Journal of Educational Controversy


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Fresh Analogy for Democratic Schools and Democratic Life

Editor: Sometimes a fresh analogy can unplug our thinking and open avenues for new perspectives and questions. In the post below, Jim Strickland, regional coordinator of the National League of Democratic Schools, offers one such analogy. Jim's earlier post on a Declaration of Education Rights stirred some interesting discussions. Perhaps, his latest post can stimulate us to think about the "plugs" in our collective lives.

A Renewal Analogy

Jim Strickland

National League of Democratic Schools

I'm in the middle of reading an Einstein biography and was struck by how certain physical processes are mimicked in the institutional world. For example, imagine the whirlpool created as water drains from a sink. The whirlpool is a real entity, but its existence depends on the dynamic interaction between the water, gravity, rotation of the earth, and the open drain. Plug the drain (stop the dynamic process) and the whirlpool disappears.

In similar fashion, healthy, democratic schools are like these whirlpools -- products of a dynamic process, the process of continuous renewal. You can stir the water with a stick, but cannot create a sustainable entity (whirlpool) without unplugging the drain. In this analogy, I think of the open drain as the creative power of ongoing dialogue -- the bedrock foundation of the renewal process. Trying to have healthy, democratic schools (or any healthy institution) without the dynamic motion made possible by the "open drain" is an exercise in futility -- like trying to preserve whirlpools without motion.

Here's to you "plug pullers" of the world...!

1 comment:

Carrie Smith said...

Honestly, "democratic education" sounds funny. Like as many another "democratic" stuff today.