Review: RaEd (Radical Education)
UNCONFERENCE ON COUNTERCULTURAL PRAXIS IN EDUCATION
By: Taks Barbin/ SafeHouse Infoshop Q.C.
The first unconference on Radical Educational practices in the archipelago was held last June 23. Kids, parents and educators gathered at the Solo Arts and Dine despite the heavy rain. The topics discussed: Democratic schools; Free schools; Unschooling; and Infoshops.
Teacher Mon Armenia started the discussion on the first topic. He was a teacher at a democratic school in Payatas area called Fair Play For Kids, which mostly caters the poorest and most vulnerable kids in the city. He shared how things work at a democratic school, how the kids themselves, with the teachers, decide the subjects they take and the rules they will have to remember and revise every now and then. The only permanent rule in their school: You’re free to do anything you like, as long as you do not disturb others.
This first part was ended by a discussion where groups were invited to speak out what they think kids and adults should learn. It turned out to be a very good way of having the participants share their own stories on the subject of alternative education.
Jestoni Franco next took the floor. He shared how a couple of his co-facilitators decided to set-up a free-school in North Caloocan. It supplements the traditional education of the kids in their community. Mayari Independent Academy it is called. The teachers raise money in order to maintain the space, aside from accepting donations. It projects to conduct short series of different workshops, exposing the kids to the different arts which are usually lacking in traditional schools. It continues to invite volunteers to share their time and skills to their students.
The third speaker was Kimmi Del Prado, a mother and an advocate of Unschooling. Kimmi shared her experiences in unschooling her kids. She shared the benefits and challenges of unschooling , and emphasized the commitment required of parent-educators.
It also became a good time for the audience to share their experiences and tips, including one parent who home-schooled all his eight children. He mentioned how advanced his kids were compared to traditionally schooled ones.
Questions arose, like how to keep alternative education up with the requirements of a globalized world, and when to keep up with it. Systems like proficiency exams and the instituional Alternative Learning System were mentioned. While one parent suggested that kids should go take this step only when they desire to do so.
The last topic, on Infoshops, was delivered by Chung De Vera of Etniko Bandido Infoshop located in Pasig. He used a powerpoint to tell the story of infoshops abroad and in the locality. He listed at least 10 Infoshops in the archipelago. He mentioned how each Infoshops differs from each, having a library and conducting workshops as their commonality.
The discussion part was wrapped up by Safehouse Infoshop, prepared by Taks Barbin and Mon Armenia. They demonstrated how one can make a Do-it-yourself Zine using only one piece of bond paper. With a few folds and cutting, the participants were able to produce 8-page Zines containing words and drawings which expressed how they felt for the event.
After this, a video showing different activities practicing the principle of sharing information was played. The video was shot during an event which demonstrates alternative practices by different people in different communities. It was entitled Mga Pinagtapi-tagping Kaganapan sa Sining Kalikasan Aklasan, filmed and edited by Pulang Balintataw Films.
Aside from the discussions, the whole event was also enlivened by the booths. One booth by Safehouse Infoshop offered a number of different Zines containing practical and political knowledges, for reading and for sharing. Another booth by Pag-ibig was full of books containing non-mainstream topics such as Folklore, History, Indigenous Astronomy, the first Labor Union in the archipelago, accounts of Indigenous practices, and many others. Another booth, also by Pag-ibig, called Culture of a Colonized People Museum invited the participants to talk about and play indigenous musical instruments.
The event was more than successful having a very captive audience. Secondly, it was successful on emphasizing learning more than schooling. It was also successful in formulating a next step: by suggesting to create a network of like-minded individuals and groups who care for, who are involved, and critical towards education itself- a network or community which supports each member in this pursuit to love of learning and being critical. It is a community which, we can say, already started.
In solidarity of grassroots community, Jestoni Franco-Mayari Independent Academy/Kimmi Del Prado/Pheng Muncada- Solo Arts and Dine /Raymund Christopher Armena-Safehouse Info Shop/ Gnuhc De Vera-Etniko Bandido InfoShop/Taks-Safehouse Infoshop/Magisa Kolektib-Notra Block/Benji Domingo-Wild Tofu/MerdehekasLetterhead/Abot Tala