I am in Boulder, Colorado this week for the IDEC 2013 conference. I hope to use this space to share observations and reflections on my experience. Please join in the conversation if you’d like, either here in the comments, or on twitter by following #IDEC2013.
Embarking on this experience of understanding Democratic Education is a bit foggy for me. I’m not sure what people will say or do. I’m not sure what people are thinking.
The word that I am trying to keep in the very front of my my mind is OPEN. I will be surprised this week. I will be wary this week. I will be joyful and inspired this week. I will second guess myself this week. I’m so glad to have found these wise words from Margaret Wheatley, via the Museum Center for Learning blog:
“I have to admit that the greatest challenge for me and those I work with lies not in adopting new methods, but in learning to live in this process world. It's a completely new way to be, unlike anything I was taught. I'm learning to participate with things as they unfold, to expect to be surprised, to enjoy the mystery of it, and to surrender to how much I don't know and can never know. These were difficult lessons to learn. I was well-trained to create things-plans, events, measures, programs. I invested more than half my life in trying to make the world conform to what I thought was best. It hasn't been easy to give up the role of master creator and move into the dance of life.”
I consider myself a relatively organized person - I like knowing what will happen. But teaching in a democratic context puts community at the forefront of the school culture - it is not an afterthought. Although I have spent many years thinking of myself more as a curator and facilitator than a teacher, creating prompts and encouraging exploration, “democracy” adds another layer. I need to put aside my view of being the only expert in the classroom. Everyone who is a part of the community, big or small, brings something to the table. I don’t need to stop making personal choices, but I need to be more empathetic as a teacher. Everyone in the school community is an equal member, and the only thing I know is that somehow, we will learn and grow and change through the context of community building. What will it look like? Sound like? Smell like? Most importantly, perhaps: What will it feel like?