centrepiece of this publication is an article by Dr Ben Levin
of the University of Manitoba, which provides a framework for
understanding the facets of democracy in education. He reminds
us that neither democracy nor education, however desirable they
might be, is an easy process.
questions prompted by other articles include:
- How can
pupils with support needs (including those arising from learning
disabilities and social, emotional and behaviour difficulties)
be more involved in the communal decision making process as
well as in decisions about their own needs?
- What can
be done to encourage adults, such as playground and classroom
assistants who are perceived as being lower down
the school hierarchy, to believe that their views matter?
- How can
we ensure that the welfare of minorities (including those that
are easily identifiable, such as some ethnic minorities and
those less visible, such as the victims of bullying) is not
subordinated to the democratic will of the majority?
- Do teachers
model democratic processes in their relationships with colleagues,
in their dealings with parents and in the way they teach pupils?
most challenging question of all is: are headteachers and school
managers ready to answer the criticisms of policy and practice
that the promise of democracy might unleash? As Dr Levin says,
one cannot be committed to democracy and expect to retain
full control of everything. Schools have a vital role in
preparing young people to be active participants in a democratic
society. A prerequisite for the achievement of this aim is that
all members of a school community should be able to participate
in meaningful decision making, so that the benefits of democracy
are not just taught but also experienced.
SSEN & ABN Manager
This special newsletter, jointly published by the Scottish
Schools Ethos Network and the
Anti-Bullying Network, is intended to facilitate discussions
about the nature of democracy in schooling. Such discussions
should involve all members of a school community although
this publication is intended for an adult audience. We hope
that young people will be able to take part in such discussions
as part of their normal class work, in pupil councils and
through local and national organisations, such as Dialogue
Youth. We further hope that they will be allowed to make real
decisions about matters that are of real concern to them.
This newsletter may be reproduced for non-commercial use in
schools and other educational establishments in Scotland providing
the Anti-Bullying and Scottish Schools Ethos Networks are