On Mon, 5 Nov 2001, Jesse Fisher wrote:
> If I might be so bold, I would suggest that democratic
> education may not be an all or nothing condition, but
> more a continuum -- from zero democratic features on one
> end to a full array of [then-understood] democratic
How is this suggestion, of a continuum, substantially
different than the position posited by Candy or Alan that an
institution or classroom may be "somewhat" democratic?
I sense that you are trying to posit a new defense or
way to look at the "somewhat democratic" claim with your
metaphor -- but I am unable to see what the new defense is.
If so, could you be more explicit?
I am thinking about this term of yours -- "democratic
features," but I honestly don't know what you mean. Do you
mean "liberty, equality before the law, and political
If so, then perhaps this suggests a source of the
debate on this list. I do not doubt that some of the
schools or classrooms which some have suggested are
"somewhat democratic" do _in_fact_ offer "somewhat more
liberty" to their students than other classrooms.
However, I (for one) have been using the word
"democracy" to mean "democratic" (i.e. power stems from the
constituency) the word "liberty" to mean "liberty" (i.e. a
person's time is her/his own) and the word "equality" to
mean "equality" (i.e. there is not more than one class of
people). I maintain that it is not possible to be "sort of
equal" or "sort of democratic."
The places that others have referred to as "somewhat
democratic" seem to me to offer "greater liberty" than can
be found in other classrooms, but to be neither democratic
nor equal. It is the misuse of the terms "democracy" and
"equality" that trouble me most, and strike me as lying to
students within the progressive schools movement.
> features on the other end. Or, even, a dual-axis
> continuum with the level of intellectual freedom along,
> say, the X axis, and political freedom along the Y.
> Perhaps if a school ranks positively on both the
> intellectual and political freedom axes, they might be
> justly labeled "democratic" or "fully-democratic" or
> some similar identifier.
What is the distinction between "intellectual" freedom and
"political" freedom? Can one be "politically" free, without
the capacity to weigh or argue any intellectual idea free of
an academic curriculum? Can one be intellectually free,
when one's environment is denied the "political" freedom of
association (or, more to the point, the freedom to
dis-associate oneself, or walk away from a teacher or
These two measures seem only to exist on a purely
theoretical level. That is, every environment which offers
intellectual freedom also offers political freedom. And
every environment which offers political freedom also offers
> PS. Perhaps some creative soul might come up with a quick set of criteria that would plot a person's educational standing, much like the Libertarians have done with their "World's Smallest Political Quiz."
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Joe Jackson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > >
> > > Candy,
> > >
> > Candy said:
> > > > 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.
> > >
> > Joe responded:
> > > 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?
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