At a time when governments are becoming ever more prescriptive in their education policy, abandoning child-centred education for one in which a dim and doctrinaire Secretary of State for Education determines not only what is taught but how it is taught, the Communist Party is moving in the opposite direction. The philosophy behind the Party sponsored Communist University in South London (CUiSL) is that adults learn from each other in free and open discussion. Rejecting the traditional model in which the student is seen as an empty vessel for the teacher to fill, every member of the class takes turns to research a topic and present their findings to the class. This is then discussed and analysed by the class which is chaired and moderated by another student selected by the class. Topics are themed under a general heading which lasts for five or six classes. As Marxism provides an all encompassing world view, these themes range widely across political, economic and cultural issues. There is no indoctrination and no pre-determined “right answer” to be reached by the end. The CUiSL motto is “Question Everything”.
The classes have proved highly successful. Operating at a level that some participants have described as equivalent to that of a university tutorial, they are nevertheless open to everyone, regardless of experience, political affiliation and formal education qualifications. Access is open and no fees are charged. Classes are held at 7 pm on the first Tuesday of each month at Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Road, Croydon CR0 1BD (photo above). There is no class in June – predictably not so that students can celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee but rather to enable some of them to attend the Morning Star AGM that evening at the Bishopsgate Institute. The next CUiSL class is therefore on Tuesday, 3 July.