By Christos Giovanopoulos
The Solidarity Schools in Greece were created in the context of the crisis to counter the acute increase of inequalities in education. At the same time, they have been laboratories of self-organised educational structures. Moreover, their practices are integrated within broader solidarity networks as autonomous learning communities. By putting democracy and mutualism at the core of their organizational function and pedagogic practices they renegotiate the ways in which self-organised structures of education and of knowledge production and sharing liaise with their local (or more expanded) communities.
This weekend the Solidarity Schools convene for first time in a two-day meeting in order to “further our democratic way of operating… to deconstruct the teacher-centered way of understanding education and learning and to construct the visionary frame of decentralized, autonomous and non-hierarchical educational communities”, as they state in the meeting’s call. In that way they aim “to cultivate a cohesive visionary frame for our role, to better describe our goals, to highlight and empower «good» practices on the educational spectrum… to defend education as a common good, to continue to reclaim by creating!”, as their invitation concludes. Foregrounding the creative and socially innovative properties of their attempt has been one of the foundational qualities of the solidarity schools, which makes them stand apart from other ‘demand orientated’ (towards the state and public authorities) movements in education. The two-day meeting aims to enhance such prefigurative and transformative function of the Solidarity Schools’ Network and of other alternative educational endeavors.
The program of the meeting includes sessions and workshops on the solidarity schools as communities of participatory action and democracy; on their relation with the social and solidarity economy and the commons; on social pedagogy and communities of learning; on interculturalism and the education of immigrants and refugees; on gender identity and equality in/and education. It must also be noted that the meeting aspires to connect with analogous experiences from outside Greece. To this aim collectives, educationalists and researchers from Italy, Switzerland, France, UK, Turkey and Germany have been invited and will also take part in the procedures. Those delegates represent also a variety of formal and informal educational and community based institutions, which share nevertheless their critical and reforming attitude towards a more inclusive, participatory and democratic mode of education and pedagogy.
Infra-demos, has been part of the organizing group of the two-day meeting from its outset. Infra-demos has contributed specifically to the organizing and facilitation of the session on the relation between the solidarity schools, solidarity economies and the commons. The session will develop in two axes. Firstly, drawing by the experience of the solidarity schools will attempt to show the different perception that they cultivate in regard to resource management, economic relations and transactions, based on use value through practices of mutualism and free exchange. The second focus will be on the relationship of the solidarity schools with their local communities, available resources and know-how, and with the existing municipal framework. The aim is to start imaging and working out institutional formats and changes that need to be achieved in order the autonomous educational communities to be sustainable.
For those interested you can find more in: http://meeting.solidarityschools.gr/en/