Common misconception

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This is in response to Carol Applebee’s letter about the new alternative school (July 15).

There is a common misconception that Democratic schools have no rules. In fact, there are many, though they are seen as agreements because the children and adults in the school proposed and/or voted on them. Because of that, students learn what they care about, how to speak up for themselves, how to articulate their ideas, and how to abide by rules they didn’t vote for.

It is clear that consequences are chosen, not fabricated or imposed unjustly. The need to resist authority for its own sake is eliminated. This understanding is taken directly to the workplace.

Conflicts are resolved by those involved, with no expectation that only adults can see and decide if something is fair and healthy. If adults could do this, there would be no violence in schools.

It is far more useful and realistic today to raise a versatile and capable learner than someone who has memorized a million facts.

Graduates of democratic schools have proven to be extremely successful in whatever path they choose, because they choose it with a wealth of self-knowledge and understandings about freedom and democracy that the vast majority of public school students don’t learn.

Kate MacDonald, Lewiston

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