Democratic Philosophy

You may not make anyone feel lesser than and if you do, you’re going to be called out every time and you will be forgiven every time, but you may not under any circumstances make someone feel small in the space. There’s no way that person can create and make art. You are completely violating their ability to express themselves because that’s going right into their heart space and when I explained it like that, they get it. That to create, you have to expand, and if I’m like this in defense, no art is happening because I’m just protecting myself, so it’s just 100% holding it down with ridiculously strong boundaries and forgiveness every time.Well, I think we also all come into this room with a variety of … We all have a pretty fluid definition of what democratic education looks like in all of our communities. So I think … I mean, we can get back … It sounds like Stephanie would like to add something? Yeah.

To speak on point to the democratic education. I was very deluded and attached to my own thinking of what the children in my community needed. They were failing English. So I’m married to an English professor who will come tutor after school and I’m a Math wizard so I’m going to help them with Algebra because they’re failing and my participation was dwindling, dwindling, dwindling in a really quick … I had an opportunity. I’m not in film but I did have an opportunity to work with these children on a music video and they took ownership of creating this video and I realized that I did not know where I was not familiar with the democratic movement whatsoever.

But my center organically, absolutely embraced the democratic philosophy or at least as I know it, that the children are now … They’re developing their own program. They are choosing what they are doing. They’re developing music videos. I mean, one of them has 9.8 million hits on it as I checked this morning because they’re taking ownership for it. I wish I could take credit for it but I can’t. They’re amazing and their world view, what they bring to the table and through that experience … One of the boys, he has … He got a full scholarship now at SCA in Manhattan, the visual arts.

He developed a clothing line to put himself through school and he’s self-taught and he found the mentors because I am not field in final cut. I am today, five years later but he had a need and so we filled that need. So I think that my children, the youth that I work with, they dictated that either the center was going to close or be a first and exclusive, very high achievers that wanted that achievement but didn’t have access to the resources my organization has or I was going to allow myself to just sit, watch and listen which is really difficult for me in the beginning and so that’s really why I’m attending.

It was very lovely to be asked to be here, but to listen to all of you who have different experiences so I can bring all of those golden nuggets back with me to tell the kids, these are the choices that are out there to expand but I think that … Detaching from my own to think that you have the answer, you need to learn English. Well, you don’t need to learn English from a textbook, I learned and the children really dictated this and I continue to allow it.

The very first democratic school is opening in Pittsburgh this year. It’s going to be the first school year. So that’s the democratic education in Pittsburgh. Otherwise, there are schools like the propel schools and there are educators that I know that work in public schools that do know to respect students and see them for who they are and listen to them, but in general, especially the students I work with at where I did community work teaching photography, there is none of that for them. So there is no democratic education there and I feel the urgency to bring it to them as fast as possible and that may not …

That probably will not be convert into public school system into a democratic school system, but I think there will … The way and reason, the place of democratic education in the community at large is maybe it could identify some core messages and some core practices that are easy to wrap your head around and are easy to practice or at least get going with and get those out to all those public schools, to all those students.

I’m wondering like … Not giving an answer, but more like asking a question for her that I’m thinking about is … I have studied this movement, well from Argentina but it’s kind of alternative including democratic education and I have some feeling that we need to start understanding what other fields of human action or activity, I don’t know if you understand but another field that are not education need to be democratic as well. So if we are talking about democratic education, we should … Trying to get next to others that are thinking about democratic knowledge, democratic internet, democratic software, democratic economy and or community-based and internet and we … I believe …

In our group and I’m working in an NGO in Argentina that there are lots of ideas going around not only in education but in these other fields like future peer networks, like the ideas of common base economies that too much to do with democratic education. So I believe that we should start looking for tools out there that and for people out there that aren’t doing the same thing that we are proposing for education in other fields and we could start to connect that kind of people since in a way, if we are preparing kids in a democratic environment or with democratic ideas, the idea will be that they would continue this kind of, ways of relationships. This relationship of power that are not … I saw your article that are not oppression or exclusion or …

Well, that’s like a question of what do you think about that? What do you think about going farther than the school itself?