Talk:Anarchistic free school

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Original conversation[edit]

A little new here, so forgive my blundering. I am happy with this little stub of an article, but how do I make redirects from free skool (an article that doesn't exist). --Rico 21:08, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

free schoolsfree schoolRationale: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (plurals). Dancter 02:57, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Done. —Nightstallion (?) Seen this already? 07:38, 27 April 2006 (UTC)


Why isn't the Sudbury valley school listed in the US free schools? If there is a particular reason, please share it. (atyk)


Nixed all the non-Free Skools that have popped up on the link page. While all good endeavors, none met the grassroots and non-authoritarian criteria of a free skool. And none were free. --Rico 19:07, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Hi I've removed references to Village School in Croydon, Vic, Australia from this article and the list of links. Village School is an independent alternative primary school but not a free school. We charge fees to attend and while democratically oriented, there is still some structure to the school including curriculum, behaviour policies, time-tabling etc.--Thecatinthelibrary (talk) 11:33, 22 November 2008 (UTC)


I'm not sure Summerhill School belongs on this page. Although Summerhill has often defined itself as a "Free School", in that the students enjoy greater freedom than conventional schools, it doesn't fit the definition at the top of the page. Summerhill certainly has a hierarchy of learning, lessons are taught by teachers. It's just that students are free not to attend. And it certainly doesn't have a gift economy. Mishagale 12:30, 23 September 2006 (UTC)


Free schools started in 2006 can hardly be listed under history. Methinks that some of the newer Australian schools, whie no doubt great projects, should be moved to the external links section, since they serve little purpose in the definition section other than promotion. --Rico 01:58, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Dead link[edit]

The link to the Olympia Free School is dead - it now resulves to a squatter page.

I have removed the link, and am quoting it here, in case it should return:

JBazuzi 16:43, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

I think it’s funny that you meant a domain squatter whereas I parsed that as meaning a page about squatting. —Wiki Wikardo 20:34, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

They are back up, so I restored it. --Rico 23:21, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

The spelling of skool[edit]

Changed heading "Free 'skool' movement" to "Free skool movement." Yes, I know it is an alternate spelling, but it is quite deliberate. It goes beyond punx speling and is closer to a proper noun used to differentiate "skools" from "schools." --Rico 23:28, 19 March 2007 (UTC) Bold text

Need more information[edit]

I was hoping for some information on the legality of free schools as a substitute for normal education, particularly in the US, and also some statistics on success rates of free schools - in terms of students' national test results, later career success, and so on. i couldn't find this stuff on the interweb because a search for "free school" brings up a plethora of other, more popular ideas. So more information along those lines would be appreciated. Inhahe (talk) 07:13, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

Free schools/skools vs. democratic schools vs. paying schools?[edit]

I have been working on expanding/streamlining the democratic education and democratic school pages and just found this page on free schools. I am a bit confused as to the proper definition in use on this page.

It seems someone has made the free school page an element of the Anarchist political theory. I'm not opposed to this, per se, but throughout the article, there are numerous references to what are self-described democratic schools which explicitly are non-anarchist. Their political philosophy, as it may be inferred, is democratic. Anarchism and democracy cannot be equated.

There also seems to be a few Wikipedians who define 'free school' literally to mean 'no fees/tuition'.

Therefore, I suggest that these definitions be made more explicit. I also suggest that the Anarchist political theory association to the page be eliminated and mentioned instead in a section dealing specifically with that interpretation of 'free school'. Alternatively, another page for 'free school (free skool)' could be created with that association while leaving this for the other two definitions: 1) democratic education, and 2) literally free education. Maguire09 (talk) 23:14, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Anarchism and democratism are not mutually exclusive, nor do all free schools necessarily affiliate overtly with a political ideology.  Skomorokh  23:15, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

This morning's edits to the page concern me. I appreciate the intention, but rather than rebalance the page away from the overtly ideology-specific instance, it seems to have privileged that position even more. I've been to conferences, I've been to the workshops, I've organised a few, but even if these are tricked-out with some Bash Streetesque spelling, they are not and are unlikely to ever be the notable use of the term which an enquirer would seek of the Free School page. To me, the primary notable use of the term is the Neill/Summerhill instance. AllyD (talk) 11:46, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

I understand you concern and I was having a difficult time grappling with the implications of the edits myself as I know that there are many schools that call themselves Free Schools in the Neill/Summerhill sense. However, it seems to me that to have left the page as it was was not acceptable. There was no clear definition. Now, I hope, the various definitions are more discernible. Also, I tried to make it absolutely clear that anyone looking for what are ostensibly democratic schools when they search in the free school page, will easily find more information at democratic education. To repeat the definition, theory, history, etc of democratic schools here would be redundant. The only new information was the information on the Anarchist stuff which I left and tried to clean up. Do you agree this was the right thing to do? Thanks for your help! Maguire09 (talk) 12:08, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
One idea I had was to privilege the Neill/Summerhill definition. Make it first, explain where to get more info, then say: "there are also these other definitions..." This kind of decision would of course need to be OKed by more than What do you think? Maguire09 (talk) 12:33, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

The 3 main problems with the article and its balance as I see them are:

(1) Uncited assertion of continuity of these "free skools" from Ferrer's "Escuela moderna". Ferrer's initiative has been acknowledged to be rather conventional nowadays but radical in the context of a Spain dominated by priestly pedagogy. (Bookchin "The Spanish Anarchists", 1977).
(2) The Currently active free schools/skools section - perilously close to a WP:LINKFARM and how many of these would recognise themselves as being "a decentralised network" in a "gift economy" - any?
(3) The fee-less meaning was at one time primary - indeed one could glimpse the term "free" carved in the stonework behind the railings of mainstream institutions. Googling the term, the 4th and 5th links are a case in point: [1] and [2], neither close to the remit of this article.

I'd emphasise that I'm not criticising Maguire09's edits today; it's just that they have exposed the article fault lines even more starkly. AllyD (talk) 13:21, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

As the original author of this article, I prefer the more balanced reporting. While the Summerhill application of the term is common over the last few decades, the older anarchist definition pre-dates Summerhill by half a century. Furthermore, while there are a few new Summerhill schools, free skools in the anarchist sense are exploding. I've always been a proponent of makign these separate articles with disambiguation. Other than an interest in education or a more democratic nature, the two schools of pedagogical thought have little else in common.

Additionally, I'd like to see philosophy and history disentangled. Originally, they were broken apart. The history of both democratic and anarchist schooling is deep and rich, so there is ample opportunity to develop a fine article, with history reaching back more than a century. --Rico (talk) 22:10, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

I was about to add Summerhill School to the article and link to the article from the Direct Democracy article, however this seems to talk only about a subset of more anarchist schooling. I haven't got time to get involved in the discussion around this article, but I feel it should describe the broader range of 'free' schooling and include the more anarchistic forms as a sub-section or as a separate article with the skool spelling. Overall this article feels week considering the major interest in free schools in the more general sense around the world and over time. PeterEastern (talk) 11:35, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

I have now tightened up the lead for the article to make is clear that it is not covering schools such as Summerhill. PeterEastern (talk) 15:25, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

Free skool vs. free school[edit]

How about this:

We make this a page describing the use of the term in reference to Neill/Summerhill. Send readers to democratic school for more info, however. Make a historical note that many schools used to include the term 'free' because they didn't cost anything to attend. I personally don't know anything about that def. though. Then create a new page for 'free skool' which will be for the Anarchist side of it. Also, I agree that the external link farm should probably be pruned heavily: move only those that actually are "skoolish" to the new free skool page. Any of them that are more Summerhillish can be included on the List of democratic schools page.

Whadya say? Maguire09 (talk) 13:45, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

One reservation is that things may be going full circle. A predecessor of this page involved merger of Free Skools + Free school pages. Another consideration is that I am sceptical that free skools are notable enough to deserve a page; do they merit more than just a footnote here and/or on Alternative culture, for example? However, what I think is worthwhile is to wait and see if other editors - maybe more affirmative of free skools - come into this discussion and seek broader consensus? AllyD (talk) 14:18, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

I agree. Let's give it some time, but I think that the complete lack of citations documenting a substantive theory of these 'skools' is relatively telling. Maguire09 (talk) 20:20, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
I disagree that Free Skools do not meet the Wikipedia noteworthiness test. Again, it is a movement that predates Summerhill and democratic schools by about 50 years, and is currently expanding. Summerhill already has its own article, and this one was originally written to help define free skools in the anarchist sense. --Rico (talk) 22:15, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm confused by the dating: this would take these anarchist free skools to 1871, around the time when Bakunin was hanging out with Nechaev. Can you clarify these origins? AllyD (talk) 17:07, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
You are right. The earliest date I found was 1890, predating Summerhill by 30 years. The Stelton colony came in 1919 formed around an anarchist school. --Rico (talk) 19:31, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

Disentangling philosophy and history[edit]

As I said earlier, I'd like to see philosophy and history disentangled. Originally, they were broken apart. The history of both democratic and anarchist schooling is deep and rich, so there is ample opportunity to develop a fine article, with history reaching back more than a century.

A good start on the earliest history of anarchist schooling could be found in Murray Bookchin's /The Spanish Anarchists/. A relevant chapter on Ferrer's Modern Schools is at --Rico (talk) 19:35, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

I did this disentanglement which will allow history to grow more fully. --Rico (talk) 17:06, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

"Currently active free schools/skools" section[edit]

Now that this article has been limited in line with the revised lead paragraph, the entries in the "Currently active" section should really be reviewed and pruned. The majority are institutions of the type which has now been reoriented to the Democratic education article, and these examples belong on the List of democratic schools instead. Are there any on the list in this article which should continue here? It is also noticeable that editor (often IP based) continue to try to add links here, probably without realising how the article has refocused. Should the entire section be deleted? Thoughts? AllyD (talk) 19:47, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

  • I pruned, updated, and made additions to the list of currently active free skools. It is confirmed with each project that they are active as of Feb 3, 2011. --Rico (talk) 17:04, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
  • I think the list is extremely useful to free skool projects and those researching free skools. However, I could see it being moved over to a wikipedia list type structure at some point. Maybe when it became unmangeable here? --Rico (talk) 17:04, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes, I noticed the relentless addition of democratic schools to this list. Removed non anarchist schools --Rico (talk) 17:04, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Also, at some point the list went from being a list of links to a list of refs, which are again listed under refs. This is less useful IMO. Is that wiki convention, or just someone's preference along the way? --Rico (talk) 17:04, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Currently, each active Free Skool in the Currently Active List has a "reference" which in turn adds to the list of references below from which each project's website is linked. Hmm, seems like an awkward use of space and an ungainly structure in which someone would literally have to click twice to get to the external link. I'm not an advocate (yet) of breaking the list into a separate wiki list, but is there a wiki convention or precedent for creating a list of items with external links more neatly? Formerly, it was a simple list that contained external links to the websites of these projects. Ideas? Anyone? --Rico (talk) 00:20, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

POV check[edit]

Some passages seem POV:

  • Anarchist free schools (or free skool) can be a decentralized network in which skills, information, and knowledge are shared without hierarchy or the institutional environment of formal schooling. - is vague ("can be") and reads like advocacy, not NPOV.
  • Radical experiments in non-hierarchical education with anarchist roots have given rise to temporal and permanent free schools. They are often termed "free skools" to distinguish them from what supporters view as an oppressive and institutional educational industry. - definitely POV.
  • Temporal free skools offering skill-shares and training have become a regular part of large radical gatherings and actions. More permanent skools in cities large and small have popped up across North America offering a wide range of workshops, classes, and skill-shares. - vague and POV.
  • Free Skool Santa Cruz in California is perhaps typical of a new batch of free schools that are explicitly rooted in an anarchist tradition of collectivism, autonomy, and self-reliance, and feature informal, non-authoritarian learning outside of the monetary economy. - sweeping vague statement ("perhaps typical") and POV.
  • These are on-going, informal learning networks, that focus on skill-sharing among adults as well as children. The boundaries between students, teachers, and organizers are consciously blurred, with some free skools claiming, "we are all teachers, and we are all students." Free skool "classes" are often autonomous workshops held in informal settings in homes, cafes, and community centers. Free skools typically offer a monthly or quarterly-produced free skool calendar. - another vague and POV passage.

Autarch (talk) 12:32, 9 September 2010 (UTC)

  • I wouldn't say these are best characteristed as POV issues - rather, they are statements needing to be backed up by references which are sorely lacking (as per the previous flagging of the article). AllyD (talk) 18:03, 9 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Agree, these don't seem POV. Sometimes if a subject is unfamiliar to a reader, an attempt to explain and characterize it can seem POV. Free Skools are a decentralized movement, so statements such as "can be" or "perhaps typical" are accurate in that some free skool projects express these values, but not all. So I disagree that the statements you've pointed out are POV or vague. --Rico (talk) 16:56, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Modern Anarchist Free Skools are relatively new and so documentation and references are lacking. Add to that a desire to opperate outside of the traditional media, and refs can be even harder to find.--Rico (talk) 16:57, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Removed POV warning since several contributors disagreed that it was POV, and there was no rebuttal for 6 months --Rico (talk) 00:15, 16 March 2011 (UTC)


Just a word-choice question. Why is 'temporal' used instead of 'temporary'? Is there a specific, technical meaning of the word being used here, or is this just a misuse? Sindinero (talk) 11:45, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Anarchism and education[edit]

Hopefully sometime we could bring up the quality of this article so that we could bring the most important parts of it into the article anarchism and education. As it stands now it is clearly lacking references and other things.--Eduen (talk) 22:44, 20 May 2012 (UTC)