Thursday, June 9, 2011

Critical Free School

Via Mel, this could be interesting--the Critical Free School, an "an online, radical free school." Looks like there's not a huge amount there quite yet, but what is there looks exciting, and looks set to expand.

10 comments:

Aaron Em said...

And wouldn't it be awesome if they had something useful? You know, to people who aren't already progressive anarchist-wannabe policy wonks in perfect agreement with everything the free school is selling?

Anonymous said...

To expand my previous comment: Useful to people who aren't already et cetera, and who aren't also college students with access to a God-damned university library?

Shit like this is why I'm embarrassed to call myself "progressive" any more. I mean, I still agree with y'all on just about everything except energy policy, but this shit? And the idea that, somewhere, there are people who actually can say with a straight face that in carrying on this way they're doing something that is of use to humanity? I can't swallow that any more. I can't even be nice to it. It is pointless horseshit of value only to the people who are doing it, because it is intended only for the value of the people who are doing it. It's a line-item for somebody's resume, and nothing more. I'm sick of acting like there's anything of value or worth or meaning there to a working-class fuckup like me who never went to school and never will afford to -- you know, the very sort of person the progressive movement claims to understand that it needs, those it is supposedly trying to reach. (You know, when it's not calling us a bunch of worthless tax-sucking inbred backward racist white trash red-state redneck hicks with which there's nothing better to do than exterminate just as any other vermin.)

Anarchism? Jesus please us! You want to say you're doing something that means something, you want to get people like me to pay attention and take you seriously when you're talking up your politics, why aren't you offering to teach people how to fix their own toilets and computers, how to grow their own food?

Ethan said...

Whoa there.

For one thing, "progressive"? No thanks.

Energy policy? My energy policy is, get rid of all this fucking energy.

Also: I think all of your objections can be countered simply by saying "this is not the only thing that anybody is going to do." People can do more than one thing; i.e., read a book or two and fix a toilet. I just figure, as long as the internet's here, which it is for now and won't be for long, we (and yes, that "we" does not include the vast majority of people on earth, but it does include me and, apparently, you) might as well take advantage of it. For whatever we see fit.

I mean, here. Or here, if you want to fix a computer. Have a ball. They're great sites. I just didn't happen to see them this morning and get interested, is all. But I look at more than one thing on the internet, and the internet isn't the only thing I look at, and I have a slight, slight feeling that the same is true for you and for everyone else.

Ethan said...

Also: the place is new, not much there yet; to me it makes sense to start with a kind of statement of principles and expand from there. And hey, if you want toilet classes, suggest it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, sorry, that rant's been boiling since about yesterday, and would ideally have been better delivered to the crypto-social-Darwinist assholes who inspired it. Sorry for crapping up your comment section.

And I think I will suggest they add some classes in things that even somebody without a bachelor's degree might find useful. Hasn't worked so far on my local free school, which includes more art-student stuff along with the poli sci, but otherwise has the same problem of lacking anything resembling relevance. But one can always hope, right?

(And don't say "teach it yourself" unless you're prepared to pay my rent.)

Richard said...

I'm sort of mystified by the apparent assumption that people without a bachelor's degree, or who work for a living, couldn't or wouldn't want to read some of that stuff.

Ethan said...

No need to apologize, Aaron, but thanks for the apology anyway!

Though I admit that I share Richard's mystification, the general outlines of your frustration make sense to me (though, as you say yourself, they might be a bit misplaced here--crypto-Social-Darwinists, yikes, kick their asses).

Critical Free School said...

Hey all,

I started the Critical Free School project. You're asking the right questions here -- my idea was, and is, the following:

- Start with a small base of loosely-structured classes, that can be either individually or cooperatively driven;

- Catered towards people who are intellectually curious, but not necessarily part of academia;

- Challenging, but not intimidating (the professor-knows-best syndrome).

As for university library access: that's a toughie. I wound up using Link+ via the local library a lot, but not all libraries have inter-library programs. Whenever possible, I link to materials online; to be honest, I'd love to link to torrents, but I'm trying to keep from getting DMCA'd out the wazoo before the ink's dry here.

Statement of purpose: I wrote something up, and pared it down to the text you see in the header on the splash page. There's also the question of who is going to drive said purpose: part of the reason I've kept things loose but structured is so that people can find their own pace, and use Twitter or FB or whatever to structure things with each other. If that ends up being too open-ended, I'll come up with something.

Lastly, shout out to the anonymous poster about doing something of actual use: amen to that. The "Critical" part of the free school equation here may not be "how to fix a toilet," but it definitely is "how to think about toilets (and landlords) and landlord-toilet/toilet-landlord things better, when your landlord does landlord-like things around said toilet." Part of the reason I started the project is that I burned out on trying to get professional activists to take people who aren't part of their cliques seriously -- there's a lot of moral and ethical condescension out there that sort of turns my stomach, so instead of being their token ranty rant person for yet another fun-filled year, I did this. Hopefully, it'll take off and people will make good use of it, including starting their own projects; if not, onto the next thing. Such is life on the internets...

Ethan said...

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the info!

I registered myself, but haven't poked around much yet (still). Hope to before too long...

(By the way, by "statement of purpose" I meant more the "101"-type classes that are up now...poor phrasing on my part.)

Critical Free School said...

Glad to! Let me know what you think, for sure.

RE 101 classes: if you mean "Where do I start learning the source material," the core curriculum is a good place to start.

If you're referring to a "Here's how you use CFS" sort of 101 though, there's nothing like that yet; the site is mostly self-explanatory (I hope ;) ). However, this sort of thing could be very useful if/when the site gets large enough to be daunting in scope.