In thinking about community I’ve been reading one of my favorite authors, Parker J. Palmer, and his book, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. In this book, Palmer examines the essence of what it means to be a democracy and what it takes for communities, such as schools, to create spaces where deep listening and speaking one’s truth can happen… spaces where teachers, parents, and students can say “what’s in their heart” and listen without judgement, preconceptions or assumptions. Respect, integrity, compassion, honesty, and genuine concern for one another are essential to the practice, and a practice I hope to further cultivate and refine at Brixham.
Palmer writes, “If we want to teach democratic habits of the heart in our classrooms, we need to help our students explore their inner potential. At the same time we need to help them explore their outer potential- in the school community and in the larger civic community- drawing them into a live encounter with democracy in action.” How do we connect students to the world they have learned about, with the world in which they live? By developing their sense of curiosity, responsibility and agency. In the words of Scott Nine, the executive director of the Institute for Democratic Education in America, “... we must give them practice in real responsibility, real dialogue, and real authority.” Innovative instructional practices, such as Montessori, give students this voice and draws them into action with engaged and meaningful purpose.
~Alica, Head of School
Parker J. Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass), pp.128-130