Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Democracy Must be Experienced to be Learned - student participation

From: David Rovner <>
Date: Thu Apr 7 04:03:01 2005


Democracy Must be Experienced to be Learned

[from, Three essays from Education in America, by Daniel Greenberg, ]

          There is much talk these days about the importance of teaching democratic values in our public schools. It appears that newspaper columnists, teachers' unions, public organizations, and other civic-minded persons have suddenly come to realize that our youth is growing up ignorant of, and uncommitted to, the great principles upon which our nation is based. Although I fully agree that a problem exists, I am afraid that the proposed cure - more classes on democracy - is no better than the disease. Why is it that people persist in thinking that the solution to real-life problems is talking about them? Does anyone really believe that subjecting children to yet another course will achieve really meaningful goals? We can't even get our kids to read or write or do arithmetic properly, despite endless hours of classroom effort. Are we going to make them into defenders of freedom by adjusting the curriculum once more?
          The simple fact is that children are not committed to democratic principles, or political freedom, or the bill of rights, because they themselves do not experience any of these lofty matters in their everyday lives, and in particular, in their schools. Children do not have rights in school, they do not participate in meaningful decision-making at school (even where the decisions directly affect their own lives), nor do they have the freedom of self-determination in school. In fact, the schools are models of autocracy - sometimes benevolent, sometimes cruel, but always in direct conflict with the principles on which our country is based.
          The way to ensure that people of any age will be deeply committed to the American Way is to make them full participants in it. Make our schools democratic, give our children freedom of choice and the basic rights of citizenship in the schools, and they will have no problem understanding what this country is about.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Jennifer Blair
  Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 4:29 AM
  Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] [Discuss-sudbury-model]student participation

  A question...

  I am wondering how new students at sudbury-model schools learn how they can participate in the schools democratic processes. Do any schools do a formal orientation or do they expect students will learn in the heat of it. I'm not talking about how their sense of agency develops... just the basics of the processes... how to make a motion, the voting process, get an item added to the agenda, etc.

  Jennifer Blair
Received on Thu Apr 07 2005 - 04:02:17 EDT

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