines evolved. One mandated that games be played only on particular terminals. Another limited play to certain times of day. When it was decided that scholarly research should take precedence over more frivolous uses, a new regulation was adopted allowing gamers a three-minute grace period before getting kicked off.

Running the Democratic Meeting that gray Wednesday was the budding Tibet scholar, Nick, who has a riotous tangle of black hair and a goth-inspired wardrobe. Although attendance at this meeting, unlike attendance at classes, is mandatory, paying attention is not. Three inseparable little girls — Sienna, Winnie and Lila — drew pictures and slurped cantaloupe during the proceedings. A pair of 11-year-old twins played quietly with a set of wooden train tracks, something they had been doing for the better part of each day for weeks, to the consternation of their mother.

Nick put the issue of boredom on the table for discussion, and hands shot up. "Contrary to popular belief, boredom is self-inflicted," suggested Silvan Carlson-Goodman, at 15 one of the school's elder statesmen. "The best cure is to just force yourself to do something, anything. Go for a walk, choreograph a musical, anything. Just do something."

David Easton, a 26-year-old instructor and self-described refugee from the New York Teaching Fellows program, added: "There's nothing wrong with being bored. In fact, it's actually the first step in figuring out what you really want to do."

Nick turned to Sophie, the 14-year-old. "So, is there a proposal, or did you just want to open the discussion?" he asked.

"Well," she replied, "I guess I would propose we come up with a list of things to do, suggestions for when someone's bored that we can post on the wall."

"A bored board!" someone chimed in. The motion carried by a wide margin.

But Does It Work?

Another example of what the Brooklyn Free School aspires to was on display one recent afternoon among the younger children in the Dolphin group, who are usually supervised by Kristen Palmer, a sunny 31-year-old with cat's-eye glasses and a bright smile. While Ms. Palmer showed a visitor the project her charges had been working on — a car fashioned from a big cardboard box — the children packed themselves into a fort made of foam squares.

"Hey, guys," Ms. Palmer suggested. "What if we made a poster about how we built the car?" It was a valiant attempt at redirection, but while it got them out of the fort and over to the table where Ms. Palmer had set out pens and paper, the plan fizzled: Oren, a bright-eyed 6-year-old, had a different idea.

"Hey, look how I make weird shapes," he announced as he folded a piece of construction paper, made a few random cuts, and with a bit of fanfare, unfolded the paper to reveal a pattern of stars. "Cool!" the others shouted as they dived for paper of their own. Ms. Palmer flashed a grin.

But can cut-out stars, Platonic dialogues, Asoxination and fancy cheese take the place of times tables and test prep? Mr. Berger thinks they can. While acknowledging that students in more traditional schools might be more proficient at certain skills, he added: "There's no reason a child of 7, 8, 9 needs to know the particular content they're being drilled on. If you learn how to learn, you can always pick up the content later."

Even among the school's parents, there is not total agreement on this point. A few of them, concerned about how their children will fare in an increasingly competitive world, have hired outside tutors to make sure the basics are covered.

After some of the older children started worrying about how they would get into college absent grades and transcripts, one teacher began holding a weekly discussion group called "Life After B.F.S." designed to explore the transition to jobs and college.

"I don't really know what they're doing academically," said Joe Gilford, a screenwriting teacher whose son, Jacob, 15, enrolled at the Brooklyn Free School this year after having trouble at Bay Ridge Prep. "I just have my fingers crossed."

Randi Karr, an administrator with the state Office of Mental Health, whose 11-year-old son, David, is a student, agreed. "Honestly," she said, "I think sometimes he plays most of the day."

Mr. Berger's ex-wife, Tokie Ozaki-Berger, is another critic. Ms. Ozaki-Berger, a receptionist in a doctor's office, was so upset when the couple's 14-year-old son, Alex, chose the Brooklyn Free School over La Guardia High School that she reported her ex-husband to the city's Department of Social Services, accusing him of educational neglect.

"I tried every angle to put Alex back in a regular school," Ms. Ozaki-Berger said. "I'm very worried about his future."

Nick Gulotta, who used to attend the Brooklyn School for Global Studies, is in many ways the ultimate Brooklyn Free School student: free-thinking, politically astute and so self-motivated that along with preparing his weekly seminar on Tibet he is taking three classes at the New School and working in a bookstore.

But even he is not sure that freedom is all it's cracked up to be. "I think I was really fortunate to go to a public school and get what I needed to pursue my interests," he said. "If these kids were in a regular school, they'd do writing and math every day. Here, they can play and stuff, but what happens when they want a real education?"

A Walk in the Park

The school is still recuperating from early growing pains. Eleven of the original 30 children drifted away during the first year; some parents withdrew their children in order to home-school them, while in other cases, the families left the city. The original three teachers also left.

But there are bright spots as well. Mr. Berger says that the three new teachers have more experience than their predecessors. After determining that the Brooklyn Free School was indeed a legitimate educational institution, Mr. Berger said, the Department of Social Services determined that he was not guilty of educational neglect. (A spokeswoman for the department declined to comment.)

The school's financial situation is also rosier: a direct-mail campaign netted $10,000, and enrollment is now up to 37.

But the Brooklyn Free School will never be just another place of learning, as was obvious one unseasonably warm day when Ms. Palmer tried to take the Dolphin group out to play.

In a free school, this is not exactly a simple matter.

"Who wants to go to the park?" she asked four little ones who were making car noises as they pushed big stuffed animals down the hall. "Not me!" came the reply.

In response, Ms. Palmer clasped her hands and called a meeting. As the children flopped down on a pair of beanbag chairs, she tried again. "How about we just go for a second, for a breath of fresh air?" she asked. "We can run around, play tag. ..."

In a conventional school, they would have been hunting for their jackets and dutifully lining up in single file. Here, they simply shook their heads and with self-satisfied giggles rushed back to their game.

As they dashed off, Mr. Easton poked his head in from the corridor. "What's up?" he asked.

"I have no idea," Ms. Palmer replied. "All I know is, I just got steamrolled."

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May 10 2006 22:16

I'm much too lazy to read the above but...

Yes, I used to work at a Free School in the 1980s called White Lion Free School in Islington.

It started up in the early 70s, when there was the kind of scene to support such a project. By the mid 80s however, it had become dependent on the ILEA and then finally Islington Council, who eventually cut its funding.

White Lion was never a fee-paying school like Summerhill but existed as a free libertarian school near Chapel Market in Islington. The school was run on direct democratic principles, with the weekly agenda decided by general meetings of the kids and workers. Everybody mucked in, learning and attendance was optional.

The kids were there either by choice, or because they had been expelled from every other school in the borough. So in this way, it was a bit of a dumping ground. Funnily enough, kids who never attended the 'normal' state schools would be inclined to turn up every day at White Lion. But having said this, there were many problems at the school, partly because it was a dumping ground.

The education authority would refer kids to White Lion because they didn't really know what else to do with them. Some of these kids would take to this different kind of education really positively, while others had no interest at all and would bully some of the other kids... the usual crap.

In the last year of its existence, some kids (from a local state school) set fire to the building on White Lion Street. We moved to a temporary location off York Way (which wasn't so suitable). This was also the time the government was bringing in the new National Curriculum. So we were already without a home, and after a visit from the inspector (who concluded that although White Lion did have educational value, it in no way bore any relation to the national curriculum), its funding was cut, there was no one to pay our wages, so it closed.

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May 11 2006 00:05

Coincidentally ''a fucking pointless waste of time'' both accurately summarises my view of '' 'free' schools '' and also provides a description of my contribution to this thread since i cant be bothered to argue the case about such cruel and irrelevant hippy rubbish.

chuy
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May 11 2006 05:12

yeah i to have worked at a "free school" (we called it a democratic school) in west virginia, the highland school. the functioning of it, and i presume the philosophy of it too, is very similar to what serge forward described. the main difference i suppose being that our school wasn't a dumping ground for all the deliquent youth...although i understand that that was the case back in the late 90's.

freedum...if your interested the website www.educationrevolution.org has a lot of general info, as well as the contant info for many of these types of schools.

oh yeah, and i did purchase a vhs from that website which was a series of interviews with folks that had been faculty and students at some of the ferrer modern schools here in the states

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May 11 2006 07:49
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Coincidentally ''a fucking pointless waste of time'' both accurately summarises my view of '' 'free' schools '' and also provides a description of my contribution to this thread since i cant be bothered to argue the case about such cruel and irrelevant hippy rubbish.

A tad harsh, I think. For many of the kids at the free school I worked at, it wasn't a waste of time. Many of the kids who had been expelled from every other school would often tell me that it was the only place they'd ever learnt anything. I saw some kids come in, with zero literacy skills, eventually able to put pen to paper. So in this way it had some value.

However, this was not the reason the free school existed in the first place. It wasn't intended to cope with kids who were just there because they had been violent at their previous schools.

It was neither cruel or irrelevent. But a little over-idealistic for the harsh realities of contemporary Britain? Definitely yes.

Funnily enough, I used to know a guy who went to White Lion in its early days in the 70s. As I recall, he was in London Workers Group, might have had something to do with Workers Playtime and was an anti-state communist. Dunno if he's still around or even on Libcom, but it would be interesting to see what he thought about it all.

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May 11 2006 10:46
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Coincidentally ''a fucking pointless waste of time'' both accurately summarises my view of '' 'free' schools '' and also provides a description of my contribution to this thread since i cant be bothered to argue the case about such cruel and irrelevant hippy rubbish.

Is that a joke?

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May 11 2006 10:52
John. wrote:
Is that a joke?
freedum
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May 11 2006 14:50
Serge Forward wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Coincidentally ''a fucking pointless waste of time'' both accurately summarises my view of '' 'free' schools '' and also provides a description of my contribution to this thread since i cant be bothered to argue the case about such cruel and irrelevant hippy rubbish.

A tad harsh, I think. For many of the kids at the free school I worked at, it wasn't a waste of time. Many of the kids who had been expelled from every other school would often tell me that it was the only place they'd ever learnt anything. I saw some kids come in, with zero literacy skills, eventually able to put pen to paper. So in this way it had some value.

It was neither cruel or irrelevent. But a little over-idealistic for the harsh realities of contemporary Britain? Definitely yes.

i agree with Serge Forward. i think his experiences with kids actually learning in the free school environment speaks for itself.

i can see how the lack of traditional structure does give it a "hippie-ish" feel, often associated (for good reason) with total disorganization, lack of accomplishment, etc. there are plenty of ways to fuck the whole thing up. but then again, you can say the same thing about anarchism in general. in fact a good friend of mine, a fawning admirer of the Lenin and the "great Bolshevik revolution" (his words) always tells me that "anarchist writing" (and he really has read a lot, i'll give him that) is based on "pure air" or a "total vaccum" (i.e. has zero factual basis), "except for, may be, Kropotkin" (i guess that's why Moscow had and still has a subway station called Kropotkinskaya). other people are less articulate than my bolshevik-loving friend, but often express the same sentiments, in more plebian terms, when they find out about my interest in anarchist practice.

in layman's/pop-culture terms, i sometimes resort to (someone slap me!) that cheezy line from Spider Man "with great powers, comes great responsibility..." in other words, more direct control over your life on a collective and individual basis (as anarchists propose) means more freedom, more power and yeah, more chores for all members of society. while i certainly don't dismiss the possibility of being very wrong, it seems to me that with anarchism and anarchistic projects like "free schools" you get out of it what you put into it.

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May 11 2006 18:16

It's also worth remembering, that the free school 'movement' that took off in late 60s/early 70s Britain has to be compared with state schools of the time. The average secondary modern was very limited educationally, in fact any education was often purely incidental as their existence was based almost wholly on locking up working class kids for five days a week while giving them a basic enough education to turn them into factory fodder. (OK, this happens also today with your average comprehensive school, but not nearly to the same extent.) Additionally, there was the issue of corporal punishment used on a routine day-to-day basis - the free schools of course didn't have that sort of thing.

In those days, teaching methods were also very 'teacher-centred,' so it's interesting to note that contemporary 'student-centred' teaching methods came out of none other than the free school movement - which isn't too bad for 'a fucking pointless waste of time'.

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May 11 2006 19:05

The various projects that occurred under the umbrella term of 'Free School' were very diverse - so blanket dismissals are entirely out of place here, and "a pointless waste of time". Summerhill and a few other similar places have been around for 60+ years and have always been fee-paying, so catered mainly for the bohemian middle classes. But the inner-city Free Schools that emerged in the 1970s were very different, as Serge has described.

You may be referring to me, Serge; I went to a free school in London in the 70s, after being kicked out of a comprehensive, aged 13. In White Lion and my school it was mainly local working class kids who didn't like straight school, and/or had been kicked out. In those days, White Lion was more structured than my one, with a set timetable etc. Both were funded by the local councils from their education budget. In these early days I don't think many kids were referred by the authorities, kids just heard about it word of mouth. My school was mainly staffed by ex-students, many from the first wave of working class grammar school kids who went to university and were obviously influenced by the radical counter-culture of the time (which can't just be dismissed as all hippy rubbish; this was the 70s and many people had seen thru alot of the more obvious crap by then). Alot of them were northerners, for some reason. I had a great time, as did everyone else most of the time, we could do pretty much what we wanted. The kids determined the content of the situation as much, or more often, than anyone else. I left there with no qualifications, which I wasn't in the least bit bothered about.

Apart from anything else, the free schools had a practical function - they got the authorities, truant officers etc, off the backs of the kids and their parents. And though attendance wasn't compulsory, most kids did spend most of their time there - I guess they were kind of kids' social centres, with a bit of the feel of some of the squat-type social centres - except better, really.

The most famous free school of the time was in Scotland Rd in Liverpool. We had exchange visits with them. They were much less well funded than the London schools, but then the whole area was much more run down than any part of London at the time, still full of bomb sites from the war.

The inner-city free schools were a product of their times, they wouldn't be tolerated these days unless they were self-funding, and as Serge said, followed all sorts of government-dictated targets - though I hear there are small networks of home-educating parents and kids (who, I suspect, miss out on the inter-acting 'socialising' aspect of school, though that 'socialising' is a very double-edged process - includes bullying etc). Unlike the Summerhill-type places, the 70s inner-city free schools were community based, did not restrict access by ability to pay, and were all the better for it.

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May 11 2006 19:31
Ret Marut wrote:
You may be referring to me, Serge; I went to a free school in London in the 70s, after being kicked out of a comprehensive, aged 13.

Don't tell me it's yet another one for 'Comrades Reunited'! I was in London AF then, squatting in Wood Green with an ex-WSM member.

The fact that you left school without qualifications is no big deal either, as that was the case for most of us who went to state schools in those days. I left school at 16 with no qualifications and was barely literate and numerate... but good enough to do the shittiest job at a nearby factory. The difference was, I got terrorised by the teachers who would beat the crap out of me almost every day.

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May 11 2006 19:45

Serge; It's getting like 'This is Your Life' on here... old politicos don't die - they end up on libcom. I'll pm you.

Blacknred Ned
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Jun 19 2006 08:52

I thought that it might be worth adding another reply to this thread just to bring the ideas discussed here of alternative models of education back to the attention of people posting on the teacher hating thread.

My partner and I home educate, but I think sometyhing like a free school approach would definitely appeal to us as at least a part-time outlet for our kids if there was one near us. The home education scene is interesting in this regard because there are loads of groups countrywide that bring all different sorts of home-ed kids together, but I don't know of any that have developed free school type practices..... it's an idea.

I believe that Colin Ward discusses a free school experiment in 'Anarchy in Action'.

chuy
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Jun 21 2006 00:59

yeah i don't know 'bout this teacher bashing...

but the may/june edition of 'psychology today' (i've heard it described as the 'people' magazine of psychology) had a couple of positive pieces on one of the more well known (in the proper circles of course) democratic schools, sudbury valley. here's the links,

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20060427-000002.html

&

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20060424-000004.html

also, i was under the impression that many "free schools" were named so not so much because they were free in that no costs, or tuition, was involved, but rather because of the amount of freedom the students and staff had in creating the system as opposed to public school's. am i wrong?

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Jun 21 2006 02:44

Yeah you are right - free school doesn't denote non-payment and applies to more creative approaches to education/learning. Less prescribed/more child-centred IMO.

There used to be a magazine called Lib Ed - Libertarian Education - anyone heard of it? Freedom used to stock it. Had some good articles.

I can quite believe the psych. mag you cite is known as the "peoples psych" mag - but given how ALL psychology is/should be about people just goes to show how institutionalised/self-absorbed it can become....

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Jun 21 2006 09:32
Lone Wolf wrote:
There used to be a magazine called Lib Ed - Libertarian Education - anyone heard of it? Freedom used to stock it. Had some good articles.

They have a site now: http://libed.org.uk/

Blacknred Ned
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Jun 21 2006 20:03

Thanks John, ashamed as I am to admit it as a home educator I was unaware of this website.

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Jun 21 2006 23:53

Yeah cheers John - you are a font of useful info/web links - a veritable font. OK so you're not much of a football fan but you can't have everything. wink Props due to me also Ned, eh, for knowing of these peeps. wink Don't give John all your adoration - he gets enough!!!

Blacknred Ned
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Jun 22 2006 15:54

A share of adoration to you also LW, although that is not a very valuable currency on Libcom I am afraid. smile

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Jun 22 2006 23:34

Ned - I'll take what I can get. neutral Better than being insulted! tongue

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Apr 20 2012 09:49

I'd like to than the fucking spammer for bringing back this old thread. It was interesting reading.

Spikymike
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Apr 20 2012 15:08

There was a short lived similar 'free school' experiment here in Manchester for a while back then also.

But of course the 'free school' label has now been comandeered by the state as a part of it's privatisation programme and sold on libertarian and parent choice ideology.

I noticed a small group of 'middle-class' parents locally where I live were looking to start up one of these so-called free schools for primary children on the Montessori model but haven't heard anything about it sinse - can't say i'm supportive of these attempts (or home schooling either) as they seem to be unhelpfully socially segregating in a way which might be deterimental to the children in the long run, but then there is so much about the whole state school system that needs fighting against and I haven't got children 'of my own' to worry about so not sure how I would react if I did.

jameswalsh
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Apr 27 2012 23:45

I'd love to work in one because I know the state schools are very unfree ones for the kids! If I didn't have an education degree I'd be well paranoid about sending my kids to a state school.

Also a friend went to one and he really enjoyed it and it was the only schooling that did him much good or he enjoyed. Wish I went to one as well.