WHAT IS A DEMOCRATIC SCHOOL?
When we call a school “democratic”, we take as a model schools such as Summerhill School in Great Britain, Windsor House in B.C., Albany Free School in New York State, Alpha Alternative in Toronto, and Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts. Democratic or “free” schools are schools where:
- Decisions which affect all members of the school community are made in a democratic way during assemblies, i.e. a school where each teacher and student has a vote in any decision regarding, for example, activities and rules in the school, discipline, and conflicts.
- Decisions which affect only one person are taken solely by that person. Students are free up to the point where their freedoms might impinge on those of another person. Among others, these freedoms include: freedom of expression, freedom of association and of assembly, (though students must stay on school grounds) and freedom of conscience.
- The decision to attend classes, or not, is made by the student. Students may also teach classes.
- For example, an 8 year old is welcomed into a pre-university physics class if he or she wishes to be there.
- The provincial curriculum is taught to students who wish to learn it.
- Subjects outside of the curriculum are offered to students who wish to learn them. For example: cooking, politics, anything from education to the environment, business management, film studies, sexuality, philosophy etc.
- Ressources are provided whereby students can explore their own projects.