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Modern free schools have a lot to learn from anarchist education

Deschooling and Education

More pupil power and less hierarchy in schools could better train children for life, an exhibition in south London reveals.

Modern free schools have a lot to learn from anarchist education

Matthew Jenkin
The Guardian
Thursday 31 January 2013

While Thatcher took away free milk and Blair gave us academies, the coalition government's legacy is the controversial drive for even more free schools. The intention is to broaden education and increase choice. But tell that to the anarchist thinkers of the early 20th century, whose original free schools had little time for meddling ministers.

An exhibition in south London compares today's neo-liberal understanding of free school with past and present models of self-run education. And the artist behind it believes there's plenty both teachers and politicians could learn from a little anarchy in the UK.

Artist Adelita Husni-Bey's Playing Truant at Gasworks gallery in Vauxhall combines video and sound installations with drawing to explore the gaping discrepancy between the two free school models: one rooted in anarcho-collectivism, run without formal learning or hierarchy, and the other stemming from the increasing privatisation of education since the 1970s, and currently packaged up with the Conservative Party's much-contested notion of the 'big society'.

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