Dream Discoveries at the Unconference

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This took place on June 23 and I feel guilty not having blogged about it sooner but events took over such as moving houses, kids on summer break, bread and butter work deadlines ad infinitum but there’s no excuse because this UNCONFERENCE really rocked my world.  It’s just a matter of time before you find your own tribe and you feel at home with strangers who hold beliefs similar to yours — beliefs that many people find even stranger still.  Counter-culture, revolutionary, radical, ever questioning authority, fiercely independent.

This was the invitation and the venue was a restaurant-converted-garage in Mandaluyong put up by artists.   Conferences are usually in sanitized hotels and convention halls and you’re expected to dress up not down.  But here, I could come in rain-soaked rubber shoes and buy slippers to change in at the neighboring palengke and it’s all okay.

RaEd (Radical Education)
UNCONFERENCE ON COUNTERCULTURAL PRAXIS IN EDUCATION

The event is an open gathering for students, teachers, parents and individuals or group of people interested to explore alternative philosophy and practices in education/learning through solidarity of grassroots community in alternative-radical education. There will be 3 lessons for the opening of the event
Democratic School Education, Free School Movement, Unschooling, and Autonomous Spaces. Afterwards the event is open to Q&A, Open Mic, Voluntary Discussion/Presentation, Sharing of pedagogical concepts, tools and materials etc.

Compulsion – nonconsensual education – requires violence; it requires complete control over what students put into their brain, the people they are exposed to, the places they are authorized to be, and oftentimes, with free lunch programs, what food goes into their body.

Brian Huskie, A White Rose: A Soldier’s Story of Love, War, and School

In Solidarity with 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/Notra Block

Registration-5:00-5:30PM
Opening- 5:30-5:40
Countercultural Praxis Lessons
A.Democratic School 5:40-6:00
B.Free School Movement 6:00-6:20
C.Unschooling 6:20-6:40
D. Autonomous Spaces 6:40-7:00

Unconference
A.Agenda/Session Ideas 7:00-8:30
B.Open space time/Tables 8:30-9:30
C.Presentation 9:30-9:45
D.Finale 9:45-10:00

Sining Kalikasan Aklasan Video Presentation 10:00-10:30

Open Time 10:30 onwards

Open Zine Library by Safehouse Infoshop

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The evening yielded a number of discoveries for me — places and projects I didn’t think existed but they did in this mad, crazy metropolis such as:

Etniko Bandido Infoshop and activity center is an
anarchist/autonomous space created to spread radical consciousness.
A place in which alternative resources and information can
be found easily and freely. It is also a space for people who
wanted to share and discuss different issues and ideas.

That’s EtnikoBandido which is an infoshop and community center located in the slums of Pasig dedicated to anti-authoritarian social relations.

Jestoni, the unconference organizer is a teacher in a regular school and on weekends, he pours his heart into an alternative academy he started himself in Caloocan.

Ang Mayari Independent Academy ay isang alternatibong akademya na nakabase sa pagtutulungan at pakikipagkapawa ng komunidad na bumubuo dito. Ito ay nakabase sa kooperatibang pamamalakad ng mga estudyante, guro, magulang at kawani nito, Ang praktika ng pag aaral sa eskwelahan ay nakabase sa ideya ng malayang pagpili, pagkakasunduan at pananagutan.

Ang akademya ay malaya sa kontrol ng sentral na edukasyo sa halip ang mga estudyante,magulang, guro ,kawani at taga suporta ng eskwelahan ang kooperitibang nagpapapalago sa akademya.

Kung gayon ang eskwelahan ay nakapag sasarili at hindi profit o non profit na organisasyon sa halip ito ay dindekalarang programa o proyekto na magbibigay solusyon at oportunidad sa pangangailangan ng edukasyon.

Ang akdemya ay hango sa modelo ng FREE SCHOOL MOVEMENT at hinubog ng mga nakaraang proyekto na ARTSKUL at Merdehekas Collective.

And here’s another one that bowled me over completely:  there’s already a democratic school in the Philippines and it’s in Payatas!

Fairplay began working in education through a drop-in center, whereby kids had a safe space to learn, play, and rest. We gradually began to sponsor regular kids who felt ready to go back to formal school through the drop-in center. For the most part this has been successful with attendance and grades improving gradually.

However over time it became clear, through research and input from the community, that this could not be a universal solution. If, for example, we sent all the kids currently out of school back to the classroom, class sizes would double from their already egregiously large average of 60-80 in Payatas. It wouldn’t work.

Nor does the traditional system work for most kids. So at Fairplay we believe there’s a better way. We believe in child-centered learning; the students have a say in how the school is run, in what lessons they take, and in how they shape their future. We believe that curiosity should be encouraged and become the corner-stone of the learning process, not shut down for a prescribed curriculum that has little to do with their actual lives. We believe children learn best when cooperating, not competing, when they are happy and engaged, not passively memorising. We believe teachers know their students better, and that they should be free to support their students in ways they deem best, without bureaucratic burden.

This is our vision for the Fairplay Center: the First Democratic School in the Philippines. Students learn at their own pace, focusing on social and emotional development first to ensure they see mistakes as a positive step in the trial and error process that epitomises the real learning process.

The growth Mindset (Dweck), Positive Psychology (Achor), and Emotional Intelligence (Goleman) are key to providing a platform for the kids to work through. The growth in the children have been wonderful to see. Of course we’re nothing close to a perfect learning environment, if one exists, but gradually we hope to continue to offer a happier, more effective learning environment.

Can’t wait to visit Fairplay when Ken Danford comes here in a few days!  And our tribe will meet again at Ken’s talk on July 14 at Fully Booked, BGC. 

Thanks Jestoni, Kimmi and everyone who made the unconference unbelievably possible.  Thanks Solo Arts and Dine for hosting.

 

 

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