Student Theses

Date of Award

Fall 9-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)





First Advisor

Peter Conolly-Smith


A study of anarchist education at the beginning of the twentieth century questions common perceptions of anarchists as solely bomb-throwing radicals and reveals that they cared deeply about children and the future of humankind. Inspired by the martyrdom of Francisco Ferrer, Spanish anarchist and founder of anarchist schools in Barcelona, anarchists worldwide applied their radical principles to the creation of “Modern Schools.” In these schools, anarchists attempted to blend Enlightenment ideals of freedom with politically revolutionary goals. The Modern School movement reached its zenith in the decade following Ferrer’s 1909 execution by the Spanish government for sedition, but declined by the 1930s (indeed anarchism in general lost popularity following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), and eventually disappeared by 1958 when the last Modern School closed. The school at the Ferrer Center in New York City and later Stelton, New Jersey, is largely considered the longest-lasting and most notable experiment in anarchist education. The missteps of the Modern School movement, as well as its triumphs, are worth exploring, particularly for radicals and educators today.



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