“Democracy”, a wide concept used to name and build around it political, social and economical systems, has been implemented to organize societies since old times. Democracy is old but still seems very young and undeveloped. And there is one basic reason to have such a beautiful concept submerged into an ocean of misunderstandings: when embraced as a human right (not as a way of protecting Human Rights but as the first Human Right), can be dangerous for the Statu Quo due to its natural and required dynamism. But let´s start from scratch and feed and build a sense to this concept we use in our school, in a very pure way, to govern the Another Kind of School.
“The Rule of People”, that is democracy. This is how it was named by the Greek back in the 5th century BC and used to organize their city-states. The government of the people, the power to the people to decide about themselves, about their live. People. Yes, like you and me. And it was a direct democracy, a pure democracy, what basically meant their citizen represent themselves and through consensus laws, initiatives and organization the society was built.
Do we have such example of democracy today in our world? Hard to find. Unfortunately, there are less than few. We can see and easily find unlimited proves of how elite interests keep trapped and hidden the essence of Democracy, and uses the shape of its words – D E M O C R A C Y – but with a completely different meaning: In economic terms, we the people, educated consumers, can find it set in shelves, in sugary advertisings, in colorful boxes of plastic food, in stores and supermarkets. In social terms, Democracy is protected by fancy ink and paper, in front of a blue or red necktie and under the protection of helmets and pepper spray. In political terms, Democracy has since produced an expiring date of one day each four years.
We have been educated to understand Democracy as a mere choosing act of products from an illusion on variety. In Richmond Vale Academy, we stand from re education. We want to give back to the concept what it had at the beginning: a meaningful soul covered and protected by ethics, responsibility and activism, because Democracy requires active, responsible and ethic human beings, as human beings require Democracy to get back their lost human rights. Direct democracy is a tool to build on an equal, horizontal and free society.
“At our school, the Headmaster leads the school, the Common Meeting governs the school, and all of us in our positions act together to run the school”
Every Thursday night, the community comes together and share snacks, togetherness and points to talk about. We define what we need and how we are going to reach the goals. There is no vertical organization at our school: from the headmaster or most experienced to the new student, from the eldest to the youngest, we all speak out, frankly, open and with the same objective: to govern the school together in order to seek for harmony. But harmony can only pick on its complexity when we share same interests and needs and once understand it, we work together for it.
Gandhi once said that “Alone, the world changes you. But together, you change the world.” This is the dynamism I mentions before. Democracy implies dynamism. Humans and as all nature elements are dynamic. We are changing all time and therefore we just can not try to stay still. We have to get into the flow of this natural law and protecting it would make every society develop within its rules and culture. All societies are made by humans, therefore includes same basic characteristic: a changing organism that requires every person building constantly, moving forward, improving, learning, being active, educating others, realizing what are the needs and what can we do to reach them. In other words, pure democracy could be seen as the oxygen of a holistic development of societies.
On the other hand, the example of Democracy we are offered nowadays by its directors is a stuck, petrified sculpture of an idea; a motionless and unanimated illusion of a system that doesn’t accept changes, that it is behind the bars being controlled and don’t allowed to give one single step; A death zone of dreams, evolution, realization, improvement and growth.
At Richmond Vale Academy the practice of democracy is in constant evolution and brings new ideas, points of view, systems, considerations and reorganization when we actively participate on it and understand what it means to be part of a society. At Richmond Vale Academy we encourage teachers and students to take a stand on improvement, comradeship and togetherness, and we work together with one same goal: Be an example of Demo- (demos: “people“) and -cracy (krátos “power“).
Miguel Ángel Rosado
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