School of Rebellion: kids learning for social change

Graffiti activities during last year's School of Rebellion. Photo Marxism Conference/Facebook

Have you ever worried that the current education system teaches children and young people to be cogs in the machine, rather than challenge it?

Fortunately, the second annual School of Rebellion is set to take place as part of this year’s Marxism Conference in Melbourne during the Easter long weekend. Over three days, children of conference attendees will be able to experience what education can and should be like.

The School of Rebellion is about agency, not testing and “achievement”. It isn’t framed by competition but by solidarity. It is not geared to the needs of industry and productivity, but instead fosters the practice of social justice and authentic democracy.

Aiming to provide a framework for children and young people to investigate the world, challenge conformity and allow their creativity to bloom, the school will include a range of workshops, visual art sessions, writing, reading, discussion and playing.
Last year’s school was described as “a weekend of thinking, talking, making noise, art, music, poetry, mess and friends”. The popular session “the day of the toy rebellion” will be back again this year, run by artist Thanh Van Rudd, as well as the Philosophy for Kids sessions.

There will be plenty of free time for running around too, especially after the kids actually rebelled last year, much to the delight of the organisers.

The Radical Reels component of this year’s Marxism Conference will also have a children’s component, the Radical Reels for Kids. There will be new sessions on indigenous solidarity, and a “smash capitalism” pinata party.

The School of Rebellion is a project that is unique in Australia. A parent of two of last year’s participants said that “in the month or so since [the school] they both seem more alert and interested in issues that were familiar before but were going over their heads a little. [They are] less bewildered, more empowered.”

In the words of the radical Brazilian educational theorist, Paulo Freire, this program is inspired by "the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women [and children] deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world".

[The Marxism Conference will be held at the University of Melbourne over April 17-20. For more information, visit]

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