FYI… this piece is way more initial rumination and not yet a polished argument… but here goes!
Israeli teacher Yaacov Hecht, one of the founders of the “democratic education movement” says that he was inspired to reinvent schools in a democratic paradigm, a paradigm that “sees as its main goal the education towards human dignity” as set forth in the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. In his book, Democratic Education: A Beginning of a Story, Hecht says…
Democratic education considers the protection of human rights in school as a necessary and basic condition for the beginning of work on education towards human dignity… The basic assumption of a democratic school is that a young person, living in an environment which respects him and protects his rights, will know in the future to protect human rights in all three spheres…
One – “my” and “our” human rights
Two – the rights of “the other” or “the different”
Three – the rights of the whole of humanity
Before I even attempted to plunge into Hecht’s educational philosophy, I thought I better read the thirty articles in the UN Declaration myself, which I did. I think we tend to not apply principles of human rights always to children because… they’re children. If we love them, feed them, educate them and keep them safe, that’s all the human rights they could possibly want or need, right? But then trying as always to think outside the box, I think there are at least seven of the principles called out in the UN Declaration that I find particularly applicable youth and education and offer an interesting perspective on our current prevailing public education model and the possibilities for a new more democratic approach.
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