Nurturing the Souls of Our Children: Education and the Culture of Democracy


We agree that it is wrong for children to have sexual relationships. We might even agree that sexual modesty in dress and demeanor is an important virtue, at least for children. The moral consensus on sexuality is, no doubt, limited and fragile. Still, because there is a consensus, schools should constantly emphasize these moral virtues and principles by means of their ethos, dress codes, stories told and read, and, of course, in health, home economics, and sex education courses.

Sex education must also be moral education. We have argued that character education cannot implicitly give the impression that religion is irrelevant to morality. Children's stories about love and romance and marriage and the family should include religious literature.

Character education builds on moral consensus, but obviously there is also a good deal of often strong disagreement on matters relating to sexuality—abstinence and birth control, abortion and homosexuality, for example. Not surprisingly, we also disagree about what to teach students about these things; indeed, we often disagree about whether to teach about such things. Our claim is this: Given the importance of religion in our culture, to remain ignorant of religious ways of thinking about sexuality is to remain uneducated.

Older students should learn about religious as well as secular arguments for abstinence, and they should learn how different religious traditions regard birth control. Although all of the health books we reviewed discussed condoms, none mentioned that Roman Catholic teaching forbids artificial birth control. Indeed, they should learn something about the relevant Scriptural sources in different traditions for sexual morality, marriage, and the family.

They should understand the policy positions on controversial sexual issues taken by contemporary religious organizations and theologians. For many religious people, abortion is the most important moral issue of our time; for them, it is the most important consequence of unwanted pregnancies and sexual promiscuity. Yet most sex education ignores abortion. Of the health texts we reviewed only one mentioned it—devoting a single paragraph to explaining that it is a medically safe alternative to adoption. We suggest that to be an educated human being in the United States at the end of the 20th century one must understand the abortion controversy; indeed, its relevance to sex education is immediate and tremendously important.

So what does it mean to be educated about abortion? Certainly students should understand the point of view of the Roman Catholic Church and those religious conservatives who believe that abortion is murder. They should also understand the point of view of those religious liberals from various traditions who are pro-choice. They should understand feminist positions on abortion. They should learn about the key Supreme Court rulings and different ways of interpreting the implications of political liberty for the abortion debate.

Students should read primary source documents written from within each of these traditions. And, of course, teachers and texts should not take positions on where truth lies when we are so deeply divided. The health texts we reviewed each mentioned that some people are heterosexual and others are homosexual though not everyone would agree with this way of putting it and that we don't quite know what accounts for the difference. Like abortion, however, the issue of homosexuality and gay rights is one that is tremendously important for students to understand if they are to be informed citizens and educated about sexuality.

One approach is for educators to decide what is right when we disagree and then teach their views to children. New York City's Children of the Rainbow multicultural curriculum is a rather notorious example; it would have taught elementary school children the acceptability of homosexuality and nontraditional families had not a coalition of religious conservatives rebelled, ultimately forcing the departure of the system's chancellor.

Our objection to this curriculum is not its position on homosexuality; it is that it takes a position at all. It is proper and important to teach children to respect the rights of others; name calling and gay bashing are not permissible—and there is broad consensus about this. But we disagree deeply about homosexuality on moral and religious grounds.

Given our civic framework, it is not permissible for a public school to institutionalize a moral or religious position on a divisive issue and teach it to children uncritically. Given our educational framework, students must learn about the alternative positions when we disagree; all the major voices must be included in the discussion. Of course, the New York City case was particularly troubling because the children were so young. What then would an adequate sex education curriculum look like?

It must, of course, be age appropriate. Lessons and courses for young children should adopt the character education model, and we must take great care to ensure that we don't encourage premature sexual behavior; character education continues to be appropriate for high school students—so long as it deals with matters about which we agree. Indeed, we are inclined to think that adolescents need moral guidance in matters of sexual morality rather more than they need freedom. They must learn to think about sexuality in moral terms. We have also argued, however, that we need to educate mature students regarding some matters of great importance about which we disagree deeply.

When we do this, however, we must educate them liberally, including all of the major voices—religious as well as secular—in the discussion. We have already noted that one disagreement is over whether to teach abstinence only. Unhappily, our differences here appear to be irreconcilable. We do believe that some of the controversy would dissipate if sex education were truly liberal. If it would take seriously moral and religious ways of thinking about sexuality, then discussion of condoms would be less likely to be understood as legitimizing promiscuity.

Still, if schools require such courses, they should include opt-out or opt-in provisions. We suspect that if parents were convinced that educators took their moral and religious views seriously, fewer would have their children opt out.

World Forum for Democracy 2016: Democracy and equality - does education matter?

We recognize that adequate materials are lacking and most teachers are not prepared to include religious perspectives on sexuality in their classes. It is no easy task to make sense of the soul when discussing abortion in a health class, sacramental understandings of marriage in a home economics class, or the sinfulness of promiscuity in a sex education class.

Sex education teachers usually have backgrounds in health education, psychology, and the social sciences rather than the humanities or religious studies, and they may have no background in religious studies to help them make sense of religious perspectives on sex education. This is, once again, reason for a required course in religious studies or a moral capstone course that provides a sufficiently deep understanding of religion to enable students to make sense of religious interpretations of morality and sexuality.

Still, for both civic and educational reasons, some attention to religion in sex education courses is absolutely essential. Finally, we note that other teachers will sometimes find themselves drawn into both sex education and moral education. Much fiction, for example, deals with sexuality—dating, love, marriage, integrity, adultery, homosexuality, and the family. As we argued in Chapter 6, the study of literature is important for the insight and perspective it provides on the inescapable existential questions of life—a good number of which bear on sexuality.

Moreover, it is tremendously important that teachers in a variety of courses provide students the moral resources for thinking critically about the portrayal of sexuality in popular culture. Finally, a few reminders. In Chapter 2 we noted that one of the most difficult tasks for teachers is to convey to students the difference between pluralism and relativism.

The civic ground rules of our democracy and the ideal of liberal education require that we respect the pluralistic nature of our society and take seriously the various participants in our cultural conversation about what is morally required of us. But teachers must not take this to mean that all moral positions are equally good or true.

For the most part, moral disagreements are about what the truth is, what justice truly requires. It is true, of course, that within some important intellectual traditions the idea of moral truth makes no sense, and older students should be introduced to such traditions too—though even here there is often a pragmatic moral consensus about some important basic virtues and values. The fact that we disagree about the nature of morality doesn't mean there are not better and worse ways of thinking about it. People sometimes claim that because religious accounts of morality are absolutist , religion, by its nature, cannot tolerate dissent.

This has, of course, been a common religious position; it has also been a common secular position in the 20th century among Nazis and communists, for example. Some religious traditions have placed considerable emphasis on free conscience, however, and if some religions have claimed to know God's law with considerable certainty, others have emphasized humility. Just as scientists can believe in objective truth and yet favor an open society in which we debate what that truth is, so religious folk can believe in moral truth and yet favor an open society in which we pursue it openly, with humility.

If there are shared moral values that cut across religions, we also need to remember that there are also differences among religions, and it won't do to say that they all agree about morality. As we've just suggested, some traditions favor religious establishments and are intolerant of dissent, while others value freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state; some religions have required nonviolence, others have called for holy wars; some have emphasized love and mercy, and others justice and retribution; some have required chastity and poverty, yet others have sanctified marriage and wealth.

Some religions have understood morality in terms of God's law, others in terms of love, or grace, or tradition, or liberating the oppressed. Religious conservatives have often grounded morality in Scripture, whereas religious liberals have often held that through continuing moral and religious experience, reason and reflection, we can progressively acquire deeper insight into morality and reform our traditions.

Some conservatives believe that people are so sinful that only the threat of hell or the experience of divine grace can move them. Liberals often have a somewhat more optimistic view of human nature in which we have at least a significant potential for doing good apart from supernatural intervention. Teachers must be aware of the complexity of their subject.

Training and Education

What is most threatening to our democracy is that this religion of the mass psyche that nurtures the soul and provides the child with a viable cultural education. democracy. From this perspective, schools are seen as forums for cultural education and critical democracy by concentrating on the dialectical tension .. soul is entitled to energy in getting ahead, but because of their love of flowers, children, and forms of citizenship that nurture political judgment, democratic talk.

We often think of morality in terms of personal virtues such as honesty, responsibility, and integrity—in part, perhaps, because such virtues are relatively uncontroversial, in part because they are congenial to an individualistic society. But there are dangers in uncritically conceiving of morality as a matter primarily of personal virtue. Historically, morality has been intimately tied to visions of justice, social institutions, and ways of thinking about human suffering and flourishing.

Indeed, given the ubiquity of suffering and injustice, it is hard to think of a more important task for schools than moral education broadly conceived. Of course, much that students study in history and literature classes does address the nature of suffering, injustice, and the human condition. One purpose of moral education is to help make children virtuous—honest, responsible, and compassionate.

Martin Mills and Glenda McGregor

Another is to make mature students informed and reflective about important and controversial moral issues. Both purposes are embedded in a yet larger project—making sense of life. On most accounts, morality isn't intellectually free-floating, a matter of personal choices and subjective values. Moralities are embedded in traditions, in conceptions of what it means to be human, in worldviews.

How we ground and justify moral claims is tremendously important. It makes a huge difference if we think, for example, in terms of neoclassical economic theory and cost-benefit analyses, humanistic psychology and self-actualization, or moral theology. Inspite of religious diversity and the great differences between liberals and conservatives within religious traditions, the vast majority of religious folk agree that reality has a God-given moral structure, and this distinguishes them from most secular folk.

In their influential study of American culture Habits of the Heart , Robert Bellah and his colleagues argued that most Americans speak two quite different moral languages: Unfortunately, they argue, this language of individualism is not nearly rich enough to allow us to make sense of those moral virtues and vices that are part of our civic and religious traditions. If we haven't already become completely preoccupied with liberty and rights, self-interest and self-esteem, autonomy and individualism, we are in danger of this happening; we are losing our ability to speak meaningfully about virtue and duty, love and self-sacrifice, community and justice.

Chapter 9. Moral Education

The tendency is to forget the older languages, particularly when the everyday language of culture and the marketplace, schooling and scholarship are secular. Too much education is relentlessly fixated on economic and technological development—both of which are important, of course.

But, in the end , one of the things most people learn is that the greatest sources of meaning in life come not from wealth and technological wizardry but from altogether different realms of experience. We suggest that if students are to be adequately oriented in life, they should be educated somewhat less about its material dimensions and somewhat more about morality and those forms of community that bind us together with our fellow human beings, with the past, with our posterity, and, perhaps also with God.

It is important at the outset to remember that morality acquires its meaning and its force by virtue of its location within a worldview; there is a danger in abstracting moral principles and values from the contexts that make sense of them. Religious morality must be studied in religious context, paying attention to the theological and institutional webs of meaning that shape and sustain morality. For a basic introduction to how morality is understood in world religions, see How to Live Well: See Readings in Christian Ethics: A Historical Sourcebook , edited by J. Phillip Wogaman and Douglas M.

Strong, for a good collection of excerpts from major Christian writers arranged chronologically, and From Christ to the World: Blecker and Boakes [ 11 ] p. They also imply relational approaches to pedagogy see Reich [ 12 ] that strongly emphasize processes of communication and meta-communication, multi-perspectival experiences and multimodal practices, as well as the appreciation of diversity and active participation of all.

Bauman observes that a continuing trait of modern society lies in dissolving traditional structures combined with the understanding that the production of order in social life is an intentional and deliberate human task see Bauman [ 13 ] p. Bureaucracy , panoptism , and big brother are other regular elements of the solid version of modernity, while the concentration camp stands for its most extreme and murderous manifestations see Bauman [ 13 ] pp. It is characteristic for liquid modernity that crucial parameters of modern life have changed despite the underlying continuities between the solid and the liquid state.

We believe that education in many contemporary societies is captured somewhere between the solid and liquid stages. There seems to be a paradox in educational theory and practice. On the one hand, we find relatively solid institutional frameworks like tight educational bureaucracies and hierarchies, the closed and quadrangular classroom, the uniform rhythm of time management and disciplinary structure of contents, the uniform use of materials, textbooks and methods, standardized measurement and grading, and studying for examinations.

On the other hand, we encounter a social world characterized by diversity, flexibility, and individual responses to life conditions in liquid society. The solid structures in education often seem to restrict the abilities of learners to respond to more liquid life conditions. We will argue in this essay not only that inclusion is a necessary component in this connection, but that this component must be built on a critical reflection and understanding of the ambivalences of communities—as the necessary social contexts of communication and learning—in liquid times.

In his account of Liquid Modernity , Bauman provides a critical picture of the role of communities in contemporary society. Bauman always points to the ambivalences that are deeply embedded in such community constructions. They are experienced in imagination rather than grounded in the solid structures of social living. To provide supposed security of belonging and unambiguous orientations, they need to purge ambivalence and complexity, the very traits that characterize liquid modernity throughout.

They appeal to their members as solid islands in the flux of living. Therefore, they often tend to be closed and homogeneous. They pretend to offer security through essentialized visions of community, identity, and belonging: They draw clear lines of distinction and separation between members and strangers, those who are included and those who are excluded. Among the examples Bauman mentions are renascent forms of nationalism and patriotism see Bauman [ 13 ] pp. Bauman, too, suggests that such rigorous and exclusive forms of community formation readily become dangers for civil society.

He claims that there is only one way of constituting and sustaining communities today that counter these exclusive tendencies. Dewey believes that the appreciation of diversity and the inclusion of differences is a fundamental component of the democratic attitude to life: Despite this affinity between Bauman and Dewey—of which Bauman himself seems to be unaware—we think that a critical combination of the perspectives of both may help us to reconsider the Deweyan project in and for our time.

We suggest that a brief detour to Michel Foucault and his systematic account of technologies in culture can be helpful to perform this task of reflection and criticism. In his reflections on the technologies of the self, Foucault [ 14 ] discusses the opportunities, chances, and risks of subjects acting in contexts of power relations. For Foucault, we can distinguish at least four dimensions of technology: These four levels can be distinguished analytically but never separated because they interpenetrate each other deeply in all cultural contexts.

We think that this approach offers a good meta-perspective for reflecting on conclusions regarding the ambivalences of communities for inclusive education today. This statement is true in the sense that inclusion cannot be realized without the intentional, deliberate, and reflective sharing of subjects in dialogue with others. Teachers and learners have to position themselves towards the fundamental values and claims of inclusion in their direct and immediate practices within their learning communities.

For a recent discussion of inclusion and inclusive education from a Foucauldian perspective, see, among others, Peters and Besley [ 16 ]. In this context, the emphasis on the role of individual as well as shared attitudes and beliefs is highly plausible under the perspective of an educational approach that takes democratic claims to participation seriously. It suggests that these attitudes and beliefs have to be constructed by individuals in dialogue with others, i. The more comprehensive picture that we suggest in accordance with Foucault must at least include the following considerations:.

On this level, each society needs to create and sustain practices of production that provide things, resources, goods, and values which cannot only be consumed and exchanged, but also used as means and instruments for producing other things, resources, goods, and values. These technologies represent the necessary basis without which no society can sustain and develop its conditions of life and forms of organization. They produce economic wealth and constitute necessary conditions for the emergence of cultural practices and the collective life of subjects in cultures.

However, they do not completely determine the ways and results of these interactions. If we apply this perspective to questions of inclusion and education today, we must observe that educators cannot just ignore market conditions under which the technologies of production are organized in capitalist societies. There is a tension between capitalism, on the one hand, and democracy and education on the other. The market represents standardization, while democracy and education stand for the appreciation of unique individuals and experiences in all their diverse contexts and potentials.

This includes differences like gender, social status, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientation, ages, disabilities, and many more. Against this background, an intelligent approach to inclusion must support learners in becoming effective agents, competent participants, well-informed and critical observers who live emancipated lives in a market society under liquid modern conditions.

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We here encounter an especially important challenge regarding communities in education. The ambivalences, diagnosed by Bauman, fully apply if we think of the growing tendency worldwide to organize education according to the principles of gated communities. In many countries, the private school sector as well as the number of private universities is growing strongly. In countries like Argentina, Brazil, and also Sweden, the number of private schools is increasing, and in many parts of the world, higher education today requires immense university fees, like in the United States or England see Stiglitz [ 17 ].

It often seems that the communities of the rich seize more and more educational resources at the expense of the democratic participation of all. The gated forms of community life that also appear in urban segregation, processes of gentrification, ethnic ghettoization, etc. These considerations suggest that educators unavoidably participate in the technologies of production, whether they know it or not, whether they like it or not, whether they reflect on it critically or just take it for granted.

Democracy and education in a Deweyan sense must counteract this risk. In his forceful criticism of the economic order of his time, Dewey already observed the mentioned tension between capitalism and democracy and education as well as the attendant dangers of compartmentalization. What his criticisms claimed under solid modern conditions, we must exact today for liquid modernity.

They are essential for organizing these practices into symbolic systems and representing them in structures like texts and discourses. They constitute the symbolic fundament for all other technologies in culture. They are the basic forms of meaning making without which representation and articulation would be impossible. When statements about a topic are made within a particular discourse, the discourse makes it possible to construct the topic in a certain way.

It also limits the other ways in which the topic can be constructed. This is because meaning-making processes are always dynamic, ambiguous, and open-ended. Discursive formations as well as the discourses that constitute them are always complex, flexible, dynamic, and multifunctional. First, against this background of what has been said in the foregoing parts of our essay, we should consider the ways in which influential contemporary mainstreams in educational thought—i.

Among the characteristics of this discursive formation is a generalized will to measurement that suggests that everything relevant in education is measureable. We see one expression of this will in the almost omnipresent influence of studies like the Programme for International Student Assessment PISA on debates about education in the general public as well as among educational policy makers, administrators, researchers, as well as teachers and parents. This is not to devalue programs like PISA insofar as these programs are instruments for measuring important data on education in an internationally comparative perspective.

The problem arises, to our minds, when there is a tendency to reduce educational debates to the comparative success and ranking of systems with a narrow view on standardized and measureable performances. We believe that this tendency which can be observed in almost all educational systems around the globe seriously puts the inclusive project at risk Inclusion, generously understood, must insist on the uniqueness of individuals that cannot be reduced to numbers, the diversity of learners that cannot be narrowed down through scales of standardized measurement, the participation of all in processes of development through communication and negotiation that cannot be boiled down to one size fits all thinking.

The challenge for educational communities consists of counteracting such reductionist tendencies and defending an inclusive appreciation for the unique individuality of all learners in contexts of diverse communities. Secondly, we suggest that inclusive educators must take the inevitable ambivalence of communities seriously especially regarding their own theories and practices.

Bauman [ 13 ] p.

Education as a Moral Enterprise

Inclusive educators must understand that the communities they themselves build are always a cultural construction that must be kept open for further deconstruction and reconstruction in order to include more diversity and do justice to the democratic claims of participation of all who want to join them. Part of the ambivalence of communities, in this connection, is that all communities, as cultural and discursive constructions, tend to develop their own language games, vocabularies, and forms of representation and to limit other ways of articulation.

In so far as they do so, they risk neglecting diversity and the appreciation of unique individualities, experiences, and backgrounds beyond their own self-conception as a community. In Germany, for example, we observe a strong tendency—not only in public debate, but also among academics, educational policy makers, and teachers—to reduce the idea of inclusion to the integration of students with disabilities into the regular school system as an example see: Klemm [ 20 ].

This tendency is understandable against the background of the tradition of exclusion that is deeply embedded in the history of the German tripartite school system from the 19th century on. However, it widely blocks conceiving of inclusion in the more general sense as stated, for example, in the Toronto District School Board [ 21 ].

As with the schools we discuss in the next section, the underpinning philosophy of the school when it was established was located within a context concerned about rising authoritarianism in Europe in the aftermath of World War I. Examples of other schools that have adopted such democratic, student-centered approaches to the structures of schooling include the Sands School in Devon, England , Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts , and the Booroobin Sudbury School in Queensland, Australia see Nagata, It is often argued that alternative schools in the United States have their roots in the civil rights movements of the s.

These were schools that were designed to provide liberating curricula and ways of organizing and decision-making that reflected the democratic principles of such movements.

They were thus in some ways a component or product of the countercultural revolution. These schools fall into what could be loosely called a democratic tradition. In the main, these schools are independent from the government sector. However, there are some government schools, especially pre-schools for example, in the United Kingdom and Australia , that have taken up the philosophy of one or more of these movements.

These schools aside, the vast majority of such schools are dependent upon school fees for their operational budgets. However, research shows e. Te Riele has developed a useful typology of such alternative provision based on whether the programs are long or short term and whether or not they are focused on changing young people or changing the way in which education is delivered and organized for them. In this article we focus on those schools that attempt the latter.

However, on balance, it is our view that elements of many of these alternative schools provide some lessons for the mainstream in terms of supporting a more inclusive form of schooling. The first set of schools we consider are those we refer to as democratic schools. Concerns with democracy and education have had a long history see, e. So too have democratic alternative schools had a long tradition Neill, , Such schools are usually perceived as alternatives to the mainstream due to their principles of governance.

Within the structures of democratic schools, students tend to have much greater input into the key decisions that affect them than they do in conventional schools. These decisions can relate to attendance at class, curriculum, school rules, the employment of teachers, punishments for misdemeanors, everyday activities, and sometimes financial matters. The vast majority of such schools are fee paying, which may lead to accusations of being the prerogative of middle-class students.

While there are justifications for such accusations, there are clearly many aspects to these schools that provide key lessons for mainstream schools concerned with educating their students in respect of democratic skills and a commitment to democracy more generally. There is not the space here to explore the nuances of the term.

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A representative democracy is a system in which members of that group elect others they trust or who have similar values to make decisions on their behalf. In terms of schooling, student representative councils best represent this form of democracy, although their decision-making capacities are usually very limited Black, Direct democracy involves members of a community having an opportunity to provide input into all decisions that impact upon them. It is this form of democracy that tends to be advocated among those in the democratic schooling movement, as exemplified by the European Democratic Education Community EUDEC.

The second pillar is concerned with creating an environment where all participants in the community have their rights and opinions respected. It is perhaps Summerhill that has done more than any other school to promote the importance of the meeting to democratic schooling. Summerhill, set up by A. The important freedom at Summerhill is the right to play. All lessons are optional. There is no pressure to conform to adult ideas of growing up, though the community itself has expectations of reasonable conduct from all individuals.

Bullying, vandalism or other anti-social behaviour is dealt with on-the-spot by specially elected ombudsmen, or can be brought to the whole community in its regular meetings. This ended in a prolonged legal battle and political campaign, which saw the school being validated in its approaches and the government admonished. The school website provides details of this case. In more recent times Ofsted reports have been much more positive. For example, in their report on the school stated:.

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The curriculum and teaching and assessment are good. The Summerhill website quotes A. Creators learn what they want to learn in order to have the tools that their originality and genius demand. We do not know how much creation is killed in the classroom with its emphasis on learning. I have seen a girl weep nightly over her geometry.

Moral Education

The notion that unless a child is learning something the child is wasting. The school has also received criticism based on child safety issues. As part of their research, they saw this as a nonsensical issue. They suggested that the school environment:. People learned to read each other, and hence themselves, in a kind of social dialectic: And the panopticon features were available, more or less, to all. They also indicated that most concerns about safety raised by students related to outside activities involving tree climbing, skateboarding, and various forms of play.

The students were involved in making some rules to make various activities safer—for example, not carrying sticks that were bigger then the person carrying them. However, for students the risks associated with growing up were important ones for learning. According to one student: While Summerhill is perhaps the most well known of schools in the democratic tradition, it is certainly not alone. Mills and McGregor , for example, provide case study data on another democratic school in the United Kingdom that was run as a community where all students and staff contributed to the running of the school via the school meeting.

These meetings, while often guided by the teachers, demonstrated that young people could be very involved and committed to the process and to reaching a satisfactory outcome. Within these meetings, students of all ages, teachers, and sometimes other workers in the school made decisions together. In some democratic schools, teachers or key personnel have the right to veto decisions considered dangerous; in other schools there is no right of veto.

In the Mills and McGregor study , students at some schools indicated that at times there were stresses put on them when they had to determine outcomes for other students or teachers who had not gone along with agreed-upon rules or when they themselves were the subject of the meeting. In one instance a teacher had been asked to leave the school by the school meeting because of his apparent failure to respect the values of the school.

He had been appointed when they had had only one application for a science teacher. However, the teacher resigned at the last of such meetings. They note that at Summerhill the meeting is a place of conflict as well as consensus. They point out that laws are devised and voted upon, transgressions are considered, issues of right and wrong debated, and general policies considered. Other democratic schools would argue the same. Some teachers relished the prospect of taking such practices into the mainstream. For example, a teacher in an English democratic school stated:. Democratic schools challenge the traditional grammar of schooling, which is largely based upon age-based hierarchical power structures that continue to inhibit the uptake of democratic practices and philosophies.

Another set of alternative schools that are grounded in notions of freedom, although without the commitment to democratic traditions, include those that shape their approach to education via an emphasis on holistic human development, often including spiritual dimensions to these processes. In contrast to the conventional industrial model of mass education, such schools adhere to educational philosophies that are child-centered and individualistic.

The educational progressivism of the late 19th century challenged the traditions of a classical education based upon preparation for university, which was heavily circumscribed by social class. Two that have continued to the present day are considered here: In she opened her own school in a warehouse, and through detailed observations of her students and experimentations with classroom resources and structures, she developed a pedagogical framework that, today, continues to have influence globally Rathunde, This first school provided the children with a range of previously selected learning materials from which they could choose; they were free to move around the room according to their academic interests and learn at their own pace.

In sum, the child becomes the center of learning. As an alternative educational framework, Montessori education has maintained a considerable global presence. This organization was established to protect the integrity of Montessori education through teacher training, dissemination of information, and the sale of materials and resources. In terms of challenging the grammar of schooling, Montessori education focuses attention upon the internal psychological and developmental elements of each individual child so as to shape learning experiences.

While sharing some commonalities with Montessori, Steiner education demonstrates key differences in respect of its framing of a developmental and holistic approach to schooling. Part of the progressive impulse was to have schools that were not only coeducational and non-denominational but that catered to children of all economic and social backgrounds. In contrast to educational progressivism of the early 20th century that favored a child-centered approach to education vom Kinde aus , from the child itself , Steiner emphasized the authority of the teacher for educational success, going as far as to say that children had a need for authoritative not authoritarian teachers Uhrmacher, In terms of child development, Steiner identified three stages during which he considered certain aspects dominant: There is some debate about the degree to which Steiner saw these as fixed as he also referred at other times to the impact of the individual development of the child Dhondt et al.

However, in Steiner deviated from such groups by setting up his own version—the Anthroposophical Society Uhrmacher, What affects the body is experienced in the mind, consciously or unconsciously, through emotions or thoughts. In this way, concept and percept become one. This last point leads to the second key tenet behind Anthroposophy: Uhrmacher, , pp. Therefore, there are key elements of Waldorf education that set it apart from secular models.

Ashley sums it up thus: For example, during the early years, teachers engage in modeling behavior; middle-year students would require a lot of visuals and storytelling; and finally, in the senior years of schooling, young people would engage in more challenging dialogues with teachers as they apply more sophisticated thinking to their learning and become more inclined to question the authority of their teachers. However, according to a report on Steiner schools in England commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills: In terms of governance and decision-making processes, Steiner schools aim to be collegial and non-hierarchical Woods et al.

Steiner Education Australia estimates that globally there are over 1, such schools in 60 countries. Thus, as with most democratic schools, it is often the children of middle-class white parents who are able to access this alternative model of education. The right of Steiner schools to refuse admission to children without explanation has class and social implications Ashley, ; Woods et al.

However, the fact that they have continued to draw adherents well into the 21st century suggests that there are many elements of both systems that are attractive to parents and their children. The third category of alternative schooling we are concerned with here are those non—fee-paying schools that work with young people who no longer fit into the mainstream system. They remain the responsibility of the referring school. Either the school or the local authority funds such placements Department for Education, Some operate as schools to which young people have to be referred; in other situations they operate as schools that are open to all.

They have become an important feature of many international systems see, e.