About the class

Calling all youth-workers, education rabble-rousers, social justice educators, EXCO fellows, free schoolers, home schoolers, de-schoolers, un-schoolers, re-schoolers…what is your vision for education? Share it with us!

Our intention with this class is to create a space to learn together about various forms of alternative, democratically based education. By that we mean schools or other sites of learning (EXCO, for example!) that are re-defining what it means to be educated. We mean educational spaces that are specifically centered on self-directed learning, youth governance and development of students ability to think & learn outside the classroom. We will explore schools & projects here in the Twin Cities that are intentionally structured to give students a voice in their own education. We will be structuring the course as a discussion group – a space to workshop ideas, share thoughts and revelations, and attempt to answer some of these questions together. As facilitators, we will try our best to foster a climate of curiosity and learning – you can expect us to prepare readings, share our experiences in the traditional public school setting, and lead discussion – but we are not experts, and what this class/group becomes very much depends on those who are present! In the spirit of EXCO, we invite you to join in a collective learning experiment – we will see what we can learn together.

Over the course of this group, we will work together to come to a better understanding of alternative ways of learning & “doing” school. Topics and discussions could take many different forms, and will be determined by group interest. Facilitators will provide readings/videos/topics for the first few weeks.

Questions we might explore:

What is the purpose of education, and what are the goals of “becoming educated”? To what extent does our current system achieve this aim?

What is learning and where does it happen?

What are our personal experiences with education and educational institutions? How do those experiences affect our understanding of schooling, and how would we like to see these institutions changed?

What does non-coercive, self-directed learning actually look like on the ground, and what schools and educational projects in the Twin Cities are already working towards this reality?

What might it look like to fit such schools into the current system – what are drawbacks and struggles that non-hierarchical, democratically run schools face, and what are some solutions these schools have found?

What would it mean to develop not just the three R’s, but critical consciousness and a sense of social justice?

What forms of knowledge are most valued in our current educational system, and what might be left out?

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