The Isla Vista Community Free Skool held its kickoff event Saturday, inaugurating a free education program that offers locals a chance to teach and take classes in a variety of subjects.
Activities at the afternoon event, held in Estero Park, included arts and crafts, pickup soccer and a workshop called “Freeskool 101” that outlined the program’s community-based approach to learning. Approximately 25 I.V. residents and UCSB students attended the three-hour event to learn more about the philosophy of the school and meet other interested community members.
Free Skool organizer Marina Carleton said the program provides a chance for people to teach and take workshops in areas ranging from car maintenance, to women’s do-it-yourself erotica, to a discussion group for people going through divorce.
Kara Nostrand, Santa Barbara Student Housing Co-Op director and one of the 10 people who organized the Free Skool, said the program allows people to share their skills with others, regardless of whether they are certified as professional teachers or not.
“The Free Skool promotes the idea that you don’t have to be professional to teach,” Nostrand said. “The premise is that anybody can teach and anybody can learn.”
Everyone is welcome to attend meetings and either teach or attend classes, which will be held the first Wednesday of every month, according to the program’s brochure. The first meeting is Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at the University Religious Center on Camino Pescadero.
Nostrand said similar programs exist in 11 cities throughout the country, including Berkeley and Santa Cruz.
Juan Carlos Ibarra, a member of the Housing Co-op and organizer of the event, said the program’s organizers decided to open the Free Skool in I.V. after hearing about other programs in the country, especially in Berkeley. The idea came to life when a group of students involved in the Housing Co-op went to a North American Student Cooperative Organization conference in Michigan, where they learned more details about the philosophy of alternative schools.
Alternative schools are run by the members of the communities they serve in an attempt to ensure everyone an equal educational experience. Everyone involved in the school, Carleton said, shares control over the program.
“It’s not some defined, set way of doing things,” Carleton said. “The purpose is to meet the community’s needs.”
Sophia Kercher, a junior literature major, said she attended the event to get a feel for the school and what it has to offer. Several other people at the event said they want to teach workshops in areas such as cooking, massage therapy and yoga.
Nostrand said all the workshops will use donated or free materials and will be held in public spaces, such as parks.
“People seem really stoked, we think that it’s definitely going to go well,” Nostrand said.
More information about the Free Skool is available on its website www.ivcfreeskool.tk.