There are many ways to share what you know with others. Here are some alternatives to traditional education that are either free, extremely cheap, or rely on some form of barter or trade.

Shareable features an article this week on a Freeskool in Ithaca, NY:

With classes like Mushroom Hunting, Bike Repair, Know Your Rights with Debtors, and D.I.Y. Movie Making, it’s a refreshing variety of completely free classes for people of all ages. Started only a few years ago and run entirely by volunteers, the Freeskool gives the community an opportunity to share their skills and knowledge.

Another venture, also featured on Shareable, is described as a ‘pop-up’ school, which for a month offered classes for barter. Anyone can sign-up to teach, and the list of classes is esoteric and exciting. Even better, each class has a corresponding blog post, which acts as a perfect refresher if you’ve forgotten some of the basics. From organising an arts festival to caviar. Here’s a quote from Elizabeth, who taught the Caviar Demystified course:

I think Trade School is beautiful – from a design perspective, from the curation and execution. It should live on as a platform for individuals who can’t afford school to have a place to be inspired and then potentially teach too. Or think critically about what they can talk about – It successfully inspires human engagement and education.

Other formats that I have seen include the School of Everything. I signed up, but I haven’t had any bites yet. It may be simply because the site hasn’t had much exposure in Australia (be warned, it loads very slowly). Or maybe the concept is still a bit out there for Aussies? Here’s a lovely posting from their site anyway, which will go some way to explaining the ethos behind the concept.

As we decide what next for School of Everything we’ve been doing a little bit of soul searching and thinking about what we truly believe in (as well as working hard, being nice to people and the power of good chili sauce). Here’s what we’ve come up with – would be great to know what you think.

We believe…

  • The real world is better than the internet. Step away from your computer please. Getting out and trying new things is better than being sat at a desk all day.
  • All subjects are important. Learning is learning, and learning is good. Knowing how to rewire a plug is just as valuable as understanding inverse trigonometric functions.
  • Everyone has something to teach. Everyone, yes everyone, has something they can teach someone else.
  • Everyone has their own way of learning. It’s better to learn in the way you want to. You know what suits you best.
  • Learning is better with friends. People are brilliant, inspiring, generous and smart. Being with others makes it easier and enjoyable to learn more.
  • You should never stop learning. You can keep learning whatever your age, far beyond your school days.
  • Education shouldn’t be expensive. With a bit of ingenuity you can learn new things without spending lots of money.
  • Qualifications are overrated. A good education is about the things you learn along the way, not a fancy bit of paper.
  • All of these projects and initiatives are inspiring. I’d love to start some sort of venture based on these models here in Hobart.

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    The white mould forms on the outside of the cheese

    I mean here in Hobart, not the philosophical ‘why am I here?’

    Actually, Hobart is on the way to Cabanandra. I don’t mean this in a geographical sense, but rather in a strategic sense.

    Ok, so Hobart is actually a city, not a country town, or an isolated rural area. However, moving away from Melbourne has provided us with new insights and a new set of skills.

    We know that our relationship can survive the stresses of moving, and we can even laugh about it (later!). We know that we can find work, learn new skills, make new friends, and enjoy exploring a new place. Sure, there are plenty of things I might do differently, but I know I can do it again, when I need to.

    Christmas is coming, and at the moment, its a great time to relax. To take in the glorious spring growth, eat lovely food, drink great wine and hang out with friends. To take stock of what we have achieved in just nine months, with little savings, but plenty of energy and passion.

    Making (or finding) a place to call your own isn’t just about buying (or building) a house. It is just as important to pay attention to all those other things: work, friends, exploring, socialising and community participation. In some ways we have down-sized. We earn less, we have less space, we have fewer possessions. But looked at another way, we have actually up-sized.

    No, we are not just surviving, we are thriving.

    Some links to Sea / Tree change stories (not all positive)

    Charles Sturt University research

    Regional Living Australia blog post

    The Sea Change

    Transformations Journal

    Rural life not so sweet

    Live the Dream

    Elizabeth and the beech treesDear all

    Sorry that I haven’t been a good correspondent. I am thinking of you, and hoping you are all well. If you want to keep up with my doings, check this page out, or go to www.samaram.com.au, where I am posting lots of stuff about art. You could join Twitter! I am often to be found there as well.

    Due to my recent Macbook Mishap (hard-drive died), I have decided to re-visit and re-publish some posts from my early blogs of 2008 (from Cabanandra Dreaming, as an ode to the beauty of backups! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE dear readers, back-up!

    Systems Thinking Part 2

    Eleanor Rosch distinguishes between two types of knowledge: analytical knowledge (cognitive science) and what she terms “wisdom awareness” or “primary knowing.”

    Says Rosch: “The analytic picture offered by the cognitive sciences is this: the world consists of separate objects and states of affairs. The human mind is a determinate machine which, in order to know: isolates and identifies those objects and events, finds the simplest possible predictive contingencies between them, stores the results through time in memory, relates the items in memory to each other such that they form a coherent but indirect representation of the world and oneself, and retrieves those representations in order to fulfill the only originating value, which is to survive and reproduce in an evolutionarily successful manner.”

    In contrast, “Awareness is said to [be knowing] by means of interconnected wholes (rather than isolated contingent parts) and by means of timeless, direct, presentation (rather than through stored re-presentations). Such knowing is ‘open,’ rather than determinate; and a sense of unconditional value, rather than conditional usefulness, is an inherent part of the act of knowing itself. Action from awareness is claimed to be spontaneous, rather than the result of decision making; it is compassionate, since it is based on wholes larger than the self; and it can be shockingly effective.”

    In one of my previous posts  ( Indigenous Law vs Blunt Tools) I talked about UNDERSTANDING, which I think is something like this ‘wisdom awareness’ that Rosch talks about.

    So how does it relate to building? Well, I think that many of the things that we all love in our homes are universal things. For example a sense of warmth, comfort, protection, security, light and etc. So building ‘eco-friendly’ (which owner builders understand because they have learnt it through experience!) such as using passive solar principles, using local labour, sustainable materials, building as a response to the environment, etc, could also be universal thing. BUT, it must be available at the level of ‘wisdom awareness’ or ‘primary thinking’. This cannot come from more legislation.

    As Sam Sergi says in my earlier blog

    SAM SERGI: I do believe we need parameters to kind of work in with if it’s going to help the environment, because we need to look towards the future and try and economise, yeah, but by the same token, you know, need to have a sense of “this is what I feel I would like to have”.

    This sense is the UNDERSTANDING or wisdom awareness that I refer to.

    Saturday, 3 May 2008

    Anyway here are some photos of recent goings on in Taswegia. Including another visit to Mt Field and caving at Mystery Creek. Cheers.