Learning democracy consists of learning about democracy, learning through democracy and learning for democracy (Edelstein 2011, p. 130). At school, there are many agents that experience (or not) democracy through the practices established by the school: the teachers, the students and the families.
Their perception of what democracy is, their expectations, and their personal experience on how they live it through the school, is usually very different. Some families might be ready to participate if the school has a specific need, some others will consider it is not their role and will ask students to be at the centre. Teachers might see it from the point of view of teachers’ participation, rather than students’ participation. Students might want to participate in decisions, but maybe not all in the same way: voting, co-constructing propositions, participating in decision making…
There are usually a minimum number of common elements, such as the fact that “people must have the capability to convert their rights into real events” (Feu et al., 2017). However, as the definition is often taken for granted, even if it is a personal issue, the whole school community does not take the time to reflect together on what democracy means in their school.
Edelstein, W. (2011). Education for Democracy: reasons and strategies. European Journal of Education, 46(1), 127-137.
Feu, J. Serra, C., Canimas, J., Lazaro, L. & Simo-Gil, N. (2017). Democracy and Education: A Theoretical Proposal for the Analysis of Democratic Practices in Schools. Studies in Philosophy and Education.