SWG # 1: Schools and Democracy

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In Canada and the United States education and democracy are two very important institutions. Dr Benjamin Levin, the Deputy Minister of Education and Training for the Province of Manitoba, argues that education and democracy are among the features of our society in which we take the most pride and believe most fiercely in (Levin, 2000). For centuries North Americans have believed that the primary purpose of schools is to educate young people for responsible citizenship. In 2000, a Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll asked respondents what they considered the most important purpose of the nation's schools. They ranked "preparing people to become responsible citizens" as number one (Branson, 2000). Democratic societies rely on the educational system to ensure that each new generation acquires the habits and virtues of good citizens. Yet, while there have been many different assertions of what citizenship means, there is no single vision that has been accepted by everyone. Today, schools are focusing on the integral role that participation in the community plays in the education of proper citizens. However, participation of young people in their communities remains relatively low. "Coping in the real world, getting along with others, working for the common good and contributing to society through higher education" have largely become part of what is considered to be a good citizen (Arai, 1999). Schools provide students with the tools they need to become active citizens who contribute to the strength of democracy.

What is Democracy?
Before examining the relationship between schools and democracy it is important to understand what democracy is. The Oxford English dictionary defines democracy as “government by the people; the form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised either directly by them (as in the republics of antiquity) or by officers elected by them. To many people, democracy is just a form of politics that includes voting, elections and political parties. However democracy is much more than politics and elections - it is a social state in which all people have equal rights.

The following is a video of New York City students describing what democracy means to them.


Each year the United States Government in partnership with Youtube holds a "Democracy Video Challenge" in which participants are asked to create a video short that completes the phrase “Democracy is…” The following is the 2009 Democracy Video Challenge winner created by Lukasz Szozda of Poland.


Civic and Citizenship Education
Education is fundamental in order for a democracy to function successfully because ultimately a free society depends on its citizens and their knowledge, skills, and civic virtue. For more than 200 years North Americans have relied on education to create a new generation of active and aware citizens. As a result schools of Western countries have a civic mission. In order to fulfill this responsibility the United States Government and texternal image vote-yours-count.jpghe provincial Canadian governments have incorporated civic education into their curriculums. These programs allow students to graduate from grade twelve having demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter including civics and government. These programs also give students the opportunity to become involved in community activities that promote and demonstrate good citizenship and personal responsibility (Branson, 2000). To achieve both these goals schools often address civics and citizenship using a formal and informal curriculum.


In recent years civic education has become more popular across North America. As of 2000 all fifty external image government_icon_-_symbo_01.jpgAmerican states and most Canadian provinces require instruction in civics and government. While the amount of instruction varies the subject matter is fairly standard. The formal curriculum has three major tasks: providing students with civic knowledge, developing their civic skills, and fostering the character traits that are essential for citizens in a constitutional democracy (Branson, 2000). Instruction of civic knowledge seeks to provide students with a basic and realistic understanding of civic life, politics and government. This includes familiarizing students with their country's constitution, other core documents, how their government is organized, the rights and responsibilities of citizens, and world affairs. Civic skills instruction provides students with the critical thinking skills required to affect the outcomes of the political process. Finally, civic disposition is instruction on the public and private character traits essential to democracy. Through instruction and experiences students develop qualities such as moral responsibility, self-discipline, respect, civility, respect for the rule of law and the willingness to compromise.

Civic and citizenship education is
external image extracurricular_activities.jpg also taught using an informal curriculum. The informal curriculum includes the governance of the school community, the relationships among those within the community, and extra-curricular activities. Over the past decade several school boards across North America have implemented mandatory volunteer hours as part of the high school curriculum. In 1999 the Ontario government changed the curriculum for high school students specifying forty hours of mandatory community service (Henderson et al., 2007). In the United States twenty-six percent of high schools require some form of service. In Canada, at least a third of all students of high school age participate in community service programs. These programs are an explicit attempt to halt the declining engagement of young people, and to encourage wider participation in community and political life (Henderson et al., 2007). Various research has shown the positive effects of community service programs when combined with formal civic instruction. Students who participate in these volunteer programs and complete civics courses have higher levels of civic engagement including political knowledge, civic responsibility and social concern (Henderson et al., 2007). North American schools do not only educate students about the civics and governance of the nation but also have the responsibility to create responsible democratic citizens. The formal and informal curriculum of the civic education program work together to create
conscientious
democratic citizens.


The Role of Schools in the Creation of Democratic Citizens school_election.png

It is evident that the educational setting plays an integral role in shaping young citizens. Schools have a profound effect on influencing the political actions and decisions of individuals. One of the main questions that arise in the discussion of schooling and democracy is whether or not schools create good democratic citizens.

Benjamin Levin (2000) indicates a distinction that is essential to recognize when examining this question. Levin outlines that two of the main facets of democracy in education pertain to education about citizenship and education for citizenship. Education about citizenship is more visible in schools today due to an increased concern over globalization and the fact that younger generations are failing to participate in our democratic society. Educating students about democracy is specifically seen through mandatory civics courses at the high school level. Another specific attempt at creating good democratic citizens is the implementation of mandatory volunteer hours in order to graduate with a high school diploma. These characteristics of the curriculum have been implemented with the purpose of educating our students about democracy; therefore, the underlying goal is to create better citizens. The concept of educating for democracy revolves around sharing power in the classroom. It is the teacher’s responsibility to provide students the ability to participate in a democratic classroom by including students in discussions about what education is for. These types of practices serve to educate for good citizenship – but are these practices truthfully creating good citizens?

It has become general knowledge that young generations participate the least in the democratic functioning of our society. There is evidence that society is failing to produce good citizens, and schools should be held somewhat responsible. Chester Finn (2004) argues that public schools are ill-equipped to produce the good citizens that a functioning democratic society entails. This can be largely a result of the limited duration of school. However, perhaps one of the major factors influencing the construction of good citizens in schools is the differing pedagogical views of parents and teachers. Young individuals are highly influenced by their parents, who offer their own perspective on what it means to be a citizen within a democracy. These young individuals are also highly influenced by teachers, who present multiple perspectives on citizenship and democracy. This poses a true dilemma in the creation of good citizens because of these two differing pedagogical views.

The creation of good citizens can also be greatly hindered by divergent views about values and the role of teachers and schools. This relates to the debate over what a school’s responsibility entails. It can be argued that a school is responsible to be primarily cognitive. Therefore, educating students for democracy would not necessarily fall under this realm, and thus creating good citizens would not be at the forefront of objectives. Contrary to this argument, is the belief that schools are responsible to teach good behaviour. Teaching good behaviour would entail educating for democracy in order to influence students to become moral citizens.

Therefore, it is obvious that the relationship between the education system and democracy can be complicated. We know that schools can have a profound impact on developing the future generations of participants in our democracy. However, many questions and debates arise regarding whether or not schools are creating good citizens. Perhaps the activeness of young individuals in our society will provide the answer to this question in the future.

Democratic Education and Alternative Schools

Our system of public schooling has been built largely on the ideal of creating loyal citizens - those who will fill the need for efficient workers that society has demanded since the Industrial Age. Thus the type of societal participation that schools traditionally foster in young people is predominantly economical. This ideal has translated lar
gely to uniformity and conformity in schools, and been used as a way to regulate the poor. John Taylor Gatto talks poignantly about this in his “The Seven Lesson Schoolteacher” (Gatto: 1992, 1-21). For example, he discusses one rule of the dominant educational approach in the United States (and in Canada as well): that students must always wait for instructions to come from an authority figure, rather than follow their natural curiosity or use their own problem-solving skills. This type of conformity, Gatto argues, is largely geared toward creating people who will conform to the hierarchical structure and needs of most jobs in the workforce. Thus, schooling can be more about feeding corporate needs than about building communities. Gatto advocates the sense of community as a true tenet of education; one could also argue it as a foundation of democracy. In the video to the right, Gatto talks about projects and approaches he used as a teacher in New York with the idea of improving the city and community (thereby building it). Interestingly, Gatto talks about giving students more business opportunities that offer fair wages for necessary services like pet-sitting and helping elderly people move. Thus his idea is not to do away with addressing the real economics of society in school, but to use the energy and assets of young people to excel at certain community-based business opportunities while in school.

In addition to the non-traditional approach to school content and structure that Gatto discusses in the video, and civics education courses, volunteer requirements, or documents such as the
"Teaching Human Rights in Ontario" package by Ontario Human Rights Commission available to teachers in schools here in Ontario - not to mention the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which, since 1989, has helped protect the human rights of children everywhere (link )- more democratic and/or radical alternative schools have always and continue to exist around the world. These counter-movements to the dominant educational approach generally prioritize such values as creativity and community, and are often characterized by a high degree of parental involvement, student-centred learning inside and outside of the classroom, and a small student body. Significant philosphers/educators that have rallied throughout the history of public schooling for student-centred education that allows children to develop more organically and within less constraints include Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, Friedrich Froebel, Francis Parker, and John Dewey. More recently, the climate of social consciousness in the 1960s (civil rights, feminism, pacifism, anti-corporate sentiment) provided ground for an increase in the use of alternative education in Canada and the United States. Alternative schools can be aligned with democratic education as it is defined by the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO), a non-profit organization devoted to the advance of student-driven, learner-centered approaches to education: "Democratic education is an educational approach grounded in respect for human rights and a broad interpretation of learning, in which young people have the freedom to organize their daily activities, and in which there is equality and democratic decision-making among young people and adults" (http://www.educationrevolution.org/demschool.html).


Summerhill: The First Democratic Free School

To put the concept of democratic/alternative schools further in perspective warrants a look at Summerhill School, an independent student-run school located in Britain. Summerhill was first established by Alexander Sutherland Neill in 1921, with the aim to create a school that is based on a democratic community. Anne Cassebaum (2003) states: “Imagine a school that has no grades or required classes, a school that posts or boasts no scores, a school that measures its success by the happiness of its students.” This is essentially the basis behind the idea of Neill’s school. He sought a school that was made to fit the child, and not a child made to fit a school.

grounds3.jpgOne critic of Neill’s book Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing (Mayer, 1961) emphasized Neill’s belief in the capacity of every child. “The author has absolute faith in the innate qualities of the child and regards education as the vehicle to bring out these qualities rather than to push 'phony' values upon the child.” Teachers are in the school to act as guides and masters in subject matter, but it is ultimately up to the students whether they show interest in the subject or not. Students have the choice to come and go to lessons as they see fit; as Neill puts it, they have the right to play.

One of the more controversial issues surrounding the make-up of Summerhill School is how much freedom the children have. The democratic equality in the school is exemplified through the regular meetings, which are held throughout the week and where decisions are made and problems within the school surface. The students are solely responsible for creating the governing rules of the school. Each member of the whole school community (that includes staff and students) is allocated one vote, and the majority rules on everything from bedtime to student punishment. John Darling, author of A.S. Neill on Democratic Authority comments that “Neill maintained that whether or not a pupil learned anything was a matter for the pupil concerned and for no-one else. Whether or not a pupil threw stones was a matter for the community. Anyone might be affected by the throwing of stones, whereas the consequences of a pupil not learning impinged only on the pupil herself... So in Summerhill there were no rules about attending lessons, but there were rules governing social life; it was only in this second area that authority could legitimately be exercised"(1992). As a rule for the school, students had the individual right to not attend lessons because it did not affect anyone but themselves. Many would argue against this, but Summerhill maintained this practice well after Neill’s death and continues to this day.


teamwork.jpgWithin the Summerhill school setting, conflicts are resolved through a student centered meeting. The meetings serve as a governing authority or decision making entity that is made up of students who hold meetings to decipher the resolution to various problems, to establish punishments, and to make decisions on the school community. There is a chairman that is elected each week who presides over the meeting, and there are individuals called Ombudsmen, who are also elected by the school community, and act as a mediator between the school members when conflicts arise. When a problem is brought to one of the regular meetings, one person states what the problem is and who it involved. The person who is claimed to have done something wrong addresses the chairman and their peers with his/her side of the story, witnesses are called for and against the accused, and a collective decision is made based on whether the person said he/she did it and the reliability of the witnesses. Darling states, “The absence of adult authority at Summerhill, in Neill’s view, means that pupils learn how to handle freedom and how to take responsibility for their conduct and their learning” (1992). Neill sees the necessity in the children running themselves and making the decisions about their own learning in democratic ways. They vote collectively on issues that affect everyone and come to their own views on their individual needs. This is something that Neill views as essential to the development of children and something that will guide them in adult life and within society.


Summerhill School has proven to be unique in its radical approach to democratic education. Like any other established institution, Summerhill has its followers and its skeptics. Cassebaum concludes her overall view of her visit to Summerhill as this: "In the end, it is the community at Summerhill that stands out for me as much as the freedom. Members of a real community, from the youngest kids to the teachers and administration, iron out their problems together in democratic ways. This shouldn't have surprised me so much. After all, freedom, at Summerhill, means being responsible for yourself. Being part of such a community is a powerful education in itself" (2003).




This clip is from a documentary taken at Summerhill School during the schools 70th year in session. As you will see when viewing the video, the kids have a tremendous amount of freedom. During this year, the kids have abolished almost all the rules and laws that were previously set in place, which proves to be a very difficult environment for most of the kids to live in as no one is accountable for their actions because essentially, they are free to do as they please. The most important aspect of this clip is the part that focuses on the tribunal meeting where the students discuss various problems that are occuring in the school or amongst members. Here we get a glimpse into the democratically set up tribunal where everyone is allowed to weigh in and share their opinion.


Montessori Schools: A Famous Example of Alternative Education


Montessori schools are seen as a radical alternative to education and teaching practices. The founder, Maria Montessori established these schools and way of education as a means to provide for the needs of the individual student; to give individual attention to a student as opposed to addressing a group of students. Within this school setting children are the creators of their own learning, and teachers or directors, as they are often called within the Montessori setting, are there to act as an introducer to the material, to provide an example of a lesson. Then, directors are to step back, act as an observer and watch the student take what they demonstrated, and develop it in their own ways. “Essential to the techniques is the necessity that children be allowed to work alone. They may be guided by the teacher to an apparatus, if necessary, but once a child is settled on it, he is left alone to develop at his own pace.” (McBroom, 1965) Thus, the learning is solely sought out by the student alone. They develop at their own pace, choosing how they proceed with what they are given.

Students are not given grades, tests, or quizzes as a means to assess achievement, but are evaluated through mindful observation by teachers. Alice Burnett (1962) describes the role of the teacher as “largely tutorial”, meaning that he/she is present without being the lecturer, and students may go to him/her as they see fit.

Essential to an understanding of Montessori schools is to note that the children are in control. They, ultimately, make the choices about their learning. Although Montessori schools cater mostly to the younger student population, we can see its democratic style and technique. Teachers are not dictators, they are guides, and the children develop their own learning, as opposed to having it developed for them.



Canadian Alternative Schools

While we are seeing a return to traditional values in Canadian education, with more government control over curriculum and standardized testing, many people remain attracted to alternative schools here; in fact,
according to a recent article in the Globe and Mail (link ), more alternative schools will be added to the Toronto District School Board this year than in any year since the city's amalgamation. At the time of writing of the article, there were 41 alternative schools in the TDSB, including the recently-opened, controversial Africentric Alternative School (link to brochure ), which integrates elements of black culture and heritage with the Ontario curriculum. Toronto is actually behind other urban areas, especially in the United States, in terms of the proportion of alternative schools it offers. (About 40 per cent of schools in New York, for example, are specialized schools.) "Matt Hern, director of the Purple Thistle Centre, an alternative to school project in Vancouver, British Columbia, described nine characteristics of democratic schools in his book Field Day: non-compulsory academics, democratic self-government, self-regulation, non-graded evaluations, non-compulsory attendance, focus on emotional/social development, non-hierarchy of activities, broad interpretations of learning, and the importance of play" (http://www.educationrevolution.org/demschool.html). These qualities are also found at the forefront of the missions of many Canadian alternative schools. The above-mentioned Globe and Mail newspaper article discusses some of Toronto's alternative schools, in which Hern's democratic school characteristics can be seen:
  • Delphi Secondary Alternative School: This 26-year-old alternative high school offers Problem-Based Learning (PBL), the same teaching method used at McMaster University’s Medical School and Harvard Business School. The student body is small, there were only 136 students last year, and teachers promote computer use and problem solving.
  • School of Life Experience (S.O.L.E.): This school offers Grade 10 through 12 and allows students who are parents to bring their infant children to class. The school is located near Coxwell and Danforth Avenues and there were 205 students enrolled last year.
  • The Triangle Program at Oasis Alternative School offers Canada’s only continuous intake high school program for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. It offers a homophobia-free environment and an extensive support network of guidance counsellors and youth workers.
  • Quest Alternative Senior School: Grade 7 and 8 students at this alternative school participate in ambitious excursions. In the fall, the school moves to the Greenwood Conservation Area for a week of camping and field studies. In the winter, the students travel to Quebec for French immersion studies, and then in June they go camping and hiking in Tobermory (Hammer:2009).

ALPHA Alternative Elementary School and ALPHA Alternative Secondary School, also in Toronto, were influenced by Summerhill. The website states that it provides a “child-centred, cooperative, democratic, community-driven, open, arts-infused, and social justice oriented education.” There are no grades, competitions, nor homework given (a major point of contestation for those who oppose alternative forms of education, as shown in the video to the left). Materials that require both individual and cooperative work, that reflect diversity and freedom of expression, that emphasize an individual’s responsibility to the larger group, etc. are used. Parent/child/teacher conferences are held twice yearly to assess learning, and overall parent involvement is very high. Adult members of the school community are to exhibit behaviour toward each other and toward children that is reflective of the school’s cooperative and democratic values. “All-School Meetings” are a feature of ALPHA life. Children take turns as Chair of these meetings and are encouraged to resolve problems themselves through negotiation. If agreement can't be reached, the dispute is brought to the rotating student Committee. Five children listen to complaints and decide on consequences. All children take turns serving on the Committee. The website states that “an individual’s rights are always subject to the rights of the community - a child or teacher does not have complete freedom.”

Other Canadian alternative schools include Alternative High School in Calgary, Alberta (link); Reach Sudbury School in Toronto, Ontario (link), which is currently under construction and to be modeled after Sudbury Valley School, a well-known alternative school in Massachusetts; Fairfield School in Wolfville, Nova Scotia (link); Indigo Sudbury Campus in Edmonton, Alberta, a private school (link); The Village Garden School in Kingston, Ontario (link); Windsor House Alternative Program in North Vancouver, B.C. (link); Wondertree Learning Centre in Vancouver, B.C. (link), and M.I.N.D. High School in Montreal, Quebec (link).

Home Schooling

In addition to the alternative schools offered around the country, many parents are opting to home-school their children. According to a 1997 study (Luffman, 1997), close to 20,000 families in Canada are schooling their children at home (Arai: 2000, 204). There are certainly even more than this, as many parents who home school do not register with educational boards or ministries. In general, parents choose home schooling because of dissatisfaction with either the content (curricula) or the structure (pedagogy) of traditional schools. A. Bruce Arai’s study (link
) of Canadian families who home school found that it offers a way to strengthen family bonds. Families can spend much more time together if they are not separated by a six or more hour school day. Parents who home school believe that a child who has a strong family relationship is "more inclined to a) explore the world with confidence; b) learn at their own pace; c) maintain a high level of curiosity; and d) be involved in intense learning processes" (Arai, 1999). Home schooling also provides an alternative educational environment where parents can control how much capitalist and consumerist values, secular humanism, school violence, etc. are influencing their children. They can avoid over-crowded classrooms and provide more individualized attention to their child(ren). Arai’s study found that many parents who home school do not have negative opinions of public education, and those who do felt “that the positive changes in their children and the strengthening of the family unit that resulted from home schooling would prevent them from sending their children back to public school even if problems [there] were resolved to their satisfaction” (Arai: 2000, 211).

Rules that govern home schooling vary from province to province (see
Ontario Home School Laws ). One of the main tenets of home schooling here in Ontario is laid out in the Ontario Education Act: "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children" (The Ontario Education Act: 2009). While some parents in Arai's 2000 study felt rather neutral on the subject of whether the government or individual families should have the right to determine a child’s education, many felt strongly that it was up to them to take control of their child(ren)’s education (Arai: 2000, 212). Arguments can be made whether or not home schooling is "better" than public schooling, but the fact remains that while specific Ministry of Education procedural rules are in place and vary provincially, parents across Canada can choose which educational approach they want to offer their children.

Arai's study also concluded that “home schooling may be appealing to a larger segment of the population than in the past” (Arai: 2000, 214), even if, with both parents working in many families today, it may seem less possible. Home schooling has become more legally bound and socially acceptable, though perhaps still subject to many of the stereotypes satirized by the video to the left. As of 2002, in cases of investigation where the Ontario Ministry of Education has sufficient reason to believe that a home-schooled child or adolescent is not receiving adequate instruction or was removed from public school for reasons other than home schooling, a member of
The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents may be present as a form of legal counseling (see policy memorandum). Thus, parents of home-schooled children have more legal rights than ever before. In addition to the increasing number of people choosing home schooling, the development of virtual schools in some jurisdictions in Canada may indicate that cooperation between public and home schools will increase here as it has recently in the United States (Arai, 215). Other work that Arai has done on the issue of building citizenship through home schooling states that, while some feel that homeschoolers are not properly socialized and do not receive a broad enough education, those educated at home have "a different but equally valid understanding of citizenship (Arai, 1999). Home-schooled children often take part in activities such as sports, music, Girl Guides, etc. where they learn and model cooperation and tolerance. Arai also states that it is unfair to say that a parent who home schools his or her child will exhibit any more or less biases in the education provided than a certified teacher in a public school system might.

Charter Schools

Charter schools are another form of alternative education. They are publicly funded, licensed by the province and run by agencies other than school boards, thus "freed of some of the rules governing public-sector schools and school boards" (link ), though they do have to meet curriculum and testing requirements. As of today, only the province of Alberta offers charter schools in Canada, while they are options in 80 per cent of American states. Most charter schools focus on a specific area such as music, special needs, or direct instruction. Because of the focused nature, proponents of charter schools argue that the parents who enrol their children there, teachers who work there, and students who attend share like-minded goals and work together in agreement. Supporters of charter schools view them as healthy competition for the public education system. The "Educational Administration for Canadian Teachers" document put out by the University of New Brunswick (link ) details that "the charter itself constitutes an agreement between the school and the provincial minister of learning and sets out the mission and objectives of the school. It is this that distinguishes the charter schools from public and separate schools. Currently Alberta has charter schools specializing in science, education of the gifted, education of girls, education of aboriginal peoples, and the Suzuki method of musically enhanced education, among others. Charter schools in Alberta must be non-denominational and so cannot duplicate the Christian schools, so widespread in the private sector. The legislation prevents charter schools from explicitly selecting students except on a first-come first-served basis, although the charter itself may result in a form of selection. Charter schools in Alberta, as elsewhere, are not permitted to charge tuition although they can impose the same miscellaneous fees on students that the public schools do. Charter school teachers must possess an Alberta teaching certificate but are not members of the Alberta Teachers' Association. The legislation permits a maximum of fifteen charter schools in Alberta, a restriction that tends to minimize their impact."

Conclusion: Implications for Learning and Teaching

The first conclusion that can be drawn is that while the ideals of democracy and education seem bound together, they are clearly not linked in a simple way. Whether in the public school system, an alternative school context, or home schooling, educators do have a responsibility for promoting human rights and equality, simply because they are entrusted with the care of young people for significant portions of nearly every day of the week. In any given classroom, there are practical things that teachers can do to ensure democracy is enacted: for example, having students create classroom rules, and giving them choices in assignments; ensuring that textbooks, classroom materials and activities promote cultural diversity and equality; becoming aware of one's own biases or need for power in the classroom; whenever possible, bringing students out into the community or community members into the classroom; and encouraging activities in which students can actively use their critical and problem-solving skills with a range of creative freedom. Certainly, civics classes and volunteer work as a part of secondary education can play a positive role in democratic education, as long as the learning is kept participatory and engages students within and outside of the school community. In addition, providing ways for cross-curricular engagement is a positive democratic move within a school (i.e., art and math areas collaborating on a project). Other possible ways that public schools can be (more) democratic is by offering life skills courses to students such as budgeting, babysitting, First Aid, or other areas that affect young people's lives, in addition to providing strong support resources for a healthy mental life.

Of course, democracy is not always easy to have when working with groups of people with diverse backgrounds and interests, as teachers in today's Canadian classrooms do. In the video to the left, Deborah Meier speaks about the difficulty of practicing democratic ideals in today's complex society, where they are somewhat counter-intuitive. She argues that democratic habits are needed, and they cannot be taught in the current state of the educational system. Democratic habits must be practiced in the company of people who are exhibiting them; yet, it is fair to say that many adults do not exhibit these behaviours. How can adults teach future generations about things they cannot demonstrate an understanding of themselves? The company that teachers and their students keep must include people they would like to become, with democratic habits that can be modeled and incorporated. We need to build communities where students and teachers can truly know each other, and where we are not driven to separate younger from older students through fear and a lack of trust in young people. Bridging schools and democracy is not only about educating students, but also about teachers educating themselves. As Meier says, there is always an opening where we can begin breaking down the constraints that keep us from nourishing and expanding democratic life.



Works Cited
Arai, Bruce A. (1999). "Homeschooling and the Redefinition of Citizenship." Education Policy Analysis Archives, 7(27). doi: http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v7n27.html

Arai, Bruce A. (2000). "Reasons for Homeschooling in Canada." Canadian Journal of Education 25 (3), 204– 217. http://www.csse.ca/CJE/Articles/FullText/CJE25-3/CJE25-3-arai.pdf

Branson, Margaret Stimmann. (2003). Civic and Citizenship Education. In Encyclopedia of Education (Vol. 1, pp. 294-297). New York: Macmillian Reference USA.


Burnett, Alice. "Montessori Education Today and Yesterday." The Elementary School Journal. 63 (2), 1962, pp. 71-77.

Cassebaum, Anne. "Revisiting Summerhill." The Phi Delta Kappan. 84 (8), 2003 pp. 575-578.

Darling, John. A.S. "Neill on Democratic Authority."
Oxford Review of Education. 18 (1), 1992, pp. 45-57.

Finn, Chester. "Faulty Engineering" Education Next. 4 (2), 2004, pp. 16-21.

Gatto, John Taylor (1992). The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher. In Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (pp. 1-21). Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers.

Hammer, Kate (2009, September 7). More Alternative Schools Opening Than Ever In Toronto. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.globeandmail.com

Heath, Joseph. "Citizenship Education and Diversity" Education Canada 42 (3), 2002, pp. 4-7.

Henderson, A., Brown, S., Pancer, S.M., & Ellis-Hale, K. "Mandated Community Service in High School and Subsequent Civic Engagement: The Case of the "Double Cohort" in Ontario, Canada" Journal of Youth Adolescence. 36 (7), 2007, pp. 849-860.

Levin, Benjamin. "
Democracy and Schools: Educating for Citizenship." Education Canada 40 (3), 2000, pp. 4-7.


Mayer, Morris Fritz. Review [untitled] The Social Service Review. 35 (2), 1961, pp. 217-218.

McBroom, Patricia. Montessori Expands. The Science News-Letter. 88 (24), 1965, pp. 375.