Democratic education compliments and enhances creative education.
Democratic education teaches students to employ and further enable their creative practices in a group setting.
Creative practices begin with the self. They include self-direction, self-regulation, self-governance, self-contemplation, self-evaluation, self-awareness. To offer them in a group setting means the group must also be self-directed, self-regulated, self-governed, self-contemplative, self-reflective, self-evaluative and self-aware… equaling a democratic learning environment.
One of the organisations Jane worked with to create the SoCE model is the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) in New York. Jerry Mintz, AERO’s founder, says
“There is no monolithic definition of
democratic education But what we mean here is
‘education in which young people organize their daily activities,
and in which there is equality and democratic decision-making
among young people and adults.”
(AERO’s Directory of Democratic Education)
Creative and democratic schools implement democracy in various ways, depending upon the nature (the experience and culture) of the school that the students, educators, committees and board are continuously building.
Weekly Whole School Meetings held in the Community Room bring students and staff together to raise ideas and problems, and democratically decide for themselves their best courses of action.
In effect, if the staff, students or committees want to solve a whole or partial school issue, come up with rules of engagement or enforce their rules, enhance resources for projects, develop whole or partial school project ideas, or vote upon the direction and design of their school, they must be proposed and decided upon at a democratic meeting.
As well as Whole School Meetings, spontaneous meetings can occur any time of the day on any weekday and will be called by the Initiator by a special bell ring across the school. Students and staff can elect to attend.
At each meeting, there is:
- an agenda that can be added to any time
- a chairperson (student preference)
- a minute taker (student preference)
- sharing of ideas, concerns and thoughts, then…
- “If a minority opinion is indicated, others listen very carefully to that minority opinion, and allow it to be fully expressed, perhaps changing the decision of the whole group. But ultimately, if they feel that the minority opinion is fully explored and that there is no options offered, the decision of the majority becomes the decision.” – Jerry Mintz
- followed by voting…
“The meetings often make many creative decisions, decisions that might not be thought of by any individual operating on their own. It is important to note that we go into a meeting without having a pre-set idea about the decisions that the meeting “should” make, but rather, fully expect that the meeting will be greater than the sum of its parts, and may find a creative solution that no one individual could foresee.” – Jerry Mintz