The Third University went down to the bank of ideas yesterday to attend the 2nd discussion about the potential for a London Free University at the Bank of Ideas. The Third University have been around for a while now, since March, and it’s seen and been to a few things in the few months it has existed that was like that discussion last night. As consensus discussion is hard to work with and it was felt that although asked, we couldn’t really tell people what we had done so far that perhaps answered and mainly asked a lot of questions about power, dominating voices and fear of listening within critical spaces, it was felt that we should reflect on the things that we have done, perhaps to help those who are trying to set something up or to avoid getting trapped by the same ideas they are supposed to be critiquing.
Born in a pub, possibly because it was difficult to decide the value of throwing an egg at Nick Clegg in a privatised space such as a shopping mall. We were happy to be the third university in Leicester, because the other two were happy to charge 9 thousand pounds for the privilege. We were also friends with the social science centre and the really open university, who opened up the possibility about what we might become. We visited the Really Free School in London and was inspired by things just happening and people learning from each other.
First teach in – at the coffee republic in leicester on the day of the UCU strike. We were there for a few hours and we discussed what a third university might be and look like and who and what will it teach. We stuck loads of post it notes on the mirror and were donated some nice chocolate cake as well as being allowed to use the space. It’s amazing actually, there is space everywhere – you can just do stuff when you stop getting hung up on metrics and accreditations. Many people there were already teaching something to somebody somewhere. This was warming. This is the sort of stuff we spoke about. The third university dissolves into city and appears when we need it.
The Third University ran a alternative teaching training session at NatterJacks Bar – who were also very nice and offered us space any time that we feel that we might need it. We set our objectives of teaching – if it is your first night, you have to teach. And teach people have. We learned about what people knew already, what they would like to learn and really, it is just nice hanging out with people who are passionate about the things they like. This has framed much of what the Third University has been about. Here is a list of the things that we discussed and the things we might learn.
The Third University ran some lessons in liberating knowledge where we took out learning to lunchtime and dissolved into the high street. It was a nice sunny day. We took a break to hang out the bunting.
The Third University hung out the bunting during Community Media Week. It did some stuff around social media, and citizen media and the shock doctrine. It invited people from all different parts of the UK to think about how to critique things like education and the olympics. It was nice to work with our friend citizen eye who are already providing free education opportunities to Leicester.
We took up Croquet. We held lunchtime lessons in Croquet and wet maths through June and…
We won croquet! We beat the high chancellors of lols and took victory on the pitch. We saw the politics in croquet.
We also responded to the alternative alternative white paper. We are worried about alternatives too. So we set up a customer charter, just to make sure that those who are part of the third university know their place.
We announced our unemployability framework – the focus for 2011/2012 term, making sure that our members constantly make sure they are increasing becoming less employable by age.
We expanded, advertising for a Third University Business manager – where we appointed Professor Terry Wassall and promoted him to Professor pretty much before we got his references because it was a sure bet and he’s our pal.
We tried to learn about consensus decision making – but it changed everything. So we came back to Leicester and made no decisions.
We did some arty stuff for a change. We taught in and out during the riots, it was more educational than watching the telly.
We went camping in Hampshire. We drank beer and chatted about everything. We weren’t very good at behaving or doing what we were told. We can put up a tent though.
But we got ready for protest and prepared for November.
We have to acknowledge politics in everything. We bring what we learn from the third university and it helps us do the things that we need to do in other spaces. And that’s nice.
Especially in our home town, Leicester. We were inspired by the young people who were raising awareness for the things that others would choose to ignore. We visited some more Occupy camps, we spoke at a few and shared stuff in tent city university, in the bank of ideas, in nottingham city centre, at the Space Project in Leeds. We loved to learn from people and feed on the energy of the movement.
We came to London to speak with those who are inspired to set up and encourage a national network of free universities across the UK. We hoped that we could join them and share why and how we did what we have done this year. But it was about technology before doing, it was about spectacle before substance, it was about numbers before people. And that was hard for us.
In the new year, we are putting out focus into continuing to work with the communities and the people who support us, to run a day of activity about the things we like, to play darts, to talk and build with bikes and alternatives to the world we live in. We have to do it by talking to people, not building destinations. We can have space when we need it, but mostly the space we need is here already. We don’t need to recruit but you can join us if you wish. We are going to continue to watch what happens.