DIY and Cooperative Education
“School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.”
— – Ivan Illich, “Deschooling Society”
Of course, no one does anything completely by themselves. Still, I call these forms of education “Do-It-Yourself” because they are super hands-on. They come with vague instructions when they come with instructions at all and, when done well, the learner gets to make the big decisions (and do all the work.)
Under this banner I include:
Unschooling – learning by living and following your interests, with guidance.
Self – Education – you want to learn something and do what you need to do to learn it!
Institutional DIY Education – so maybe you attend a traditional school; sometimes there’re still ways to craft your own education within the confines of that structure.
Cooperative education is not about one person learning, but a group – a group of people learning together and making decisions together without bosses.
Free Schools and Sudbury Schools – pictured top right is an old class picture of students at Harriet Tubman Democratic Free School. These students chose how they would spend their days at school. Free schools all differ, but choice is key in all of them.
Homeschool Cooperatives and Resource Centers – these generally come in two flavors – a group of educators establish a place where homeschoolers can gather to learn together or parents of homeschoolers get together to pool resources and spend time together learning.
I became fascinated with DIY and cooperative education long ago, but told myself that it just wasn’t practical for the students I am committed to work with – the disenfranchised, exploited and marginalized. I read lots about middle class, White families involved in DIY and cooperative education and thought I’d take the great ideas they were employing to the public school classroom. Eventually I found it harder and harder to reconcile the assumptions of public school with the principles of DIY and cooperative education and decided I’d break away. My mission is to show how DIY and cooperative education can rebuild our communities around equity. I am a champion of DIY and cooperative education for ALL!
THIS WAS A VIDEO I MADE IN UNDERGRAD ABOUT FREE SCHOOLS. WE HAD A LIVELY DISCUSSION IN CLASS AFTERWARD.