DIY Ideals and Free Schooling

June 30, 2008 at 4:15 am Leave a comment

I’m personally devoutly dedicated to DIY ideals, and I think that such ideals should be largely incorporated into the free school movement. I believe this for a lot of reasons, but first – what are DIY ideals?

Well, simply put, DIY means do-it-yourself. There’s also the lesser known, but equally as great, DIT – which means do-it-together. There are many definitions, examples, and interpretations of what DIY and DIT could be, but in this case I am discussing it as the process of accomplishing a goal through one’s (or a group’s) own efforts – rather than buying a product or hiring a “professional.”

Well, what then do DIY ideals have to do with free schooling? Well, first off, homeschooling, unschooling, deschooling, free schooling, and all of the likes are essentially DIY education movements by nature. They are based on the foundation that learners should be trusted to control their own education both individually and collectively.

Yet, it goes beyond this – free schooling is based in the notion that the traditional system is not only hindering to some but that it can cause serious harm. The same applies for DIY ideals; the system of consumption is based around controlling the buyer and creating a dependancy on it. DIY and DIT ideals suggest that many of the things that we buy could either be done independently, another way, or without the paid assistance of a professional. They also suggest that we can complete, and learn about, great tasks on our own – tasks that we are normally told should be left to the professionals.

The very first thing that I taught in a (recognizably) non-traditional learning environment was a class called “Running a DIY Record Label” at North Star, a community learning center for teenagers. We focused on how to record music, release albums, and make packaging for these albums all on our own. The teens and I also worked on setting up shows and creating communication/dialouge with other artists in the surrounding area. Additionally, the class members sought out other places to collaborate alongside with that at least semi-shared DIY notions.

What I came to recognize as the most successful part of this class was that the teenagers eventually stopped needing me to teach them things; some of them began to stop coming to class because they were working on their own project that they had initiated in the class. Others began to set up shows on their own (it had been a group effort of the class to set up a show as the final thing we did), they began to independently record their own music, and they would start coming to classes telling me things that I didn’t know about recording, the local music scene, and more. In fact, some of their parents informed me that in the last two weeks of the class – the weeks we were most heavily preparing for the concert – the teens were only talking about the show that was going to be put on, and that these were kids who hadn’t done anything for two years straight (the standard school system had disillusioned them so). But, again, I emphasize: what was most spectacular was that the students broke their dependence on learning about DIY music from the class because the class attempted to show them that they could do it all on their own. And so, I hold that these students learned more from what they did on their own and what they did outside of the class than what the class could have ever taught them.

A few last things. Through DIY/DIT ideals, learners often come to understand more about the universe around them and why things work the way they do. Instead of simply accepting the way that the world functions as unquestionable and static, these learners begin to explore how and why the tools and everyday items they use function the way they do. DIY and DIT ideals also make everyday experiences learning experiences; instead of simply going out and buying a product or hiring a professional, individuals and groups are encouraged to engage the problem to develop a solution that they then enact. They are also encouraged to make their own tweaks and changes to shared solutions that fit their situation, thus they actively shape the world surrounding them. This encourages the thought that learners are not isolated or alienated against the world. It can help facilitate the learning of how to be independent, cooperative, and how to learn things via one’s own abilities.

As this blog goes on, I’ll have more on the relationship between DIY, DIT, and free schooling. I’ve also created a DIY Links section for this blog, where tools for DIY projects and goals will be posted.

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Entry filed under: DIY, General Free Schooling. Tags: , , .

Launch of Adventures in Free Schooling! Free Schooling Quotes for 6/30/2008

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