Ithaca Free School

Thursday, February 24, 2005

My First Jeremiad (by Fisher Price)

I just started a Yahoo email group for the free school and wrote an extempore mission statement text in order to invite people to join. Here it is if you are interested.

My greetings to everyone.

I want to invite you all to join the email group for the Ithaca Free School. I hope to generate more interest and participation in the School.

At present we have about ten regular or semi-regular participants. Our classes mostly take the form of reading and discussion groups. There are no teachers, although in some cases attendees with relevant knowledge may serve as facilitators. All our classes are free and open to anyone with an interest in the subject matter. Each class adapts its schedule to the needs of the participants and its pedagogical procedure to the exigencies of the material. Classes are formed based on mutual interest of at least two people. Therefore, if you have a friend, an interest, and a time, whether one-time, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, we can declare it a Free School class.
The structure is intended to be as decentralized and non-authoritarian as possible.

Our current subjects include Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Lucretius, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Blake, the Bible, Heidegger and introductory Latin. Prospective classes include German, the Cantos, American history from primary sources, the Transcendentalists, and Dante. We have a weekly potlatch 7pm Thursday evenings at the home of David Brazil and Crystal Koening. Our weblog ( updates daily with schedules, announcements, course notes, and so forth.

At a time of political despair in our country, it is my belief that the individual can best contribute not through alienated forms of protest politics but rather by rethinking social practices and putting alternatives in place, here and now. Our commitment to free education, to a non-institutional format, and to a common interest in culture, is meant to question the usually unconsidered greed, ignorance, selfishness, and obedience to power which governs our country, our cultural life, and too often our own hearts. I hope that people who are committed to rethinking education, and not only education, will contribute to this email group and participate in the school.

For those of you out of town, I thought you might be interested in the goings-on. I think this idea is one whose time has come (or come around again), and I hope it spreads.


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