Education, Infrastructure, Insurrection: Mark Bray on Francisco Ferrer and the Modern School

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On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we welcome back to the program Mark Bray, an anarchist, a historian, and author of Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook and Translating Anarchy. In his new new book, Anarchist Education and the Modern School: A Francisco Ferrer Reader, which is also edited by Robert H. Haworth, Bray brings forth a new collection of writings, some translated for the first time in English, about the infamous Spanish anarchist Francisco Ferrer and the movement that he helped shape, The Modern School.

Ferrer entered into revolutionary politics at a dangerous and tumultuous time; a period of riots, revolts, and assassination attempts against pillars of authority within both the Church, State, and capital. Originally drawn to the Republican movement in Spain, Ferrer became an anarchist and around in 1901 set up the first Modern School, an anti-clerical and anarchist influenced network of schools which sought to radically transform the world of education. Soon, Ferrer’s works had spread throughout the world, yet only several years later, Ferrer would be put to death by the State, accused of having taken part in a plot to kill the Spanish King, despite a world wide campaign to save him.

Despite his passing, the movement and school system that he inspired spread across the world and Spain. As the anarchist movement grew, it incorporated the Modern Schools into its larger program, and forever changed the face of non-compulsory education in the process.

Throughout our interview we talk about the role that the Modern Schools had within the larger movement, how they were organized, how they spread out across Spain and later the world, the complicated political world and movements that Ferrer walked within, the interplay between the labor movement and insurrectionary activity, and also how Ferrer’s ideas continued to influence people and educators long after his death.

More Info: The Ideas and Origins of the Modern School, Friends of the Modern School, Kate Sharpley Library collection, Spectacle, Conspiracy and Antifascist Resistance with Mark Bray.


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