Francis Sealey was the leader who got this to happen
One of the objects of Network is, ‘To create a learning and skills exchange for members and to encourage its use in community education’.
Network provides a means whereby members of our community can discover what talents, skills and abilities we all have and then provide a framework in which these can be offered to each other. The framework is provided by the Network questionnaire.
THE NETWORK EXCHANGE
At the beginning of 1982, there were just over 1,000 members in Network. Below is a list of skills and subjects being offered by these members to each other.
Anyone who joins Network fills in a questionnaire and indicates what skills and subjects he can pass on to others on request, what groups or interests he wishes to share with others and what services he can offer the community. The questionnaire also asks people what they want and how they believe Network can help them. People only answer the questions they want. Network is there to be used as much or as little as is required. This information is then indexed in a card file system. It tells us a great deal about what people want and it also tells us how many people are interested in the same areas.
THE SKILLS AND LEARNING EXCHANGE
This card file index then forms the base for what we call The Network Skills and Learning Exchange. An exchange of this kind makes use of the immense talents and skills already present in our community and which can be passed on to others. Some people play a musical instrument, do carpentry, specialise in history, maths or speak French. A learning exchange files these skills and passes them on to others on request. People offering the skills or interests need only pass them on to others if it is convenient at the time. People wanting the skills or subjects phone Network and ask for French crochet, electronics, painting, etc., and we give them the names and telephone numbers of those offering the requested subject. They then make their own match, with someone convenient and appropriate to their own needs.
Metal Sculpture Painting
Pottery (Water Colours)
Cooking (Whole Food)
Pizza Making Vegetarianism
Breast Feeding Advice
Design & Craft Work
Jewellery (Gold and Silver)
English Folk Dancing
Indian Dance Tap Dance
Design and Interior Decorating
Kitchen and Building Design
Painting and Decorating
Dramatic Arts (General) Drama Improvisation Props/Scenery
Voice and Speech
FILM AND AUDIOVISUAL
Film production Film scripting TV Engineering
Guitar for children
Material-covered box making
Sewing and dressmaking
Doyley Design and making
Developing and printing
Printing Copy editing Silk screening
Reading and writing
Short story writing
Learning and Homework help
Primary school Subjects
History (Eng. Modern)
Music appreciation Musicology – pre-1800 Music theory
Comparative religion Islam
Social Science (Intro.)
Sociology – Philosophy of
3rd World Affairs
Town & Country Planning
SAFETY & SURVIVAL
Fire prevention Industrial safety Self-sufficiency Survival in the 1980s
BOARD & CARD GAMES
Board games (General)
Bicycle Building and Repair
Fishing road tackle building and repair
Model steam engineering
Leboyer Childbirth techniques
Mutual Aid Anarchism
LEARNING WHEN YOU WANT
All the skills and subjects in the Learning Exchange are available to Network members. All you have to do is ‘phone Network and ask for names of people offering the subjects you require. You make the contact and whatever arrangement is necessary. Use it as often as you want Some learning contacts will be over the telephone; others will require limited meetings; some may be more regular. It is there to fit everyone’s satisfaction and for their mutual benefit.
DON’T BE AFRAID
Some people are apprehensive about ‘phoning and asking strangers to help them for nothing in return. Don’t worry about that. People have put their names down and expect to be called. They can only say no, and then you try someone else. The time may come when you will help someone. You do not have to do it right away – only when you are ready and only if you want. There is no compulsion in Network.
Every member who joins Network gets a book of ten tokens. These can be used as currency within the Skills & Learning Exchange. One token is worth one hour’s effort. Consequently, if you receive, through the Exchange, one hour’s German conversation, then you can pay for it with one token. The person offering German, and thus receiving the token, can then spend it on whatever skill or subject he or she wants. The tokens are not compulsory. They need only be used if mutually agreed by members engaged in any educational exchange.
NETWORK SHORT COURSES
The educational object of Network quoted earlier recommends that the use of the learning & skills exchange should be encouraged in community education. At the end of 1981, this is what we tried to do. We began to encourage members offering skills and subjects to organise short courses for members and non—members alike. The autumn/winter of 1981 saw the first effort at this. 12 short courses were offered and over 100 people made use of them. In the spring of 1982, the number of courses increased considerably.
WHAT ARE SHORT COURSES?
These are courses that last for 2-6 weeks (or sessions) and can be on any subject. These are some of the courses organised through Network:-
Learning to live
WHERE ARE THEY HELD?
These courses are held at various locations Some of them are held in members’ homes, others in local halls and church premises and some at Theobald Park College, Once a member has offered a course, we then agree a location and price the Course to cover costs.
WHAT ARE THE COSTS?
Costs cover the rent of premises and any raw material used in the course itself. However, there is a minimum charge (spring, 1982) of £2.00 for Network members and £3.00 for non-Network members. Some courses are more expensive than this if the running costs are greater and some courses reduce their charge according to the number of students.
SHORT COURSES & NETWORK TOKENS
Network members can take these courses at the reduced rate provided they supply their Network tokens. They must supply one token for every hour of teaching. This means that if a member was to take a 3-week course on painting of 2 hours per session, i.e., 6 hours in all, then that member would pay for it with 6 tokens plus the reduced money charge available to Network members. If any member has spent all the allocated tokens, they can still join the course, but at the higher monetary charge, unless they earn further tokens.
HOW TO EARN TOKENS
There are always Network tasks to be done: filing, delivering magazines and leaf lets, manning the Network office, transport and Network community service, etc. One hour’s task, done to help Network will earn one token. If you want to earn tokens, then ‘phone the Network office and leave your name and telephone number and we will do our best to find Network tasks.
DO WE PAY TEACHERS?
For short courses, the simple answer is no, except in tokens. Most, if not all, teachers are Network members. If, for example, they put 10 hours’ teaching and preparation into a short course, then this is what they are offering Network. This is their contribution in the same way as others of us offer organisation, typing, filing, leaflet delivery and other work. We all do this voluntarily in order to help create a mutual aid society.
PAYMENT FOR LONGER COURSES
However, if courses go on for more than 6 weeks, then it might be expecting too much for teachers not to receive any payment. If someone offers a 30-week course, for example, then some form of payment might be worked out. One way of handling this is presently being considered by the language circles. These circles are likely to last for more than 6 weeks. What might be arranged is that members will be charged the minimum rate for the first 5 weeks and that this would go to the Network administration. The circle will then discuss how to continue after 5 weeks and at what cost – and the costing could then include payment for the organising instructors. Other classes and projects might consider a similar arrangement.
DO YOU HAVE A SKILL THAT COULD BE A COURSE
If you have offered a skill or subject to the Network Learning Exchange, then why not offer it to members as a course? We will be planning a series of short courses in the spring and autumn and a series of seminars, demonstrations and talks in the summer. If you wish to offer a subject, then please ‘phone the office and let us know. Also, if there is a course you wish us to put on, then let us know that as well After all, the Book Keeping for Beginners course was set up because someone asked for it. Tell us and we will do our best.
WHO ARE WE?
At the moment, we are members of the Network Management Committee interested in making Network Education work. In the future, we shall call a meeting of all teachers and students engaged in the Education projects of winter 1981 and spring 1982 and try to create an organising group for this project. If you can, then please help us. These courses need organisation as well as teaching.
This then is Network Education: a Learning and Skills Exchange, and an alternative in Education Classes. It is ambitious and worthwhile and well on the way to meeting the educational objective of our Constitution.
Thanks to all who have participated. Let us hope it keeps going.