What do you think of a forum?
We are going to put up an online forum in the New Year. We have spoken about this idea for a long time and we are going to do it now. The idea is to get people talking about practical ways to help each other with democratic school problems.
Leonard had some doubts about it. He didn’t want the forum to turn into a talking shop.
“But that is what a forum is!” I complained.
“Yes,” he replied, “but I’ve seen projects hi-jacked by people who just get involved with democratic education to shoot their mouths off and never do anything. That is not what we are about. We have to stick firm to that.”
The danger of having people make a forum the battleground for their ideas, rather than an arena in which practical ideas are shared, has put us off advancing the project. A moderated forum takes a lot of time and energy and we have a lot of projects on the go that demand attention.
So, after batting the ball around for a good while, and only once we had agreed that, no, we would not let the ideologues take over the forum, and, yes, even if it seems authoritarian we would boot people out if they were aggressive or off-topic, we came up with these guidelines for the blog.
- There will be a starting theme for the forum. In January we are going to kick off with Qualities of Teachers in Democratic Schools.
- We will have regular live discussions, in which we will engage directly with questions.
- The rest of the time the discussion will be moderated- that is to say, comments will be approved by the moderators. The discussion will not be live, outside of set times.
- There will be a Code of Conduct for discussion.
What is the Code of Conduct?
I guess it is a bit like the Summerhill Meeting online.
- The forum is to discuss democratic education on the Summerhill model
- No one can join the forum without introducing themselves first
- Respect other people’s experience, knowledge and understanding
- No aggressive, violent or personal attacks on a person or their ideas
- Do not go off-topic. The forum is to discuss concrete issues. It is not to promote a business or philosophical viewpoint
- All members of the forum should be clearly identified. No anonymous posting
- It is fine to critique, refine and evaluate the Summerhill model in comparison with other practices but attempts to change the focus of the forum will be closed down.
Let us know what you think about the forum. We hope to open it for the New Year. If there are any suggestions of comments we would love to hear them.