IWCE: A World to Win!

I spent last weekend in the presence of like-minded people - from the IWCE - who don't want to sit back and let the blue meanies flatten them. From the 'About' page of the website:
The Independent Working Class Education Project aims to learn the lessons of history to inform current class struggle. Inspired by the Ruskin Students strike of 1909, we organise open informed discussions and look at how interesting presentations can be used in a variety of circumstances.
First of all, though, a word or two about the location:

The magnificent building in lovely Barnsley is Wentworth Castle from the 1760s and is now Northern College; the beautiful gardens extensive (thirty-eight acres), are of outstanding botanical and environmental interest, containing many varieties of rhododendron, camellia, magnolia and other Asiatic flowering plants, as well as native European species - and everything blooming for us because we were blooming!

However, because there is indeed a world to win, we weren't idle - we worked hard. And I had exactly a hundred million ideas, which of course I cannot now fully recall, but I did learn about (and will revisit) the beautifully named Plebs' League, which I hadn't encountered, but which is inspirational and at the heart of the IWCE. Read about it - in disappointingly little detail - here (the Plebs' League wikipedia page needs expanding!), and there's more on the IWCE website, talking about educational initiatives for working people:
Educational initiatives by and for workers themselves probably reached their high point in the early 1900s, with the setting-up of the Plebs' League (1908), the 'strike' by students at Ruskin College (1909), and the founding of the Scottish Labour College. (1916). By the General Strike, more than 30,000 workers were studying regularly in classes run by the National Council for Labour Colleges, which took over from the Plebs League in 1921. But from 1926 onwards decline set in.
Most exciting for me, for both my thesis and for the fight for free alternative education is that a whole hidden history (to me anyway) of alternative education was revealed - and the IWCE is a very live project that fits in neatly with my own, my very own... engaged and engaging people fighting for positive change - it's really heartening!

Mrs Desai led a walkout and long-running strike at Grunwick
So, what else? Stream of consciousness ideas and currents and electricity: proletkult (Fabian :-), National Extension College, Worker's Educational Association (there's a Grimsby branch, apparently), the Anti-University of London (thanks again Fabian!), Ruskin College, self provision, community-led, magazines-newspapers-pamphlets, culture!, Pub Philosophy enabling 'just do it' - not waiting for structure because networks, minimum wage and workers' councils, to know more about the past in order to act in the present and open up the future (Colin), lock outs and strikes, the Derby mill workers, moved by Mrs Desai, The Raymond Williams Foundation (person-centred Phil and John), the Grand Tour with Val & Kim, walking a steep hill, real ale, dispute, global struggles and successes, reflection, conversation, fun and passion.

Thanks to organisers Keith, Dave, Ruth, Colin and Pete - and greetings to all my new friends from an inspirational weekend :-)

See also: Fabian Tompsett’s Blog and Edd Mustill's Blog concerning the same weekend.


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  3. I'm already missing your uncomments :-)

  4. Lesson ONE -preview before posting!
    Perhaps I should leave this until I have the time, but holes have a habit of devouring me and there may not be a later:O)
    So 3rd time lucky.

    (Another issue with holes is that they take so much energy that I lose all sense of connection with what feels important. So I persevere to get this posted without typo's ), So what I was trying to say was:

    How exciting to find a fit not only for your thesis but for your ideas, your being, what a blessing to find a fit within an already ongoing group of persons already engaged in freeing education and therefore freeing the person from the limited/limiting conditions of mainstream education.

    Of course I loved the Anti-University UN-workshops :O)

    You know I am very IN-TO UN's, to me they are very un-derated.
    I dwell more in the un ...(which I guess includes the holes that do not feel like w-holes) a life filled with the un-certain, un-known/knowing and perhaps yes , the ongoing practice of un-conditional acceptance of THINGS that do not naturally appear to be give one Reasons to be Cheerful or even Reasons to Be yet here I am still existing ...

    Finding platforms/places for engaged conversations/participation was perhaps easier in the 60's 70's when the countercutlure was buzzing. Good to see though it is still buzzing somewhere and that you are engaged with-in it.
    As you say Billy "Reasons to be Cheerful" of perhaps just TO BE.

  5. Thanks for your positivity, Kat.

    Yeah, the 60s, such a time of experiment, of risk-taking, of potential - they even knew how many holes it took to fill the Albert Hall.

    Un is the contrarian's friend - and everybody loves contrarians (well, they might not, but I do, and at least the unsheeple are aware of more than one position!)

    Wishing you peace, love and un-holesomeness :-)


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