When Kids Rule the School
221 Pages

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When Kids Rule the School


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221 Pages

You can change the print size of this book


How self-directed democratic schooling builds fulfilling lives and can lead the way back to a civilized society

  • When Kids Rule the School lays out the theory and practice of self-directed democratic schooling
  • Written by the co-founder of The Circle School, open since 1984.
  • This book is the first comprehensive guide to the theory and practice.
  • In self-directed democratic schools, kids practice life in a microcosm of society, empowered as voters, bound by laws, challenged by choice, supported by community, and driven by nature.
  • When Kids Rule the School shows you how it works, in concept and in practice, focusing on one of the oldest such schools in North America.
  • Covers how the school is governed by students and staff together and offers a look at day-to-day life in a democratic school
  • Self-directed schools have been around for 50 years, with dozens in North America and many more worldwide.
  • Includes dozens of personal stories.
  • Self-directed democratic schooling results in higher rates of college attendance, more undergraduate and graduate degrees, healthy relationships with authority, and unflinching self responsibility.
  • Identifies 14 new learning-teaching methods and modes, previously unavailable in schools

Intended audience
Parents, especially homeschoolers and unschoolers, teachers, and scholars of education who are looking for alternatives to the mainstream education system.

Democratic schools exist worldwide. Summerhill School, the world's first democratic school, is located in the UK.



US Cities with Democratic Schools
      Deep Springs College (Deep Springs)
      Shimer College (Chicago)
      Maine Liberty School (Blue Hill, Maine)
      Fairhaven School (Upper Marlboro)
      Mission Hill School
      Sudbury Valley School (Framingham)
      Children's Community School (Ann Arbor)
      Brooklyn Free School (Brooklyn), f. 2004
      Albany Free School (Albany)
      Fifteenth Street School, (Manhattan), (associated with Orson Bean) f. 1964 (closed)
      Lehman Alternative Community School (Ithaca)
North Carolina
      Arthur Morgan School (Burnsville)
      Antioch College
      Village Free School (Portland)
      Adams High School (Portland) (closed)
      The Circle School (Harrisburg)
      The Delta Program, a program within State College Area High School (State College)
      Philadelphia Free School
      The Sphere College Project (Phoenixville)
      Upattinas School and Resource Center (Glenmoore) (closed)
      The New School of Northern Virginia (Fairfax)
      The Clearwater School (Bothell)
West Virginia
      The Highland School (Highland)

International Democratic School
      New South Wales
           Currambena School Lane Cove (Sydney)
           Preshil Kew (Melbourne)
           Alia College Hawthorn East (Melbourne)
           Brisbane Independent School Pullenvale (Brisbane)

Walden's Path (Hyderabad)

      Democratic School of Hadera (Hadera)
      Makom Ligdol - Democratic school in Hakfar Hayarok (Ramat HsSharon)
      The Keshet School (Zichron Yaakov)

Kinokuni Children's Village (Kinokuni Kodomo no Mura), Wakayama Prefecture, f. 1992

Auckland Metropolitan College, Mt. Eden, (Auckland) --(closed December 2001)
      Tamariki School, (Christchurch)

      Escola da Ponte (Vila Das AVES)

Sands School (Ashburton, Devon)
      Summerhill School (Leiston, Suffolk)

How self-directed democratic schooling builds fulfilling lives and can lead the way back to a civilized society

Education is ripe for democratic disruption. Students in most schools are denied fundamental social ideals such as personal freedom, public government, rule of law, and free enterprise. In our increasingly authoritarian post-truth world, self-directed democratic schooling offers a timely alternative: educating children in civilized society and showing that self-motivation outperforms coercion in its power to educate and fulfill.

When Kids Rule the School is the first comprehensive guide to democratic schooling, where kids practice life in a self-governed society—empowered as voters, bound by laws, challenged by choice, supported by community, and driven by nature. Through heartwarming stories and hard-headed details, this book covers:

  • Democratic schooling philosophy, theory, and practice
  • School governance by students and staff together
  • Student self-direction and day-to-day life
  • Deep play, cognitive development, and critical thinking
  • Why democratic schooling is morally right and effective
  • Model bylaws and guidance for starting a democratic school.

Created for educators, parents, and scholars, When Kids Rule the School will immerse you, heart and mind, in a promising new approach to education, and stretch your thinking about what school can be.

Prologue: Taming the Wild

Part One: Self-directed Democratic Schools
1. What's a Democratic School?
    Small-scale Democracy
    Sudbury Schools
    Summerhill School
    Integral Education
    Free Schools

2. The Circle School
    Scaled-down World
    Foundation Principles

Part Two: A Case for Democratic Schooling
3. Integral Education: An Emerging Era
    Traditional to Modern to Integral
    Fill a Bucket, Light a Fire, Fan a Flame
    The Radical Difference

4. Democratic Schools: A Better Fit
    Aligning School with Society's Ideals
    Alignments Within the School
    Aligning School with Children's Lives
    Bliss It Isn't
    Human Development and Democratic Schooling
    And Finally There's This

5. Seven Ideas
    Democratic Schooling in a Nutshell
    Community: Less Obvious, More Important?
    Intrinsic Motivation and Autonomy
    Optimal Challenge: Children Reaching Higher
    Embodied Cognition and Deep Learning
    Coercive Curriculum Harms Children
    Practicing Life

Part Three: Thinking about Thinking
6. How and What Do They Learn?
    Worldviews, Culture Wars, Concerts, and Railroads
    Expanding the Scope of Education in School
    Old Ways
    Integral Learning Patterns Enabled by Democratic Schooling

7. Critical Thinking
    Capable Cognition
    Culture of Critical Thinking
    Deep Play and Critical Thinking
    Critical Thinking in Perspective

Part Four: In Practice
8. Jargon
    School Meeting
    Ends We Seek
    School Meeting Committees
    School Meeting Officials
    Judicial Committee
    Board of Trustees

9. A Typical Day?
    Walking Tour
    Bulletin Board
    Room Reservations
    Daily Schedule
    What You See and What You Don't

10. School Government
    School Meeting
    Management Manual
    Enforcement and Empowerment
    Judicial Committee
    Formal Governance
    Legal Structure

11. The Chore System

12. Safety, Safety, Safety
    Safety Practices

13. Moving On: College and the World
    High School Diplomas
    College Admissions
    Not Going
    College and Degrees

Part Five: Frequently Asked Questions
    Assessment and Reporting to Parents
    Getting into a Democratic School

Epilogue: Seeking Infinity
Appendix A: Management Manual Table of Contents
Appendix B: The Circle School Corporation Bylaws
Appendix C: Colleges Attended by Circle School Graduates
About the Author
A Note about the Publisher



Published by
Published 21 May 2019
Reads 0
EAN13 9781771422932
Language English
Document size 1 MB

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