In our community everybody matters and everybody has a voice. We feel that empowerment in education begins with having a greater say in how the community is run for both students and staff.
The weekly meetings with all the teachers and students are where we discuss and decide on what we will study together, how we treat each other, off-site activities such as trips and more. Decisions are made by arriving at a consensus where possible, with teachers and students having one vote each.
We create a space to discuss issues, to encourage free speech, to develop the ability to express one’s opinion in public and to listen to other points of view before making decisions. Students will often do some research to back up proposals to the democratic meeting. New ideas are often trialled to understand better the impact and implications they may have, and then they are tweaked to fit.
The meeting itself is an important opportunity to learn how to communicate. The emphasis is on listening to the speaker without interrupting, feeling and then speaking with respect towards the individuals and the group. Students will learn about non-violent communication to nurture relationships where students feel free to express themselves whilst respecting others.
But isn’t democracy failing around the world?
We believe that we need to heal and rebuild democracy.
This huge task will take time and will be inherited by today’s children as they grow older. We believe that our children should have a good grounding in how real democracy works. They should be supported to respect differences of opinion and be given tools to help reach common ground together.
We support our students to listen to their own wisest and most compassionate voices and to learn to collaborate together respectfully.
We have mediation circles where students who are having a disagreement can ask their peers to mediate for them in a supported, neutral process.
We hope that our students will go out into the world full of agency, hope and the skills needed to make a difference.
Democracy in education is an important step towards empowering the engaged, heartfelt citizens that this planet needs.