Free as in Skool

March 13, 2007

Last night, ABC Cafe hosted a benefit concert and information session for Ithaca Freeskool, a new local collective aiming to start an anarchist learning initiative in Ithaca.

I first heard of this type of collective learning initiative when I found Anarchist Free University in Toronto in a post on Boing Boing. Their website is complete with curricula for each course, including ones on obscure topics like Current Indigenous Movements in the Context of What is Known as Canada and Secret History Of The World. Members are invited to teach anything they have to offer, but courses run as rigid as a normal institution: There are summer, winter, and fall sessions that run for ten weeks each.

The Ithaca Freeskool is loosely modeling itself after Free Skool Santa Cruz. Its website sums up its mission quite succinctly:

Free Skool Santa Cruz is an interactive, decentralized model for learning-without the limitations of hierarchy and the sterile institutional environment of a University or formal school. It is an attempt to de-school ourselves and to learn from one another the skills necessary to transform society and challenge oppressive systems.

I am currently considering teaching a course at Ithaca Freeskool, but am unsure of a topic which is aligned with their mission. Here are a few ideas I’ve been kicking around; maybe you can help me decide:

  • Choose Your Own Text Adventure — Learn how to create your own text adventure computer game using the Ruby programming language. Examine the language from the bottom up and have a lot of fun developing a storyline as well.
  • 21st Century Ethics — A discussion group about ethical issues facing Generation Next. Topics will include the open source software initiative, intellectual property laws, and environmental responsibility.
  • What the F@&K is Ontology? — A discussion group surveying the branch of philosophy known as ontology, the study of being.

For more information on Ithaca Freeskool (including a link to their mailing list), please visit this post from Ithaca Underground.