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2011年8月25日 星期四

“Democratic education” and the community empowerment through Zigen’s work in China, can it be real? (Part2)




By Huei-Jen Lin

Several ways leading to democratic education: Four types of participants on 2011 IDEC

All those schools/organizations who had participated in IDEC could be classified by their fields and functions into four types:

1. Democratic education schools:

Mostly the range of the ages covers the stage of kindergarten (3-8y) or till the stage of elementary school (3-12y), or the ages of 12-18 years old. The forms of the schools are also displayed variously: boarding schools (free and alternative), home learning schools (parent education or community education) and the mixed with state systemic schools. School and student council for the equal discussion and decision-making are the crucial component of democratic school. One school in US showed the case that students can participate within the decision making of hiring and firing teachers. Meanwhile, another school in Peruvian Andes (Escuela-democratica) presented their fighting for child protection and for the independence of learning but is being struggling with Peruvian military government.

2. NGO/NPOs:

  1. Policy advocacy: protect the children right, advocacy for the educational events and the law/regulation revise. Ex. EUDEC (Europe), CWC (the Concerned for Working Children, India), Building Bridges Project (Germany)…etc.
  2. Actionists for alternative/progressive education: APPAE (Australasian Association for Progressive and Alternative Education, Australia), BFAS (National Association of Free Alternative Schools, Germany), DISKO Demokrati i skolan (Democracy in school, Finland), ESSA(English Secondary Students’ Association)..etc. Alternative education is that which promotes the use of democratic decision making process in the school/learning center. And the progressive education is that which emphasizes personal relationships between learners and teachers, with including an awareness of and a breaking down of power dynamics.
  3. Community education or the rural development program: NGOs like Aprendiz (Brazil) …etc. try to create the community-powered learning environments to improve the poor condition of learning and to empower the learners in the rural areas or in the slum areas in cities .

3. Conference & Network: AERO (USA), IDEC, APPAE (Australia), EUDEC…etc. Most of them aim at bringing forth a diverse collection of national and international voices to address and exchange what transforming education & our world means to them.

4. Education reform/movement in the state /public school: sources are from the personal normal teachers, parents, students, scholars or the support of governments who are trying to deliver the input of democratic elements into formal educational system.


Pic3: A educate worker teaches math with beans in Peru.

Pic1: A community worker from Pic2: A teacher who graduated

Aprendiz (Brazil) the dilemma of from Sands school (democratic

community work in slum area. education) now is teaching in

a free school in Leipzig, Germany.


The running performance of 2011 IDEC and democratic culture in parliament

Since 1993, IDEC in respecting to its spirit of rotation had been held by different schools/organizations in different countries: Israel, Palestine, UK, Austria, Ukraine, Japan, USA, New Zealand, Germany, Brazil, India, South Korea..etc. 2011, again in Sands school of UK, IDEC was almost organized by sands school students (13y-17y). It had been running for ten days; two days were scheduled conference and the others were for the open sessions and parliament. This fully displayed the base of democracy that let many different groups had chance to present their work and idea for the exchange or the discussion. Moreover, on aspect of living in IDEC, though it was mainly arranged by Sands school students, a space was still opened for the participants to join the management of living business and evening activities. This conference was rather unusual than the other academic conference which I had attended.

In parliament, any issue about the ideas, the running process, regulation or the structure of IDEC could be posed and discussed by all participants, but be decided by the members who had held the IDEC. For me, there were two interesting issues been posed and been discussed profoundly. One was about the worries that IDEC may be replaced with the EUDEC while EUDEC with owing the most participants of IDEC is becoming a stronger and stronger organization. Already, it has uneven power structure inside of IDEC, such an international network. The most members of IDEC are from Western Europe and somehow the idea of democratic education came from its thought. Interestingly, during the discussion, from that people considered the frequency of IDEC should be adjusted to every two year in order to avoid the crash with EUDEC activity (EUDEC centered attitude behind), turning to insist the normal frequency of IDEC and its structure with no organization based for. (Be aware the pre-inequality existed in multiculture and be more concerning the equality of internationalism) Decision was not changed, but the people’s existing concepts might have been overthrown through the discussion. The other issue was about whether Taiwan with undergoing the essential democratic education development under the special historical background of the social/political movement of democratization can hold the IDEC in 2013. It was a fierce discussion in parliament, because there were about 3 countries whose organizations were competing for. Arguments in most of time were addressed to the principle of rotation: remarkable discussion that whether to obey the rule or to have an exception or criticize the rule. Unfortunately the decision didn’t stand with Taiwanese side—decide to obey the rotation finally, but some suggestions had been given. Through the come-and-go arguments, the questions had been deepen and been considered broadly. It was not just about the level of advantages or the shortcoming of rotation, but implicated to the level of the wrestle and balance of power relations among different countries

From my observation, in parliament, the democracy here was not that kind of political game, though there were still some unavoidable power relations in between. It basically respects everyone as equal and every opinion deserves to be voiced out and be respected, including the adults and the children. (about two children in parliament)

On several days of open sessions, many interesting and profound discussion were going on: “Democratic education in undemocratic society?!”, “How to implement the elements of democratic education into the state school system?”, “Democratic education fighting for individual right in the collectivism society?!”, “Can democratic education be universalized?”, “the idea and its practice of education city”, “How to run a school without the rule?”, “How does democratic education act for the disadvantaged group?”……etc. Each topic was posed and presented by each group who had confusions or answers in terms of their practices. Topics might be looked idealistic but people here at practical level had tried to make them be real. During the discussion, in fact the more was the unsatisfied questions than the satisfied things what many groups had done.


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