The IDEA Blog

Democratic Education: A cure of for the common Ism?

I've been thinking a lot about this recently. Is Democratic Education a cure all for the social ills that plague our society? Is that asking too much from one methodology? What I am talking about specifically, is our tendency to discriminate against that which is different from what we know; as individuals and collective "us against them" mentalities. I doubt that I need list the myriad of "isms" of which I speak. You know what I'm talking about. We've all either been an "us" or a "them" - often times, if we take a good look at ourselves, we'll see these attitudes tucked away behind our good will.

And then there is Democratic Education. Time and space dedicated to allow rapidly growing and learning human beings to explore the world around them. Freedom and Liberation!, some say. Freedom with Responsibility!, others say. <--- I personally like that one. I read a Nelson Mandela quote recently that summarized this concept.

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

So the question is: will...

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Posted on Aug 16, 2010 - 06:59 PM by Cian Sawyer

Race To The Top

I do not mean for this writing to provide a summary, synopsis, or full blown analysis of our nations most recent plan to stimulate the effectiveness of our education system, Race To The Top (RTTT). Rather I will offer some thoughts and concerns in hopes to stimulate the thoughts of readers in regards to RTTT, and provoke independent research and analysis of the effort. For an accurate description of RTTT, visit the US Department of Education website here.

In a nutshell, RTTT is the United States' most recent federal program to stimulate teachers, schools, and mainly statewide education officials and governors into practicing more effective teaching standards by offering monetary awards for those states who put forth the most promising, and appealing proposals to improve education in their state. The point of the program, put forth by U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is not solely to award states with more money for their school budgets, but rather to inspire states and...

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Posted on Aug 16, 2010 - 12:41 PM by Shawn Strader

Education Theology

Thesis Statement: The fear-based nature of the traditional education system renders it incapable of effecting the kind of change we need for humanity to realize it's true self.

Call me an idealist but I wholeheartedly believe that the primary goal of the evolution of our species is to move toward Oneness. And that the path to Oneness is Love - pure and simple.

The way our schools and our world works today it is very much about separation through labels, competition, comparison, and judgment. Ways of being that fail us as a race; as citizens of the planet.

In school, children are pitted against one another - grading on a bell curve, being one of the ways it is a standardized practice. They are placed into streams: Smart, Average and Slow (subtext: stupid). They are made to compete for better grades than their peers. The high achievers are praised, the "non-achievers" are ignored, even forgotten.

The mainstream system of evaluation is based on the notion that all humans...

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Posted on Aug 16, 2010 - 09:32 AM by Cian Sawyer

Why People Don’t Understand Schooling

In relatively recent news, a high school valedictorian really criticized the nature of compulsory schools, and advocated a changed system of choice and autonomy. In response, I have seen many people say that she was wrong for this, and that although schools aren't perfect, they do serve a great goal of educating all citizens. When people are critical of compulsory schooling, the response is generally this, "So what, you're against education? You're defending ignorance, and blind rebellion."

No. People like myself, those proposing alternative free schools/democratic schools/holistic schools, or the "Valedictorian [who] speaks out against schooling," are not against education or learning. We are against compulsory schooling. There is a difference between all these things. Learning is a process, or experience, that leads to education - the acquisition of knowledge. Schooling is a system, a specific environment (school) in which the acquisition of specific subjects and information is...

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Posted on Aug 13, 2010 - 11:50 AM by Zuleka Irvin

The Government is Asking for Your Opinion!

Head on over to ed.gov/blog, and see the post, "What is the biggest challenge today in education?". It's odd that there aren't like a million comments on this blog site, but either way, you should head over and speak your peace. I have commented about student choice.
"As a recently graduated k-12 student, I feel the biggest challenge in education is having public schools seriously consider student choice in education. For the most part, youth have very little say in what subjects they can learn or spend time on. When it comes to education, everyone is racing to do things for others, asking for freedom for teachers, administrations, and everyone but the students, the people and citizens that this system is supposed to be serving. Not once have students been seriously considered during the adoption of all these policies for any say. Students cannot evaluate their teachers or schools. If they have a specific academic interest they want to spend the majority of their time on, they must...

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Posted on Aug 07, 2010 - 10:35 AM by Zuleka Irvin

Lucas: A Puppy with a Purpose

I stood waiting in line under the fluorescent light of my local Super Wal-Mart, a container of juice in my right hand. This was a very rare scene for me because I don't shop at Wal-Mart as a habit, but what made this occasion really rare was what was in my left hand. I looked down at the leather leash in my fist, the kind they usually use for service dogs in training. I followed the leash down until my gaze was met with soft brown eyes. At my side sat a six-month old black lab puppy wearing a red 'Guiding Eyes for the Blind' bandanna and a matching red collar with a name-tag that read: LUCAS.
Lucas is one of countless young dogs across the US in training to become a seeing-eye dog for the blind and visually impaired. I have been raising Lucas since April and we have grown together in his training and socializing. Lucas and I go to see movies together, he goes food shopping with us and he even makes the late night 'Wally World' run for juice.
Animals have always been my passion and I...

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Posted on Aug 06, 2010 - 07:50 PM by Claire Russell

Attention IDEA Bloggers!

Hello, Zuleika here.

I don't know how to post member bulletins, so I will just make announcement here. I am proposing a new "game" of sorts. It is called Pass the Plate, and is meant to bring us together outside of our own blog sections and posts. The first one is a post that I really want some feedback and ideas on. In light of the common core standards that explains what an individual should know at a certain age, I am looking more into what we can adopt for students at any stage of development. Essentially, I made my own standards that actually provide room for individuality and intellectual diversity, called "Standards of Diversification."
For Pass the Plate posts what you do is make a post that seeks to challenge or brainstorm about alternatives to traditional education practices. I know we all do that already, but what I mean is, if you read your newspaper and see an education policy that's non-democratic, like standards or district polices, or just some ideas about what we can...

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Posted on Aug 06, 2010 - 01:40 PM by Zuleka Irvin

“Standards” of Diversification: Pass the Plate [Zuleika]

You want standards? You got 'em. It's simple enough. It's not in legal terms. Give me feedback and let's get things going for the sake of students, not businesses. I propose that we all submit our own snippets of our ideal standards based on democracy, and learner choice. To get us bloggers working in lockstep aside from our other posts, let's have "Pass the Plate" posts. Eh? Eh? grin Take this post and improve it. You type the title of the post +Pass the Plate and in brackets you type your name. Then another person can snatch it and make changes. Or make a change to one or more issues and leave it in the comments!!! If we doctor it up well enough, we might have some potential legislation in ours hands!!! Edit any part!

I say let's make standards because it's a step towards people in the traditional mode of things giving us consideration. Of course I don't want every kid obliged to do something, but my standards are more like free form opportunities centered around student desire and...

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Posted on Aug 06, 2010 - 01:31 PM by Zuleka Irvin

On Spanglish

I sit here reading Lope de Vega and all of the other oldies who've come closer this Summer 2010:
William James, Jose Marti, Mark Twain, "The American Language" by Mencken, et al. The other
night, with some friends over, I made a reference to "Old Spanish," and my friend, who didn't speak
Spanish and was amazed about such a possibility, asked, "Really?" He didn't know that an
equivalent to Old English existed.

I love going back to Old Spanish in order to find some irregularities that I witness often, as I naturally
approach the matter with my regulatory and proper Spanish measure of the present. Actually,
Spanish Baroque I read for rhythm, but really, the Old Spanish of La Celestina, and the Arcipreste de
Hita, are the real oldies where I find my Spanish limits, its borders. Portuguese does the trick as well.
I experience so much pleasure in seeing how certain rules of Spanish are not followed by Portuguese,
a very close cousin, and vice versa. For example, many...

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Posted on Aug 06, 2010 - 10:15 AM by Luis Moreno

Pray For Doubt

Pray for Doubt

...is a phrase I read sometime somewhere. "Pray for doubt," the author advocated. At first I didn't understand why anyone would want to ask for Doubt. Isn't it better to be sure? Isn't Certainty the ironclad, surefire way to know something Good and Right and True and to hell with all the rest of it? I mean, what would doubt do for anyone on a mission?!

I'll tell you what doubt does: It gives you pause. And pause gives you time to step back. And stepping back gives you perspective. And perspective gives "you" (yes, ME) a chance to see things more clearly.

I had a moment of doubt the other day. Oddly enough this occurred while I was reading this article about democratic education; a positive article which featured an interview with Isaac Graves, engine driver for the education-revolutionizing, life-changing AERO Conference train. The article also had commentaries and excerpts from the book Lives of Passion, School of Hope - which chronicles the lives of...

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Posted on Aug 06, 2010 - 05:29 AM by Cian Sawyer

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