In 2013 Krétakör launched Free School (Szabadiskola), in which until today nearly 200 students have participated, from more than 40 schools. Students led discussions to their peers, created street art events, participated in The Party – a performance that toured two European festivals-, led urban walking tours, and created a guerilla poster campaign about homelessness, which was among the top 10 projects of 2014 chosen by the design showcase of Highlights of Hungary. In 2016 Krétakör received the prestigious cultural honor, the Princess Margriet Award, acknowledging their artistic and social work and educational program. The award was received by the students of the Free School in Amsterdam.
Free School is a training program; it does not have an effect in a single encounter, but it is a long-term educational process with a series of workshops. Another essential goal of the program was to build a collaborative community from the participants; and also to reflect on the process and the challenges associated with it.
The characteristic of adolescence is the growing demand for self-determination. The possibility and ability to understand and influence the broader context often comes to a halt when it’s about shaping public life. The age limit for voting, the infantilizing system of public education, the tabooing of political issues at schools, all suggest to students that politics is for adults and that it is both incomprehensible and inaccessible. Krétakör’s Free School provides an opportunity for students to address current issues of public life, to become familiar with different views before jumping to a conclusion. They learn to map out the defining connections and systems and to find a creative form to express their own views. The program shows them that dealing with public issues is a really exciting and liberating challenge.
This form allows the group leaders to design a personalized education for each participant, taking into account their individual needs. They set a unique goal for each student, which can later be adjusted based on their experience.
Since the majority of the targeted age group generally rejects dealing with issues of public life, and does not believe that they can make a difference in social issues, one of the main objectives of the program was to reduce their resentment and aversion and to kindle students’ interest. The program also wished to demontsrate how they can regard problems as challenges, bringing forth creative solutions.
However, for most students the exact opposite is self-evident, and it takes time to change their mind and to make them accept that while there are systemic structures it is up to us how we shape them.