About the Documentary
In March and April of 2006, we visited 23 free schools, community centers, after school programs, summer camps, skill shares, charter schools and private schools. We interviewed students, parents and teachers about their experiences with creating and sustaining radical learning spaces. We define this as non-compulsory, non-coercive physical spaces set up for various types of learning and projects. The documentary outlines a history of both conventional and radical education, explores peoples definitions of learning, highlights some interesting spaces as examples, identifies major themes common between spaces, and addresses the role of these spaces in the wider movement for social change.
As people inspired by various philosophies of radical education, we have related a project aimed at exploring the deschooling/ radical education movement in the United States. Through conversations, interviews, field recording and other audio documentation we hope to illustrate this movement,and its overlapping, multi-faceted ideologies and manifestations, using living examples from a variety of progressive, alternative, radical, and free learning spaces. We hope to form this research into a cohesive, informative, creative, and accessible radio program for alternative/community/public radio with the following goals:
List of Schools Visited:
Upattina's School in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania
The Brooklyn Free School in Brooklyn, New York
The MET Center in Providence, Rhode Island
Albany Free School in Albany, New York
Dane County Transition School in Madison, Wisconsin
The Zoo School in Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Missoula Free Skool in Missoula, Montana
The Purple Thistle Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia
The Windsor House in Vancouver, British Columbia
Puget Sound Community School in Seattle, Washington
Clearwater School in Seattle, Washington
The Olympia Community Free School in Olympia, Washington
The Village Free School in Portland, Oregon
Trillium Charter School in Portland, Oregon
Not Back to School Camp in Eugene, Oregon
The Santa Cruz Free Skool in Santa Cruz, California
The Berkeley Free Skool in Berkeley, California
Making Changes Freedom Center in San Pablo, California
Oak Grove School in Ojai, California
Paulo Freire Freedom School in Tucson, Arizona
The Living School in Boulder, Colorado
Harmony School in Bloomington, Indiana
Common attributes to "radical learning spaces": Qualitative criteria for selecting places to visit and document (we are interested in documenting schools with any or all of these qualities):
2. Locally based (educational needs of particular community addressed by the place).
4. Opinions of people of all ages are respected and valued.
5. Public and private places that operate with free, work trade or sliding scale tuitions that accommodate people from all economic backgrounds.
6. A self-directed approach to curriculum ranging from completely individualized (i.e. a student desires to learn about dinosaurs and is directed toward resources and tools) to student-input (i.e. while studying biology and evolution, a student wants to spend a day focusing on dinosaurs).
7. A democratic, community approach to governing and decision-making (rules, structure, conflict resolution, etc.).
8. A life-long approach to learning (i.e. kids can teach adults, students are not completely segregated based on age, and encouragement that learning goes beyond time spent in the place).
9. Involvement of greater community (i.e. kids volunteer locally, parents help teach classes, local mentors are involved as guest speakers or teachers, students orient school projects outward toward local community, such as murals or oral history projects).
10. Emphasis on experiential, holistic, interdisciplinary learning (all different learning styles and interests are valued and encouraged, hands-on experiences, contact with outside environment).
11. Non-competitive atmosphere and assessments with alternative measures of success (without simple reward-punishment systems).
12. Sense of belonging to or commitment to a broader concept of social change.