Touch typing – persistence and patience

Touch typing is the ability to type without looking at the keyboard, and requires a lot of persistence and patience to learn. As someone who was taught touch typing at a young age, and having been terrible at it at the time, I know very well how difficult a skill it is. Many people end up finding their own way to get the job done, but with increasing pressure on competency with technology; it is absolutely vital to know how to do it the most efficient way. Even in education we are seeing change. Those with learning difficulties are allowed […]

Read more »

SML College is exactly what “teaching” should be

As a trainee teacher in mainstream education, I found teaching the subject I love, very difficult. The essence of learning is curiosity, expressiveness and freedom and unfortunately, the Science curriculum is being taught at young people instead of being engaged with, in an exciting and critical way.  At SML, young people have the freedom to explore and inquire into a world where a lot of mystery is still to be revealed.  I have the opportunity to help tutor students who want to study GCSE Science, coupled with providing fun workshops that cover a broader range of knowledge than the national curriculum does […]

Read more »

Empowerment – from a presentation at the International Democratic Education Conference in Bangalore India

At the end of November I attended the International Democratic Education Conference in Bangalore India. As part of the presentation that I made I explored the notion of empowerment. I used the model shown below which summarises the way in which we think about empowerment in Self Managed Learning College. It uses the idea of traffic lights to highlight the difference between non-negotiable, negotiable and empowered activity. Like any organisation we have some non-negotiable elements. These include that we start the day with our community meeting. However what people say in the community meetings is up to the individual. They […]

Read more »

A positive and uplifting community

Earlier this year, I conducted my 8 week block placement at SMLC, whose purpose was two-fold, firstly, I aspired to support the organisation’s work in the role of a volunteer and secondly, I was required to undertake a research project. My researcher role required me to observe and interact with learning advisors (LA) and learning group advisors to create an in-depth understanding of what they do and my role as a volunteer resulted in me helping students and LA’s on a daily basis with activities and workshops. Looking back and writing this, I disgustingly remember counting down days where my placement would be over. […]

Read more »

Thoughts from India

I am in Bangalore to attend and run a session at, this year’s International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC). I used the opportunity to arrive early to talk with some teachers and especially to gain insights into the current situation here from Amukta Mahaptra, who runs SchoolScape based in Bangalore. (Amukta is also the convenor of this Conference and is well known in India for her work.) Overall the picture here is very similar to what is happening all over the world. State-run schools are very traditional, classroom-based and totally teacher led. There is minimal room for young people to have […]

Read more »

A volunteer’s experience – blog 01

I am Eleanor Mayne, the daughter of English tutor; Claire Parkman. I have been volunteering at SML College since October 2017, when Steph Cracknell was coordinator. Initially I began volunteering as, being unemployed for just over two years, I needed to prepare myself for work again and keep my mind busy. The plan was to put my artistic talents to use with the students, however, it quickly became apparent that Steph required my administration skills. I waded into the filing systems and aided Steph in every way I could, eventually taking over from her for a short while once she […]

Read more »
Learning, not education

Learning, not education

This title may seem a bit bizarre. After all, most people in authority believe education is a good thing and there are organisations attempting to create compulsory education worldwide. The basis for this is the idea that there is an entitlement to education for young people. So I have to explain what I mean by ‘learning, not education’. My fundamental stance is that humans are crucially learning creatures. Human babies are born with the least range of inbuilt abilities of any creature. Babies have to learn hugely the first few years of their life and even then they are not […]

Read more »

Excellent outcome from Ofsted visit

One morning last October we had an impromptu visit from two Ofsted inspectors at  SML College, Brighton. The lead inspector spent some time quizzing most of the students on an individual basis. He asked about what they did and how the college ran including the times which they attended. The Chair of Governors in the College, Dr Ian Cunningham, explained to the inspectors that the College did not have an imposed curriculum, it had no classrooms or formal lessons, no timetable, nor any other of the arrangements found in school. After the lead inspector had spoken to students he commented […]

Read more »

The Twelve Days of Christmas at SMLC

On the first day of Christmas, the students gave to SMLC Unlimited super-fast broadband for free On the second day of Christmas, the students gave to SMLC Aira’s kitchen checklist and unlimited super-fast broadband for free On the third day of Christmas, the students gave to SMLC A Unity game from Lily, Aira’s kitchen checklist and unlimited super-fast broadband for free On the fourth day of Christmas, the students gave to SMLC Cool tunes from Harry, A Unity game from Lily, Aira’s kitchen checklist and unlimited super-fast broadband for free On the fifth day of Christmas, the students gave to […]

Read more »

Libertarian education: marginal experiment or instrument of social change?

Listen to the talks by Luca Lapolla. “Is libertarian education really possible within a neoliberal society? Why have libertarian education experiences always been marginal? What role can libertarian education have in overcoming the present situation? To think about possible answers to these questions, we held our fourth Applied History Network event at MayDay Rooms in London on 19 April 2016. The idea to organise this event came after a reflection on my personal experiences as a teacher in mainstream schools, and took shape when I noticed that the debates on libertarian education at the last London Anarchist Bookfair (October 2015) […]

Read more »