Education sometimes seems like a big scam, doesn’t it? We begin, wide-eyed and hopeful with goals and dreams. In the process, we get crushed by overpriced, oversized text books, all-nighters spent strung out on caffeine and cramming for tests we don’t care about, dealing with smug professors and foraging for something edible in the dining hall. We leave bitter and terrified as we look at our dismal job prospects and the monthly bills from the student loan center.
But remember when learning used to be fun? When a trip to the library was an adventure, not a chore? Enter the Tampa Free Skool. Working under the premise stated on their website — “We are all teachers, we are all students; we all have something to share with our friends” — the Free Skool aims to make education a collaborative effort between members of the local community. Anyone who is willing can lead a class or workshop or host a film viewing or book discussion, and anyone who is interested can attend. The “free” in the name refers to the cost of most of the classes (some require a small fee to cover parking or supplies), but it also refers to the classes being free of hierarchy, agendas or grades. It also suggests the freedom to participate, share ideas and speak openly about topics that may get ignored in other institutions of learning.
Each month brings a different roster of teachers and skills to learn in various locations scattered throughout Tampa. Past classes have been held in houses, parks and cafes and have included weaving on a drinking-straw loom, making compost, an introduction to Buddhism, primate taxonomy, pickling, and yoga. There are also ongoing courses, such as writing workshops and film clubs.
It’s never too late to pick up a new skill or hobby. Is there something you would like to learn this summer that you don’t see a class for? Suggest it! Is there something you’d like to teach to others? Volunteer! Tampa’s Free Skool is what we as a community make of it, so the more we put into it, the more we’ll get out of it. Personally, I’m heading to the Wildcrafting hike, the Feminist Film Club and the Let’s Speak French gathering. Maybe I’ll see you there and we can better ourselves, and our community, together.
Visit Tampa Free Skool at tampafreeskool.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/groups/tampafreeskool.