Re: DSM: why democracy

John Axtell (
Mon, 26 Mar 2001 11:31:06 -0800

I ask everyone on this list, why do you feel democracy is a better way
to run a school than a republican form of governement ?

I appreciate the time you folks have taken to educate me.

John Axtell

highland wrote:

> I've been following Marko's, and now Ben's, threads on coercion,
> consensus, Taking Children Seriously, and Sudbury Model Schools.
> Several points occur to me all relating to why we need to practice -
> and understand WHY we practice - democratic process in these schools.
> Democracy is more than a convenient form of government - it is ALL of
> our daily living together. It is what allows and supports individual
> choice and a non-coercive environment. The assumptions underlying
> democratic living are critical and cannot be violated without harming
> both the community and the individuals who make it up. Each
> individual is unique and intrinsically valuable -hence we safeguard
> individual rights. The process of doing democracy means protecting
> diversity of ideas (even undemocratic ones), respecting each person's
> right to contribute to the conversation and take from it what he or
> she chooses, creating an environment that supports each individual's
> rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Decision
> making by one person one vote and majority rules is just a part of
> what doing democracy is about. The ability to change and grow
> based on experience is another vital part of democratic life. If
> through experiencing the consequences of our choices we discover
> something better, we can decide to change. By protecting the rights of
> the minority on any issue we have dissenting voices helping us reflect
> on what we've done. The bottom line is that democratic living is the
> only way to ensure individual freedom and benefit as a community from
> each of our member's experiences. If all we are about is
> protecting children's rights to pursue their interests, then it may
> not matter whether we have a benevolent dictatorship, a consensus
> model, or the anarchy inherent in the TCS approach. If what we are
> about is creating a free community and supporting the choices of
> unique individuals, then it does matter. As a parent, I know that
> some of the most pervasive, coercive influences I exerted on my
> children were completely unintentional on my part. What has helped
> both me and them has been the presence of other free, reflective
> people who were willing to point out my "blind spots" and support us
> in dealing with them. Perhaps, if we were all the products of perfect
> parenting in utopian societies, we wouldn't need democratic
> interactions to grow. I still think we would choose democratic living
> as the best way to enhance (and enjoy) our growth. Candy Landvoigt

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Thu Mar 29 2001 - 11:17:24 EST