Letter to a System

In 1967 the students of Barbiana wrote a letter to their former teachers. The letter started as a composite of collected thoughts, later developing into a powerful and direct demand for change to the system that had failed them.

To begin the text the students decided to each write down what they knew about the subject of education. They each kept a notebook in their pockets. Every time an idea came up, they made note of it. Each idea on a separate sheet, and on only one side of the page.

They then brought these pages together and spread them on a big table. From here they looked through them, eliminating duplicates and every useless word.  Next, they made piles of the sheets that were related. These then became the chapters, and from there were divided again into paragraphs

So began the first draft of what was to become the book, Letter to a Teacher.  A call to organise, a letter for change. Written against inequality and for everyone’s right to fair education and to a place within society.

Since then, the text has become a symbol of radical intention, critical thought and the strength of collective actions.

In the spirit of Barbiana and in the light of our precarious situation as art graduates, The Common (see details below) aim to mirror this activity. Providing a space to discuss and collect a diverse range of experiences, knowledge and opinions from artists and citizens now.  Revealing the varied public opinions of a system that presupposes privilege and does not recognise the value of creative labour.  A system that is eliminating diversity through structures that create high debt, low or no pay, cuts to public funding and a growing gap between those who can access education, time, space or experience in order to develop and those who cannot.

The Common is making a call to create a collective letter of its own. This is the first phase. The second is to distribute this to students, educators and those who perpetuate the problems.

So, get yourself a notebook, keep it in your pocket, and start writing down what you know. Then join us, and others from around the UK on the 23rd to create a new letter, a new proposal for change.

10:00 – 12:00  Meet, screen and talk
12:00 – 13:00  Lunch time (lunch will be provided)
13:00 – 14.30  Writing time
14.30 – 16.00  Combine, discuss and collage

For those unable to make the event you can still contribute to the letter, please email your pages to The Common Projects   or tweet your ideas at @TheCommon2014

The Common
The Common is a collective of artists, thinkers and doers expanding upon the idea of the common(s) as a designated, communal space for the free display and exchange of ideas. As a group, they seek to create new forms of cooperation outside the logic of state and market and use art as a catalyst for these shared experiences.

The Common would like to say a special thanks to Middlesex University and Stour Space.

Images: ©TheCommon