[Discuss-sudbury-model] Is the school willing to go where the students will take them? -- (was: Is there such a thing as a semi-democratic school ?)

From: David Rovner <rovners_at_netvision.net.il>
Date: Sat Jun 26 08:31:00 2004

Michael Newman (Summerhill School - part time) said it well:
A 'rights-based school'/'children's rights school', defines much better a school than "democratic/semi-democratic," would.

~ David Rovner

----- Original Message -----
From: "slowsnail2001" <slowsnail2001_at_yahoo.co.uk>
To: <savesummerhill_at_yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, June 26, 2004 12:00 PM
Subject: [savesummerhill] not democratic/semi-democratic but rights-based!

When we were lobbying to save Summerhill and also to have
Summerhill's contribution to education history and ideas of
children's rights in schools, I kept on appearing at Prof Bernard
Crick's citizenship education conferences. The first, we shared wine
together and he thought it was amusing to have Summerhill at the
conference - I lobbied from the floor the ministers who spoke. When I
asked him why Summerhill could not be a component in citizenship
education he replied that it could contribute to the 'controversial'
issues in citizenship.

Meetings later and many questions about Summerhill from the floor,
Crick gathered a great dislike of me. Irrespective of this he made
comments such as - there could be no such thing as a democratic
school!! This is the man behind the introduction of citizenship in
English schools.

Some three years ago when I volunteered to be on the committee to
help run the Association of Citizenship Teachers Crick publically
refused to have me on. He had asked for volunteers from the audience.
I gained much sympathy from members of the audience, and it was much
discussed in that afternoons workshops!

Sorry to triviliase the debate with a bit of anectdote.

In terms of 'democracy' Neill was quite ambiguous, he liked to quote
Ibsen's play 'Enemy of the People' and would argue that democracy
causes a dictatorship over the minority opinion! Rather than
democracy being a principal of the schools I think it is rights, we
are 'children's rights schools'.

I think schools can have different levels of participation of their
students, but the question arises that if they do participate is it a
consultation to be used according to the adult response? is it set-up
such that the answer is known and safe (and other decisions if they
come about through error are then dismissed)? Or is the school
willing to go where the students will take them?

Best wishes

--- In savesummerhill_at_yahoogroups.com, "David Rovner" <rovners_at_n...>
> Is there such a thing as a semi-democratic school ?
> ~ David Rovner
Received on Sat Jun 26 2004 - 08:30:38 EDT

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