students sat at the table

Democratic School Circles

In our school children and teenagers are accorded rights and responsibilities of democratic citizenship; students and teachers vote at School Circle meetings on the rules that affect them, and serve on different circle groups to make decisions on various aspects of the running of Atelier 21. These decisions range from which sports to put on the curriculum next term, to which new behaviour rules we need as a community, to which student enterprise ideas will be granted loans from the school bank for example.

What better training than this to prepare students for democratic citizenship? When rules are broken, misdemeanours are heard at the school circle meeting and appropriate sanctions are decided on and given out by the group of students and teachers in that circle. Any serious misdemeanours or acts of intolerable behaviour will be dealt with by the Head of School.

A radical change is going to be needed to get a learning system fit for a democracy. It needs to get away from domination and its endless stream of uninvited teaching. It needs to recognize that, in a democracy, learning by compulsion means indoctrination and that only learning by invitation and choice is education.

Roland Meighan