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(en) Canada, Toronto, Anarchist Free University - a revolutionary idea

From Anarchist Free University <anarchistfreeu@yahoo.ca>
Date Wed, 27 Aug 2003 13:27:18 +0200 (CEST)

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In advanced capitalist societies and increasingly in
Third World countries, educational credentials are an
important part of the class system. The late Pierre
Bourdieu did studies that show how in France the
middle class invests heavily in education to reproduce
its class position for its children. Bourdieu calls
this an investment in 'cultural capital' and his books
show how the system pretends to offer equal
opportunity, but in practice is heavily biased towards
middle-class kids.

This year in Ontario, Canada university fees are
reaching $5,000 a year for general education courses.
Professional faculties charge much more. Also, the
Ontario government is eliminating grade 13 from high
school this year. This means that a double graduating
year of high school students are attempting to squeeze
into Ontario universities this fall.

In protest against this, the Anarchist Free University
is offering free university classes starting in
September 2003. The Anarchist U collective includes
experienced activists from Whos Emma, an infoshop that
operated in Toronto from 1996 to 2000, and from the
Free School that functioned in Toronto in the late
1990s. Six courses, similar to first-year university
are being offered in the first term. Topics include
the history of the Russian Revolution, community-based
art, experimental literature and radical theories of
sexuality. Another course examines Noam Chomsky's
theories of mass media and one offers a critique of
new technologies. Activists who have a university
degree and special expertise in their area are
facilitating the courses. Tuition is free and classes
are limited in size to ten students.

In organizing the Anarchist U, the collective has had
to grapple with many issues. Why do many anarchists
attend mainstream university? What is the difference
between the experience of an informal study-group and
a college course? In a situation where there are no
grades what is the incentive for Anarchist U students
to complete written work? If anarchists aim to produce
a situation of dual power, or alternative institutions
within a capitalist society, we seem to be very far
from this goal. We can educate the next generation of
activists in our meetings and organizations. But we
are very far from nurturing the next generation of
anarchist therapists, daycare workers,
conflict-resolution specialists, historians,
sociologists and philosophers.

For people in the Toronto area there is an orientation
picnic on Sunday 7th September at 3pm in
Trinity-Bellwoods Park. Look for the black flag. For
more details see www.AnarchistU.org or e-mail
anarchistfreeu@yahoo.ca Courses take place in
downtown Toronto and are not available on-line.

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