"Sin los niños no habría humanidad. Por lo cual, la humanidad se debe a los niños"

(E. Aragón Sr.)

dilluns, 5 de març de 2012

Democratic schools

Democratic schools are those where pupils and teachers have the same rights and can participate and decide equally about all matters of the school. Their main idea is “TO MAKE THE SCHOOL FIT THE CHILD”, so the teachers have to accommodate their method to the students’ needs.

            An example of Democratic School is Summerhill, a modern school that was started by Alexander Sutherland Neill in England, on 1921.
In the Summerhill’s teaching approach there are two issues: the first one is that children have to live their own life. Because of that, pupils can decide if they want to go to class. Te second issue are the assemblies, meetings where staff and students participate in equal amounts to decide items such as the school rules.

            The teachers’ and student’s roles in Summerhill are active. On the one side, pupils and staff have to decide in a democratic way (on assembly) the subjects that are going to be taught and studied. On the other side, teachers have to be welling to teach the subjects that students have decided, and not only the subjects that staff thinks are the bests.
In this school, love is more important than subjects like maths or science (even though the last ones are also important). And why is it so? Well, because love breeds love, and children respond better to love and freedom than to strict authority.

            In my opinion this kind of schools are possible. People think that they are not, because this teaching approach is associated with anarchism. But this idea is wrong. This method is not anarchist, is democratic. So, one of the rules is respect, a bidirectional respect: teachers respect children’s interests and children have to answer to this liberty to act being responsible. It’s like a “gentleman’s agreement” where both parts undertake to carry out their responsibilities.



            With this method, students will learn the same that those who learn in an authoritarian school. It’s really easy: first of all teachers mustn’t be hidden behind the sentence “I can’t do it”, and they must say “I’ll do my best, and I’m going to change my methods because I want the students to be a little happier”.
If we let children to choose which subjects do they want to learn, they will be interested in going to school, and they will be happy to go there. And the most important thing: they will not say “I hate school”.

            How to teach them? Well, once the subject to learn is chosen, the teacher has to make educational every situation. By this way, if children have decided that they want to learn cooking, the teacher can teach them reading or writing using the recipes, and they can also learn maths with this (200g of flour, 100ml of milk, etc.).

            Of course it’s easier for us, the teachers, using books and telling the students to learn a unit and make after an exam! But it won’t be easy and funny to our pupils.
Because of that, I think that we don’t have to be selfish and think what will be better for children, although it would mean for us making a great effort.


Pictures: the appearance of Summerhill's school now a days, and the "creator": Alexander Sutherland Neill. Both have been taken from:


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