Democratic education

Nowadays the meaning of democracy is clear for all of us, apart from the scientific meaning related to the concept of the system of government, we can understand democracy as the power of the majority. If we go back to the Greek origin of the word, we can see it´s composed of two words “demos” which means people, and “kratos” which means power, so we could be talking about the power of the people.

But in this case, we are talking about education. When I arrived in Poznan, one of the first partners I visited was the Free Democratic School. I would lie if I say that the first contact with the school and their method was at some point shocking and new for me. I am used to the traditional way of education, with teachers, exams, schedules, and the proposal of this school is totally different. The methods of non-formal education are more than present, mixed with the pure values of democracy, the kids have the power to decide what they want to learn, of course with some limits and guidance, but still with a big space for their proposals.

During these five months working in the school with the children and the teachers, I realized how well this method works with some of the students, allowing them to develop not only the mandatory curricular knowledge but also topics and subjects outside of it. This way of working allows them to go deeper into the topics that interest them the most. Another interesting method that they use, related to these topics is the preparation of presentations that lead to discussions between them and the teachers, developing in this way their critical thinking and speech skills.

After collaborating with them, I learn and bring with me some ideas that I think public schools and traditional education should consider adding to their method. For me, there is no better way to educate children than to hear what they have to say and what they are interested in, in the end, giving them some “kratos”.

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