In urban areas where space is limited, we need to think about developing integrated schools that also serve the greater community. If we are serious about the lifelong learning paradigm, if we are serious about true sustainable development, I think we need to create centers for the community that meet all of its educational needs. Imagine a building that not only houses a school for children, but also has a learning center for adults to continue their education. Imagine this center as a unifying space that offers relevant education to everyone. Imagine what this space might look like if, in this building there was also a free health clinic and a daycare center, a community career center with a public library and computers to use. Imagine.
In order for the above to become a reality in the United States, we need to have a public discourse on what education is, and what it should be. In the United States, as elsewhere, schooling and education has increasingly become privatized. The neo-liberal education reform movement has moved education away its democratic ideals and into the hands of corporate interests. In this light we need to talk about what we want education to be. If we truly believe that education should serve the public good, that it should be democratic, that it should be available to all, we need to look at alternative models for schooling, as well as alternative curricula and pedagogies.
One potential solution is the idea of a co-operative school. I recently stumbled across a case study that highlights the rise of co-operative schools in the United Kingdom. Co-operative schools are run as co-ops – with parents, teachers, students, and community members and organizations governing the school(s) in a transparent, democratic, and accountable process. This model is worth exploring more, but I think it has the potential to help guide those of us who wish to combat the privatization of education with a democratic and transparent model.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be speaking more about the competing interests within education and development, such as the debate between the privatization of schooling and schooling as a public good – specifically in countries that are or lean democratic. In the meantime, I leave you with this thought by Henry Giroux.
Democracy demands an informed citizenry, which can only be produced collectively through the existence of public spheres that give meaning to people’s struggles for justice, economic rights, and human dignity.
Dreamscaping is about speaking our realities into existence. Notice it’s not about speaking MY reality into existence but OUR realities into existence. Dreamscaping is only dreamscaping when it is done collectively, with input from everyone. Otherwise it is just tyranny. Dreamscaping acknowledges that the gap between “what is” and “what ought” to be isn’t just the distance that we have to travel, but the expanse that must also be filled with our love, dreams, and interactions with one another. I believe that designing and running schools as a community co-operative lessens this expanse, and helps to instill a collective effort on living in a just and sustainable world.