Education in anarchy?

Posted on March 30, 2011


This was originally my response to a question posed to me on Tumblr, “How does the education system work in anarchy?”

This is a daunting question to many people. But, like most other questions pertaining to the institutions in anarchy, there are many answers.

Some people think that the system can work exactly as it does today and that there would be virtually no difference on the surface. Obviously funding would not exist because of the non-monetary system, so teachers would work simply with the knowledge that they are shaping the future and that they will receive goods and services for their contributions. And students wouldn’t have to pay tuition or taxes because it would be understood that for a certain age range, education is simply part of life. Though, the important difference is that it will not take up nearly as much time with arbitrary assignments and the teaching style will differ greatly.

Another idea I have heard revolves around a small community idea of anarchy. In this, all of the children would be taught similarly to the way they were in tribes. In tribes, the children were allowed to basically wander and play and watch the adults do their work. the theory behind this is is that a) the children’s play would reflect the actions they see everyday done by the adults and b) it creates an environment for children to freely see all the occupations that are available and choose in a completely free state of mind the one which they would most enjoy doing. This kind of educational method would also create a rhetoric in the society that work is free choice and fun.

One other concept that I’m not particularly fond of is basically the homeschooling method of today. Parents are solely responsible for their child’s education. This isn’t as bad because the parents would be encouraged to have a very open education for their kids, unlike the rather limited world view of home schooled students today. They are statistically more intelligent than public schooled kids but often develop social stigma and barriers. This kind of learning system theoretically develops something of a labor inheritance system where children would learn the trade of their parents and learn to enjoy it and eventually take it over.

As always in anarchy, there are many propositions about how certain institutions will be constructed. All of them can be equally possible, per the premise of anarchism. People, because of modern education are so set in a rut that there is “one way” (or very very few ways), to go about things.

This mindset is the product of the current system. Stephen Monyneux, in one of his podcasts at, said that accepting a non-answer to something retards the learning and maturing process of the human mind. A non-answer is any accepted answer to a question that clearly has more than one answer, such as how to educate children.  Politics, education, and religion give us non-answers to all of the questions of the world. Granted, you may well agree with these answers, but not everyone does. And it is not fair, or conducive to the growth of humanity to force all people to accept your non-answer.

What is so great about anarchy is that it’s premise revolves around this point of  having more than one answer and allowing people to choose one for themselves. It will reflect this way in the curriculum of schools in anarchism regardless of their institutional construction. This attitude of looking for different answers to questions is actually the core of what it means to be a child, and anarchist schools will only use this natural ability of humans and maintain it rather than stifle and retard it like the current system does.

Schools in anarchy can look like anything; there is no way to tell. But they will all accomplish the same things based on the premises of anarchism: equality, freedom, and creativity.

Posted in: Anarchism, Education