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The Emergence of Compulsory Schooling and Anarchist Resistance | The Anarchist Library
"It is a philosophically Platonic, Prussian-inspired compulsory school system that exists today, not only in North America, but one that is being rapidly becoming globalized in form, function and content.

The emergence of universal schooling was necessarily tied to the health and hegemony of the modern State: the two are intricately linked. Thus, the most articulate and powerful opposition to schooling has always come from anarchists, three of whom I want to mention briefly here; William Godwin, Leo Tolstoy and Francisco Ferrer.

Godwin is frequently recognized as the first anarchist philosopher, with the publication of Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) the first articulated refutation of the State, and his 1797 book, The Enquirer the first published rejection of national schooling. He had tried to open a school in 1783 and when it failed, turned to writing. Godwin believed that compulsory schooling would become an immensely malleable instrument in the hands of government to manipulate and effect public opinion for their own uses.
Before we put so powerful a machine under the direction of so ambiguous an agent, it behooves us to consider well what it is that we do. Government will not fail to employ it, to strengthen its hands, and perpetuate its institutions.[10]

Godwin’s position was that genuine education should directed towards the veneration and pursuit of truth and justice, but that national schooling would always subordinate those goals to their larger political interests.

Had the scheme of a national education been adopted when despotism was most triumphant, it is not to be believed that it could have for ever stifled the voice of truth. But it would have been the most formidable and profound contrivance for that purpose, that imagination can suggest. [11]

Thus schools were mere tools, and critically influential tools, built for the maintenance and proliferation of State ideologies and patriotism. Godwin’s position was particularly interesting because he was married to Mary Wollstonecraft, the writer and feminist, who was a vocal advocate for compulsory schooling, arguing that it would be the best means for inculcating an ethic of equality and allowing equal access for men and women.[12]

Leo Tolstoy, Christian anarchist and celebrated novelist, on the other hand, was more interested in children than writing about them. He established a school for peasant children on his estate, called, like journal he founded exploring his thinking about schools and children, Yasnaya Polyana. Significantly, Tolstoy differentiated between education and culture in a way that I consider striking and still relevant. He wrote that
Education is the tendency of one man to make another just like himself... Education is culture under restraint, culture is free. [Education is] when the teaching is forced upon the pupil, and when then instruction is exclusive, that is when only those subjects are taught which the educator regards as necessary.[13]

Tolstoy’s school was centered around the idea of free inquiry and foreshadowed Summerhill[14] in many ways. He held that since teaching and instruction were only means culture transmission when they were free, students should be left to learn what they wanted to learn, directing both themselves and the kinds of classes they wanted taught. Without compulsion, education was transformed into culture.[15] Tolstoy was less concerned with state schooling (although he opposed it) and more interested in anarchist pedagogy.

Like Tolstoy, Francisco Ferrer was an active anarchist when he opened his school, the Modern School, in Spain in the 1901. Ferrer was most interested in creating an institution where children could be free of dogmatic ideological interests and could develop in an atmosphere not intended to forge good citizens, religious individuals or even inculcate strong morals. “Since we are not educating for a specific purpose, we cannot determine the capacity or incapacity of the child”[16]

Ferrer was intent upon loosing schools from both hegemonic teaching and State control. At the turn of the 20th Century it was becoming evident that no only were schools forging citizens but industrial workers, and that government control was essential to their nature.
They know, better than anyone else that their power is based almost entirely on the school. ... [They want schools] not because they hope for the revolution of society through education, but because they need individuals, workmen, perfected instruments of labor to make their industrial enterprises and the capital employed in them profitable... [They] have never wanted the uplift of the individual, but his enslavement; and it is perfectly useless to hope for anything but the school of to-day.[17]

Much like Godwin, Ferrer regarded schools as powerful governmental tools, made all the more dominant by their compulsory nature. After developing his school, sparking the rise of the Modern School movement[18], starting the International League for the Rational Education of Children as well as a journal L’Ecole Renovee, Ferrer was executed in Spain in 1909 for plotting an insurrection.

These three were hardly on their own, there were many who resisted compulsory schooling right from its first proposal, from various political stances and rationales, some laudable some reprehensible, all over Europe and America. The point in highlighting Godwin, Tolstoy and Ferrer is to make clear that resistance to compulsory schooling is also at heart resistance to centralized control. In that, alternatives of all kind are built on ideals of self-reliance, community control of resources, and the idea that democracy has to be local."
matthern  education  schooling  schools  anarchism  anarchy  2003  plato  rousseau  voltaire  condorcet  diderot  louis-renedelachalotais  history  prussia  horacemann  williamgodwin  tolstoy  franciscoferrer  unschooling  deschooling 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Friends of the Modern School
"Between 1910 and 1960 a remarkable educational experiment took place in the United States under the aegis of the anarchist movement. For half a century anarchists from New York to Los Angeles carried on a venture in learning that was unique in American history. Inspired by the execution of Francisco Ferrer, the Spanish educator and martyr, more than twenty schools were established in different parts of the country where children might study in an atmosphere of freedom and self-reliance, in contrast to the formality and discipline of the traditional classroom.

These Modern Schools, as they were called, differed from other educational experiments of the same period in being schools for children of workers and directed by the workers themselves. Their founders, moreover, were anarchists, whose prophets were Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Tolstoy as well as Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Froebel, and who sought to abolish all forms of authority, political and economic as well as educational, and to usher in a new society based on the voluntary cooperation of free individuals."
modernschools  modernschoolmovement  anarchism  tolstoy  rousseau  froebel  franciscoferrer  nyc  losangeles  education  history  schools  us  lcproject  openstudioproject  freedom  mikhailbakunin  pestalozzi  emmagoldman  willdurant  alexanderberkman  alexisferm  elizabethferm  peterkropotkin  friedrichfroebel 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Anarchistic free school - Wikipedia
"An anarchistic free school (also anarchist free school and free skool) is a decentralized network in which skills, information, and knowledge are shared without hierarchy or the institutional environment of formal schooling. Free school students may be adults, children, or both. This organisational structure is distinct from ones used by democratic free schools which permit children's individual initiatives and learning endeavors within the context of a school democracy, and from free education where 'traditional' schooling is made available to pupils without charge."
democracy  history  deschooling  unschooling  grassroots  wikipedia  hierarchy  democraticschools  freeschools  schools  escuelamoderna  franciscoferrer  anarchy  anarchism 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School: Contents
"Here is the full story of the Modern School, told in transparently simple language. Here is the whole man, with all his ideals, aims, and resentments. It shows, as we well knew, and could have proved with overwhelming force at his trial had we been permitted, that he was absolutely opposed to violence ever since, in his youth, he had taken part in an abortive revolution. It tells how he came to distrust violence and those who used it; how he concluded that the moral and intellectual training of children was to be the sole work of his career; how, when he obtained the funds, he turned completely from politics, and devoted himself to educating children in knowledge of science and in sentiments of peace and brotherhood."
education  politics  history  unschooling  deschooling  franciscoferrer  themodernschool  anarchism  1913  lcproject  learning  children  toread 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Stelton Modern School: A Brief History of Fransisco Ferrer
"The concepts of rational education did not grow out of a vacuum. [explained]  … The ideals of free education begin in response to the ideals of classical education that were particularly prevalent at that time.  The first part of the free education system begins with the belief that imitation and repetition perverted or inhibited the natural development of the pupil.  The learning of new skills, both simple and complex should instead be done in a natural fashion.  In contrast to the development of ivory tower scholarship, the proponents of rational education believed in knowledge derived from both experience of, and interaction with the world - "learning by doing.""
education  history  anarchism  anarchy  freeschools  learningbydoing  lcproject  progressive  teaching  learning  pedagogy  franciscoferrer  peterkropotkin  schools  escuelamoderna  modernschools  interaction  experientiallearning  mikhailbakunin  trinidadsoriano  paulrobins  tolstoy  rousseau  frederichfroebel  steltonmodernschool 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Escuela Moderna - Wikipedia
"La Escuela Moderna was a progressive school that existed briefly at the start of the 20th century in Catalonia.

Founded in 1901 in Barcelona by free-thinker Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, the school's stated goal was to "educate the working class in a rational, secular & non-coercive setting". In practice, high tuition fees restricted attendance at the school to wealthier middle class students. It was privately hoped that when the time was ripe for revolutionary action, these students would be motivated to lead the working classes.

It closed in 1906. Shortly after, Ferrer was executed for sedition.

Today, the only remaining archives from the school are held in the special collections department of the University of California, San Diego.

La Escuela Moderna, & Ferrer's ideas generally, formed the inspiration for a series of Modern Schools in the US, Cuba, South America & London. The first of these was started in NYC in 1911."

[See also http://struggle.ws/spain/ferrer.html AND http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheenachi/4351675600/ ]
education  anarchism  escuelamoderna  franciscoferrer  unschooling  deschooling  coercion  modernschools  ucsd  anarchy  schools  barcelona  catalonia  spain  españa 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Free school - Wikipedia
"An anarchistic free school (also anarchist free school and free skool) is a decentralized network in which skills, information, and knowledge are shared without hierarchy or the institutional environment of formal schooling. This organisational structure is distinct from ones used by democratic free schools which permit children's individual initiatives and learning endeavors within the context of a school democracy and from Free education where 'traditional' schooling is made available to pupils without charge."
anarchism  anarchy  freeschools  freeskool  franciscoferrer  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  lcproject 
may 2010 by robertogreco

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