Democracy and participation, Community development

Community Lab of Democracy and School Education

Our lab produced two schools run by parents and children. Now we are mixing ingredients to build up a nursery and high school and to empower the community in order to hear all voices without explosion

Creators

Who is behind this?

Kateřina Rezková

Hnizdo - Society for Community Education

http://www.skolazahrada.cz/hnizdo-zrizovatel/

Czech Republic

Idea

Idea pitch

A school founded and directed by parents, children and staff. Impossible? No, we are the example. Our community of 40 families has been running a primary school since 2015, and another one since 2020 with 80 pupils in total. Now we need more: a nursery, a high school and a continuous care for the widening community including employees. We want to deepen our democratic processes and to find out ways to attend needs of everybody and to fully include children into decision making processes.

Where will your project idea take place?

The small town of Tišnov and neighbouring villages, Southern Moravia, Czech Republic.

What is the local challenge?

Our region is about 30 km far from the city of Brno. Many people commute to Brno for work, school, culture and sport a other services. Here we have not enough places at childcare centres, nurseries,  primary and secondary schools. There is almost no offer of alternative schools, which are now quite popular among families. Many families desire other ways of life, they want to be with children even during work time, not to separate because of their work and school. That is why we create places for children where they can be together with their families. We support the possibility of teaching children at home or sharing education with friends. Our schools are based on social solidarity: we want to make our schools affordable for everybody who is really interested in our attitude to education.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

We support initiatives in our vicinity, which are addressing us already. We want to be a model and mentors for others. We know from our experience and surroundings, how difficult it is to handle the diversity of opinions and needs of families related to education. We believe we can offer fruits of our experience.
We teach and raise our children to active citizenship and also invite them to actively influence functioning of our schools and to experience democratic decisions in school assemblies.
We inspire the public. We demonstrate the possibility of creating a unique way of education and the meaningfulness of being active. The school assembly, where children have the equal voice like adults, can be inspiration for other primary schools in the town as well as for local municipality.

Who are you doing it for?

Our target group is the school community (parents, children, staff), secondarily also local public. We are an open community. We work with broad scale of opinions and needs regarding education of all of the families. We use group processes based on democratic search of the concensus.
We are now 50 parents (cca 150 in 2025). We want to work with parents at school assemblies where we decide together on the form of school, by individual conversations and by regular processes of community building by Peck.
There are 64 children now (cca 200 in year 2015). Teaching children is a matter of the schools but we are trying to find ways how to fully include children in the asssembly.
The employees are 15 now and big part of them are parents too. We work with them in the same way as with parents.

How do you plan to get there?

We will start by mapping the current needs, concerns and opinions of the entire community with an independent researcher. Based on the results, we will propose changes in existing processes. Together we will create a plan to establish our own kindergarten. We will address experts on large group participation methods for long-term cooperation in the preparation of school assemblies. We will arrange supervision for the assemblies. We will create a plan for deciding together on the character of the high school. We will look for inspiration to involve children in decision-making in school assemblies.
We will organize two community building seminars according to Peck. We will prepare a long-term program for parents on burning issues in education. We will introduce regular social events.

What are the expected results?

In the spring of 2021, we know the results of mapping the needs of the community, and we have a plan in place to work with them. We will decide to establish our own kindergarten and start operating. In December 2021, we will decide on the character of the secondary school. There will be two two-day externally supervised school assemblies with new methods of deepening democracy for large groups with children and at least four afternoon school assemblies. There will be two weekend community building seminars by Scott Peck.
Compared to the current situation, the community will be a greater support to schools and schools will better respond to the needs of the community. Children fully participate in assemblies. Energy for building our high school erupts from our laboratory.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

We are a local example of exercising democratic attitude in the process of school creation and in its everyday operation. Our example can be seen abroad too. We are involved in international networks of similar schools. We cooperate with foreign schools. We accept long-term foreign volunteers. They can spread the ideas of our project in their countries after their return.

What is your story?

I have three children and I care about how they will be educated. I wish democratic education for them. I have been in our initiative from the very beginning and I am actively involved in the school´s foundation. I am one of the initiators of the establishment of the school assembly and I devote myself to its preparations. I still believe it is possible to find solutions through group democratic processes that one would not come up with on one's own. It tempts me to discover the secrets of deep democracy.
I myself have been active in the environment protection field and I am involved in various associations, participating in events for the protection of democracy in the Czech Republic.

€ 48777,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 56258,-

Total budget

Major expenses

personnel costs 30 148 EUR
office expenses 5 925 EUR
public relations 6 111 EUR
community support activity 14 074 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

How to work with the diversity of opinions in the community?
Hear experience with participative methods in a big group and with deep democracy.
Get inspiration in feedback possibilities given to main actors.
How to prevent burnout?

Team

Kateřina Rezková

viktoriestastna

Idea created on May 27, 2020

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