Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The writers' room...

Image: very kindly borrowed under a creative commons licence from the very kindly RFS

“Academies that are founded at public expense are instituted not so much to cultivate men’s natural abilities as to restrain them.”
Baruch Spinoza

This is something that the Really Free School – based in a beautiful Bloomsbury mansion block turned squat – really understands. As the Eton crew crank up the cost of education to unaffordable, RFS sticks two fingers up to Cameron et al by giving the stuff away for free. No curriculum, no agenda, it’s all about sharing both space and knowledge. They have classrooms to spare and anyone can become a teacher, as long as you have something interesting and edifying to share – to contribute to the collective experience – you can step up to the front of the class and start expanding minds.

Some of the things they’ve shared already include film screenings, Arabic lessons and talks on all manner of subjects, from ex-hedge fund manners turned anti-capitalists to home education enthusiasts; coming up are guitar lessons, free hair cuts and a home décor workshop. You may also catch them running around Bloomsbury playing capture the flag, or forming a human shield outside the British Museum in solidarity with the Egyptian revolution. Apart from all this good, wholesome, free stuff, the place is a veritable palace; how often do you get to hang around in a Bloomsbury mansion house?

I’m doing my own mass edification event with them, by way of the Writers’ Room. Appropriated (apt, the cynics may say) from Alain de Botton’s notion that it’s almost impossible to make the words come when sat in a study, behind a desk, the writers’ room is intended to provide a space for inspiration. The idea being that anyone who’s ever even thought of putting pen to paper can come down, breathe in Bloomsbury’s literary past, bathe in the beauty and do some scribing.

They may also take encouragement from those around them. Everyone is asked to bring a book that they have loved and learnt from (from which, by copying it out, others can get a free literary) and the beautiful 1969 Olivetti Valentine will be hanging around to help you fall all the more deeply for the words that you have written. And if that doesn’t help you beat the block, a series of speakers – from Tariq Goddard to the Russell Brand Show’s former poet laureate, Mr. Gee, will be on hand to help you bash down the wall.

“Don’t loaf and invite inspiration: light out after it with a club…’”
Jack London

http://www.writersrooms.blogspot.com/

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