“Freedom Learning Practices: From Brisbane to NYC to Oaxaca”
Saturday, May 31, 5pm-7pm
Balsley Park (W 57th st & 9th ave), Manhattan
This panel gathered Fern Thompsett from the Brisbane Free University in Australia, Conor Tomás Reed from the Free University of NYC, and Lindsey Shilleh from Unitierra in Oaxaca, Mexico, to explore alternatives to education, in a move beyond alternative education. We situate learning at the core of our capacity to collectively imagine and develop the sort of society in which we wish to live. However, we recognize that current educational structures can submerge us further in the capitalist system, and convert education into a commodity to be bought and sold, which threatens autonomous learning. We also see that radical pedagogies, student/teacher uprisings (ex: Chicago, Chile, Quebec), and the long tradition of freedom schools can frame a people’s history of learning inside/outside institutions to reverse the demise of education as a commons.
We therefore asked (and continue to ask): How can we create alternatives beyond educational institutions that also transform these institutions and societies in the process? How can we reclaim learning as a form of resistance and liberation? Our three projects have taken such forms as cooperatives, documentaries, militant research, radio programs, seminars, and workshops in such spaces as museums, parking lots, parks, street corners, and subway stations. We shared from our experiences of collective, free, non-institutional learning to suggest (and asked) how to re-imagine what it is to learn as a crucial part of social movement life.