Education For Its Own Sake
The principle of EFIOS is that education should be free for all throughout their lives. Free in two ways:
1. Students are free to learn whatever they choose and whatever they discover. This means that education should be free of state or institutional control of what is learned or how it is learned. We will not assess students' learning nor participate in any assessment or examination processes.
2. Students are free to pay whatever they think is appropriate, which includes nothing.
EFIOS teachers offer their services as facilitators of learning for free, they are not employed by their students or by any person, group or organisation associated with EFIOS. Whatever students pay will go first to costs of materials and accommodation, second to the educator(s) up to a maximum of around the rates of pay for experienced school teachers and anything else will go to supporting these principals.
Education is a process of learning that involves feelings and imagination as well as concepts and practice. Hence EFIOS teachers will aim for education that is:
- non threatening
- wholly positive in its view of students and supportive of the development of their self confidence
- open to all forms of emotional expression.
EFIOS exists solely as a set of educators who offer classes on the basis of these principles and has no other identity or organisation.
Freedom to learn
The EFIOS idea of freedom in learning means being free to learn whatever we want to know, whatever we are curious about, whatever we think it would be useful to know and whatever we discover from our experiences in life. This is why EFIOS courses do not involve any examinations or lead to any qualifications – exams and qualifications are all about specifying what people should know. Of course, students on EFIOS courses may well want to have qualifications, they may want to do work, for instance, that requires them to have qualifications and they are free to go to other educational establishments to get these qualifications. We believe that what students learn on EFIOS courses will make it much easier for them to pursue education and qualifications elsewhere.
Freedom in learning also means taking a holistic approach. This is because learning is about much more than facts and skills. It also involves imagination and feelings. Feelings and what is called “affective learning” are particularly important. If someone feels that they do not or cannot understand something, or that a subject is boring or too difficult, these feelings will get in the way of everything else. Hence EFIOS courses will aim to pay attention to students' feelings in the learning process, particularly aiming to make learning and the subjects interesting, exciting and fun.
It is also widely recognised that learning is based on experience, that experience is what we learn from. Hence, for instance, if our experience of being taught is boring then we learn that maths is boring and the rest will hardly sink in. On the other hand there is a vast amount to be learned from our everyday experiences as well as from the experiences that you have in classes.
A different experience
For these reasons EFIOS classes may be very different from classes in other educational establishments. Classes may be arranged in a circle, for instance, instead of with students sitting in rows or behind desks – and the teacher may be sitting somewhere in the circle with the students. In this way everyone is treated equally and can contribute equally to the learning. Also, classes may have “ground rules” to help to create a non threatening atmosphere in which students can contribute without feeling that they might be judged, criticised or put down.
The role of the teacher in EFIOS classes is somewhat different from the idea of the teacher who is the source of knowledge that they pass on to the students. EFIOS teachers are there first of all to help learning to take place. They may or may not be experts in the subject. If they are experts that can be a bonus and it can be a problem as it may undermine students' confidence in themselves. At the other extreme someone may offer to set up an EFIOS class because they want to learn about the subject themselves. They would be offering whatever skills they have as a teacher to create an opportunity to work with the students in learning whatever it is they all want to learn.
There is no formal contract between teachers and students. Classes meet as group of people who are each responsible for themselves. The main reason for this is that no one is given the right to control what is being learned. This includes any external bodies who would be able to lay down conditions if there were any sort of contract in law. The legal relationship between students and teachers is the same as any group of people getting together as equals for some project.
This also means that there is no need to require teachers to have any sort of training or qualifications and EFIOS makes no such requirements. Teachers are encouraged to be open about their expertise, and students are encouraged to ask. There is also a network of groups being planned to support teachers in general and EFIOS teachers in particular and to help them develop their skills as facilitators of holistic learning. Neither of these is a requirement.