Our intrepid crusader for more democratic schools is out at the Internaional Conference for Democratic Education and has been reporting back. Here's his summary of the final keynote address. Of course, I wasn't there but I've been thinking about difference lately and will I certainly take the point, I think we have to value difference while, at the same time, valuing how and when we come together. For us to have a politics we have to share some "truths" and work together towards them. Hmm....
Yacov Hecht, director of the Institute for Democratic Education, gave his final talk of the conference. He discussed IDE's goal: take what is learned in democratic schools and turn it into tools for innovative educational and learning systems.
He predicted that the democratic school movement of the late 90s and early 21st century will create a democratic culture in society. Using Maslow's hierarchy of needs, he noted that only around 20% of the population self-actualizes. This lead to his definition of a democratic culture: one that guards the equal right of every individual for self-actualization.
To have a democratic culture we must
1. recognize the fact of "the different"--difference is beautiful
2. accept the fact that we do not own the truth
3. recognize that "the different" is also a part of the establishment
4. recognize the importance of self-criticism ad a constructive tool for growth
5. disburse democratic education outside school borders--to businesses, govt
agencies, civic organizations.
The problem is we don't know how to deal with difference. He noted that he sees the goal of education for sustainability is to reduce the aggressive impulse. This can be accomplished by:
1. a democratic culture in schools--this would foster closer relationships between
adults and children
2. looking for the uniqueness of every child
3. providing a place for it to develop
4 binging this to the attention of the community and celebrating