Sunday, July 31, 2005

radio free school

radio free school

A couple years ago we filled out answers to questions posed by a little zine called "red diaper baby" - we never saw a published copy, but the text might give a sense of what we're up to at radio free school. (There are two respondents (b and r)

  1. First of all, can you please tell me a bit about how your family came to be home learners?

  2. I didn’t want my kids to lose all their spark and creativity- i felt sure school would slow them down in more than one way. Besides, I didn’t want to miss the fun of hanging out with them and learning all kinds of neat things with them.(b)

    Somewhere in the process was a ruthless critique of the school system, a desire to make an alternative, and just sort of stumbling happily along (r)

  3. How did you first get the idea about doing a community radio show about home learning?

  4. Randy already had radio experience doing a spoken word social justice and environment issues show on our local campus/community radio station (CFMU 93.3 fm) so it was a natural thing to think about including the kids in radio (b)

    The radio show was seen from the start as a way of integrating the kids into their learning and having them direct the topics, participate in producing a weekly show, and opening doors to a whole lot of interesting people and venues. (r)

  5. What has the response been from the home learning community in Hamilton and from the broader community?

  6. pretty poor in the home learning community here in Hamilton really. They know it’s there though as a resource but most people will say they forget to tune in! Non home-based learners are better at listening in and really like to hear what we are doing.(b)

    I don’t really think of the show as exclusive to “home-learners” or a particular age-group, etc. We have our regular listeners and are happy to get feedback from them, and we have people who may catch it on their radio and go, “what the heck was that?” But we’d love to hear from more people!

  7. Radio Free School is being broadcast on several radio stations around the world. Why do you think that the radio show has been so successful?

  8. Probably because our shows are fun, engaging, and cover interesting topics and because we include children’s voices. I don’t know! (b)

    My guess is that we’re bringing voices that aren’t heard on the radio - children - and treating them like real people with their own unique ideas instead of talking down to them as generic “kids.” - no Ronald-McFuckin Donald here...It’s also testament to the power of alternative media and organizing on the web - we couldn’t have done it without radio4all for example, or indymedia radio.(r).

  9. Has Radio Free School helped to create a stronger home learning community in your area?

  10. Unfortunately, I can’t say that is the case yet. We are only 2 years old (in may) so we shall see. It would be great to have such an impact but really our show is first of all for our selves- and then for anyone who wants to hear something different. Why preach to the already converted, right? (b)

    I think just being “out there” on the airwaves as a “home-schooler/un-schooler” show is helping to raise the profile of the alternative to state or private-run school factories, and that’s gotta be worth something, no? (r)

  11. The show often reflects a strong connection between the home learners and the progressive activist community in Hamilton. Has it been easy to develop that connection? What have been some of the obstacles? What have been some of the joys about developing that connection?

  12. The reason for that is because essentially, we are an activist family- and we are un-schoolers. The connection is inevitable in this light. The connection is natural and totally to be expected as we combine our main areas of interest to create the shows. As to obstacles, we don’t feel there are any. We do what we want basically. (b)

    Yep, pretty much. (r)

  13. Do you think that Radio Free School has helped to challenge some of the misconceptions people have about homeschooling? If so, how?

  14. I hope so! People often ask un-schoolers “but if you are following child lead interest based learning how do they learn? How do you know they are learning?. Because this is a society in which we understand learning only thorough measuring and evaluating etc so for those who need proof listen to the kids on radio free school and be wowed by their intelligence.(b)

    Hopefully the point is clear that home-schoolers are not all people who want to instill their kids with “a superstitious veneration for the church of England, and to bow to every man in a handsome coat,” as William Godwin put it. It’s not about fundamentalism, it’s about freedom! (r)

  15. What has been the most rewarding/fun aspect of making Radio Free School? Do you have a favorite show?

  16. The best part is that we have easier access to amazing people- we just let them know we do a radio show and can they help us out with an interview. The response is usually enthusiastic. We are really lucky and grateful for the opportunities that evolve. (b)

    Favourites: “Barbie!” for sure, and “Walking” (talking to Rebecca Solnit - author of Wanderlust: A History of Walking - was a big thrill) and “I like bikes,” or the “McDonalds/Fast food” one - I like the shows that integrate lots of different interviews with some good tunes - not always easy to find the time each week to make awesome shows, but these ones do it for me. Plus I’ve got a lot out of the various shows where we talk to un-school families or writers about un-schooling. (r)

  17. In general, have you found it difficult to find other progressive home learners in your community?

  18. It hasn’t been too bad really. I have a lot of really neat friends who un-school so I can’t complain. I would love to see more of these families get involved in activism too though. (b)

    We’ve fished out a few cool people in the home-school pond, but I personally wouldn’t advise people to troll there - instead, I think we’re fortunate to have lots of intelligent and inspiring people around us in the broader pool of community who we can access. I don’t always want to be around so-called “progressives” if it means being insular...(r)

  19. Do you have any advice based on your experience about building community for home learners?

  20. Yes! People are afraid to commit time and skills to each other and that is the biggest downfall for home-based learners because we desperately need this sort of relationship/mentorship not only in the homelearners community but in community in general.(b)

    Yes: don’t limit your community to home-learners. Get out there, mingle, and, as Ms. Frizzle says, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” (r)

  21. Other than Radio Free School, what resources do you recommend for people interested in homeschooling/unschooling?

  22. Read books like Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto, all the John Holt books, Grace Lellwelyn’s books are awesome and inspiring, De-schooling our lives edited by Matt Hern. Some great zines and magazines are Edgycatin’ Mama (Nina Packebush) Lifelearning is okay too. (b)

    I’d say investigate local resources starting with the public library. See if you can access the local college or university for free programs, opportunities. Get involved in local struggles. Walk, cycle or bus to get to places rather than drive, you’ll meet all kinds of people and see all kinds of things that you could never plan on. Let your mind drift. Explore the woods. Oh, and watch Charlie Chaplin films, for sure! (r)

  23. How can people who do not live in Hamilton listen to Radio Free School?

  24. Well, short of re-locating (rents are cheap in the rust-belt city) - you can download from your friendly neighbourhood anarchist radio web site at If you live somewhere with a campus/community station, ask them to get in touch with us to run our show in your town, it’s free!

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