RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] essentials of democratic schools (was: "setting limits")

From: Alan Klein <>
Date: Mon Oct 30 07:54:01 2006


With all due respect, you didn't answer the question that was asked, which I
took to mean, "In your opinion, what practices and policies have a school
live up to the definition of 'democratic' which you have given below?"

~Alan Klein

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott David Gray I try to use words such that they can be easily
understood. I try
to apply words the same way that most people do. Which means, when
possible, trying to use words carefully, to describe only the same set
of things that most other people mean by the words I choose. The first
definition of "democracy" in the dictionary in front of me seems like
a good place to start when deciding if it is reasonable to call
something "democratic," and it reads:
     "Government by the people; a form of government in which the
supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them
or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

     In the field of education, however, people like to bandy about
sexy words, defining them in ways that are convenient for making a
feel-good claim, or a political point. If the founders of a school
happen to like the concept of democracy, even if they are afraid to
put it into practice, they like to apply the lable "democratic." If
they like the concept of liberty, even if they are afraid to put it
into practice, they like to apply the label "free." If they like the
word "equality," even if they are afraid to let students have
political equality or equality before the law, they like to apply the
lable "equal."
     Virtually none of the schools in the "democratic schools"
movement actually invest students with equal political voice in a body
with supreme power. But "democratic" is a sexy term that many of them
like to bandy about in their literature. Calling most such schools
"democratic" is sort of like calling a yellow cake "chocolate" just
because the person who baked the cake really *likes* chocolate.

On 10/30/06, Henning Graner <> wrote:
> Scott David Gray wrote:
> > Well, I can't speak for any of the many, many schools that use the
> > word "democratic" to describe themselves, but which are clearly *not*
> > democratic by any reasonable use of the term.
> Which are in your opinion the essential characteristics which have to be
> met so that a schools merits the term "democratic"? Which of these
> essential characteristics are lacking in those schools, which call
> themselves democratic but in your opinion aren't?
Received on Mon Oct 30 2006 - 07:53:29 EST

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