In her first bulletin from this year’s World Forum for Democracy, Tatia Chkhenkeli reports from the opening session’s discussion on ‘Learning by doing – From preaching to practicing democracy.’
“After 30 years of democratic schools, one thing is clear to me is what our democracies are missing is democratic education” declared Yacoov Hecht from Israel, a pioneer of democratic education and CEO of ‘Education cities – the Art of Collaborations.’
Education city is the idea that one city can become one big school, where the education system is an essential instrument for city-wide development, with the city becoming a central instrument in the education system’s development.
“We need to develop a sense of creativeness,” Hecht emphasised.”Democracy is about not only knowing but knowing what you can do with this knowledge. Democracy is also about seeking knowledge, not waiting for knowledge.”
In his speech Hecht, who is also the founder of the Democratic school of Hadera (Israel), stressed the importance of a school that would give its pupils freedom of choice in learning and other activities, while experiencing daily life in a democratic framework. In democratic schools “everyone is a teacher and a learner” and “learning why we are different is the center of democratic education.
Hecht asserted that “schools need to be the start-up of the future – a place where people are working together,” adding that when it comes to democratic education, “we also need spaces to exercise democracy skills.” It is important, he added, to “give the right to students and teachers together to decide on 20% of their curriculum through a democratic process.
“In the classroom 2.0, we should focus on a grade of a class, not only on a grade of an individual student.”
Georges Haddad, president of the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, shared Hecht’s view that an educational system, focussed on grades and ranks is in need of change.
“We want to move to a system which is focused on instilling values,” he declared.
“Knowledge is developing too slowly to keep up with changing culture. Human beings interact with their environment after they gain knowledge about the world that surrounds them in order to act.”
Haddad concluded that educational system is facing important chalenges and is due a “renaissance” era, in which “humanity is much more important.
“Education is an act of love – you need to love students, students should love teachers.”