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Democracy in Action

Because the progressive philosophy is dedicated to creating active participants in democratic society, we incorporate many democratic practices into the daily life of the school. For example, each classroom engages in some type of group meeting in which students can bring up topics that they feel should be discussed by the entire class. These meetings are led by a student leader, with each child having the opportunity to run a meeting at some point during the year. At the lower grades, democracysuch group meetings might include a discussion of sharing in the block area; at the older grades, topics may include social issues of inclusiveness or peer pressure.

Approximately once each month, students have an opportunity to bring up school-wide concerns or proposals at a Town Hall Meeting. With the entire school in attendance, a student leads the Town Hall Meeting, calling on children who wish to be heard. Often decisions are reached by consensus, but when they are not, the student leader asks, “Can you live with it?”, taking care to ensure that the minority voice is not trampled by the majority. In the history of The Children’s School, there have been instances where a lone kindergarten child, when asked “Can you live with it?”, has explained his objections so eloquently and articulately that the rest of the community was moved to change its collective opinion on the matter and reverse the vote.

 

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"For most young people, learning matters when it is personal and serves a purpose. When students have an opportunity to use or share what they know, they want to learn more."
Milbrey McLaughlin and Martin Blank

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