Common Notions: No Handbook Required

Carla Bergman, Corin Browne and John Collins have made a film about The Purple Thistle Centre, which will be screened at the DOXA film festival:

Common Notions: No Handbook Required
Wednesday, May 11, 2016 – 5:00pm
Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour St)

For almost 15 years, the youth-run arts and activism space, the Purple Thistle, has been home for a variety of activities, from guerilla gardening to DIY publishing and screen-printing. Common Notions: Handbook Not Required is not only a celebration of the Thistle’s achievements, it’s a manifesto for the youth liberation movement. An array of alternative education advocates and scholars including Astra Taylor, Gustavo Esteva, and Madhu Suri Prakash, as well as local organizer Khelsilem, make a compelling case for democratizing knowledge and re-imagining our current systems of education. They argue that institutionalized schools, as we currently know and understand them, offer an extremely narrow and commodified definition of what it means to teach and to learn. Consensus decision-making, inclusivity, and a strict “noassholism” policy are just some of the Thistle’s guiding principles. Last year, the Thistle officially closed its doors. But this isn’t necessarily all bad news. Youth members and staff facilitators say the spirit of the collective will carry on in different permutations. After all, the Thistle was never meant to be an institution, but a path to a different way of experiencing the world. -SC


Common Notions: Handbook Not Required Trailer from John Collins on Vimeo.

EDCP 508 – History, Theories, and Practices of Alternative Education

University of British Columbia
Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy
Winter Term 2
(January 6 – April 6, 2016)

EDCP 508 (032)
Review of Research in Curriculum and Pedagogy:
History, Theories, and Practices of Alternative Education
Wednesday (16:30-19:30)
Room: Scarfe 202

EDCP 508 Alternative Education Syllabus 2016 [PDF]

Instructor: E. Wayne Ross

Since the 1980s, schools have been subjected to increased standardization, test-based accountability, and corporate management models, trends often labeled as the global education reform movement or GERM. One of the key effects of GERM on curriculum and teaching has been the search for low-risk ways to meet learning goals, undermining alternative and experimental pedagogical approaches and risk-taking in the classroom. This seminar will explore histories, ideologies, and practices of alternative education movements. A key aim of the course is to examine the various cultures of learning, teaching, and curriculum embedded within the diverse landscape of alternative education and the implications for formal and informal education today. Students will have the opportunity to explore alternative education movements such as democratic free schools, un/de-schooling, Socialist Sunday Schools, Modern Schools (Ferrer Schools), etc. An emphasis will be placed on examining pedagogies that give students greater control over the what and how they learn.

Readings will be drawn from the following (along with other sources):

Miller, R. (2002). Free Schools, free people : Education and democracy after the 1960s. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Hern, M. (2008). Everywhere all the time : A new deschooling reader. Oakland, CA: AK Press.

Hern, M. (2003). Field day : Getting society out of school. Vancouver, BC: New Star Books.

Morrison, K. A. (2007). Free school teaching: A journey into radical progressive education. Albany: State University of New York Press.