Libertarian Education

Dublin Core


Libertarian Education


Radical education


From its beginnings as the Libertarian Teachers Association in 1966 up to its present day incarnation as an e-magazine and book publisher the shifting collectives around this consistent venture has continued to press for “the liberation of learning”. Passing though several phases during its 50 years history the magazine has covered educational issues and enthusiastically reported on daring educational initiatives that have followed in the wake of the work of Homer Lane and A.S Neil. We are grateful to Richard Musgrove of the ‘Lib Ed’ Collective for loaning a full run of Volume 2 (Spring 1986 to Summer 1999) as well as a selection of Lib Ed Books, scans of the first three issues of Libertarian Teachers’ Association Newsletter (1966-67) and the classic ‘Play’ issue from 1994.

A short chronology of Lib Ed

The Libertarian Teachers’ Association began life as a proposal from the then existing Arlesey (Bedfordshire) Anarchist Group on the agenda of the 1966 Conference of the Anarchist Federation of Britain, held that year in Birmingham1966. Peter Ford wrote an article which appeared in Freedom (19 February 1966) proposing the formation of a libertarian organisation aimed at co-ordinating and promoting ideas and action on education.

The Libertarian Teachers’ Association(LTA) was formed and issued its first bulletin dated 29 April 1966 . This bulletin consisted of a list of 21 names and addresses of people who made contact following the Freedom piece, and a page of summaries of their suggestions for this organisation.

LTA bulletin 2 was published in August 1966, a series of short articles and letters, together with a revised address list extended to 41 .

Peter Ford has a short piece, headlined “Teach Freedom!” published in Freedom (24 September 1966)announcing the intention to hold a meeting in London in late October. This meeting was not held, however, until 28 November when about 20 people met at Housmans Bookshop in the Caledonian Road.

An account of this meeting was published in LTA bulletin 3 dated July 1967 (but appeared at the end of August). This 27 page bulletin’s address list has expanded to 129 names, 111 in the UK and 18 abroad.

By the Spring of 1968, the bulletin had been renamed “The Libertarian Teacher” and a 46 page journal (of The Libertarian Teachers’ Association ) published in a print run of 500. Just under 200 names and addresses appeared in the list of contacts. Arthur Humphrey and Diana Thomas from a group called the Leicester Project contribute to the journal saying “A number of us are very interested in education (a professional interest for some but not all) and it is hoped that we will be able to sponsor a specifically ‘Libertarian Education Group’ and arrange a series of meetings on this theme”.

Libertarian Teacher number 5 was published some time in 1969 (no month given), 38 pages but with no personal contact lists. However, it included 3 pages of useful addresses, including the Advisory Centre for Education and STOPP, the Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment. On the Editors Future: “A correspondent has suggested that the editorship of the journal should circulate amongst a number of individuals or groups ... The present incumbents think this plan is excellent. We are quite willing to abdicate.”

Issues number 6 (1970), number 7 (1971), number 8 (Spring 1972) were then published by the Libertarian Education Group based at the Black Flag Bookshop in Leicester. Up until this time, the bulletin/journal had been printed on a gestetner stencil duplicating machine. Libertarian Teacher 9 was the first off-set litho magazine. In this Peter Ford announces that” the Libertarian Teachers Association, insofar as this organisation ever in fact existed, ... has now been wound up.”

The editing and production of the magazine remained in Leicester for the next two decades. For a few years, until 1976, the group attempted to pass the editorial and production work around the country, but with no success. Arthur and Di moved from Leicester, and, after a short period, a new editorial collective formed itself out of the anarchist group and with renewed vigour published issues 21 to 30, the latter in 1981. During this time, the name was abbreviated to Lib Ed, with the added strapline “for the liberation of learning”. Once again, the editors ran out of steam and production ceased for a few years.

During this break, some of the previous collective started a search for members to join a new collective to restart the magazine, and, in the Spring of 1986, “Vol 2 No 1” was published by “The Lib Ed Group” made up of people from around the country. This group, with some changes in personnel over the period, edited and published a further twenty-nine issues.

Magazine distribution had been getting increasingly difficult with the closure of most radical bookshops across Britain. The Collective's response was to publish books which could then be sold through conventional bookshops ”Free School: The White Lion Experience” by Nigel Wright was the first of these in 1989. Lib Ed had also started to publish on the internet in the late nineties and, after the final paper edition, number 30 in 1999, was gradually reborn as an e-magazine, as it remains to this present day.



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