Several years ago…well ok…about a decade ago…a few radical education oriented colleagues and I set out to revive the defunct Democratic Education Society. We met with small groups for about 3 summers, but were not able to get it off the ground as several people left for different positions and the core group frittered away. We did learn a lot, share a lot, and dream a lot.
Well, we are back…and looking to start up such an effort again. It is past time.
With all of the standardization efforts to deliver knowledge and call it education, the acceptance of packaged, programmed learning delivered online as ‘education’, and with all of the attempts to test and measure everything that moves in order to prescribe more standardized spoon feeding and static delivery of knowledge as education…with no evidence that any of it improves learning…well we find it uncacceptable.
We believe that there is high value in social interaction, dialogue, critique, and people gathering to address deep issues.
We believe assessment should be based upon improvement and progress, not on standardized comparisons.
We also believe that learning occurs when teachers and students work together to create curriculum that addresses the personal and social concerns that we all bring to the table in any learning situation.
We also believe that the voices of educators and students are not being heard in the current push to control and manage the curriculum and the delivery of that curriculum.
We believe that exclusionary practices of selecting and sorting (that seem to be more and more the norm in education) result in deterimental affects on creativity, innovation, and LEARNING.
Finally, we believe that there are research proven, historical evidence showing that a democratic approach to education where students and teachers work collaboratively to design learning experiences, participate in those experiences, assess those experiences, and then redesign those experiences results in deep transformative learning that is good for the individual and for the society in which that individual lives.
We belive the core of democracy is made up of those, and similar, understandings.
Therefore, we are going to organize a small group of educators from across the country to meet in the Twin Cities to plan a move to join with others in expanding democratic education efforts nationally, share research evidence of the value of democratic approaches to teaching/learning, and to create or join with an existing democracy in education group to push democratic principles in the educational arena.
Below is the rough draft of that planning session.
Agenda for Fall 2013: Democratic Practices and the Impact on Student Achievement Seminar
Friday, Sept. xxxx: Arrive and check into the Doubletree Hotel Downtown St. Paul
6 p.m. meet in lobby for dinner (provided)
6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Dinner, introductions, purposes for seminar, and discussion
Saturday, Sept. xxx: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Breakout presentations on papers in progress, presentation of evidence to support democratic practices in classrooms, examples of best practices, etc. Feedback/dialogue included. One hour for each presentation. Two sessions per hour means we can handle 14 total sessions this day.
6 p.m. Dinner in St. Paul (provided)
Sunday, Sept. xxx: 8 a.m. – noon Breakout sessions continued. One hour sessions as on Saturday means we can handle 6 total sessions.
1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Whole group planning:
Identification of possible network members and organizations for collaboration
Steering committee creation
Next steps, including 2013-2014 academic year meetings/plans and next summer
Summer retreat/conference planning for 2014
6 p.m. Dinner in St. Paul
Monday, Sept. xxx Depart St. Paul