RE: DSM: democratic classroom

From: Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Date: Mon Nov 05 2001 - 18:21:38 EST


Candy,

> The third issue is our need to rank order communities
> from lesser to higher levels of democracy with democratic
> classrooms ranking near the bottom and Sudbury Model Schools
> at the top.

I do not believe that this is what has been occurring, and it is
certainly not a distinction I make.

In terms of the dynamics of the school environment, I try my best to
distinguish between schools that are democratic, and schools that are
somewhat democratic (read schools where students can be overrulled
and/or can only make decisions about certain things) which to me means
they are not democratic.

Could you give some examples of folks rank-ordering schools by democracy
so I can have a picture of what you are talking about?

-Joe Jackson

> I think we encourage this ranking need by
> focusing on a "model" and overlooking the nature of
> democratic process. The democratic process assumes
> interactions between unique individuals. This means that No
> Two schools will develop the same structures to deal with
> their problems of daily life. (The attempt of a school with
> 5 kids in Ontario to implement JC is an example of the
> problems inherent in attempting to transplant a model.)
> Lately, I've enjoyed visiting several West Coast schools who
> claim to be democratic. I've also visited Sudbury Valley
> School. None of these schools were structurally the same in
> every respect as The Highland School, yet I felt comfortable
> that all were working hard at doing democracy.
> Having been involved for many years with helping to
> create and maintain a democratic school, I know the hours
> spent on dealing with everything from tax law to asbestos
> control to state regulatory agencies of all sorts and kinds.
> After doing all that so our community could do our best to
> practice democracy, I can understand the frustration poeple
> feel toward schools saying they are democratic while
> trampling over individual rights and making decisions where
> some people's votes count more than others. That said, what
> I'm interested in hearing are individual and collective
> experiences of people doing democracy in their own situations
> - not trying to better imitate a model.
> Sudbury Valley is a wonderful example of democratic
> schooling and I have learned much from the tremendous effort
> people there have made to let the world know about a better
> way for kids (and adults) to live. However, what has been and
> continues to be of most value is hearing about specific
> situations, thinking about them, discussing them with others
> who hold a democratic philosophy, reflecting on the
> situations in light of that philosophy, and applying what's
> useful from this process to my own specific situation.
> If the goal of the DSM listserve is to understand and
> more correctly implement a single model, then perhaps this
> listserve isn't the best place to talk about people's
> experiences in doing democracy. Constantly wrestling over
> following a model limits our discussion and encourages
> grading the "correctness" of our structures, rather than
> encouraging deeper and more useful discussion. Candy
> Landvoigt, The Highland School
>
>
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