School Blog

School of Everything: the teen movie

I like to pretend I'm more of a arthouse fan, but secretly I quite like teen movies. Breakfast Club, Teen Wolf, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, American Pie.... I've actually also watched High School Musical (cough) twice.

So when Andres from Meetup sidled up to me after I did a talk about School of Everything a few months ago and said, "You know there's a really cheesy college movie about School of Everything", I was on Amazon like a shot.

It's called Accepted and it's very painful viewing for co-founders of School of Everything as we found when we all sat down to watch it a few weeks back.

Just compare this:

With this:

We love it though - and have a few copies of the DVD to give away in a competition in the next newsletter.

Breakfast with Charles Leadbeater - Next Monday

Want to come to breakfast with Charles Leadbeater?

we-think = collaboration, large-scale, mass creativity, not a spectator...

The author of We-think has been a supporter of School of Everything since it was no more than a glint in our collective eye. Next Monday, I'll be co-hosting a breakfast with him, along with the lovely people at The Hub - a social innovation incubator based in an amazing loft-space in Islington.

It'll be a chance to hear Charles talk about his research on mass, user-driven innovation and how it's changing our organisations, followed by an informal discussion - guaranteed to be the most stimulating way you could start your week.

There are a few places left, so if you're in London on Monday and want to come, drop me an email - dougald(at)schoolofeverything(dot)com. The venue's round the corner from Angel tube, things start at 8.30am and there's a £10 charge for non-members of The Hub.

A teacher, by any other name...

Our Tech Advisory Board (Stowe Boyd, Kelly Brough, Matt Jones, Euan Semple and Colin Tate) came in yesterday to grill us on how we're developing the site. They gave us a good going over about our future tech priorities, how we can start conversations between our users, and how we're measuring the success of what we've built so far. It's great to have such experienced people on hand to help us build something of real value.

One of the things they pushed us on is the distinction between "teachers" and "learners". We want to help professional teachers advertise their services, but it's pretty clear from the general feedback that the word "teacher" also puts off many people with skills and experience to share. We think everyone has something to teach - but how many of us would call ourselves teachers? And is calling some of our members "teachers" and others "learners" just reinforcing unhelpful divisions, or respecting teachers for their skills in passing on what they know?

So, should we drop "teaching" and "learning" entirely and replace them with something more playful? Any ideas?

Learn spinning on the street

Team Everything was on its way to lunch earlier today and spotted this lovely lady spinning in the street. So I went over to say hello.

Rachel is one of the co-founders of Prick Your Finger, a wool and craft shop just round the corner from Everything HQ. "I think I'm going to do this every day it's sunny", she said. "I end up teaching passers-by how to spin all the time!"

Rachel and Louise, the founders, are passionate about their craft. The shop is as much gallery as wool shop - the window features a crocheted toilet and bath set by Lauren Porter, famous for knitting a full-sized replica of a Ferrari. But it's not about intimidating people. "We wanted to have a space where people would come in and think 'I could do that'", Louise explained.

So along with selling wool and things made of wool (check out the knitted stiletto heel covers in the picture above), they also teach knitting, spinning and crochet. And not just on the street. School of Everything teacher Aneeta Patel (star of our About page) teaches a class there. And we hope to see the rest of Prick Your Finger's teachers on School of Everything soon!

Prick Your Finger is at 260 Globe Road, Bethnal Green London E2 0JD.

Fighting Helicopters

Everything just made a corporate purchase of two fighting helicopters.

We couldn't find them in orange, but needless to say next week will be VERY productive.

What happened at this month's Free School

So yesterday evening, the third Free School meetup got together.

As is now Free School tradition, people wrote on big pieces of paper what they could teach or wanted to learn. Offers and requests ranged from tap dancing, sword fighting and making Sunday roasts to advanced Photoshop, Linux and small business accounting.

Free School Technology

There was also lots of tea and cake and chatting.

We decided to try something new this time, so as well as sharing what we could teach and learn we learned stuff too. Heleana Quartey of Elemental gave a session in PR 101. And Libby Davy of Authentic Blogging came up from Brighton to talk about social media.

Along with tips on promoting social enterprises and getting your voice heard online, I learned a few things about Free Schools. Firstly, that it's nice to have a talk to bring everyone together. Secondly, that two talks is a bit much if you've only got 3 hours of Freeschooling. And thirdly, that if you're going to invite people to teach stuff it's polite to give them some guidelines as to what to prepare and expect. So I'll be adding that to the Free School Bag for next month.

We also found some more people to teach stuff at future Free Schools, and inspired one Freeschooler to start a new Freeschool in Manchester. Huzza!

Afterwards, we all went to the pub, and carried on sharing stuff until long after my bedtime. Next up: sharing the offers of teaching and learning among the people who came; promoting the shiny new Meetup group; and working on a Free School In A Bag, so it's even easier to start Free Schools.

Free School in a bag

The Free School will be back on Thursday 22 May. We're on Meetup now, so come join! If you want to teach something at a Free School, drop us a line - freeschool [at] schoolofeverything [dot] com.

Or go ahead and start your own.

Reminder - Free School meetup tonight!

Free School! Free School! Free School!

Don't forget to come down and swap what you know with other lovely people tonight, 29 April, from 6 to 9pm at the Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green.

For more info, click here.

Futuresonic 2008

Just booked my tickets to Manchester for the Futuresonic Social Tech Summit this Thursday and Friday.

Futuresonic 2008 logo

Should be a great conference - it's not often you get Richard Stallman and the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA on the same bill.

Rather lower down that bill, I'll be speaking in a session called 'How Collective Is Your Revolution?', alongside James Wallbank from Access Space, a project which has inspired me for years, and Felipe Fonseca, who works with the Brazilian Ministry of Culture. I'm hoping to learn more from him about the Pontos de Cultura programme, a really exciting example of a government backing grassroots, open source approaches to learning. We're on at 4pm on Thursday at Cro Bar.

I'm also helping to facilitate Friday afternoon's Open Space Event, along with Ele Carpenter, Tim Davies and Pete Cranston. (Check out Ele and Tim's teacher pages on School of Everything.) This should be a chance to go deeper into the themes that emerge from the formal parts of the conference.

I've already spotted a few Friends of Everything among the other speakers. Matt Locke (Channel 4) is hosting the Social Futures session on Thursday morning, while Matt Jones (Dopplr and our advisory board) is on one of the panels.

If you'll be there, do come and say hello. Or drop me an email beforehand - dougald[at]schoolofeverything[dot]com.

Talk of Everything

There's a lovely piece about us in today's Guardian PDA.

We had lots of fun on the Everything photoshoot, courtesy of Joe Lee. Sadly he wouldn't let us do an emo band-style photo; so here we are on the roof of the Young Foundation, looking as respectable as we can, as broadcast in the national press.

The Every Thing

An Every Thing just appeared in our office.

After the orange logo, and the orange ethernet cables, and the orange Gaffa tape, it is probably the orangest thing about Everything HQ.

(Everything else is the colours you'd expect. We're not obsessive or anything.)

Don't be shy, say hello. We'd love to hear from you.

[email protected]