“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Freedom's just another word........

Now that everyone from Toby Young to Transcendental Maharishi Whatsit to business empires wanting to add education to their corporate social responsibility profiles, can open a Free School we might ask, "free in what sense?" Some of the parents interviewed in the last few days seem to be under the impression that an education comparable to a public school one is being offered, but for free. There was a Free School movement in this country years ago and many anarchists were involved in it. These schools aimed to be free from learning by rote and free from the unquestioning obedience and brutal regimes of corporal punishment that was the norm in British education; state and private. Some of these schools, such as A.S Neill's Summerhill, were far from free in the monetary sense with fees comparable to other establishments in the private sector. Most of us felt that isolating kids from the mainstream, be it in some posh private school or a free for all hippy establishment, was both socially divisive and not in the best interests of the kids themselves and that "free range" was something perhaps best reserved for poultry. We opted for the Comp down the road. By the late 70's many of the radical ideas about the role of freedom in child development had filtered through to the mainstream. Those are the very ideas that have been consistently challenged by the right ever since and routinely blamed for every social ill imaginable. How ironic that the most recent critique of the idea of freedom in education will come from "Free Schools".

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