Juvenile prisons were abolished, those factories for molding docile employees, passive consumers and ignorant citizens, those stupidity factories that capitalism called “schools.” Children were now free to play and pursue their education to their own liking, according to their ability, satisfying their curiosity. Communities put at their disposal all they needed to teach themselves, and adults offered them workshops in math, science, history, music.
Children were also free to participate in the work of the fields, the factories, laboratories. They were proud and happy to accompany their elders part of the day and work alongside them. They were thus learning trades, the social life of adults, and that of the Assemblies. These experiences were giving them a feeling of competence, of participation and of utility, at the same time making what they learned in class more real and understandable. At the level of advanced studies, the old universities returned to their place as scholarly communities. Scholars and scholar apprentices who frequented them devoted themselves peacefully to discussion and disinterested research. Diplomas, honorable again, simply marked stages in apprenticeship in this universal scholarly society. No more course credits, no more tests, no more competitive examinations, no more rivalry for grades, no more brainwashing. Diplomas no longer opened up bureaucratic careers, no longer brought financial advantage.
At the same time, these centers opened their doors wide to curious spirits of all ages and of all social backgrounds. They radiated their influence out over their regions, with professors who voluntarily offered talks and free workshops in their specialty to localities and associations. The Internet gave long-distance access to libraries and to courses, and specialists spent part of every day responding to software from students and distant colleagues who sent them studies to comment on and questions to clarify.
Beside these formal institutions, artists, dreamers, philosophers, scholars in all fields as well as artisans, engineers, agriculturalists and technicians placed themselves at the disposal of apprentices and disciples who came to learn with a master teacher. Once satisfied, the student could go on to another master or another center. Teaching went on continuously at every moment of the day and in every location. It also went back into active life, for assemblies, production collectives and associations sought out experts to help them resolve problems. The opposition between theory and practice seeming ill-founded now, learning was becoming the common property of everyone.
The Children of the Utopias seemed to be spending the brightest time of their lives, playing, going off into the woods in groups, organizing competitions, parties, enormous projects that seemed mysterious to adults. Casual love affairs came together and then apart. Adolescents and young people were going on trips a lot, working here and there, then continuing their education in more specialized areas that interested them. Nobody felt nailed down to a trade, a job, a locality. Some changed often for the sake of the experience, others contented themselves with familiar settings.