What and how
After some months in Droga Wolna free democratic school, some questions came to my mind. How does the school really working? How do they see the value of democracy? How do they see the context of the school? Why is it important for them coming to school when they have an unschooling perspective? What does freedom mean to them?
It has been difficult finding answers, I didn’t feel like asking people directly. After all, when you are living an environment for such long time, you may just take all those questions for granted. But then, one night, I had an idea: let’s make a big board where everyone can write anonymously. I decided to involve my flatmate Cherly and we agreed some rules about boards. Every week, we were choosing different question to write in funny way on the board which were introduced then at school. Everyone (kids, mentors, families) could write answers or draw something. At the end of the week (something it took more time), Cherly and me collected and discussed the answer in order to create and paint a canvas that represented the whole board, question and answers. We managed to do three boards: what is democracy? What is freedom? What is school? We created these boards with a strong panel using different material: Cherly taught me how to make a simple board fancy and attractive. In the end, we had so much fun painting together the final canvas using our imagination.
- Improving communication
- Being open to diversity
- Increasing tolerance and mind elasticity
- Creating new bonds and strengthen old ones
- Awareness about ourselves and about the environment we are building and living
- Being open to discuss, to question what people take for granted
With the first board, we really needed the support of mentors (Anita we love you) since the translation was important to get to kids. But after the first one, participating in the activity has just been natural. The questions inspired a lot of good talk between people during the weeks. Even some parents stopped by to talk about it, sharing their point of view. Honestly, I had the best discussion with teenagers.
We spent almost one day discussing about democracy, what it means for us and most of all, what it means and feels living in a democratic school. We found unique insights, new perspectives and points of view about the topics. An open space for communication has been built and people were feeling free to share their opinions, idea and even some critics. I totally believe that there is nothing to be scared or ashamed in questioning, in having different thoughts that others or in expressing a willing to change. The most important thing is to talk about it, together, with respect. As Kong Fu Panda says: if you do only what you know by yourself, well, you will never be more that what you are now. You will never grow. What is the best tool to grow and change for better if not talking? I was so surprised by teenagers, they have so much to say, to give to adults if we only let them speak for themselves. And boards guaranteed it for some months, that’s why I think they have been a success and a really good practice at school.
Giulia from Italy, volunteer in Szkoła Demokratyczna Droga Wolna in Szczecin.
Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.