All over the world they are popping up: Trade Schools. Education platforms where you can get knowledge ‘that makes daily life easier’. What makes it different from a normal school? The payment is not done with money, but through barter.
Vienna Shares interviewed Marietta Wildt, one of the founders of Trade School in Halifax, a coastal student town in Canada.
‘Trade School is based on the idea that everybody has skills and everybody can teach,’ Marietta explains. In line with that idea is the choice for barter exchange, instead of paying with money. This makes the workshop accessible for even those on the smallest budget. ‘All participants in a workshop can bring a material or non-material thank you for the teacher. We ask the teacher beforehand what he or she would like to receive, on the one condition it is easy to get. Usually they ask for something really small, like mason jar or a recipe. But really, most teachers are already quite happy with a smile.’
The workshops take place twice a week, at different venues all over town and usually last no longer than 1.5 hours. Topics are diverse and range from practical issues such as bread baking and building your own solar panel, to more scholarly topics such as decolonization. ‘It’s important to us that we offer the kind of education people are actually interested in,’ Marietta says. ‘The kind that makes daily life easier or offers a new perspective.’ That is not their only goal though. The Trade School is also about strengthening the community. One of their aims is to bring people from different age groups and with different backgrounds together. ‘I have realized that the most inspiring and useful workshops were those where the participants were really mixed and diverse.’ But it’s not that easy. ‘It can be quite a challenge to attract people that are not urban hippies between 25 and 35,’ Marietta laughs.
Vienna doesn’t have a Trade School yet. Although it’s quite some work, it is relatively easy to start one. ‘We received a lot of support from other Trade Schools. The headquarters in New York helped us set up the website, for example. But the hardest part is finding the right venue,’ Marietta remembers. ‘Finding teachers is relatively easy. The challenge lies in communication: attracting a diverse crowd, sending out reminders at the right time and proper evaluation.’ It is worth it though. ‘It is so great to see people, who were unsure about the concept at first, who now step up offering their help, because they realized Trade School works,’ Marietta says. ‘Our next step? Really bringing the generations together and organize our next workshop in a retirement home!’
Curious to learn more about Trade Schools? Check out their homepage, where you will also find links to Trade Schools closer to Vienna, such as those in Berlin, Athens and Geneva. If you want to know what’s on offer in Marietta’s Trade School, you can visit the Halifax school page directly.
By: Mirjam de Klepper