Last year, in celebration of the launch of the Institute for Democratic Education in America, I wrote a blog post for them focused on individuals taking action. Just over a year later, here is that article, “10 Things YOU Can Do To Promote Democratic Education,” reposted on the CommonAction blog. How would you expand it?
1. Learn more about Democratic Education. Did you know that democratic education “or Dem Ed” is more than classes voting or school-wide meetings? Learn about Dem Ed on the IDEA website, through Wikipedia, or through a number of books.
2. Brainstorm what your school can do to change. The power of your imagination is a terrible thing to waste! Brainstorm different ways your school could become more democratic, and make a list.
3. Talk to others about Dem Ed. Ask your friends if they know about Dem Ed. Share your ideas about which changes your school or program can make, and ask if they have any ideas themselves. Challenge them to ask you hard questions, and see if you can answer them, or tell them you’ll get back to them after your learn more.
4. Find an adult ally. Create a learning partnership with an adult to help your efforts. Engaging an adult ally can make planning more effective and connections with other adults easier.
5. Create a Dem Ed plan for your school or community organization. Maybe your school or the neighborhood nonprofit needs more Dem Ed. Work with your friends to make a plan for who, what, when, where and how Dem Ed can be used.
6. Hold a Dem Ed workshop. Invite other youth and adults in your community to learn about Dem Ed by facilitating a hands-on demonstration workshop. Research Dem Ed learning activities and use them to help participants learn by experiencing democracy in education.
7. Present your plan to school decision-makers. Who makes decisions about how teachers should teach in your school? Teachers, principals, assistant principals, district administrators and district board of education members can all effect Dem Ed. Share your plan to them one-on-one or make a presentation to the school board.
8. Present your plan to community decision-makers. Who chooses which nonprofit organizations get government funding? Present your plan to them, as well as neighborhood association presidents, local businesspeople and youth organization leaders.
9. Organize! If your efforts to work with the education system aren’t working, organize. Find other people who care about Dem Ed by sharing the idea every chance you get, and ask them to join you in promoting the concept in your school or community. Then determine a goal and take action to put Dem Ed into action for everyone!
10. Find allies online. Having a hard time finding other youth and adults who care? Look online through websites like IDEA’s. People you can partner with are everywhere, and sometimes it’s just a matter of asking!
Good luck, and remember to share your story with IDEA today!