Aspects of free education in Catalonia

This paper deals with an ethnographic approach to ‘educación libre/libertaria’ in contemporary Catalonia. School institution as we currently know it, didn’t always exist. Throughout history, there always have existed projects with a different perspective on the meaning of education than the official ones. Nowadays there is a growing number of collectivities, institutions and individuals who question the meaning of freedom in the traditional institutional context and propose a radical transformation of schooling. More and more families reject official schooling and look for alternatives. These families have two options: homeschooling or education at a free school, a fact that indeed has led to the expansion of the movement and the increase of free schools in Spain during the last decades. These ‘libertarian spaces’ are most times either private or run by cooperatives and collectives in the case of Catalonia. Based on my PhD research, I will present my first experiences from a six-month ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Barcelona. Comparing the pedagogical ideals to real practices in their institutional diversity, my aim is to think on the following key questions: What kind of families choose the various types of libertarian education? Which are the dispositions leading them to choose it instead of formal schooling? Based on Bourdieu´s notion of cultural capital, which are the limitations derived on the practices themselves and which are the wider social implications? 

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