Anarchist Education and the Modern School: A Francisco Ferrer Reader
Author: Francisco Ferrer • Editors: Mark Bray and Robert H. Haworth
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 352
On October 13, 1909, Francisco Ferrer, the notorious Catalan anarchist educator and founder of the Modern School, was executed by firing squad. The Spanish government accused him of masterminding the Tragic Week rebellion, while the transnational movement that emerged in his defense argued that he was simply the founder of the groundbreaking Modern School of Barcelona. Was Ferrer a ferocious revolutionary, an ardently nonviolent pedagogue, or something else entirely?
Anarchist Education and the Modern School is the first historical reader to gather together Ferrer’s writings on rationalist education, revolutionary violence, and the general strike (most translated into English for the first time) and put them into conversation with the letters, speeches, and articles of his comrades, collaborators, and critics to show that the truth about the founder of the Modern School was far more complex than most of his friends or enemies realized. Francisco Ferrer navigated a tempestuous world of anarchist assassins, radical republican conspirators, anticlerical rioters, and freethinking educators to establish the legendary Escuela Moderna and the Modern School movement that his martyrdom propelled around the globe.
“A thorough and balanced collection of the writings of the doyen of myriad horizontal educational projects in Spain and more still across the world. Equally welcome are the well-researched introduction and the afterword that underline both the multiplicity of anarchist perspectives on education and social transformation and the complexity of Ferrer’s thinking.”
—Chris Ealham, author of Living Anarchism: Jose Peirats and the Spanish Anarcho-Syndicalist Movement
“This volume brings together for the first time a comprehensive collection of Ferrer’s own writings, documenting the daily life and aims of the Escuela Moderna, alongside reflections, often critical, by contemporary anarchists and other radical thinkers. Together with the editors’ thoughtful Introduction, the result is a fascinating collection—essential reading for anyone keen to go beyond the image of Ferrer the martyr of libertarian education and to understand the perennial moral and political questions at the heart of any project of education for freedom.”
—Judith Suissa, author of Anarchism and Education: A Philosophical Perspective
“Bray and Haworth have here provided a great gift to the history of liberatory education and to its possible social futures, as this book is sure to become a definitive text on the origins and development of the international Modern School movement.”
—Richard Kahn, Antioch University Los Angeles
“Part martyr, part visionary, Francisco Ferrer and the Modern School Movement he created have continued to preoccupy educational reformers and political activists despite or because of Ferrer’s execution by a repressive Spanish government in 1909. Revealing Ferrer’s flaws, Mark Bray and Robert Haworth nevertheless evoke a person and a period when political visionaries and educational reformers promised and almost succeeded in transforming civic life in Europe and the Americas.”
—Temma Kaplan, distinguished professor emerita, Rutgers University
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Anarchist Education and the Modern School: A Review
By Michael Long
ASR: Anarcho-Syndicalist Review
In his insightful Introduction, Bray is at pains to bring out the complexities, and sometimes inconsistencies, in Ferrer’s political beliefs and actions. His dedication, starting in 1901, to establishing networks of modern schools supposedly delivering non-ideological, peaceful, scientifically based, rationalist education – an ambitious enough goal – was only one side of the man. Simultaneously, Bray notes (5), Ferrer founded and financed an anarchist labor periodi- cal La Huelga General (The General Strike) in which, under the pseudonym ‘Cero’ (probably employed so as not to scare away parents of Escuela Moderna children), he published several articles indicative of distinctly non-pacifist beliefs. One was entitled ‘The Republicans are not revolutionaries – Only the general strike will make the revolution’, and another, ‘Will there be blood? – Yes, a lot’.